At the close of sales and submission of expression of interest and nomination forms of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the 2023 general election, on Friday, no less than 19 aspirants had purchased the governorship forms for Enugu state. Those who are said to have purchased the PDP nomination forms include Dr. Kingsley Udeh, Dr Josef-Ken Onoh, Mr Godwin Ogenyi, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, Prof. Bart Nnaji, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Pastor Beloved Dan Anike, Engr. Erasmus Anike, Senator Gil Nnaji, Capt. Everest Nnaji, Mr. Peter Mba, Dr. G.O.C Aja, Rev. Ralph Nwoye, Dr. Abraham Nneji, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, Hon. OfforChukwuegbo, Prof Jehu Nnaji and Prof. Hillary Edeoga.
Outside the PDP, the only other political party, where aspirants have indicated an interest in the governorship is in the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, where Mr Frank Nwekejnr, Chief Dons Udeh and Mr. Jeff Nnamani have reportedly purchased nomination forms for the governorship position. In the All Progressives Congress, APC, only Dr. Dave Nnamani from Isi-Uzo has openly indicated interest to contest the position, using the APC platform. Many other aspirants are expected as APC just commenced the sale of it’s nomination form at the time of this report.
One interesting feature of the aspirants is that 99.9 percent of them hail from Enugu East Senatorial district, except for Ike Ekweremadu, who is probably the only person in Enugu state that is insisting that there was no governorship zoning arrangement in the state. Since Ekweremadu declared interest to contest for the governorship, different groups, including political, traditional and religious leaders have in different ways asked him to respect the zoning convention in the state and avoid creating crisis in the state, yet Ekweremadu and his followers have insisted on the contest. His fate will be decided by the PDP delegates, if he succeeds, he will face the generality of the state at the polling units.
One of the present political confusions in the state is the inability of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to openly anoint a successor. The Governor has kept mute over his preference of who will succeed him, which made no less than the 19 aspirants buy the nomination forms at N21 million each, thus making the PDP rake up no less than N378 million from Enugu state alone. Ugwuanyi’s silence has led to so many allegations and insinuations, among them, is the allegation that the Governor’s proxies met with some of the aspirants outside Nigeria, where a deal was allegedly struck on who will succeed the Governor.
There is also an insinuation that the Governor may at the end of the day fool everybody into believing that he has a successor in mind whereas he has none and will throw the contest open for whoever is the mightiest. However, there is a belief that among the sea of aspirants are only three members of the Governor’s kitchen cabinet, who are believed to have been mentored by Ugwuanyi and whom the Governor may at the end of the day choose one out of the three to support as successor. The three are Dr Kingsley Udeh who is the Governor’s Adviser on Education; Hon. Chijioke Edeoga who has just resigned as the Commissioner for Environment and Dr Ken Onoh who is the Chairman of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA. Barr Peter Mba is also rumoured to be among the list of the likekly successor of Governor Ugwuanyi. Many know him as ‘Pinnacle Oil’.
It is rumoured that he is the choice of the Ebeano political family of the state and is being backed by former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani. In the case of Dr Kingsley Udeh, he is generally gaining popularity but his major albatross is his Nkanu west local government council of origin that produced former governor Chimaroke Nnamani who is presently a senator and has picked the 2023 nomination form to go back to the Senate. There appears to be an objection in the Enugu East Senatorial zone over return of power back to Nkanu west. But political pundits have surmised that such objection does not hold any water. This is because there already exist a precedence in Enugu West Senatorial zone where Udi Local Government Area had produced two past Governors of the state in the person of former Govenors CC Onoh and Sullivan Chime.
Dr Udeh seems to be the most favoured and a more acceptable aspirant to the youths owing to his young age. His intimidating resume of exposure and service experience with international bodies and within the state makes him stand tall. He is an aspirant to watch as he could spring surprise to emerge as Ugwuanyi’s successor.The Enugu residents said that they want a next governor who could provide the state with water, fix the dilapidated roads, re-event the Sullivan Chime urban renewal model and return the state to a true position of Eastern Nigeria’s capital. Dr Udeh’s strategic roles as former Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Development Aid Cordination and Mobilization seems to have equiped him for this. He also posses the youthful energy for such task.
Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, no doubt is a consummate politician, he has been around for a while, starting as a council chairman to the House of Representatives, Presidential Adviser and to being a commissioner. He has the advantage of ‘Ka Isi-UzoJee’, a campaign slogan that has thrown up issues of marginalization, discrimination by fellow senatorial constituents and a campaign of productivity by the Isi-Uzo people.
Dr. Ken Onoh could still be favoured.
The people said he is young, charismatic, and has proved that he has the courage to succeed in a task such as a governorship. With the efforts he made in the Enugu Capital Territory, residents believe that it’s a test case of what he could do if given governorship. Onoh’s problem, however, is the suspected law offenders, whom he could not give exemptions in enforcing them to abide by the town planning regulations, but that is where he gained popularity.
There is also the suspicion of Mr. Godwin Ogenyi’s entrant into the race. Ogenyi is a development consultant who was commissioner for Poverty Reduction and Human Capital Development under the Chime administration. His entrant into the race elicits concerns that he may throw a surprise in the contest.
The last but not the least is Barr. Nwabueze Ugwu. He is a constitutional lawyer based in Enugu. He was once a member of Enugu State house of Assembly representing Nkanu West constituency. Many will say that he has an uphill task and slim chances considering where he is coming from; Nkanu West which many are against them producing another Governor, considering the fact that the former Governor Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani is from the same Nkanu West with him.
Though in Nigerian Politics, anything is possible, Udi Local Government area having set the precedence of producing two Governors of the state that from Enugu West Zone. The supreme sacrifice of Hon Barr Ugwu’s brother in the altar of politics during the Chimaroke era gave him a popularity that capable of his consideration for the Gubernatotial seat. (To be continued in next edition)