Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
A group, Ebonyi Equity Development Initiative (EQDI), has called on the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, to ensure that the Ebonyi South senatorial seat is retained in old Afikpo Local Government Area in the state.
The call, THISDAY learnt, became expedient following the declaration by a popular business mogul, Chief Ifeanyichukwu Odii (Anyichuks), to vie for the senatorial position.
Odii’s declaration has unsettled the polity mainly because the entrepreneur wields much influence in Umahi’s administration and any aspiration nursed by him would be touted to have the backing of the first family in the state.
In a statement signed by the coordinator of group, Chief Francis Ibe, noted that though the governor has directed that the position be retained in old Afikpo, the recent consultations by the aspirant would not be swept under the carpet knowing the enormous influence he wields in Umahi’s administration.
The position currently occupied by Senator Sunny Ogbuorji was declared vacant in 2019 by the state governor.
A source noted that Ogbuorji has been fine-tuning political alliance with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to enable him vie for the governorship position.
Ebonyi south is made of old Ohaozara and old Afikpo blocs. The governor, Odii and the member representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo federal constituency hail from the same old Ohaozara bloc.
The group contended that following the ban on open political campaigns on Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in the state by the governor, some local government chairmen and state appointees have been leading the senatorial aspirant to consult party executives of the five council areas in the zone.
He stressed that if nothing is done to retain the senatorial position in the bloc, the people of Afikpo may scuttle the re-election of the governor.
The group said: “We have noted with dismay the recent political development in Ebonyi South as it concerns the senatorial position. The governor at many fora, had declared that the senatorial position should remain in the old Afikpo bloc, warning that anyone from the old Ohaozara bloc especially those close to him that want to vie for the senatorial seat of the zone in 2019 would be seen as ‘an enemy of his second term’ being that he came on the basis of equity and ‘equity requires that the senatorial seat should remain in the old Afikpo bloc of the zone’.”
According to the group, “What had changed that the governor’s friend and associate is now the ‘enemy’ in the house?
“But it was quite unbelievable that not only that INEC has not lifted the ban on all forms of political campaigns, the businessman, who’s a very close friend and associate of the governor has been going round consulting and meeting with PDP statutory delegates; especially ward and local government party executives and it’s believed that the aspirant cannot declare on his own.
“This move is dangerous at a time when the PDP may face the strictest confrontations of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). If this current political arrangement is allowed to fester, it may force the two local government areas in Old Afikpo bloc to work against the second term bid of the governor.
“The governor should act fast because owing to the closeness of the aspirant, everybody would believe that the first family in the state is behind the aspiration, worsened by the fact that Odii was being led to the consultations and declarations by serving local government chairmen and serving officials of the governor.”
They said: “It is absurd and confounding that while a serving local government Treasurer was suspended by the state government for attending a meeting organised by an aspirant for the House of Representatives in the Ebonyi central zone against the governor’s similar declaration while the council chairmen and other officials who lead Chief Odii round the senatorial zone are left unsanctioned.”
The group however described Odii’s ambition as the height of insensitivity, stressing that the old Ohaozara bloc cannot occupy the two National Assembly seats and the governorship position at the same time.