Ejike Nnaji: Joshua Mba and Enugu-East 2023 senatorial contest


As we approach the 2023 general elections, there is one area that has always presented a sense of oddity at every dispensation. In the Enugu-East Senatorial District of Enugu State since 1999, it was a convention for anyone not to be elected as a senator for more than one term irrespective of performance. Jim Nwobodo, Ken Nnamani and Chimaroke Nnamani did only one term each.

It is noteworthy that the arrangement was not the wish of the people. But it was a product of perennial internal wrangling that has defined the area. None of them voluntarily relinquished powers. And the effect has been the sheer absence of infrastructural developments.

However, Gilbert Nnaji broke the jinx by being elected twice. But it was not an easy ride for him. He paid dearly for it of which the wounds are still there even to date. Despite an impressive outing deserving of continuity, he was replaced by ex-governor Chimaroke Nnamani who curiously was nominated by the party in absentia, having been out of the country for years before the primaries. He eventually won thus becoming the second to enjoy the second term which he is still serving.

And now that there is another round of elections, the people of the zone are faced with a tough choice between the same old ways that have kept them down all along and a new order that ushers in abundant opportunities.

So far, there are four known aspirants. While the two from Nkanu-West have held public positions before now, the other two from Nkanu-East are political freshmen. But beyond that, there is already an ego crisis brewing among those from Nkanu-West. It is being insinuated that Ifeoma Nwobodo rather supported Chimaroke Nnamani’s People for Democratic Change, PDC, in the 2015 senatorial elections against Gilbert Nnaji of PDP. She lost at the party primaries that Nnaji won. That was the election that gave him the second term opportunity. Today Ifeoma Nwobodo is running with the hope that since Nnamani would have done two terms by 2023, it is now her turn. But Chimaroke was the first to pick the nomination forms and has been consulting. Hence the zone is now sharply polarized as there have been raging apprehensions as to who among the two should go. Equally, both are no push-overs in their rights. Thus the implication is that the zone is on the verge of witnessing yet another scenario of in-fighting that would further undermine developmental efforts. And this is certainly not the wishes of the people.

Thankfully, there is a way out! There is a compromise candidate that will absolve all the misgivings. He has what it takes to build bridges across the zone. He has the capacity, character and competence to represent the people. Given his pedigree especially as a man of lowly origin, he enjoys wider acceptability than even the rest. He has not enjoyed public positions but he has touched more lives than several other government persons. He is truly a man of tremendous public goodwill.

Chief Joshua Mba is from Umuiba village, a rural town of the ancient kingdom of Nara Unateze Clan. He holds a Diploma, as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Law. With a robust career and experience in the private sector, he is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom.

After serving as a branch manager of ACIL, an international insurance agent with the American International Insurance Company Limited he went overseas for capacity development. Upon return from Asia armed with sharpened skills, managerial acumen and broadened horizon, he established the UNISTAR International Company Limited, whose core activities include importing, buying, selling and manufacturing furniture and allied products.

Venturing into politics at the dawn of democracy in 1999 it is his conviction that politics is simply a veritable tool for driving developments at all levels, particularly in rural areas. An active member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) he has continued to play active roles in terms of financial, material and social supports for the party, especially during elections.

The record of his achievements in the area of philanthropy has severally distinguished and endeared him to the hearts of many. Similarly, his involvement in charitable works, youth empowerment and women advocacy was recently adjudged “astonishingly impressive” by the party leadership.

Commissioning a primary school classroom block he built, even in line with the Millennium Development Goals standards, His Excellency Governor Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi of Enugu state described Joshua Mba as a “true partner of the state government in rural development”. The governor was represented by the Commissioner of Education on the 7th of January 2016.

Apart from the numerous strides he recorded in rural development most of whom are legacy projects, the beneficiaries of his humanitarian and economic empowerment efforts particularly scholarships are spread across the country in all the geopolitical zones and many are today creating wealth while some have graduated to become professionals in various areas of endeavour.

Joshua Mba has been widely acknowledged as a good man. For example, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the community, he was given the chieftaincy title of Chinemeze I of Nara in 2016. He was also recognized by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, as a Philanthropist per Excellence in 2016 among other national awards. He was a two-term chairman of the Umuiba Development Union from 2011 to 2017. He is currently the President General of Nara Progressive Union Nara Unataeze, worldwide. This is clear evidence of a grassroots person who is in tune with the desires of the people.

While announcing his decision to vie for the senatorial seat of his Enugu-East constituency, he hinted that “I am doing this after due and wide consultation with the various segments of the masses and my party hierarchy”.

Chief Mbah further noted that he had aspired to “the position of the PDP’s National Youth Leader…….But I was appealed to by the governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to allow the state present a consensus candidate instead of allowing every aspirant to join the foray”. He added that he was made to step down for Chimaroke Nnamani when he contested for the senatorial ticket of the party ahead of the 2019 elections.

On what he is going to offer if elected he stated that “although I shall unveil my manifesto and programmes of action in due course, let me point out now that I understand perfectly that the three major roles of the legislature require a great deal of doggedness, dedication, sacrifice and networking to deliver. In this regard, I am going to deploy the power and influence of my relationship across the nation through the processes of law making, representation and oversight functions, to pursue and lobby for federal government policies and programmes that will benefit my people and uplift Nigeria”.

According to him, “I have gone round the entire Enugu East Senatorial Zone to find out the infrastructural needs of the people. I have itemized them accordingly. There are some that are obviously the responsibilities of the local and state governments but I am already working on a template that will provide for working synergy where the three tiers of government can complement each other in favour of my people”.

Joshua Mba has everything going for him. He is eminently qualified given his background and personality. He is a sound lawyer. He is a man of tremendous public goodwill. He is from the most disadvantaged local government area in Enugu state in terms of development. This will offer him a sufficient template to work for the ultimate development of the zone. Besides, he already understands what rural development is all about, especially having shown overwhelming capacity in this regard. Joshua Mba is a loyal party man. He is a grassroots person. He has been patient enough which indicates his zeal and passion to serve. The other contenders have given their best in their previous positions.

And above all, the people of the zone are in dire need of a leader that would always recognize the people as the major stakeholders. The people are tired of leaders who have the mindset that the people are to serve them or that they are rather doing the people unmerited favours by being their leaders. The people deserve new breeds of leaders rather than those being dressed in borrowed robes and recycled. The people need a representative that is not only accessible and available but with proven capacity to unlock the potential for massive infrastructural development in the zone. They are in search of a leader they can call their own. And quite obviously, this is a gap that is yearning for attention and the ugly situation on the ground that only emerging leaders like Joshua Mba can tackle.

It is therefore expected that every stakeholder in this senatorial contest thinks in this direction.

Meanwhile, the man of the moment has this for you: “on this note ladies and gentlemen, may I with all sense of humility hereby appeal to all the party faithful, the delegates and leaders, the people of Enugu East Senatorial Zone to consider my good character, evident political antecedence and impressively credible leadership records, and entrust me with your collective mandate to represent the good people of Enugu East Senatorial Zone at the senate. I am confident of a resounding victory in the 2023 general elections. I will not disappoint you. God bless Nigeria… God bless our great party”.

Ejike Nnaji is a graduate of political science and a beneficiary of Joshua Mba’s scholarship programme.

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