By Malachy Chuma Ochie
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God”, (Matthew 5:9)
The appointment a few days ago of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State by the Global Society for Anti-Corruption (GSAC), as Peace Ambassador, in commemoration of this year’s International Day of Peace did not come as a surprise because it was an appointment worthy of the recipient and a loud confirmation of the Governor’s commitment to peace.
According to the country’s Programmes Director of GSAC, this recognition followed Ugwuanyi’s contributions to the promotion and sustenance of peace in diverse ways, especially in Enugu State. What a testament!
This appointment has also demonstrated that peace is the major ingredient needed by mankind to chart a way forward, essentially because it is only a person with a seared conscience that would deny the many dividends of the peace we have had in Enugu in the past six years.
The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace, “Shaping Peace Together” , is even more indicative and instructive because it stresses the need for leaders, ordinary individuals, and groups to engage in activities that would promote understanding, tolerance, and togetherness wherever they may be.
There is no gainsaying the fact that in several parts of the world today, especially in Nigeria, there are many conflicts, disagreements, and crises.
Even in the midst of these crises, we still see people daily sounding the drums of war. The outcome of these diverse conflicts has constantly placed damning question marks on the sentences of our development.
But these human proclivities for conflicts notwithstanding, there are still men and women of honour and conscience who deny themselves a lot to look for peace and sustain it at all costs.
Such people are rare and they deserve commendation. Governor Ugwuanyi falls into this category.
The International Day of Peace, is, therefore, instituted to remind mankind of the need to promote and sustain peace because it is only with the peace that we can build a society that endures.
It is only with the peace that we can develop and achieve our collective goal. Therefore, we need peace in all aspects of human endeavor be it political, economic, or social spheres.
Peace is not easy to come by. It is easy to talk about peace, but it is also a difficult thing to practice.
That is why, each time we see anybody that has done something to promote peace, we try as much as possible to encourage the person to do more by way of recognition.
The foregoing aptly depicts the Ugwuanyi persona. He is a man of peace indeed.
This is one Governor in the history of Enugu State that has taken more insults and castigations than his predecessors, yet he remains calm as a gentle dove; preferring to conquer his adversaries through the mechanisms of peace and love.
Ugwuanyi’s vote for peace cannot be misconstrued for weakness by any stretch of the imagination. Rather it is an indication that he understands the importance of peace to the development of society more than the rest of us and that he is endowed with sublime and godly qualities to seek peace even in the face of unwarranted provocations and with so much executive power at his disposal.
Why is peace so important to us? First, we must understand that peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence.
In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict; and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or heterogeneous groups.
Peace is a product of a positive mental attitude, while violence is the result of negative thinking.
We must understand that the will of God for any society is peace; while the will of Satan for mankind is violence.
Peace is as much in accordance with God’s plan for humanity; just as violence is against it.
When peaceful conditions prevail in a society all activities take place in their proper form. But if the atmosphere of peace is disturbed, the normal functioning of society is disrupted. This law applies to the entire universe.
Peace is a state of non-suffering as well as a celebration of life. Peace ensures that you are aware of yourself and helps you take better decisions.
It gives you strength and you stay calm when things go wrong and out of control. Peace provides you the freedom and helps you to put things in order.
Peace is one of the most essential things we need to make us thrive. In the absence of peace, our society sooner than later degenerates into the Hobbesian state of nature where life is essentially short, nasty and brutish.
Without peace, it will be impossible for us to learn or to create something or even to develop. The absence of peace is an invitation to chaos and social entropy. Without peace, there will be conflicts and wars, and we all will be too busy trying to protect our lives.
This is the lesson that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has taught us since his emergence as Governor of Enugu State. No legacy can be greater than this.
This is a man who inherited a fractious state; a state haunted by its bestial past of killings, viciousness and hatred; mutual suspicion and perpetual subversion; a state signposted by divisiveness and acrimony.
Some would have fainted at the enormous challenges that confronted him in 2015.
Yet, Governor Ugwuanyi’s principle of persistence has taught us never to quit in the face of adversity or challenge.
At the point he took over the reins of leadership in Enugu State, not too many people gave him a chance to cleanse the Augean stable.
But like the legendary Hercules in the Greek mythology, he set about his duty with the mindset of performing the Herculean task.
For the faint-hearted, it was a time when quit looked good; when the problems seemed insurmountable, when the giants seemed unbeatable, when the mountains seemed unmovable when defeat seemed inescapable and quit looked good.
But Ugwuanyi applied wisdom, adopted a bipartisan approach to governance and in a record time healed our wounds with his balm of Gilead.
Only Governor Ugwuanyi could have brought former Governors Chimaroke and Sullivan Chime together; only Governor Ugwuanyi could have commanded the trust and confidence of Ebeano political dynasty to pay homage and obeisance to the Ugwuanyi mystic. Only Governor Ugwuanyi could have resolved the Oruku-Umuode conflict which lasted for decades and led to the destruction of numerous lives and property.
Governor Ugwuanyi is indeed a man among men, a patriot among patriots and a dove of peace sent to us from God.
What more legacies can he bequeath to Enugu State than that we support him to identify and enthrone a person who will sustain his peaceful legacies?
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has taught us that where war destroys and tears apart, peace builds, strengthens and restores.
He has shown us that peaceful revolution is the outcome of peaceful thinking; that peaceful minds make for a peaceful world and that a peaceful society is a result of peaceful persons, that peace can be established only when every single unit of society is ready to live in peace; and that only those persons who are ready to remain patient, regardless of the circumstances can live in peace.
As far as Enugu State is concerned, sustaining peace does not mean creating new mechanisms; but instead to use existing mechanisms agreed by all to address a conceptual shift in how we respond to issues; and more importantly, to strengthen resilience and capacities of individuals and groups in our State that actively promote peace.
Our Lord Jesus Christ must have had people like Governor Ugwuanyi in mind when he declared the 7th of the eight beatitudes, to wit, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God”.
Congratulations Your Excellency, for you are indeed a worthy Ambassador of Peace