By Anthony Nwachukwu
This is yet another open challenge to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, towards self-rediscovery and public trust. The party must show broad-based determination to completely part with the vestiges of those self-destructive practices which catalyzed its fall from power.
For instance, Enugu State has literally shown that despite being a PDP state, they are rather at peace with the candidacy of Muhammadu Buhari of the APC. This is largely due to the much-touted bi-partisan disposition of the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration. But critics have argued that the governor has taken this stance solely for the reason of self-preservation.
He was among those that openly protested the emergence of Peter Obi as PDP vice presidential candidate. He was among those that shunned the meeting between the PDP presidential candidate Abubakar Atiku and Igbo elites at Enugu. He was among the South East leaders that visited President Buhari to appreciate him for his professed love for the region . The recent visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by every standard showcased the unalloyed commitment of Enugu state PDP government to the re-election of Buhari. Governor Ugwuanyi has been attacked and called l sorts of names for finding it expedient to erect in strategic areas of the state, solidarity billboards with campaign-size portraits of Buhari implying that the visit was all about Bjhari. PDP faithful were massively mobilized and made to queue behind the broom-wielding APC members at the event. While the governor’s view this as a demonstration of his large heart and an accommodating spirit, haters quickly condemn him for not showing similar love to Atiku Abubabkar.
There are unsubstantiated claims that the Enugu State governors may be one of the PDP-governed state executives who it’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus allege are being arm-twisted by the APC-led federal government to concede some senatorial and federal constituencies in their respective states to deflate the tide of federal might arrayed against them. Another state that is in a similar quagmire is Akwa Ibom State, where Governor Udom Emmanuel is said to be under serious pressure to enter some form of negotiation with power brokers at the centre. Governors Emmanuel and Ugwuanyi who have travelled with Buhari outside the country at different times are being pressured to ensure that the president gets, at least, 25 percent of votes cast in the presidential election in their regions.
Governor Ugwuanyi was widely reported in the media as saying that he “has discussed with a former governor in the southeast that he will vote according to his conscience. He said that everybody deserves second term. He said that he as governor of Enugu needs second term, so he will not stop the president from enjoying second term. He said he will support the president if he seeks second term.” Though the governor has since explained that his statement was taken out of context, his accusers continue to point to this as evidence of his support for Buhari.
Out of the six aspirants who expressed interests to represent the Enugu-East Senatorial district on the platform of the PDP, the nomination exercise was allegedly manipulated to favour a contestant that was neither screened nor seen at the venue of the primary.
Owing to the skewed process, the emergence of the former governor of the state, Chimaroke Nnamani as PDP senatorial candidate has continued to be criticised. For some reason, Nnamani has become upbeat, courted by the leading political parties. Therefore, the former governor of Enugu State picked the PDP senatorial ticket for Enugu East, almost without any serious effort. He was further attracted by other concessions openly made to accommodate., in the believe that his influence curtail the penetration of the APC into that senatorial district.
Those opposed to the Nnamani candidacy argue he should not have been rewarded for opposing the PDP I’m the past. Chimaroke Nnamani left the party and founded the People for Democratic Change, PDC. On this platform, he contested and equally sponsored candidates against the PDP since 2011. He lost to the PDP in 2011 and 2015 but refused to accept defeat. He dragged the PDP and its candidate, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, to the election tribunal. He lost and still took the matter to the Appeal Court where he finally lost. He did not return to PDP several fence mending efforts. So, on what ground is Nnamani flying the PDP flag?
Granted, Nnamani entered into plea bargain with regard to his corruption cases, he should not handed another opportunity to public office on a platter of gold. Is Chimaroke Nnamani still marketable, particularly as he had lost two consecutive elections in the recent past?
A few questions are begging for answers. How many people purchased senatorial forms in Enugu North zone? How many people were replaced in Enugu West, if there was a uniform policy? What offence did Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi commit, if Ofor Chukwuegbo could scale through? Why didn’t an Ogui person replace Chime Oji if Ngwo is foreclosed for whatever political expediency? Why did Nkanu West LGA retain the House of Representative seat if the incumbent Emeka Ujam has fallen out of favour? Why was Nkanu East LGA short-changed in the contest despite fielding eminently qualified aspirants? If Kingsley Ebenyi was not suitable again, must his replacement be from a particular family that has tasted it all, politically? What now becomes the political fate of Isi-Uzo LGA within the context of the senatorial zone?
Why did PDP allow members to waste such huge electoral investments on a still-birth project?
At the vanguard of public condemnation of this orchestrations, former senate president Ken Nnamani, took the PDP to the cleaners for declaring someone a winner in an election he did not participate in. According to him, “Chimaroke Nnamani did not swear to any affidavit because such sensitive document cannot be sworn to by proxy, yet some people went behind to declare him winner of the PDP primary. I know that there is no law in our land authorising someone to swear affidavit for another person. I am saying this because those who perpetrated this fraud may be matching to prison. This action shows that the PDP’s impunity is rearing its ugly head in Enugu East senatorial zone. Our political process in the country as well as the zone are on trial. We are going to resist this undemocratic act, because I am an interested party in this matter. We cannot have a senator by proxy. If this matter is not properly handled, the development is capable of igniting political crisis in the senatorial district. As much as we know, Chimaroke was not seen anywhere. He is still sick and outside the country; he is on his sick bed. Even if somebody filled the forms for him by proxy, the electoral law demands he must swear to affidavits in court by himself. The conspirators might go to prison.”
Meanwhile, the APC senatorial candidate in the zone was among those that were shortchanged in the manipulated PDP primaries including several other APC candidates. Consequently, the popular maxim in Enugu State today is: party is immaterial, candidates only matter. This is an open challenge to the national leadership of the PDP.
Anthony Nwachukwu writes from Awka