2019: Ebonyi’s Year of Uncertainties

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The political climate in Ebonyi is gradually gathering momentum ahead of 2019 general election. Political big wigs have started reaching out to supporters and loyalists. Benjamin Nworie considers the chances of the political gladiators in the state.

The political climate is gradually gathering momentum in Ebonyi State ahead of the 2019 general election. Political big wigs have started reaching out to supporters and loyalists. Public domain is now filled with speculations and permutations on what the general election will look like.

The speculators have equally turned themselves into electoral

umpire with powers to determine how the positions will be won and lost. Some have genuine political analysis to back up their predictions while some were motivated by angers and wishful thinking. These group would like to see politicians who have failed them lose the elections.

The local government elections held in the state last Saturday would also reverberate in the future depending on how

aggrieved aspirants were pacified. Otherwise, dissatisfied aspirants may in the future resort to playing the spoiler games in retaliation.

Within the administration of Governor David Umahi, there are moves to edge out some people believed to have exceeded their usefulness. However, no matter the calculations in any quarter, the outcome of the 2015 governorship election in the state had become an eye opener and might set the tone for the political intrigues that will shape the 2019 elections.

Before 2015, elections in the state had always been the outcome of harmonization and zoning while victory started with the successes at the party primaries. Since the creation of Ebonyi state, elections were contested and won at the stage of primaries. Most times, the party primaries were just to fulfill electoral requirements since all positions were at the mercy of the governor and a few cabals who distributed them to suite their political interest.

This anti-democratic system in Ebonyi continued until 2015 when Umahi, who was the deputy governor of the former governor,

Martin Elechi opened the floodgate of free political participation by

daring his “boss” against all odds and launched his governorship

ambition. His success at the poll proved to all that it could be done without the support of godfathers.

Umahi succeeded but the foundation he laid may trigger another unprecedented challenge against the old practice of zoning elective offices by kingmakers and political parties big wigs. Analysts have always argued that time has gone when positions are shared in the state.

Umahi’s second tenure may be a smooth ride but it may not be business as usual as witnessed in the last general election when most of the winners scaled through by merely aligning with the governor. This time, the governor himself has maintained that everybody must go to the field. Some of the serial beneficiaries of harmonization are now jittery. They fear that going to the field may expose their vulnerability.

Before the council elections, most of the ‘food is ready’ politicians insisted on zoning and harmonization to pave

way for their emergence but the governor insisted on free

participation for everybody.

Though Umahi knows that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains the visible political platform in

the state, he would not toy with

the fortunes of the party by electing unpopular candidates that may bring bad luck for the party in 2019, especially now that APC controls the Federal government.

The only area the governor may have some difficulties is how to

manage vested interest in the House of Representatives and the

Senate. Hope dangles that the occupants of the senatorial positions may find it very difficult to win the heart and support of their people for reelection.

They are Senator Sam Egwu ( Ebonyi North); Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi

Central) and Senator Sunday Ogbuorji (Ebonyi South). Egwu played prominent role in the emergence of the present administration in the state but his effort seems duly compensated with his senatorial position. However, people interested in taking the position from him are many. However, if not because of the circumstances of the 2015 governorship elections where most of them benefitted from the electoral ‘promo”, it

would have been difficult for any of them to even win any election in the state.

Senator Sam Egwu:

Egwu was the first civilian governor of Ebonyi state. During his

administration, he led a solid foundation in the education sector,

where free primary education was compulsory. This was his major legacy but the administration of Martin Elechi diminished Egwu’s political

impact and relegated him to the background. Most of the cabals in

Egwu’s administration were used against him to the point of whittling down his political relevance.

It was Umahi that brought Egwu back to the limelight by helping him to win election as a senator after his controversial attempt in 2007 when it was rumoured that he planted Senator Anthony Agbo as a stooge to stand for him in the primaries. The arrangement was that should Egwu’s presidential ambition become a mirage, he would take back the senatorial ticket but Agbo threw the purported arrangement to the wind and held on to his ticket.

Egwu’s emergence however aggravated the anger of the Izzi block who viewed his election as against the principles of equity, justice and fairness, some of the principles upon which Umahi’s election was based. The people of Ebonyi Council Area, in Izzi clan have cried out over marginalization since the

creation of Ebonyi state. It is the only council area out of the four in

the zone that has yet to produce a senator.

Not only that the people of Ebonyi local government are angling for

Egwu’s replacement, the entire Izzi political bigwigs are battle ready to slog it out with Egwu if he fails to read the

handwriting on the wall. However, Egwu is still at the mercy of the governor, who can help him win reelection.

Umahi has won the hearts of Ebonyi people with developmental strides and welfare packages that he’s highly rated in the state. Egwu and Umahi have been so intimate that the senator’s relevance and influence have continued to blossom. He also remained at the mainstream of Umahi’s

administration.

But Umahi has been advised to dispose Egwu and build

his political enclave like Egwu did in his eight years, rather than

consolidating the enclave of the former governor while in office.

Some of the interested contestants include the first Minister of State for Power and Steel from the state, Chief Goddy Ogbaga. Ogbaga hails from Ebonyi LGA . He is contesting on the strength of equity, fairness and justice.

Others include Former Minister for State for Health and

Director-General of Umahi’s Divine Mandate Campaign, Organization, Fidelis Nwankwo; Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga, member representing Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency; Senator Sylvanus Ngele and others.

The stakeholders and youth of Izzi clan are divided over

Egwu’s reelection. An indicator was obvious during the last

empowerment programme of Egwu which ended in shambles as

stakeholders could not reconcile the multiple lists which represented the factions in the zone.

Senator Sunday Ogbuorji

Ogbuorji is a two-term Senator of Ebonyi south zone. His reelection in 2015 almost became a mirage, but for his decision to team up with Umahi’s PDP. During the face-off between Elechi and Umahi, Ogbuorji did not initially come open with a choice of political platform.

He started with Labour Party which was at the heart of the former governor before he tricked his way to the PDP and gained nomination. Since his reelection, observers have noted that Ogbuorji has not attended or participated in any programme of the state government.

This has further lent credence to speculation that he’s eyeing the governorship position in 2019. But nobody knows whether he will do so on PDP or APC platform.

A close source to the senator revealed that Ogbuorji may not like to gamble with his money to challenge Umahi but he may decide to elicit fear and tension to be allowed for a third term in the senate. Not minding the perceived antics, Umahi has already declared Ogbuorji’s seat vacant in 2019. Notwithstanding, the position of the governor, Ogbuorji may still be exploring

other option of joining the APC should the PDP deny him nomination.

Apart from fear of nomination, Ogbuorji has been adjudged low in

performance in the zone. The people of the south zone said they were yet to experience any dividends from him. Other possible replacement

may come at the mercy of the governor, who will go to the drawing

board and then choose a good representative for his zone. A

serving commissioner, Francis Orji and former deputy governor,

Chigozie Ogbu are interested in the position. However, a close source said the governor has some reservations on the seat.

Senator Obinna Ogba

Ogba is a football activist and senator representing Ebonyi Central.

He was the highest beneficiary of his predecessor, Senator Paulinus Igwe’s big political ambition. Igwe nursed governorship ambition in PDP but when he discovered that Umahi had exerted full control over the PDP structure, he switched to the Labour Party where he served as running mate of the LP’s governorship candidate, Edward Nkwegu.

Informed source hinted that Igwe was begged to return to the

Senate but he refused to enable him answer the “clarion call’ from his people to take a shot at the governorship office. Ogba’s emergence was as a result of Igwe’s defiance on his new aspiration in 2015 that further pushed the former senator to the opposition party where he parleyed with his political

“enemies” and cruised to defeat.

After his victory, other political bigwigs now seeing Ogba as occupying an unmerited position. They argued he did not deserve to get the position. Many believe that Ogba will have many strong

opponents to contend with from across the populous clans in the state.

The people of Ikwo are battle ready for Ogba if he continues to

neglect them in the scheme of things. But their complaint does not

deter many speculations that political heavyweights from the council will slog it out with the senator and any attempt to stop any of them may boomerang and affect the fortunes of the PDP negatively.

Though Ogba is performing creditably well but his presence is argued not to have been felt in Ikwo council area. However, unlike Egwu and Ogbuorji, Ogba is close to his people and accessible to them all the time.

He’s also love by his people due to his empowerment programmes.

Already, the chairman of the Elders Council and a former Minister of Culture

and Tourism Tourism, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu; the deputy governor, Mr

kelechi Igwe and another strong loyalist of the governor in the

council area are possible replacement. Meanwhile, a close source had quoted the member representing Ezza South/ Ikwo Federal constituency to have boasted that nothing would stop Ogba’s reelection.

However, the decision of the 2015 governorship candidate of APC, Senator Julius Ucha, who conceded defeat to Umahi and refused to challenge his defeat, to remain silent, is a source of worry in some quarters. Many believe that Umahi may have extended the olive branch to Ucha to allow the sleeping dog.

Ucha is a chieftain of APC but as interest supersedes political

affiliations, he may likely have strange rethink.

Umahi….in charge in Ebonyi

However, the decision of the 2015 governorship candidate of APC, Senator Julius Ucha, who conceded defeat to Umahi and refused to challenge his defeat, to remain silent, is a source of worry in some quarters.

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