Enugu: PDP Parallel Primaries Signal Hope For Distant Opposition

THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) attempted to resolve the logjam over her governorship primary in Enugu State when, at the flagoff of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign in the state, it gave Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi the flag.

    Pundits say the development is an indication that Ugwuanyi is the party’s standard-bearer in the February governorship election in the state.

    Before the event that took place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, there was uncertainty within the party over who was the authentic governorship candidate after the parallel primaries that produced four candidates.  Those in contention are Ugwuanyi, Senator Ayogu Eze, Dr Maduka Onyishi and Prof Onyeke O. Onyeke.

     But the duo of Eze and Onyishi seem not perturbed over the recent development and has continued to insist that the issue of the right governorship candidate of the party for the February polls has not been sorted out.  

    The contestants and their supporters were absent from the rally. Many also agree with them that PDP is yet to showcase her governorship candidate.

     They are seriously relying on the strength of the cases they filed in the court challenging the outcome of the governorship primaries that produced Ugwuanyi, as well as the attempt by the party to accord him recognition.

    While the decision of the court on the matter is being awaited, the party in the state has commenced a statewide campaigns to showcase Ugwuanyi’s candidature and programmes. What this means is that while the other “candidates”, will be awaiting the decision of the court, the PDP campaign train will hit the local governments with Ugwuanyi, who has also picked Mrs. Cecilia Ezilo as running mate.

    Gradually however, campaign posters of the other guber ‘candidates’ are disappearing from the streets, while that of Ugwuanyi and his party, PDP is increasing by the day. If things go the way they are at the moment, Ugwuanyi will be challenging another guber candidate in Okechukwu Ezea of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who has picked Mrs. Chikaodili Juliet Ibekaku, a lawyer as his running mate.

   The candidates share some similarities. They hail from the same senatorial constituency of Enugu North. They have also chosen women as running mate. The two Deputy Governorship candidates hail from the same constituency of Enugu West. Perhaps, some of their dissimilarities could be from the fact that, while Ezea was unanimously elected as the APC’s guber candidate, that of Ugwuanyi has remained in contention. Ugwuanyi is also a three-term member of the House of Representatives, while Ezea has not held any elective position.

    Ezea hails from Ichi in Igboeze South Local Government, while Ugwuanyi is from Orba in Udenu Local Government. Despite the contention over the governorship ticket of his party however, Ugwuanyi will be relying heavily on the popularity of the PDP in the state, which has remained the party at the centre since 1999. He is also favoured by the ruling PDP’s state government as well as his wealth of experience in politics, which began in 2003, when he won the election to represent Udenu/ Igboeze north federal constituency at

the House of Representatives, an office he has occupied since then.

Ugwuanyi goes by the pet name ‘gburugburu’, apparently based on his mien.  They see him as a “giver”, who is very economical with words and likes keeping his opinion close to his chest. So far, he has not disclosed why he wants to rule the state, but has allowed supporters canvass and speak for him.

   One area that he will seriously rely on in the election is the bandwagon effect that follows government endorsement, especially in a state seen as PDP dominated. He has, so far, run the most flamboyant campaign posters and billboards, which adorn the nooks and crannies of the state.

    While doing that however, he will hope and pray that the rancor that trailed his emergence is amicably resolved alongside the court cases. He has been a regular contestant to the governorship position of Enugu State since joining politics in 2007, when he contested under the Labour Party. 

 Ezea is relying on the spread the APC has garnered in the state since its registration, as well as his experience and wealth.  A lawyer with chain of businesses ranging from oil to shipping, he has, so far, unfolded his manifesto — with wealth creation and poverty reduction, improvement of health sector and health systems, infrastructure development, security of lives and property and accountability and good governance topping the list.

    Although his party has tried to make inroad into Enugu politics so far, however, its absence from government at the ward or state level has not helped matters. Even with the resources that might have

gone into positioning the party in the state, APC has not been as entrenched as the ruling PDP.

   Though the party reckons as the only viable opposition

in the state, its inability to harvest from the aggrieved

aspirants of the PDP after the contentious primaries recently leaves much to be desired.

Other ‘smaller’ political parties operating like the APGA, PDC and SDP also harvested from the disagreement in the PDP over the primaries held in the state, except APC.

     However, what is certain is that, at the election proper, Ugwuanyi and Ezea will as much as possible divide the votes from Enugu North Senatorial zone, where they come from. But for the other two zones of Enugu West and East, the candidates will surely bank on their popularity, acceptability, party and contacts to amass votes.


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