In Enugu, polls are a battle of ego and party supremacy

  • Post author:
  • Post category:News

Apart from
answering the nagging question of who will occupy the ‘Lion Building’
government house for the next four years, Tuesday’s governorship/house
of assembly election in Enugu State will achieve two other main

First, it will
confirm the supremacy of one of the political parties operating in the
state. Secondly, it will put to rest the issue of superiority among the
political actors in the state.

On the lineup for
the governorship poll are the incumbent governor, Sullivan Chime, who
is running on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Okey
Ezea of the Labour Party (LP); Osita Okechukwu of the Congress for
Progressive Change (CPC) and Valentine Nnaedozie of the Action Congress
of Nigeria (ACN).

The others are
Obinna Obiegue of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Dan
Shere of the Peoples for Democratic Change (PDC). There are also 24
seats up for the grabs in the state House of Assembly.

Zoning matters

One of the issues
that will shape the battle is that of zoning. Though it is largely
conventional and not constitutional, there are zoning sentiments in the
state. Most of the candidates are mainly from two of the three zones
which make up the state. While Messrs Chime, Okechukwu, Obiegue and
Nnadozie hail from the Enugu West senatorial district, the duo of Ezea
and Shere are from the Enugu North senatorial district, otherwise known
as Nsukka zone.

It is not strange
that nobody from Enugu East senatorial zone showed interest in the
governorship seat. The immediate past governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, who
ran the state for eight years between 1999 and 2007, hails from the
eastern district. Similarly, Jim Nwobodo, the first executive governor
of the old Anambra state, which Enugu was part of, is from the
district. Mr Nwobodo was succeeded by the late Christian Onoh, from
Ngwo in the western senatorial district. He ruled the state for only
three months before the Buhari military coup terminated that republic.
The north region of the state has also had its share of control as it
produced Okwesilieze Nwodo, who governed Enugu for 20 months during the
botched Third Republic.

The preponderance
of candidates from the west district has been attributed to the
eagerness of its people to hold the seat for eight years, out of which
Mr Chime (from the zone) is about to complete four years. It is for
that reason that some residents of the state are alarmed that some
indigenes of the northern zone are showing interest in the position.

The deputy senate
president, Ike Ekweremadu, who is also from the western district, is
one of them. He has reportedly appealed to other candidates to drop
their ambition to enable Mr Chime serve out his second term so that the
position will now shift to the northern district.

Even so, the
emergence of many candidates from his own western district was at some
point one of Mr Chime’s headaches. Credible sources say that Mr Chime
had made overtures to his kinsmen from the west to step down for him so
as not to split the votes from the zone. He was not successful as they
all stuck to their guns.

My party or yours

One other issue is
the supremacy battle between the PDC and the PDP. The PDC is largely
made up of Mr Nnamani’s loyalists, otherwise known as the Ebeano
political family. They dumped PDP as a result of a disagreement between
the former governor and his successor.

Mr Shere, who is
the governorship candidate of the PDC, was the secretary to the state
government under Mr Nnamani. His running mate, Kanayo Graham-Bur
Oguakwa is a serving member of the House of Representatives and in fact
chairs the House Committee on Culture and Tourism.

In the last
parliamentary elections, the PDP won all three senatorial seats. It
also took all eight House of Representatives seats, a feat that made
its members boast that Enugu has emerged as the capital of the PDP in
the South East. Indeed, Mr Nnamani, who is the leader of the PDC, was
floored by a serving House of Representatives member, Gilbert Nnaji.

The seeming
disunity among the opposition parties and their inability to forge a
working alliance may be a factor in the election. Despite holding
several meetings, especially after the previous elections, the parties
could not get their act together to present a common candidate to
confront Mr Chime at the polls.

The candidates

For Mr Shere, the
contest is not only a battle to liberate the state from alleged
misgovernance, it is one aimed at putting down Mr Chime. Mr Okechukwu,
for his part, believes his vast political experience puts him ahead of

“My chances are
high because of my programme,” he said. “Job creation is a very serious
issue here. Over 80 percent of the youth are unemployed. We have a
programme that is very attractive to the youth. In the past 12 years,
the PDP government never had any programme on job creation.”

Mr Ezea, who is
running for the position for a second time, wants to use the election
to “reclaim” his mandate. The story in Enugu is that it was Mr Ezea who
won the governorship contest in 2007, but was overwhelmed by the PDP.
His attempt to get victory in the court also failed.

“My chances of
winning are very bright. This is not only because of my acceptance by
the people but the people’s belief that there is need for change in
Enugu State,” he said.

Mr Nnaedozie is not quite as visible as the others, though he is also a major force in the contest.

Among the lot, the
APGA candidate was the first to declare his intention to vie for the
position. However, apart from running the best campaign structure, the
sentiments attached by an average Igbo man to APGA may fetch him votes
even though this has hardly made any impact in the previous two

The governor’s
performance also matters. Some, including the elite in the state are
reportedly impressed with his performance, especially in the area of
road construction and rehabilitation.

“Our victory is
going to be landslide. We are expecting 95 percent of the votes because
of Chime’s performance,” said Festus Uzor, the director general of the
governor’s campaign organisation, last Thursday in a telephone

Even so, sources
say Mr Chime is still haunted by internal wrangling within the party,
which may affect his outcome. Anayo Onweugbu, who belongs to the other
faction of the state chapter of PDP thatis loyal to the former national
chairman, Mr Nwodo, is still claiming to be the party’s governorship

Mr Onwuegbu had threatened to go to Supreme Court after he lost his
battle at the Court of Appeal, but has allegedly come under pressure
from the presidency to back down.


Nigeria provides topical Nigerian news, discussions, information and links to everything Nigerian online.