Posted by Tony Adibe | 4 June 2017 | 3,250 times
On Saturday, May 6, 2017, at Udi in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, former Governor Sullivan Chime formally joined the APC, a move that seems to have rattled power brokers in the state.
Udi, Aninri, Awgu, Oji River and Ezeagu local government areas make up the Enugu West senatorial zone.
Daily Trust on Sunday recalls that in 2015, the PDP denied Chime a ticket to the Senate. Observers said that action was as a result of “political manipulation” by the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, who eventually got the ticket for his third term in the National Assembly.
Political watchers believe that since then, the relationship between the two politicians has not been cordial.
However, during the five-hour meeting, Senator Ekweremadu told the huge crowd: “We are here today for an expanded zonal executive committee meeting of the PDP in Enugu West. It may appear like a rally, but far from it. It’s just a meeting. If we organise a rally, this venue will not accommodate all of us.”
He further explained that the meeting was to decide what would happen in the state come 2019, noting that because they were democrats, they decided to invite all the stakeholders of the party in the zone.
The event was attended by members of the National Assembly, the Enugu State House of Assembly, state and local government functionaries, traditional rulers who came in their numbers, women wings, town unions, youth wings, taxi drivers associations, tricycle riders associations, among others.
But beyond the reasons announced by Ekweremadu, Daily Trust on Sunday was reliably informed by an official of the party in the zone that aside endorsing Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for a second term, “the other reason is to counter the so-called big crowd at the defection of Chime at the Udi political rally on Saturday, May, 6 2017.”
“Chime wanted to show that he had political influence in the Enugu West senatorial zone. But if you looked at the crowd today, you would notice that it was three times that of Udi. Chime doesn’t have political influence in Enugu West. Even as governor, Ekweremadu was able to surmount him by first of all going back to the Senate against all odds,” he said.
Besides, other sources said Chime’s defection to the APC had opened a new frontier of rivalry between him and Ekweremadu, with high suspicion that 2019 would be another battle time.
It appears that Ekweremadu is now combining forces with the incumbent governor to whittle down what remains of Chime’s political empire in the state.
But an aide to Chime, who pleaded anonymity, said, “With Chime’s outing during his formal defection to the APC at Udi, you can be sure that he still has political influence, whether anybody believes it or not. Chime is not a noisemaker. What he does is usually kept to his chest.”
In the meeting, Ekweremadu disclosed the decision of the PDP to support Governor Ugwuanyi to continue in office come 2019, saying he deserved the support of the zone because of his remarkable feats and love for the people of the zone.
Senator Ekweremadu later donated two brand new Toyota Hummer buses for the governor’s 2019 campaign, which he declared must commence same day, noting that the donation was to consolidate on the decision of the zone.
“These buses will start their campaign today. One is for our state executive and the other is for the zonal executive. Our mission here is fulfilled. We came here to take stock of Ugwuanyi’s two years in office,’’ the senator said.
The meeting witnessed a large turnout of party faithful and supporters from the zone and beyond, as well as mass defection of hundreds of members from other parties to the PDP. The defectors said they were from the APC, Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
While appreciating the people’s support for his government, Ugwuanyi said local government election would hold in the state this year. He further told the huge crowd that his government would reconstitute the membership of the state boards and re-energise the structure of governance for more effective service delivery.
But since he assumed office, the governor has always said his administration could not conduct the council election due to lack of funds. No one knows where he will raise fund for the local government poll.
The deputy governor of the state, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo said, “We the people of the zone decided to follow you because you are a man of peace. We are going to double our support and votes for you in 2019.”
Also speaking, the pioneer chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Charles C. Egumgbe, who is currently the Commissioner for Water Resources, said the PDP was the only party as far as Enugu State was concerned.
“We are telling the governor that there is no fear. At the end, the PDP will deliver the state as usual,” he said.
A member of the House of Representatives for Udi/Ezeagu constituency, Dennis Amadi, also said, “The people of Udi have broken all the political shackles to enable our people to tap the benefits of democracy.”
Furthermore, another member of the House of Representatives (Aninri, Awgu, Oji River constituency), Toby Okechukwu, emphasised that they would continue to support the PDP.
“We are not supporting you in vain; we are supporting you for the things you have done here - the projects sited in our zone,” he told the governor, adding that those leaving the PDP would later regret their action.
The Deputy Speaker, Enugu State House of Assembly, Okey Uzogbado, who hails from Oji River, said: “The 2019 governorship election is going to be the easiest because right now, there is no vacancy in the Lion Building (Government House) Enugu.”
Receiving the new members from other political parties, the state chairman of PDP, Chief Austin Nnamani, assured them of equal opportunities, noting that the party does not discriminate against its members, whether new or old. He said he was happy that nobody forced them to defect from their former parties to the PDP.
The spokesperson for the defectors, who said he was a member of the APC, Chief Martins Nnukwuagu, said the partnership between Ekweremadu and Ugwuanyi was the greatest thing that had happened in the politics of the state.
“We had a series of meetings before taking our decision, so our action is irrevocable. We were not forced to join the PDP,” Nnukwuagu said.
One of the defectors, who claimed she contested for the Senate on the platform of APGA in 2015, Mrs Adaeze Ijeoma Chukwu said: “I contested for the Senate in 2015, but a whole lot of things have happened. I love my party, APGA, but unfortunately, it is dying gradually. It is not the APGA I used to know. I now decided to join the PDP.”
She, however, advised Ugwuanyi not to sleep with his two eyes closed as he prepares for the race to 2019.
Responding, Governor Ugwuanyi said, “I will appeal to you all to pray for me and Senator Ekweremadu because we cannot do it without God. Enugu is in the hand of God.”
*Sourced from Daily Trust on Sunday.
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