Why PDP Won All Council Seats in Enugu

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Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

The decision of voters to support the Peoples Democratic Party during last Saturday’s ‎council elections in Enugu State was an acknowledgment of the people-oriented work the governor, Ifenayi Ugwuanyi has done, writes Jonathan Eze

After the victory of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi at the poll in 2015, many political watchers were not sure of what he would bring. Perhaps, they had rationalised that he would not be able to equal or even surpass the achievements of his predecessor.

But barely three years, Ugwuanyi has changed the political and economic landscape of the coal city state. His posture and programmes reveal a man who came prepared for the job of governance.

The governor has built roads, invested in education at all levels, promoted sports, developed capacity and has empowered the people. Wherever he goes, he looks out for the downtrodden. He feels their pulse and supports them. He has integrated rural development into his administration’s other key policies of economic growth, social services and employment generation.

For example, Nsukka, my country home used to be an eye-sore. Dirty and infrastructurally decayed. Nothing can be pointed at as either a state or federal project. From Obukpa, to Opi, Enugu Ezike, Ibagwa Aka and Ibagwa Ani were all abandoned and neglected by successive administrations which paid lip service to the development of infrastructure in Nsukka. The narrative however changed when Gburugburu came in. He started with the dualisation of the Opi-Nsukka road which was of central to the overall development of the university city.

Now, Nsukka now flaunts the toga of a capital city even though it is not. Indigenes and even visitors are now so proud of their country home. Besides the road networks, Ugwuanyi embarked on massive rural electrification thereby bringing back night life to the once dead town.

Other roads completed by the governor are the Oberechara Road junction-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels Junction Road; Post Office Roundabout-Odenigbo Roundabout-Ogurugu Road-Ikenga Hotels Junction Road; Enugu Road (Nsukka) Junction -Umezedi-Nru Junction and the University Gate Road.

Another is the construction of the Udenu Ring Road. The project which covers 42 kilometres and passes through seven communities, has always featured in the state’s budget without execution since the early 80’s before this administration broke the jinx and awarded the contract for its construction.

Beyond road construction, however, the administration has also activated the major water project for the area and approved the construction of a 200-bed specialist hospital in Orba. These are in addition to several electrification projects that will all feed into the city’s urban development profile.

The 9th Mile Corner which is seen as an economic hub in the state as well as the South -east region, has also been visited by the governor.

He believes that the 9th Mile sub-urban is an economic hub that the state needs to harness in order to enjoy the benefits of its newly acquired status as a free trade zone.

The people are excited about what is going on because, hitherto, they had lived with bad roads for as long as they could remember.

Alas, even if the election is to be repeated, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will win again because of the good works of the governor.

Little wonder, the people of Enugu came out en masse to exercise their civic rights by voting the PDP across the 17 local councils. It was a special way of reciprocating the kindness and thoughtfulness of his good job so far.

When the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) declared candidates of the (PDP) as the winners of the November 4 local government council elections in the state, it was jubilation in all the nooks and crannies of the state.

Chairman of the commission, Chief Mike Ajogwu (SAN), who announced the results at the commission’s headquarters in the state, said the ruling party cleared the 17 chairmanship seats.

But the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), through the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, dismissed the election as a sham, insisting that the officials of ENSIEC were card-carrying members of the PDP handpicked to do the bidding of the ruling party.

On his part, the APC’s state chairman, Ben Nwoye, also expressed dismay over the conduct of the election in the state.

Okechukwu and Nwoye reacted to the outcome of the elections which they alleged were marred by late arrival of electoral materials among other irregularities.

Okechukwu said: “The shambolic nature of local government council elections nationwide exhibited on November 4 in Enugu State, remains a paradox to the quest for devolution of powers from the federal to state tier of government.”

He expressed worry that since the country’s return to the Fourth Republic, most state governments had debased democracy by conducting shambolic local government council elections.

The VON DG alleged that the same shambolic election took place in Enugu last Saturday.

Asked about the danger posed by such elections which pervaded all the states governments and all political parties, Okechukwu retorted: “It makes popular participation at the local government level impossible, hence debasing democracy. “To compound matters, all state governments run a rubberstamp houses of assembly. Therefore, no oversight functions at the state level.

“Consequently, the devolution of powers from the federal to the second tier of government seems a paradox; paradox in the sense that democracy cannot grow or survive without free and fair elections at the local government level.

“Imagine what could have happened to the opposition if there is state police, we could have been chased out of the polling precincts. To be honest, we patriots have to review our support for the devolution of powers.”

However, when reminded that APC governors also conduct “shambolic” local government council elections, Okechukwu said his concern was about the growth and survival of democracy in the country.

Nwoye, on his part, said the election was characterised by wide spread violence in almost all the council areas of the state.

“There were no result sheets in all the polling units, yet Ajogwu called what he did election, if you recall, I had severally called for the resignation of the ENSIEC chairman, because of his open bias against APC.

“Ajogwu breached all the electoral provisions, including not allowing opposition parties and other stakeholders to be present while ENSIEC takes delivering of sensitive electoral materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) few days to the election as provided by law.”

However, it is usually not strange for the losing party to cry foul or allege irregularities after the conduct of any election.

Amid this protest by the (APC) against the conduct of the election, a group of 37 political parties adjudged the election as free, fair and credible.

The 37 parties includes; Accord Party, Action Alliance, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Alliance for Democracy, Social Democratic Party, United Progressives Party, Independent Democrats lauded ENSIEC, for its nuetrality and impartiality before and during the exercise.

Addressing a press conference in Enugu, the spokesperson of the 37 political parties and state chairman of Social Democratic Party, (SDP), John Nwobodo, stated that they adjudged the election “as free, fair and credible and confirm that it met the minimum requirements of international best practices”.

The spokesperson said that they noted the non-arrival of electoral materials on time in some places, but that the commission however took immediate steps to remedy the challenge and extended the period of voting to 5pm to enable every credible accredited voter cast his or her vote.

He said, “There were few skirmishes and isolated cases of attempts to hijack electoral materials yet these incidents are too infinitesimal and not widespread or substantial to affect the outcome of the election.

“We acknowledge that the commission yielded to all the demands of political parties including removal of payment of nomination fees by candidates, reversing the disqualification of candidates for non-payment of tax or presentation of tax clearance certificate, and on other grounds.

“We want to place on record our gratitude to the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who gave all the needed support and funding to the commission to discharge its constitutional mandate without any interference whatsoever.”

Reacting to the victory of its members, the PDP in the state expressed its gratitude to the people of the state, especially the electorate for electing its candidates in the election.

The PDP also congratulated its candidates for emerging victorious at the polls and appreciated members of the party and its teeming supporters for the maturity they displayed during the exercise, even in the face of provocation, adding that it was a demonstration of the party’s firm commitment to peace, credible and rancour-free elections.

In a statement signed by its state chairman, Augustine Nnamani, the PDP applauded Ugwuanyi for providing a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of the elections.

The state chairman equally commended ENSIEC for providing a level playing ground for all the participants, and for prosecuting a credible election in the state

Nnamani also praised the professionalism displayed by the security agencies in the state in ensuring that the exercise was peaceful and fair and free.

The state party chairman stated that “the PDP will not be distracted by the antics of those who are unpopular and had pre-knowledge of their defeat at the polls but deliberately resorted to acts of mischief in a failed attempt to disrupt and discredit the elections.”

He maintained that the party’s victory was “well deserved” and a good omen for the state in line with the untiring efforts of the governor to deliver more dividends of democracy to the people of the state, especially at the grassroots.

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However, it is usually not strange for the losing party to cry foul or allege irregularities after the conduct of any election.