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Enugu PDP Caucus in Disarray over Consensus Candidate

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IMAGE: Sullivan Chime, Enugu State governor »


The insistence of Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, on imposing a candidate on the party has split the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state caucus.

Many of the prominent members boycotted the meeting of the caucus held at the weekend to register their disgust and disapproval of what they described as brazen attempt by one man and a few people around him to impose an unpopular candidate on the party.

Among the prominent party stalwarts who stayed away from the meeting were the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo; Senator Fidelis Okoro, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke, Chief Anayo Onwuegbu, former Information Minister, Frank Nweke Jnr; former Power Minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Dubem Onyia, Senator Ayogu Eze, who has been leading the vanguard of those who told the governor to abandon the idea of imposition and embrace primaries, Sen. Ken Nnamani, among many other prominent members of the caucus.

It was also learnt that the governor who was unsettled by the turn of events, frantically worked on his phones before the meeting trying to convince these leaders to show up.

Some of the leaders, according to our investigation, said they would not offer themselves as willing tools in the hand of the governor for the simple reason of rubberstamping a handpicked candidate of the governor’s choice.

Wondering where the governor’s sudden affection for them is coming from, some of them said they could not be fooled by the latter day antics of a governor who for the better part of eight years, alienated himself from the people.
“This man never took the call of any leader of the state for nearly eight years. I will be a fool to fall for this emergency love affair. It’s a Greek gift,” one of the leaders said.

It was also gathered that the governor might have seen the handwriting on the wall because the usual authority in his voice since he started pursuing this imposition project gave way to a mellow and conciliatory tone.
Some of those who attended the meeting said they were surprised by the haste with which the meeting was conducted and the fact that not a single person was allowed to make a comment at the meeting save the motion moved and seconded by people appointed to do so by the governor himself.

Some of the leaders said  there was no way they would have attended the meeting when the party had come out to declare such endorsement by the state chapter of the party illegal and of no effect.

But whether the leaders like it or not, Chime sunday said he had already found his successor who perfectly fits into the kind of governor the state would need by the time he leaves office.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the caucus meeting of the PDP in the state where a three-time member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was endorsed as the party’s consensus gubernatorial candidate for the forthcoming election, Chime said with Ugwuanyi’s emergence, it had become his burden to ensure he emerged victorious at the polls.

“I already know the person that will succeed me by the Grace of God. We already know him. We don’t have opposition here. PDP is the only party here, once we speak, the people have spoken. So we expect him to win. Like I said, by February, we’ll be going to the poll to vote Yes or No.

“I don’t expect any serious minded person to contest against him, though we are not stopping anybody anyway. This is just our wish and prayer. He fits into the person I would like to take over from me. He fits in perfectly. He’s widely acceptable, kind hearted and a team player. He has all it takes; he’s being in House of Representatives for three terms. I think he is eminently qualified,” he noted.
The governor who gave a run down of how Ugwuanyi was endorsed by his people from Enugu North senatorial zone where the governorship was zoned to during a zonal caucus meeting, dismissed insinuations that he single-handedly chose and imposed the lawmaker on the party members.


The governor made it clear that it was members of the party from across the three senatorial zones of the state that chose the consensus candidate, noting that “I was there as the umpire, I didn’t participate in the deliberations; mine was just to guide them, to coordinate what was happening. So everybody who wanted to speak was given the chance to speak.

“All persons who had indicated interest one way or the other was there, all elected officials, government, public officers, both state and national was there, past and preset leaders. So, we met and unanimously, at the end of deliberations, it was put to a formal motion which was moved. A lot of the aspirants stepped down for Ugwuanyi.

“People who had expressed concerns earlier, thinking that they were called to come and endorse a particular candidate, after hearing from their kinsmen, changed their views and withdrew from the race. Interestingly, at the end of the day, the two persons that moved and supported the motion were actually contestants that stepped down.

“Ambassador Fidel Ayogu moved the motion and was seconded by former deputy governor, Okey Itanyi. And the motion was unanimously endorsed; everybody supported. When I asked if anybody was against the motion, not a single soul raised his hand, so they all endorsed it,” he noted.

While noting that marketing his preferred candidate would not be difficult in view of his wide acceptability, the governor said his hope and prayers was to make history as the first governor in Nigeria whose successor emerged through a consensus, insisting that it would be fool-hardy for anybody to decide to challenge the lawmaker either at the PDP primary election or at the main election in February next year.

On the statement by the party national leadership, warning state chapters against endorsing candidates, the governor said rather than issue warning statements, the party should commend states that were able to reach a consensus through dialogue rather than confrontation.

“The party cannot and never be against any level of the party coming together to agree on a candidate. What should be their problem if any, would be if any level of the party stops other people from buying forms. Here people are free to buy forms. We endorsed the president as the presidential candidate; it won’t stop him from going for primaries. It won’t. But it will be a mere formality; any other person coming out will be coming there to ridicule himself because the party has spoken. But it can’t stop anybody from buying form constitutionally.

“That we have endorsed him is a statement to whoever that is coming that the party has spoken but if you like, off course the party wants to make some money but if you like you can pick form. Nobody will stop anybody from buying form, buy your form and go for primaries, what you find, you take. Nobody is going against the party directives. I’m not sure what they said affects us. As far as Enugu is concerned, we are not stopping anybody from contesting.

“Thank God, under the present dispensation, all forms are bought in Abuja. Nobody has the powers to stop you from buying forms. If anything, the party should encourage it. They should congratulate us for this feat for coming together to say this is our choice,” he noted.

He further expressed delight that virtually all the aspirants that had initially indicated interest to run for the governorship of the state had queued behind Ugwuanyi who represents Udenu/Igboeze North federal constituency, describing the development as a major feat and example for other states in the country to learn from.

“All of them have queued behind him as far as I know. If it had not been consensus, all of those persons would have been saying things in the papers. They would have been telling you different things. As at today, its only Senator Ayogu Eze that is opposing the arrangement for reasons best known to him,” he said.


Meanwhile, the state chapter of the PDP while speaking as its state caucus yesterday dispelled insinuations that it had barred some aspirants from contesting the governorship of the state on its platform.
The party insisted that even with the emergence of Ugwuanyi, it had not barred any aspirant who has a contrary position on the matter and still insists on participating in the party primary election from presenting him or herself for the exercise.

The state chapter of the party in a statement signed by its state Publicity Secretary, Dr. Okey Eze, stated that the clarification had become necessary in view of the erroneous impression being created in some section of the media by an aggrieved aspirant from the state to the effect that he has been denied the right to participate in the party’s governorship primary election.

The party noted that the PDP family in the state had since the inception of the present administration adopted a systematic approach of peacefully dealing with the issues of its primaries through dialogue and wider consultations with the people.
Eze revealed that such approach which he said had always worked for the party, had never stopped other aspirants who insist on participating in the primaries from doing so, wondering why one of the major beneficiaries of the process should raise such false alarm against the party in order to whip negative sentiment.

He restated that the choice of Hon. Ugwuanyi does not in any form foreclose the forthcoming governorship primary election or the possibility of other aspirants with contrary views from participating, as he (Ugwuanyi) will still go through the party primary election to be voted for by the delegates, alongside other aspirants who insist on contesting.

The State Publicity Secretary also disclosed that the whole efforts of the party in this direction were based on “an uncommon belief in the unity and progress of the Party for a smooth and peaceful transition through dialogue, sacrifices and wider consultations amongst our party leaders.” 

Eze therefore, expressed optimism that those who still express contrary opinion against the endorsement of Ugwuanyi will eventually see the wisdom behind the party’s decision and support the popular view of our party members.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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