2015: The battle for Enugu

Posted by Cosmas Asogwa On Sunday, May 25, 2014 0 comments
Sen. Ekweremadu
Who takes over from Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State when he leaves office on May 29, 2015? This is the question that has been agitating the people’s mind since Chime announced that his successor would come from the Nsukka zone without mentioning who he would support.

Chime made this known during a Town Hall meeting with stakeholders in Enugu in May 2013.
Sen. Ekweremadu
According to the governor, whose speech then was punctuated with thunderous applause from the audience during the meeting of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the arrangement was for the party to pick its next flag bearer from Enugu North (Nsukka).
The governor, from the PDP which has ruled the state since 1999, hails from the Enugu West Senatorial District and would be completing his eight-year tenure of four years each in May next year.
He took over from Dr Chimaroke Nnamani who also completed eight years in office from Enugu East Senatorial District, leaving Nsukka as the only zone which has not produced a governor in the state since 1999. Chime said there is an unwritten rotational arrangement in the selection of its governorship candidates within the PDP in the state.
The state caucus of the party has since endorsed Chime’s position, as emphasised by the former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, in Abuja weeks ago.
Low Level of Political Activities
However, despite the ovation which greeted the governors speech during the town hall meeting  supporting the zoning formula, no governorship aspirant from the zone has publicly declared interest in spite of the fact that several names are being touted as aspirants.

Before Chime made his declaration, many aspirants were believed to have been nursing governorship ambition. Those said to be nursing such ambition are Senator Ayogu Eze, who represents the area in the Senate, the Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Vita Abba, Speaker of the state House of Assembly in the last eight years, Eugene Odo, a former member of the House of Representatives, Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, the proprietor of Peace Mass Transit Company, Chief Samuel Maduka Onyishi, two members of the House of Representatives, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwanyi and Dr Pat Asadu.
Others include Prince Emeka Mamah, a scion of the Ifesinacchi dynasty, and the former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, under Chimaroke Nnamani’s regime, Dr Dan Shere.
It is believed that Chime’s proclamation that his successor would come from Nsukka zone has instead of enbolding aspirants to come forward with their programmes, doused the tempo.
An aspirant who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that some of the aspirants were showing interest to ensure that they would be remembered during the sharing of positions in the party. ‘’There is nobody in the PDP that does not know the powers of a governor produced by the party in the scheme of things. We are all waiting for whoever the governor would anoint”, he said.
Everybody waiting for Chime’s endorsement
Apart from Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy Senate President,  who openly challenged Chime initially for zoning the position to Nsukka, no other politician of note has made his ambition open.
Every other political activity in Enugu is nocturnal.

Politicians would confront journalists at functions for not mentioning their names among those in the governorship race in their analysis but would not want to be quoted directly as saying they nurse such ambition. Political gladiators are watching with keen interest the political atmosphere and the body language of Chime who once said he would prefer somebody who had worked with the PDP political family to succeed him instead of outsiders.
Ebeano family factor
The former governor of the state, Nnamani, introduced the former Ebeano (the place to be) political structure under which he selected those that held positions at the state and federal levels.

It will indeed be correct to say that most political gladiators in the state today passed through the tutelage of the Ebeano god-father and they know the rules of the game.
While Nnamani held sway, it was sacrilegious for any member of the Ebeano family to struggle or aspire to any position as members waited for the leader to allocate positions to them. It was like a military formation where the most senior officer usually ‘’thinks for the rest and nobody thinks when the oga is around.’’
Chime emerged from the Ebeano political family. Others who belonged to the strange family include  Ekweremadu and  Ayogu Eze as well as all the present members of the National Assembly from the state.
Cracks in  Ebeano
However, a lot of water has passed under the Ebeano bridge in the last seven years. The cracks in the family started shortly after Chime won elections in 2007 and reached a climax when “Chimaroke  snubbed the governor at the Protea Hotel, Abuja sometime in June of the same year. Chime narrated his story:

Chimaroke invited me and pleaded that I should join his administration. I heeded the call because I wanted to contribute to the building of the state. I worked quite closely with him. At some point when the executive council was dissolved, I was the only commissioner for about a month.
No other commissioner was appointed until later. But unfortunately when it comes to some ideas, I may not always have my way. If the head doesn’t share your view, what do you do?’’
According to Chime, the situation, however, came to a head when Chimaroke invited him to Protea Hotel, Abuja, shortly after returning home after several months outside the country.
Chime stressed that on the occasion, in June 2007, his former boss invited him to his suite at Protea Hotel, Asokoro,  Abuja. He went on: “When I got there, I met him and we exchanged pleasantries. He was sitting with some other people. Before I could sit down, he got up, picked his phones and said he didn’t want to see me and that when he was ready to see me he would send for me again. I thought it was a joke. But he went inside his room. We were there still wondering what was happening.  When he came out of the room he repeated it that he was not prepared to see me.
And he walked out on me, went downstairs and entered his car. He said he would tell me when I would come to see him when he was ready. So, the other three gentlemen followed me downstairs and we even attempted to see if we could catch up with him, but by the time we got downstairs, he had driven off.
I also entered my car and drove off. That was my first meeting with my predecessor. That was someone I spoke with on phone earlier that day. I didn’t just go there; he invited me over. We agreed that I was coming. So, do you want me to force myself on him? Then, I was still fresh as governor.
He had been there as governor and knows what being a governor means. You invited me as your governor and I came. And the next thing you do is to walk out on me. How do we describe such a behaviour? It is on record that I went to meet with him. That was the treatment I got from him the first time I met him. Can you imagine the treatment, as governor? I am still waiting for him to say `I want to see you!’.
Politicians queue
However, in the last few months, there have been indications that politicians have been lining up behind Chime and Ekweremadu, who is obviously fighting to avoid being prematurely retired from politics.

Chime is said to be interested in contesting the Senate seat for Enugu East which Ekweremadu, a former local government chairman, chief of staff to the governor and Secretary to the State Government, currently occupies and, with the governorship seat already zoned out of Enugu East where he hails from, there is no other higher position for him to contest, hence he is afraid of premature retirement from public glare.
Dark horse
A dark horse may emerge as governor of the state in 2015. Although Chime has kept his preferred candidate close to his chest, whoever he eventually anoints will likely face Ekweremau’s preferred candidate. The Deputy Senate President has been spending most of his days in Enugu State at Nsukka where he is believed to be mobilising support for his candidate.

This was even as the former Minister for Information, Chief Nnia Nwodo, was quoted as asking politicians from other zones to allow Nsukka people chose a governor of their choice for the state. Nwodo spoke at a party hosted for Ekweremadu at Nsukka by one of his supporters, Mr Chinedu Onuh.
However, political developments in the last few months indicate that none of the present crop of aspirants embarking on nocturnal campaigns would occupy the Lion Building as the Enugu Government House is known.
Apart from Ekweremadu, a cold war is currently raging between the governor and those the local PDP supporters refer to as Abuja- based. The governor was alleged to have incurred the wrath of the Abuja politicians when he was quoted as saying most of them who had spent two terms would not be re-elected. Chime was said to have made the declaration in view of the zoning arrangement in most of the constituencies in the state.
If the governor’s threat sails through, it would mean that almost all the members of National Assembly would lose their positions for fresh blood, hence the no-love-lost between them and their leader in the state.


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