BY PETRUS OBI
The race to the Enugu Lion building will automatically come to its end, Saturday, when the people of Enugu State visit the polling booths once again to cast their votes.
The campaigns have been scorching. Mud has been thrown. Lies have been fabricated and well decorated. Facts have been distorted. All in a bid to discredit one another.
Apart from some bitterness and hate speeches here and there, it’s been very interesting as the candidates tried to woo voters.
It is the first time Enugu is feeling this heat since 1999. This has been attributed to the effect of LP, it’s Presidential candidate Mr. Peter Obi and the OBIdient Movement.
The unexpected results of February 25th Presidential and National Assembly elections in the State just like other States in the South East have threatened the dorminance of the PDP in Enugu State.
Top contenders: PETER MBAH (PDP)
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate Barr. Peter Mbah is seriously in contention. If not for the Obi and Labour Party impact, it would have been a walk in the park for him. But no, the challenges cannot be ignored. It is visible, it’s real, it’s threatening. And the PDP is aware of the reality on ground.
After the abysmal performance in the National Assembly elections where it picked up only one out of the 8 Reps positions, and one of the two concluded Senate positions, the party is throwing everything it has into Saturday guber polls. Failure will be disastrous as a whole lot of politcial actors will be retired. It’s the last fight, as the movies would put it.
The party redoubled it’s campaign efforts and has massively mobilized Enugu voters ahead the guber polls.
The PDP candidate Barr Peter Mbah on his part has proven to be a good commodity. He has shown desire to govern. His manifesto has also been commended. He has promised to turn Enugu around in terms of development.
CHIJIOKE EDEOGA (LP)
The former Commissioner crossed over to Labour Party, after losing out in the PDP Guber primary election.
Going by last Saturday results, Edeoga is the candidate to beat on Saturday. The Labour, OBIdient revolution is a big advantage to the former Reps member and journalist.
Edeoga who hails from Isi-uzo LGA in Enugu East Zone is enjoying the overwhelming support of the Enugu North Zone (Nsukka). Isi-uzo and Nsukka zone share the same cultural affinity. Being a minority in the Nkanu dominated Enugu East Zone, the Nsukka people see them as being marginalized by the Nkanu people. They feel it’s time to align with Isi-uzo and ’emancipate’ them from the alleged Nkanu dorminance.
Frank Nweke Jnr. (APGA)
A fine gentleman and tested administrator. The former Minister has campaigned vigorously ahead the coming polls. He hails from Ozalla, in Nkanu West Local Government Area.
Nweke is a strong contender and may benefit from the “Nkanu vs Nsukka” direction which the campaigns had assumed. He is qualified and has a rich manifesto to enhance development in the state.
He has the experience and cannot be wished away as Enugu goes to the polls.
Uche Nnaji (APC)
His party may not be popular in the state but Nwakibie as he is fondly called is loved by his people.
The Akpugo born businessman cannot be wished away in this contest as he appears to be keeping his strategy close to his chest. Pundits are keeping an eye on the APC flagbearer believing he could pull a stunt somewhere, somehow.
His closeness to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State is also keeping other parties on their toes.
However, the crisis in his party is affecting him as all the big wigs like former Senate President Ken Nnamani and former Governor Sullivan Chime have openly declared support for PDP’s Peter Mbah.
FACTS, FACTORS that will throw up the next Governor
Analysts believe that the guber poll in Enugu is a direct battle between the PDP and Labour Party. Yet, one would only ignore the APGA and APC candidates at his peril.
PDP has the structure to win Saturday’s election. They have the advantage of a sitting Governor. It is immense, and they are counting it should give them an edge going into the election. They also have a good candidate.
On the other hand, Edeoga, another good candidate with experience, has Labour Party and the OBIdient movement on his side.
He is also counting on the support of the Nsukka Zone who voted LP massively in the last election.
Nsukka has the highest voting power than other zones. Their six LGA’s plus Isi-uzo is seen as an advantage for Edeoga and his Labour Party.
Therefore, the ability of the PDP to turn the mind’s and voting fingers of Enugu masses against Labour can do the magic. If the band wagon voting for Labour continues, then there could be trouble.
Moreso, having three candidates from Nkanu, the vexed issue of Odenigbo and Amadi (the caste system) may also further split the votes of the Nkanu people.
The Urban Local Governments of Enugu East, Enugu North and Enugu South are also areas the PDP ought to watch.
The voting pattern in Enugu West where Edeoga’s running mate comes from will also play a vital role in who becomes the next governor.
Going by the voting pattern on February 25, analysts are of the view that the onus is on the PDP to turn the tide in their favour. Analysts also believe it’s a mission possible, yet difficult.
But, to achieve this, the PDP has to look inwards with rumours of sabotage from within the party. Major stakeholders who ought to diver the party are believed to have long sold out to the opposition.
The PDP must also break the Nsukka votes to stand a good chance of turning the table against Labour and the OBIdient movement in the state.
It will be a tight contest that could go either way. Barring all other unforseen circumstances and factors.