Contention for ascendancy ahead of the 2015 round of general elections in Enugu State is ruffling feathers
By Tony Edike
THE endorsement of candidates by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stalwarts and prospective delegates in Enugu State ahead of the congresses for the nomination of candidates for the 2015 elections is raising dust within the party in the state.
The endorsement of candidates especially for the senatorial positions has created tension in the state chapter of the party with some aspirants for National Assembly positions already sourcing for alternative political parties if their chances in the ruling party were traded off.
Vanguard gathered that the leadership of the party which had been polarized on account of the endorsement of some candidates for the Enugu East and Enugu West Senatorial slots has expressed concern that the development could jeopardize the chance of the party in the forthcoming elections.
For instance, the endorsement and counter-endorsement of Governor Sullivan Chime and the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu by different groups in the five local government areas of Enugu West for the 2015 senatorial contest and a similar endorsement of the Chief of Staff to the state governor, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo as the sole candidate for Enugu East senatorial slot, have caused a sharp division among the party members.
Some party stakeholders who sensed that the development could cause serious animosity among PDP faithful in the state, had cautioned the Engr. Vita Abba-led party executive to put a stop to the gale of endorsement and counter-endorsement of candidates ahead of the party congresses in order to forestall intra-party feud that could lead to mass defection of the members to opposition parties.
While some groups within the Ezeagu, Udi, Awgu and Aninri local government chapters of the party have endorsed Chime and Ekweremadu for Enugu West senatorial seat at different meetings, some government functionaries in the party within Enugu East have also endorsed Mrs Nwobodo as the sole senatorial candidate thereby fore-closing the chances of other aspirants who have already declared their intention to contest the election on the platform of PDP.
Apart from Senator Gilbert Nnaji currently representing Enugu East at the senate, former Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani and former Information Minister, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr, had declared their interest to contest the senatorial election.
The leadership of the party in Nkanu West local government had last week passed a vote of confidence on Mrs.Nwobodo and also unanimously endorsed her as its sole candidate for the Enugu East Senatorial seat.
The motion for the adoption of Mrs. Nwobodo for the Enugu East Senatorial District seat was moved by Hon Iloabuchi Aniagu, Member Representing the local government in the State House of Assembly and seconded by Mrs. Ndidi Chukwu, the State Commissioner for Gender Affairs.
Speaking shortly before moving the motion during the meeting of the party stakeholders, at Agbani, Mr. Aniagu described Mrs. Nwobodo as a selfless leader who used her position to contribute immeasurably to the development of Nkanu land in particular and Enugu State in general.
The lawmaker noted that Mrs. Nwobodo is a very marketable commodity, a caring mother and woman of substance, adding that if given the mandate come 2015 general election, she would do more to the people of the zone far better than those who were there in the senate before her.
However, some stalwarts of the party from Enugu East have expressed concern over the ambition of Mrs. Nwobodo who is a native of Udi local government but married to an Nkanu man from Enugu West local government.
Those who spoke on her ambition argued that since Governor Chime who is from Udi local government is eyeing the Enugu West senatorial seat, it would be unfair to the Nkanu people for an Udi woman to represent them at the senate as that would amount to having two Udi natives representing two different zones at the senate.
The party chieftains who also reviewed the ongoing PDP membership registration exercise in the state, expressed concern over the alleged distribution of two different registers to the wards officials. They alleged that the ward officials were mandated to use one of the registers for the registration at the ward level after which the names of those believed to be loyal supporters would be entered into the second register that would be used for the forthcoming congresses.
Although the allegation was denied by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Dr Okey Eze, some ward officials confirmed that two registers were distributed to each of the over 260 wards for the membership registration but disclosed that one would be deposited with the state party chairman, Engr. Vita Abba, who would later direct them on how to transfer the names of those registered from the wards into the second register.
However, the party said that the registration was to enable those who left the party earlier to re-register their membership while those above 18 years who are willing to join the party would be given the opportunity to register.
Eze said the major component of the registration exercise was the issuance of membership card to new entrants, advising that the rumour of double register was meant to cause confusion and should therefore be ignored.