BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: For ‘2Cigar’, The Future Holds Bright

SYDNEY EZENTA writes on the birthday of one of Enugu state’s flamboyant grassroots politicians

His name is Prince Chidiebere Okoh but many in Enugu, the Coal City and beyond, know him as 2Cigar. He is a well-known socialite and fitness enthusiast but most importantly, he is a grassroots politician who has made his mark in Enugu politics since 1999.

He didn’t just jump into politics; public service and philanthropy have been part of his upbringing and passion as a man. He was born into a modest but famous family in Okpebe, Amodu in Nkanu West Local Government Area, where he has made perhaps his strongest impact touching the lives of the poor and needy.

Cosmopolitan, urbane and flamboyant, many testify that Chidiebere Okoh “inherited a family tradition of selflessness, philanthropy, and amazing love for humanity!”.

For such a man, politics came naturally as the people yearned for someone who shared in their pains and their aspirations. He would eventually represent the community as Ward Councillor in Nkanu West Local Government Area where he demonstrated capacity for service and leadership.

Chidiebere Okoh

His performance in the administration at the time remains a landmark, leading him to become the Coordinator of all Councillors in the 260 electoral wards in the 17 Local Government Areas of Enugu state. Several years after that momentous stewardship, he remains the leader of the state’s former Councillor’s Forum.

He has been a strong advocate for a strong representation at the grassroots and an advocate of the rights of serving and former Councillors.

It was no surprise that with time, the shining star would be noticed from afar. In 2016, the Enugu State government appointed him as the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

As SSA to the Governor, he has handled several special projects for the state administration. More importantly, it is a position he has used to propel his personal philantrophic activities. As a strong campaigner for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, he has regularly ran a programme that distributes palliatives to widows and the poor in his Amodu community and other places in Nkanuland.

The program which attracts top political leaders in Nkanu has been commended as the single most impactful palliative program sponsored by one man in the area.

He resigned as SSA earlier in the year to answer the call of several of his people in his state constituency to pursue a higher political calling in the State House of Assembly. After what many considered a superlative campaign, many expected that Okoh would beat the incumbent legislator, Hon. Iloabuchi Aniagu who was going for a fourth term.

That was not to be. Okoh was forced to pull out from the contest at the last minute when it became obvious to him that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, despite assurances to the contrary, was indeed backing Aniagu against him.

It was a testy moment for him as he would face another major test of character immediately after the primaries in the PeoplesDemocracy Party. He was presented the Labour Party ticket on a platter and asked to run for same position on the party’splatform. He had a choice of joining the ‘Obedient Movement’ and facing Hon. Iloabuchi Aniagu at the polls proper, but he chose to remain with the Peoples Democracy Party, on which platform he has made impact in the past.

As he marks his birthday today, August 8, it is a day for the flamboyant and swashbuckling politician to take stock of his journey in politics and reflect on life generally.

Presently holidaying in far away Dallas, Texas in the United States, the father of two boys has two options ahead of him: he may be discouraged by the betrayal of the recent past or shrug it off to face a rich and promising future.

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