•Lights up gov, legislative races
By Dennis Agbo
EVER since former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the Labour Party, LP, his popularity has caused a paradigm shift among politicians, particularly those who were unable to achieve their ambitions in their previous political parties such as the PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In Enugu State, most aspirants in the PDP who lost tickets of the party easily found the Labour Party as the alternative and influx of the displaced PDP aspirants into the LP is overwhelming the party’s leadership. The interested governorship and legislative aspirants swooped on the party with the same force they left their former political parties.
On the issue of governorship, the Labour Party was besieged by two aspirants from the PDP and one from the APC. Although the LP fielded a governorship candidate in 2011, the coming of the three aspirants — Dr. Dave Nnamani, Chief Evarest Nnaji and Mr. Chijioke Edeoga has further altered calculations to boost the popularity of the party in Enugu.
After so much intrigues and parley, Nnamani stepped down for peace to reign and for the party to move forward. The contest was then left between Nnaji and Edeoga.
The LP leadership in Enugu State under Mr. Casmir Agbo, who was a place holder of the governorship slot, conducted a repeat primary election for his substitution with Edeoga as the sole contestant.
Edeoga was subsequently said to have been nominated and given a certificate of return by the party, without recourse to Nnaji, who since then has cried blue murder.
Nnaji is said to have lodged an action at Abuja High Court with the matter expected to be dispensed before the September 27 deadline of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for publication of list of governorship candidates in all political parties.
LP in turmoil
Ever since then, the Labour Party in Enugu State has been in turmoil over the actual candidates of the party both for governorship and National Assembly positions. Some members of the party have accused the leaderships in Enugu and Abuja of deceit and corruption in the management of interests of candidates of the party in Enugu State.
The climax of the Labour Party crises in the state came to a head on Saturday August 27 when Nnaji who insists that he was short-change and is supposed to be the authentic Enugu governorship candidate, organized an Obi-dient walk and conference in support of Mr. Peter Obi’s presidential quest.
However, the largely attended function was interrupted by Chijioke Edeoga’s supporters who took offence at the mention of Evarest Nnaji as the governorship candidate of the party.
The ‘Charity Begins At Home’ conference for Obi’s support was attended by National officers of the party including the party’s National Legal Adviser, Akimbade Oyelekan; National Vice Chairman representing the TUC, Dr. Ayo Olorunfemi; National Vice Chairman representing the NLC, Mrs. Ladi Illiya; Spokesman of the Third Force, Dr. Yunusa Tanko; and the convener of the 40 million ballot Revolution, Comrade Kennedy Iyere.
At the Conference, the leader of Odengene People’s Movement, OPM, Chief Everest Nnaji, who expressed confidence that the party would rectify the anomaly of Enugu governorship candidature, said that he was very concerned about Peter Obi’s presidential bid and pledged to establish structures for Obi in all the 260 wards of Enugu State. He said that it would be a shame if Peter Obi is elected President without the votes of his people in the South-East as Ndigbo must be passionate about the clamour for Peter Obi.
“Nigerians have in the past acted as though they didn’t want an Igbo president but today we have Nigerians from all tribes and religions coming together to choose one of our own. To say to us we have found one of you, your own son, your blood who is qualified and they can be trusted to lead the nation. If the other Nigerians say we have found your own worthy we must come together and form a base here. We cannot be on the back of the pages. We must be at the forefront and that is the reason for saying that Charity Begins At Home,” Nnaji said.
Edeoga however went on Radio the following day to accuse Nnaji of being an impostor, arguing that he was the authentic governorship candidate of the state.
Spokesman of the Third Force, Yunusa Tanko said that Labour party issue in Enugu state was because of the attraction to the Peter Obi candidacy but that the party tries to amicably resolve such issues because of the primary interest of Peter Obi for President.
“If there is discord here and there, which is normal in politics, we try to try to find a way out of those discords to the advantage of the people in Enugu state and to a large extent, the people of Nigeria and of course our principle Peter Obi. We came to mobilize because Evarest Nnaji believes in Obi and on the issue of the governorship candidate; the party has the sole right to bring in a candidate within the ambient of the law. If anybody feels disenfranchised within the process, he has the right to challenge that particular process in the court of Law, but the sole right of presenting a candidate is in the hands of a political party. Nnaji has exemplified capacity and showed love to the Peter movement and we are eternally grateful for what he has done for us,” Tanko said.
For legislative positions, there are hiccups from place holders in the Labour Party for Senate and House of Representatives, refusing to step down for emergence of incumbent National Assembly members who were displaced in the PDP, following their alliance with Senator Ike Ekweremadu who lost out in the PDP.
In Enugu West Senatorial district for instance, Comrade Uche Ekwe, a renowned labour leader who was in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2023, has allegedly refused to step down for Mr. Dennis Amadi to emerge as the Senatorial candidate.
Amadi is the anointed successor of Ekweremadu before Ekweremadu lost grip in PDP, hence his structure’s decision to move into the Labour Party. Uche Ekwe’s refusal has also stalled the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, from also taking the LP ticket for fourth term bid in the lower House because both Ekwe and Okechukwu are from the same ward in Awgu local government area.
In Enugu East Senatorial District, there is an allegation that the Labour Party candidate for the Senate is a supporter of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani who is the candidate of the PDP seeking for third term in the Senate after serving as governor between 1999 and 2007. Nnamani’s only perceived challenge is the APC candidate, Ada Ogbu who many people do not take seriously because of her gender and the big stature of Chimaroke Nnamani.
The major candidate of the Labour Party in the zone is Prof. Paul Nnamchi, who is going for Enugu East/Isi-Uzo House of Representatives seat. His academic credentials are intimidating when compared to the incumbent, Mr. Cornelius Nnaji of the Igwe Edward Nnaji family dynasty. Nnamchi also has the advantage of Chijioke Edeoga’s sensitization and sympathy in the constituency where Edeoga hails from and had represented in the lower chamber between 1999 and 2003.
In Enugu North Senatorial District the PDP and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi are having sleepless nights over Labour Party concentration and threat to vote against the PDP in all positions including governorship and Senate. Governor Ugwuanyi has the PDP Senate ticket but some of his Nsukka people are calling for his head for refusing to cede the governorship ticket to Edeoga, whom they consider as their own despite his Enugu East Senatorial District affiliation.
Thus, they have threatened to give Ugwuanyi a run for the Enugu North Senate seat. They have therefore drafted 2011 LP Governorship Candidate, who was also APC governorship candidate in 2015, Chief Okey Ezea into the Enugu North Senate bid to challenge Ugwuanyi.
Ezea, however, has the challenge of the placeholder of the ticket, Mr. Ike Ugwu, who has insisted on running.
PDP’s Mbah takes lead in gov race
On the issue of the governorship election in the state, the PDP candidate, Mr. Peter Mbah seems to be taking the lead for now until the Labour Party clears the air on its true candidates.
Mbah has been going around local government areas mobilizing support. He enjoys the backing of Governor Ugwuanyi and Chimaroke Nnamani. His opponents said that he may have difficulty in the election if Edeoga gets the LP ticket especially in Nsukka areas which have about 48 percent of the Enugu State voters.
The APC Governorship Candidate, Chief Uche Nnaji, emerged as the only aspirant of his party but his party is presently in big crisis following the revolt against the leadership in the state led by Mr. Ugochukwu Agballah.
Stakeholders of the party such as Senator Ken Nnamani; former Governor Sullivan Chime; Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; and VON-DG, Osita Okechukwu, among others recently petitioned the national leadership of the APC asking for Agballah’s removal because of their alleged exclusion from the party since Agballah became the state chairman. The APC is still swimming in the tide of this crisis which has not allowed the party’s candidates in the state to become very visible.