By Prince Petrus Obi.
The rally was astounding. Attendance was stunning. The aims and objectives were clear. And the message was clearly delivered to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Yes, the race for who replaced Ugwuanyi in 2023 has begun. The top contenders are already known. And the behind the scene scheming, horse trading is on.
Zoning is a major issues that has cropped up in the build up to the 2023 elections. Some have called for a stakeholders meeting for the issue to be addressed. For this school of thought, there was never a time in the the past that the people met and agreed on a zoning arrangement. They argue that in 1999 all the zones contested and Enugu East zone won through Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. From then it rotated through the two other zones. Having gone round, they argue it’s time to come to the drawing board.
But the people of Enugu East insist that the zoning has enthroned peace and should continue the way it’s going. Therefore, Enugu East zone should without issues get the guber position.
The issue of Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu has not said he is running for Governor in 2023, yet there are strong indications that he may run.
His people of Enugu West are of the view that the position should be thrown open having gone round the zone. Others who are supporting Ekweremadu see him as a good candidate having performed excellently as a senator. For them, competency should not be sacrificed on the alter of zoning. Enugu deserves the best, and should not be denied this opportunity; they assert.
Recall that Ekweremadu fell out with former governor Sullivan Chime after the then governor unanimously announced, in 2015, that the governorship position had been zoned to Enugu North.
Ekweremadu contended that Sullivan out to have called a Stakeholders meeting where such a decision ought to have been taken.
The fear of Nkanu people
The Nkanu people seem not comfortable with the signs that Ekweremadu could run for Governor come 2023. Having spread his tentacles across the three zones of Enugu State, the senator has made him popular in the State. Holding sway as Deputy President of the Senate Ekweremadu provided social amenities, scholarships, bursary, among other incentives to communities outside his constituency. Ekweremadu attracted several infrastructural projects like roads, water and electricity such that no other senator ever, from South East can compete with. He also gave appointment to so many even beyond Enugu State. There are therefore fears that his joining the race could throw spanners in the wheels.
Again, there are fears, though not substantiated, that Ugwuanyi may have a pact to handover power to Ekweremadu at the end of his tenure.
There are also fears that Ekweremadu could use his contacts in the PDP to ‘steal’ the party guber ticket.
Furthermore, the people of Nkanu who dominate the Enugu East zone, made up of six local governments fear that Ugwuanyi may favour Isi-uzo LGA who are also part of the zone. Ugwuanyi appears to have candidates he is considering for the position. But the Nkanu’s appear not disposed to an Isi-uzo candidacy in 2023. They argue that even though Isi-uzo is in Enugu East, that they are of Nsukka cultural zone, and giving them power is like retaining power in Nsukka, where the incumbent comes from.
Nkanu people are ready to have a go at the Governoship position in 2023 and cannot be stopped. They said this much at the rally and sent warning signals to the other zone.
Former Commissioner Barr. Ray Nnaji in a recent interview with EverydayNews warned of danger if the selection of the next governor is not collectively done involving all major stakeholders.
He even threatened that the PDP will lose Enugu should Ekweremadu get the party ticket.
But going by the body language of Governor Ugwuanyi, and his speech at the Okpara Square rally, power appears to be shifting to Enugu East zone.
And by EverydayNews findings the top contenders include, Chief Chinyeaka Ohaa, Engr. Evarest Nnaji (Ondengene’) Barr. Peter Mba, Rt. Hon Edward Ubosi, Hon Chijioke Edeoga and Hon Augustine Nnamani.