By Dennis Agbo
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 18 aspirants had purchased the governorship forms for Enugu state.
Those who are said to have purchased the PDP nomination forms include 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, Dr. Kingsley Udeh, Rev. Ralph Nwoye, Dr. Abraham Nneji, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, Hon. Offor Chukwuegbo, 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 Nweke jnr, 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.
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, after 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 18 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 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. In the case of Udeh, he is generally unknown 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 is an objection in the state over return of power back to Nkanu west.
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. His has the advantage of ‘Ka Isi-Uzo Jee’, 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 is however the Man that the moods of the people tend to favour. 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 many feats he achieved in the Enugu Capital Territory, residents believe that it’s a test case of what he can achieve if given governorship. Onoh’s problem, however, is the law offenders, whom he could not give exemptions in enforcing them to abide by the town planning regulations, but that is where he gained the public support.
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. They contend that Enugu has down and needs the energy in the like of Onoh to bring back resilience to the state.
There is also the suspicion of Mr. Godwin Ogenyi’s entrant into the race. Ogenyi is a development consultant who was commissioned 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.