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In Enugu, excitement over 2023 election

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By Chibota Edozie

AS 2023 general elections draw nearer, politicians in Enugu State have commenced permutations, strategising, maneuvering, consultation and serious engagement in intrigues to ensure they outwit each other in the game of politics. lt seems it will no longer be business as usual with what is playing out now.    

    However, before now, previous elections in the state used to be smooth ride to elective positions as long as one belonged to the ‘anointed’ group who ordinarily emerged from a line-up. A few stakeholders usually gathered together to ‘ select’ who and who would go for what position(s). It had been a circle of persons privileged and loyal to perhaps, leaders of the party mostly the political party in government; thus, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as far as Enugu State is concerned.

  Initially, within the party, members used to be conversant with the names that will emerge as candidates before the primary elections and definitely, such names must win general elections.  This writer recalls vividly, in 1979,  Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the former President of Nigeria and Owelle of Onitsha was the leader of Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) in the old Anambra State. He ‘anointed’ Chief Jim Nwobodo and eventually, Nwobodo became the governership candidate of NPP and of course, won the governership race.

   Let us look at the 1999 general elections in Enugu State. The man who called the shots then was the former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo. He, no doubts, has charisma and fame working for him. He was profoundly known by the then national leadership of PDP. The national leader of the party was his political associate and confidant in the person of Chief Solomon Lar, now late. Jim was solidly behind Dr Chimaroke Ogbonna Nnamani, who eventually emerged as the candidate of PDP in the primary conducted at Hotel Presidential, Enugu. Dr Chimaroke later won the general election. Virtually everyone in the line-up of Chief Nwobodo from House of Assembly, House of Representatives to Senate, won the election. The rest is history.                           

 Undoubtedly, of course, the same scenario played out  in 2003 general election. That time, it was Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, who was the incumbent governor. He founded a formidable platform known as Ebeanor. History, definitely, will record him as a politician who gave the downtrodden, particularly, the youths opportunity to be in governance; people, who, abinitio, wouldn’t have dreamed of occupying any position in government. He succeeded in ensuring that his preferred candidates emerged and became victorious in the general elections. The emergence of Sullivan Chime was to his credit, like wise others.                        

  Nonetheless, there was never a strong opposition within and outside the party, PDP in the state. This helped immensely to ensure smooth sailing and cruising to victory by those ‘anointed’ by their political godfathers.                

  The system, obviously, was one characterised virtually by consensus. There usually existed greater influence by leader of the party, who incidentally used to be the incumbent governor of the state. Even the last but one, Governor Sullivan Chime was fully involved in the emergence of the current governor, Rt.Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. He was before then, member, House of Representatives,r epresenting lgboeze North and Udenu Federal Constituency at National Assembly.

  It was gathered that the only position that would have been ferociously contested was Enugu West Senatorial Zone, which was later won by Prof lke Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President. 

  Obviously, with what is currently playing out as far as 2023 general election is concerned, it seems it will not be business as usual. The game is becoming exciting, thrilling and dicey with the issue of zoning or no zoning taking centre stage.

It is no longer news that the former Deputy Senate President and current Senator, representing Enugu West, Prof Ekweremadu had indicated interest in the governorship of the state. Since his declaration of interest to run for governor, some politicians have continued to  call for press conferences/ press briefings, stressing the need to respect the zoning system.

This zoning system has been vehemently denied and rejected by those for the emergence of Ekweremadu as governor. The good and interesting thing is that for now, none of the groups is violent over the entire game. This writer also gathered that there have been nocturnal meetings by main stakeholders and that at the end of the game, the issues will be sort out.

 It is also believed that the national body of the party, eventually, will be involved to have truce by the major players of the game-Governor Ugwuanyi and Senator Ekweremadu. In the long run, this writer predicts that the ambition of some of the followers on both sides of divide will be punctured.    

   For now, the game is exciting, interesting with maneuvering and intrigues taking the centre stage. lt’s really dicey ,only time shall definitely tell.

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