The Enugu state governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, OkeyEzea has suddenly emerged a strong candidate following the victory of the party at the presidential election. However, it is still doubtful if he is strong enough to defeat the entrenched Peoples Democratic Party in tomorrow’s elections. MAURICE OKAFOR in Enugu reports
In Enugu state, the Saturday, April 11, 2015 rescheduled governorship election is going to be a straightforward fight between two parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. This development is predicated on the fact that they are the two widespread parties in the state that are featuring governorship candidates for the 2015 general elections.
The Hallmark checks in the state revealed that activities of other registered parties in the state pertaining to the 2015 electioneering campaigns are highly infinitesimal, as such that most of them lacked the followership and financial muscle to feature a candidate for the state governorship election. To mention, even the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the much acclaimed party with Igbo sentiments, was neither able to satisfy the INEC stipulated guidelines and requirements for featuring a governorship candidate.
Notably, the two men behind the mask of APC and PDP in the 2015 Enugu state governorship race are no pushover. They are two political giants whose political track record since the advent of the 4th Republic democratic dispensation has made serious impact in shaping the state politics. They are Barrister OkeyEzea [APC] and Hon IfeanyiUgwuanyi (PDP). While OkeyEzea uniquely stands out as one person that has consistently contested for the governorship seat of the state for three consecutive times, Hon Ugwuanyi is reckoned as one of the best grassroots politicians in the state that has used his position to influence the lives of the state citizenry, not limiting his philanthropy to only his constituents. Ugwuanyi is currently a three term member of the House of Representatives for Udenu/Igbo Eze North Constituency.
Another common factor among these two political giants, one of whom must emerge as the next civilian governor of the state remains the fact that both of them hail from Enugu North senatorial district of the state, the zone which has been yearning seriously for the governorship seat of Enugu state to be zoned to them, to satisfy the unconstitutional but effective zoning principle in the state. In as much as the PDP, which is the ruling party in Enugu state, decided to zone the next civilian governorship seat to Enugu North Senatorial district, also referred as ‘Nsukka Cultural zone’, the APC in its wisdom also took the decision.
Hallmark checks revealed that the scenario created by this development remains the fact that Enugu North senatorial district of the state has become the flash point of ceaseless political activities in the state. Based on the fact that the two political giants are grassroots, uncertainty has beclouded whether the zone, which is reckoned with the ability of producing half of the voting electorates in Enugu state in previous elections will deliver their block vote for Ugwuanyi with PDP ticket or for Ezea, the APC candidate. Hallmark gathered that while Ugwuanyi hails from Udenu council area within Enugu North senatorial district, Ezea hails from Igbo Eze South council area of the same district.
Prior to the results of the March 28,Presidential election in which General MuhammaduBuhari[retd], with APC ticket was declared the winner of the election against President Goodluck Jonathan,who contested on the platform of PDP, Enugu state in its entirety has been a PDP controlled state. The party has maintained a strong grip of winning all elective positions in the state, having produced all the 260 ward councilors, the 17 council area chairmen, the 24 state legislators, the National Assembly members and the state governor has always been produced by PDPsince the return of the nation’s democratic dispensation in 1999.
Ugwuanyi’s ambition to become the next governor of Enugu state in 2015 seems to have been destined by God. This is predicated on the fact that his age long nickname ’GBURU GBURU’ literally meaning [known everywhere/acceptable everywhere] is one of the underlying socializing factors in the present times that easily assimilates into the minds and souls of both the young and old in the state. The rhythm in the pronouncement ‘GBURU GBURU’ flows smoothly in the mouth and is simply captured and embedded in the minds of the people.
At the party level, Ugwuanyi’schances was further brightened by the fact that the sitting governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime, in conjunction with the ruling party, PDP in Enugu state reached a decision to zone the next governorship to Enugu North senatorial district, also referred as ‘Nsukka Cultural zone’.
This decision is predicated on the fact that the two other senatorial districts in the state namely Enugu East and Enugu West senatorial districts of the state by the end of May 2015 political dispensation, must have produced a civilian governor of the state on two terms, since the inception of this dispensation. A break down shows that ex governorChimarokeNnamani from Enugu East senatorial district under PDP platform governed Enugu state from 1999 to 2007. While his successor and the current Governor, Sulllivan Chime,who is from Enugu West senatorial district will be completing two term tenure of four years eachon May 29,2015.
Therefore, the Enugu state PDP stakeholders in solid agreement with Governor Chime reached a decision that even though the issue of zoning is not reflected in the constitution, but to maintain peace and stability of the party in Enugu state, the next governorship slot of PDP would come from Enugu North senatorial district.
Ugwuanyi through dint of hard work and humility was able to scale through the stage of being the most acceptable candidate from Enugu North senatorial district out of the others. This result manifested at a stakeholders meeting organised for PDP political stakeholders from Enugu North senatorial district at Enugu state governor’s lodge on September 26 and was presided over by Governor Chime.
The Hallmark recalls that Ugwuanyi’s consensus candidacy aftermath of Enugu North stakeholders meeting with governor Chime was not accepted by Senator AyoguEze and Mr. ChineduOnuh. Senator Eze said a political ambush was laid for him and therefore would prefer a thorough governorship primary elections that wouldbe conducted for PDP delegates from the three senatorial zones of the state, fixed for December 8,2014.
Ugwuanyi eventually scaled through as the winner of the Enugu state PDP governorship primaries conducted at NnamdiAzikiwe stadium on Friday December 13. While Senator Eze also made claims that he is the PDP candidate based on party primaries conducted at Filbon hotel, Enugu.Eze went further to challenge the matter at an Abuja federal high court presided over by Justice Evoh.
Hallmark reports that the federal high court sitting in Abuja at the last count on Wednesday, March 5, dismissed Eze’s claim as the authentic PDP governorship candidate in Enugu. That to a large extent cleared all road blocks within the state PDP for Ugwuanyi to march on with his ambition.
Investigations showed that Ugwuanyi’s acceptance cuts across all class of people in Enugu state. Both the political class including traditional rulers isbehind him to become the next governor of the state. Ugwuanyi has promised that his administration would run a mass oriented policy, continuity and consolidation.
But Hon EbereOkolo, the state treasurer of APC in the state told the Hallmark that APC is now bent to change the trend, adding that the party has embarked on massive sensitization of the electorates in the state, to understand with them that APC has surfaced to become the ruling party at the center and Enugu voters should cast their votes for Ezea, the party’s governorship candidate and state House of Assembly candidates, so that the incoming administration in the state would share common political lineage with the federal government, as a means of attracting federal presence in the state.
With few days to the governorship elections,the extent to which this latest campaign strategy adopted by the Enugu state chapter of APC, in marketing their candidates for the governorship and state Assembly elections will turn around the fortunes of the party in the state, cannot be underrated. However, the envisaged threat has reinvigorated the campaign train of Ugwuanyi and the rest of the PDP House of Assembly candidates. The ‘GburuGburu’campaign train is observed to have embarked on the last lap of its ‘door to door’ visit in many nooks and cranny of the state, pleading with the electorates to still stick with PDP and cast their votes for candidates of the party in tomorrow’s elections.
Stories by Ifeanyiugwuanyi, Okeyezea