The emergence of the member representing Udenu/Igboeze North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governorship candidate for 2015 general election has elicited reactions from some of the co-contestants.
Barely 24 hours after the party’s governorship primary, senator Ayogu Eze declared that he i’s the only candidate of the party. However, the jubilation that greeted Ugwuani’s emergence as the party’s flag bearer cuts across the length and breadth of the state.
The coordinator of the total mandate group, Mr. John Kennedy Chime described Ugwuanyi’ “a unifying factor, experienced and very focused to drive development in the state to a higher level”. Ugwuanyi scored 933 votes to defeat four other aspirants, including senator Ayogu Eze and the speaker of the Enugu state House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odo.
The speaker scored 26 votes while Sen. Eze, Dr. Sam Onyishi and Onyeke Onyeke were absent from the primary.
The primary held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu and was monitored by the PDP Electoral Panel led by King Asara Asara and representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, led by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Dr. Lawrence Azubuike.
In his acceptance speech, Ugwuanyi, who source described as the Biblical Joshua, thanked the delegates for the massive support and votes given to him. “Indeed, Enugu people have spoken and God has endorsed. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” he said.
He further appealed to aggrieved members of the party to return to the party and move the state forward.
The primary election that produced Ugwuanyi was attended by Governor Chime and his deputy Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye, Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, Former National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, members of the state and National Assembly and executive council.
Meanwhile, the endorsement of Ugwuanyi by Senator Ekweremadu, whose political camp controls majority of the elected party delegates in the state and the stepping down of two other governorship aspirants, Chief Anayo Onwuegbu and Hon Chinedu Onu clearly shows that Ugwuanyi is not only the choice of the Enugu people but also a unifying factor.
It could be recalled that Chime and Ekweremadu had been in a running battle until last Sunday when Ekweremadu was returned unopposed as the senatorial candidate for Enugu West and he publicly declared his support for Ugwuanyi, describing him as the “future of Enugu.”
He urged his supporters to vote for Ugwuanyi, who had been earlier endorsed by both governor Chime, Enugu state PDP caucus and other stakeholders as the party’s consensus candidate.
He said: “In the spirit of equity, we have all agreed that the governorship should go to Nsukka, so let us support Ugwuanyi. As you can see today, Chief Anayo Onwuegbu has withdrawn from the race; Chinedu Onu has also withdrawn, so I urge all our people to vote for Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; peace requires making sacrifices and that is what they have done.”
However, in a statement he personally signed and released, Senator Eze said the only PDP primary election in Enugu he knew was the one that produced him as candidate, declaring: “There was only one primary election in which the genuine delegates, elected on November 1, 2014 voted for me out of their free will.”
Eze who participated in a parallel primary election held at Filbon Hotel, Enugu said: “I ‘m the duly elected candidate of the party for the February general elections and no conspiracy and wishful thinking can stop me from fulfilling a God-ordained mission for the people of Enugu state.
On why he refused to participate at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, venue for the primary, Eze said: “What happened was that during the pre-primary briefing by the governorship primary Electoral Panel, the bewildered aspirants were told that the list of delegates given to the panel form Abuja was different from the names of delegates elected at the November 1, 2014 congresses in the state. The electoral panel was also shown a certified true copy of the list of delegates obtained form a Federal High court in Abuja, which it confirmed was different from the list given to them.
He further stated that he had reported to the panel that genuine delegates were being denied accreditation and entrance into the venue of the primary election adding “I was heading to the venue of the primary election when these frustrated delegates called me to address them at Filbon Hotel, New Heaven Enugu where they had already assembled to ponder their next move”
According to him, as soon as he arrived the venue, his supporters insisted they must conduct the primary. “They went ahead to elect me the PDP candidate” Eze said.
On Primary election held at Stadium which produced Ugwuanyi , Eze said “ The electoral panel commenced their work at the so called primary election venue late in the evening because the government had difficulty assembling people to come to the venue. They filled the stadium , venue of the supposed primary election with non-party members. It was an assemblage of passers by, touts, cheer leaders and office messengers who were hurriedly railroaded to the venue as a face saving measure”’. He said he had high regards for the governorship electoral panel headed by His Highness, King Asara Asara, adding “their hands were tied by the manipulations that produced the illegal list at the party Headquarters in Abuja and they clearly told all the aspirants so. The electoral panel addressed seven governorship aspirants at the pre-primary briefing but only two of the seven made it to the stadium with the panel because of the panel’s confession that the list of delegates given to them was different from the list obtained at congresses of November 1, 2014 in the 260 wards of Enugu State”.
The Senator declared that there could not have been another primary election in Enugu state saying “a gathering of jesters and non-party men could not have been described as a properly constituted forum of the party to elect a governorship candidate for our great party. Even the presence of a few responsible people at the venue was not enough to confer any respectability on such an illegal gathering. Governorship is too serious a business to be treated with such levity and carelessness”