Enugu Guber: Let’s Forget Our Grievances and Move On, Says Agbo
Lawyer and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Charlie Agbo, speaks on the party’s recent primary in Enugu State and urges unsuccessful contestants to put their grievances aside and rally support for the party’s candidate, Ugo Aliogo brings excerpts:
It appears that the last primary of your party in Enugu State left many people aggrieved. Many in hushed tones express their frustration with the outcome of the convention. What’s your take on this?
That’s not unusual. In every election, there will always be one winner. Which is to say that there may be one or more losers. In the history of politics, that is the tradition. All through the Federation, there is jubilation and mourning. Those who won naturally are jubilating, while those who lost are mourning their loss. In the Senate for instance, over seventy per cent of its members are not returning, while in the House of Representatives, about 180 members are not returning. This is about fifty per cent of the membership of the lower House. So you can see that it’s a tough call. It’s not an Enugu phenomenon. Politics is a very emotive endeavour, so it’s understandable.
There were more contestants in all positions in Enugu State in this election cycle than you have had in the past. Don’t you think that if the governor’s endorsement came earlier, many might not have entered the race therefore minimizing the number who are now mourning their loss?
Well that is hypothetical. There is something phenomenal about the 2023 elections as the process unfolds. We are obviously witnessing greater participation of the youths. The massive upsurge in voter registration is a pointer in that direction. People are getting conscientised and are increasingly recognizing the power of the voter’s card in their possession. They can see how potentiated they are with the power of their card. They want a change, and they want to be part of that change. Then many more want to be change agents also by offering themselves to be voted for. They know that the only way that that will be possible is that they are on the ballot, so that also accounts for the exponential rise in the number of participants.
Are you saying that those eighteen aspirants would still have ran in the PDP governorship primary if the governor had clearly anointed a candidate ahead of the convention as was the case in the two preceding administrations in Enugu State and also across the federation?
Well, as I tried to explain somewhere else on this subject matter, Governor Ugwuanyi’s transition is more challenged than those of his predecessors since 1999. Some powerful individuals in the party wanted an anti-clockwise trajectory for his endorsement while others wanted a staccato approach, arguing that there was no zoning. That wasn’t too easy and might have been challenged in court. As a veteran of political maneuver, having been around this business for a while, the Governor knows which fight to pick and which battle to duck. The options available to him dictated some measured and deft steps so he had to put on his thinking cap to create ways to navigate the tricky situation. So those candidates who were part of the wide canvas already know who to blame.
Some people are alleging that going by the zoning order in Enugu North Senatorial Zone, that the pendulum should swing in Nsukka’s favour for the position of senator. They also contend that by offering himself to contest the senatorial seat, Governor Ugwuanyi has violated the existing zoning arrangement. Don’t you think this runs against the governor’s philosophy on zoning?
I am not aware of any zoning of political offices outside of the governorship position. As a matter of fact, many indigenes of Enugu State have been clamoring for the drawdown of the zoning order to all other political offices. But one fact is worthy of note. The zoning of political offices is a party affair. This being the case, the party may decide to give priority to certain individuals in recognition of their standing in the party. This is the case in Benue State for instance where the party nominated Governor Ortom, to fly its flag for the senatorial election in his district. The same also applies to Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State who has been nominated to fly PDPs flag in Abia South, his senatorial District. If you move across the aisle to the APC, you will see that the party also recognizes the standing of an individual when it comes to certain privileges. That is why Governor Dave Umahi has been given his party’s flag in Ebonyi State to contest the senatorial election in his senatorial district. The same applies to Plateau State, where Governor Lalong is going for Plateau-South. So why would the case of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi be different? Is it just because he is an Nsukka man? Is that the way to show him gratitude for all he has done for Nsukka?
How do you look at the prospects of Mr. Peter Mbah, your party’s governorship candidate? Do you foresee a heady contest with the other parties in the state?
I think he is entering the race with impeccable credentials. When you possess proven experience in both the private and public sectors, you should be said to be ready to go. And then when you are a candidate of the PDP, you are a few steps away from the Government House. Some people see this adumbration as taking the electorate for granted. But I see it as a celebration of the goodwill of the people because the standing of the party in Enugu State since 1999 has been the creation of the people. Without the people Enugu State will not be a PDP state.
But that’s ironic because some people argue that he has not done much for his people. What’s your view?
Governor Ugwuanyi’s perception of his people are the people of Enugu State. That is why his development strides are spread across the state. But if we have to isolate Nsukka for this particular purpose, he has done for Nsukka what no Governor has done, for as long as one can remember. Just take a look at the new University of Medical Sciences which certificate of recognition the Governor received from the National Universities Commission the other day. Could a people ask for any thing more? If you are aware, the whole of Nsukka does not have a teaching or referral hospital that can be said to be well equipped. Now this will soon be a thing of the past just by this act of the Governor. Indeed, the law establishing ESUT has Nsukka as a campus of the university with the medical faculty therein. But unfortunately that was not to be. Now look at the Federal Polytechnic at Ohodo. The Governor, through his effort and influence got the Federal Government to cite the institution there. Do you know what a federal polytechnic will mean to the people of Enugu State and particularly the people of Nsukka? Just consider its impact on the local environment and the economy of those within the catchment area. That is development and it is unprecedented in the history of Nsukka. Now look at Opi-Nsukka road. That road is a world-class road and can compare very favorably with any road of its class across the globe. That is an authoritative way to work for your people. That is an inimitable gift to any people. Go to what you used to know as Nsukka Township Stadium and see the modern wonder of a stadium Governor Ugwuanyi has done there. It is doubtful if his critics see these things. There is no Local Government Area in Nsukka which has not benefited at least six asphalted roads from the Ugwuanyi administration. In the core civil service, how many permanent secretaries did Nsukka have? Just a negligible and paltry few as if there was a scheme to marginalise them. How many do you have today? They have been restored to their equitable position by Governor Ugwuanyi.