BY PETER OKUTU
The senatorial races in Ebonyi State have unfolded to straight contests restricted to present and former members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Former members of the PDP are contesting against the PDP using mainly the platforms of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Ebonyi became the main attraction for the ANPP following the election of the erstwhile governor of the State Dr. Ogbonnonya Onu as the national chairman of the party. The strength of the party in the State has also been lifted with the defection of Senator Julius Ucha to the party.
Present Occupant: Senator Anthony Agbo – Defeated in PDP primaries.
The candidates bidding to serve the Ebonyi North Senatorial district seat presently occupied by Senator Anthony Agbo are Chief Chris Nwankwo of the PDP, Engr. Fide Nwankwo of the ANPP and Tim Eji for APGA.
Chief Chris Nwankwo
Nwankwo was a one-time secretary to the state government of old Anambra State. His decision to run for the senatorial seat came to the people of the zone as a surprise considering the fact that the incumbent senator in the zone, Senator Agbo is regarded in some quarters as having performed fairly. Assumptions that Agbo could be a shoo-in for a second term were discarded when Nwankwo, an in-law to Governor Martin Elechi, who is from Izzi clan, indicated interest in the senatorial seat of the zone.
His emergence as the PDP candidate is believed to have been helped by his relationship with the administration in the State.
In spite of the obvious edge Nwankwo seems to have over other candidates from the zone, it is also true in some quarters that the incumbent Senator of the zone, who lost dramatically during the PDP primary election, might pull his weight secretly behind any other aspirant from the opposing political party as a way of registering his grievance over his defeat.
Engr. Nwankwo is an old politician with over two decades experience. He was the former Chairman of Izzi local government area in the early 90s and also a former Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commissioner, INEC, in charge of Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra states. An Engineer by training, he later became the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Cement Company, Nkalagu.
He is liked by the people of his zone owing to his track record of reaching out to them in whatever state they find themselves. He is known for his inclination to the youths, award of scholarship to students and infrastructural development in Izzi local government area of the state.
Statistically, he belongs to the most populous section of Izzi clan, the Umueru people as against Igbojima people were his opponent in PDP, Chief Chris Nwankwo hails from. It is believed that this calculation and other factors like, his people’s yearning for an opportunity in government would favour him at the polls.
Ebonyi South Present Occupant:
Senator (Elder) Anyim Ude (PDP); Defeated in PDP primaries.
Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP)
Ogbuoji, who emerged as the senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South senatorial district in the last primary election of PDP, was by all indications the government candidate for the seat. He was the former local government chairman of old Afikpo local government area during the then military dispensation.
Barrister Idu Igariwey (ANPP)
He was the former Chairman of Afikpo North local government area of Ebonyi state for two tenures during Dr. Sam Egwu’s administration. As a founding member of PDP in the state before his decampment to the ANPP, he is widely known for his doggedness, bravery and commitment to any course he believes in.
He is a grassroot politician believed to command the support and solidarity of his people. Having been belittled by his former political party, it is believed that he would use all means to clinch the senatorial seat of his zone as a way of proving a point that he is popular and that PDP made a mistake by letting him leave the party in the first place.
Present Occupant: Senator Emmanuel Onwe (APGA)
Paulinus Igwenwagu (PDP)
He is presently, the member representing Ezza North/ Ishielu Federal constituency in the House of Representatives and was former chairman House of Committee on Police Affairs between 2007 -2008.
CHIEF UGO CHIMA (ANPP)
Chief Ugo Chima has been in the Federal House of Representatives for the third time since 1999 and his decampment to ANPP was consequent upon his inability to win the last PDP primary election that would have aided his return for the fourth time.
He was the former Chairman of Ohaneze Indigbo, Ebonyi state chapter before his nomination by PDP to run for the House of Reps, a member he is till date. Political assessment of his personality shows that he is comfortable with his present party, having once occupied the position of the National Vice Chairman of ANPP, South East prior to his decampment to PDP.
Though he has experience on his side, his age may count against him among the youths.
Senator Emmanuel Onwe
Onwe, is the present Senator representing the district in the Senate. He was sworn in after about three years of litigation with Senator Julius Ucha over who was the legitimate candidate of the PDP in the 2007 election. Though he won the case, his victory as a PDP senator was short termed as he subsequently decamped to APGA.
His modus operandi, civility and decorum in pursuing his political ambition have endeared him to older politicians in the state and also to the youths.
But his undoing might come from the negative influence of the state government or PDP who never wanted him to run for Senate in the first place.