By Charles Okonkwo
Recent choreographed gang up and attacks on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State by some Enugu North Senatorial District (Nsukka Zone) elements says everything bad about the hypocrisy that underlines Nigerian politics.
It can also be likened to the opposition’s demonisation and de-marketing of former President Goodluck Jonathan in the run up to the 2015 general elections. Reacting to the attacks sometime in March 2015, Jonathan said: “Anytime you listen to them (APC), you will see bitterness in their hearts. Bitterness, venom, anger, as if somebody has taken their properties”.
Today, hardly any day passes since the emergence of Dr. Peter Mbah as PDP governorship candidate without one reading one diatribe or the other sponsored to run down Ugwuanyi and Mbah. Whether it is express attacks or innuendos by one Enugu North politician or the other; whether it is hate-filled publications by known and faceless writers, one thing runs through them all: palpable indignation and bitterness – as if someone has taken their properties (apologies Jonathan).
If it is not the perennial governorship contestant-turned 2023 senatorial ‘candidate’ of the Labour Party, Chief Okey Ezea alleging that Ugwuanyi has not done well for his Nsukka Zone or empowered them individually with contracts, it is the incumbent Senator representing the zone, Chuka Utazi, claiming that Ugwuanyi is incapable of quality representation at the Senate. If it is not Nnia Nwodo weaving perfidy and whipping up Nsukka sentiments behind the scene to make his brother-in-law, Chijioke Edeoga, governor, it is Edeoga and his hatchet writers pouring allegations of misgovernance on Ugwuanyi and also claiming he didn’t allow his Commissioners to take initiatives; or Prince Emeka Mamah circulating malicious articles alleging that Ugwuanyi merchandised the Enugu PDP governorship ticket to Dr. Mbah. The list goes on. Yet Edeoga served as Commissioner in Ugwuanyi’s two terms and didn’t resign in protest until he threw his hat in the ring for PDP governorship ticket. Also, Mamah, who served as Commissioner in Ugwuanyi’s second term didn’t resign in protest until he went into the contest for PDP’s House of Representatives ticket for Igboeze North/Udenu Federal Constituency.
During a recent public lecture at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Utazi told Nsukka people: “The Senate is not just for anybody; it is not a job for anybody, who has been a former governor, councillor or commissioner. Nsukka people must not elect somebody simply because he is leaving office as governor”.
Although he did not mention Ugwuanyi, everyone knew he took a dig at the governor, who is the senatorial candidate of the PDP in Enugu North. Ironically, Ugwuanyi already had many years of experience in the National Assembly long before Utazi, whose representation of Enugu North District cannot be cited anywhere as an example of quality representation. It will at best be remembered for his scrotum analysis on live television and the hoarded 228 motorcycles, 51 tricycles, 203 grinding machines and five transformers, etc. worth over N117 million by him, which the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) uncovered while his constituents pined away in penury.
The hypocrisy in all these attacks is that only yesterday, these men praised Ugwuanyi to high heavens, while the likes of Edeoga and Mamah groveled before him. Addressing a meeting of Enugu North Senatorial District PDP delegates and stakeholders on 1st May 2022, this same Utazi announced that he did not purchase PDP nomination form in order to give maximum support and allow Ugwuanyi a hitch-free passage to the Senate as a reward for the great work he said the Governor was doing for Nsukka people and Enugu State. He equally vowed that Enugu North Senatorial District would stand with Ugwuanyi or whoever he endorsed as his preferred governorship candidate.
In his words: “We will follow our brother and leader (Ugwuanyi); we are going to be behind you; and pray that God will guide you to take these decisions. We are here to give you reassurance that it is ordained by God that you do the things you are supposed to do. We are here to also reassure that you have our backing. Our case is not just political. The followership and backing are also spiritual. And you have our spiritual backing too. We are going to continue this support at the voting level during the general elections”.
Utazi was not alone. The member representing Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal Constituency, Hon. Pat Asadu; the member representing Nsukka East Constituency, council chairmen, women and youth groups, and virtually all the who is who in Nsukka Zone were unanimous in their endorsement of Ugwuanyi, reassuring him of their “resolute support and loyalty.”
Chief Nnia Nwodo, on his part, has always been effusive with admiration and encomiums for Ugwuanyi. During the 29th anniversary of Enugu State in August 2020, for example, Nnia Nwodo emphatically stated: “There is no other state in the country that has paid December salary two times except Enugu State. We have noticed with admiration the emphasis of your capital development. I noticed the number of primary and secondary schools, in all the local government areas of the state, renovated every year under your administration. I went to spy at what your administration did at Ekulu Primary School, GRA, Enugu. It is amazing. What progresses the world today is education. I noticed the number of general hospitals and health centres springing up in the rural areas.”
From the foregoing and more, it is clear that the sudden bitterness, antagonism, anger, and demonisation have absolutely nothing to do with Ugwuanyi’s performance in office. It is not borne out of principled, altruistic, honest and honourable values and opposition. It is also not inspired by equity and justice. Instead, it is about people who felt entitled in their political ambitions, but were rejected by the delegates. Importantly, it is about Ugwuanyi’s refusal to act the greedy script of some Nsukka elites who feel that Nsukka should continue in power after him and possibly till eternity.
Ezea, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Nnia Nwodo, Utazi, and a host of others have openly canvassed it. For instance, during the PDP’s campaign at Igbo Etiti and Nsukka LGAs ahead of the local council elections in February, Nwodo and Utazi canvassed the emergence of Ugwuanyi’s successor from the old Nsukka Zone, which includes Isi-Uzo LGA from which Udenu (Ugwuanyi’s LGA) was created in 1981.
Utazi claimed that old Enugu State comprised Enugu, Nsukka, and Abakaliki Senatorial Zones. He said that but for Isi-Uzo, the present Enugu East and Enugu West Senatorial Districts were initially part of the old Enugu Senatorial District. He consequently argued that since the old Enugu Zone had done 16 consecutive years through Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East Zone) and Barr. Sullivan Chime (Enugu West Zone), the old Nsukka Zone (which comprises the present Enugu North Zone and Isi-Uzo LGA) was entitled to another eight years after Ugwuanyi.
This explains why Chijioke Edeoga anchored his candidature on the strength of old Nsukka Zone and only aligned with Enugu East Senatorial Zone to the extent of the zoning principle. It is also an open secret that Utazi hoped to deputise Edeoga, to balance what they claim was a marginalisation between 2007 and 2015 when Sullivan Chime (Enugu West Zone) and Sunday Onyebuchi (Enugu East Zone) occupied the offices of the Governor and Deputy Governor, respectively because they see both senatorial zones as one old Enugu Senatorial Zone. That is the jaundiced and reprobate mentality driving the war against Ugwuanyi. For refusing to succumb to their clannish agenda, these desperate politicians from his senatorial zone, who had praised his leadership citing his numerous achievements, have now set out to demonize him.
In other words, had Ugwuanyi succumbed to the dysfunctional imagination of these latter day saviours of Nsukka against the well known three senatorial districts structure; had he endorsed his Commissioner and maternal relation, Chijioke Edeoga as his successor; had Utazi been picked as deputy governorship candidate; had Ugwuanyi facilitated Prince Emeka Mamah as PDP House of Representatives candidate for Igboeze North/Udenu Federal Constituency; had he kowtowed to the selfish whims and caprices of some Enugu North principalities, he would have become the best governor Enugu State has ever produced.
All said, all the gang up is not about the ordinary people of Nsukka or Enugu State. It is evidently about the selfish interest of a few. Let no one be deceived.
• Okonkwo writes from Enugu
KOGI GUBER: Former Dep. Gov Achuba endorses Muri, urges Kogites to reject Gov. Bello’s violence, 3rd term agenda
…Says Bello brought his cousin, Ododo of APC, to elongate his grip on Kogi resources
Ahead of the November 11 governorship poll, a former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba, has declared his support for the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Yakubu Murtala Ajaka.
Achuba, who served under Governor Yahaya Bello, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), told journalists in Abuja at the weekend that he decided to back Ajaka because of his pedigree and capacity to retrieve the state from maladministration.
He charged voters not to be intimidated by the spate of kidnapping and killings that has permeated the state since the commencement of the electioneering.
Also, he tasked the people of Kogi East in particular to desist from causing mayhem against the people because of political gains.
According to him, Governor Bello brought his cousin, Ahmed Ododo, of the APC, to elongate his grip on the resources of Kogi State without any commensurate development.
“If this is allowed to go through, his wife may become our Governor in 2027. God forbid!!!. We call on all well meaning Kogites irrespective of political ethnic and religious divide to rise up and resist the evil seed being plotted in Kogi State.
“It has been 7 years and 8 months of reckless plundering of our state resources without any tangible legacy to show for his two tenures.
“Rather, all legacy projects by his predecessors has been sold off without reinvestment. I know as a matter of fact that about fourteen billion was paid to Kogi State by the Federal Government for a road constructed by his predecessor.
“Can the successor of Bello expect such legacy fund? It is like daydreaming to think so. He had the opportunity to write his name in gold but turned it down. He will be remembered for bad governance and violence perpetrated in Kogi State.
“Kogites have mastered your tactics and are at the game wisely. The result of the election come November 11 will prove to you that you have so much to learn.
“As you continue to receive decampees, we wish you state the disappointment that follows. Take note that your antics of violence and manipulation not withstanding, this time around will fail.”
He called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to be diligent in the discharge of their functions.
“We wish to call on INEC to be free and ensure that the election is free and fair. Thank God we have BVAS, Glory to God.
“Anywhere there are votes beyond what the BVAS has accredited the agents are expected to protest.
“On the issue of security, we wish to call on the inspector general of police and the chief of army staff to keep a close eye on Kogi.
“When I was a still the deputy governor in 2019, the State House of Assembly raised the alarm over importation of military software. What concerns a civilian government with military software? Sincere then, there has been killings and kidnappings. We cannot continue like that.
“We urge Kogites to face the evil and terminate it. November 11 is by the corner. We urge the people to reject bad administration through the ballots.
“We call on INEC to check what is happening. I want to ask the youths in Kogi East why have they accepted to be agent of the devil? They should stop destroying the property of their brothers and sisters. The intention of this is to make sure that the votes in Kogi East are suppressed.
“If you endorse it, your children will suffer it . You may enjoy it for now but later you will suffer it. Instead of using the money to develop the state, he has pocketed it. This time the voices of the people will be loud and clear,” he added.
Tribunal verdict, victory for democracy and Enugu, says Gov Mbah
…extends hands of fellowship to opposition
…restates commitment to campaign promises
Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has lauded the decision of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which dismissed the petitions of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and the Labour Party (LP) candidates challenging his victory in the March 18, 2023 governorship election, describing the decision as victory for democracy and the people of Enugu State.
Dr. Mbah, who also extended hands of fellowship to the opposition candidates and their political parties, said the task to build Enugu remained a collective one, adding that he was committed to working with all, irrespective of political persuasions.
The tribunal chaired by Justice Kudirat Akano, had earlier in the day dismissed the petitions of the governorship candidate of the PRP, Chris Agu, and the candidate of the LP, Chijioke Edeoga.
Addressing the state, at the Government House, Enugu, Mbah said: “This is another memorable day in the anal of our dear state, as the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal affirmed the mandate, which you freely gave to us on 18th of March this year.
“This is victory for Ndi Enugu. It is also victory for democracy.
“It is a victory for massive development for Ndi Enugu. It is a victory for exponential growth for Ndi Enugu. It is a victory for Enugu’s greatness. It is a victory for the ban on Monday sit-at-home. It is also victory for our determination to restore water in all your homes in the next 68 days”.
While thanking God for making the victory possible, Dr. Mbah also commended the tribunal for painstakingly dissecting the petitions and “for coming out with fair and just decision that resonates with Ndi Enugu”.
According to him, “the verdict has further strengthened our confidence in the judiciary as the temple of justice and the last hope of the common man”.
Extending hands of fellowship to his opponents, Mbah said: “There is time for everything under the sun. There is time to strive and time to unite. We all put ourselves forward to serve Ndi Enugu. The people have spoken and the tribunal has also affirmed. If service was the motivation, then it is time to rise above partisanship and come together because there is so much work to be done.
“Our arms are wide open and I beckon on my brothers, who ran this race with us, to join us in the onerous task of building a new Enugu State of our dreams.
“In the same vein, I enjoin all our supporters to be magnanimous in victory. Politics is over. Governance began on 29th May when we were inaugurated. It is time to unite”.
Governor Mbah, who reiterated his resolve to deliver on his campaign promises, further stressed that the tribunal’s decision was an elixir to do more, and urged the people to hold him to account on those promises.
“Once more, I immensely thank the good people of Enugu State, who not only believed in us, but also vested their mandate in us. Above all also above, they have stood by us every step of the way.
“I want to assure them that I will work for them with every fibre of my being. I stand by every campaign promise I made as espoused in our Statement of Purpose. I also stand by the Citizens Charter that I executed on my first day in office. The Enugu people should hold me to account. I will not let them down”, he concluded.
BREAKING: Tribunal dismisses Edeoga, LP’s petition, affirms Mbah’s election as Enugu Governor
…Edeoga’s petition lacks merit
Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party (LP) had approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration on the grounds that Mbah wasn’t qualified to stand for the election.
He alleged that he forged his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC certificate and cases of over-voting in Udenu, Nkanu East and Enugu East local government areas.
The Tribunal chaired by Justice Kudirat Murayo Akano dismissed all grounds of petition saying his petition lacked merit.
The panel held that NYSC isn’t a requirement for contesting for the office of the Governor and there’s no where that the NYSC Certificate was attached to the documents Mbah submitted to INEC by the respondent.
On the issue of forging NYSC Certificate, the panel discountenanced all the evidences by the DSS, NYSC official and others because they weren’t in compliance with paragraph 4, sub-section 5D of the evidence act.
Only the witness of the pw26 which was described as a hearsay by the panel and those not help the petitioners and therefore resolved the issue of Certificate Forgery in favour of Mbah.
On the issue of wrong computation of results of the Labour Party in Udenu local government, the panel said they petitioners failed to prove his case and the witnesses they called gave the same report from different polling units and wards and wondered why their testimonies are the same even from different locations.
The panel also said that the witnesses presented by the Labour Party weren’t duly accredited agents by INEC and makes their testimony invalid.
The panel based on the witnesses from the right agents in 3 polling units, deducted 51 votes from PDP and added same to Labour Party.
The tribunal held that the deduction isn’t enough to Overturn the election of Mbah.
In Amagu polling unit in Nkanu East the panel cancelled the votes for all parties because the witness pw10 proved he was there and the right person.
In the remaining 11 polling units, the tribunal held that the witnesses didn’t sign the result sheet and their witnesses is discountenanced because they can’t prove they were party agents
After resolving all the matter, the tribunal dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
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