“A nation only gets better when openly challenged and tested” –Arthur Nzeribe.
Enugu State was created by the infamous military regime led by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) in 1991.
Subsequently, in 1992, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo was elected as the first civilian governor of the state after a military midwifed election.
Prior to the emergence of Nwodo for the election and his subsequent victory the buildup to the poll was fraught with power play between his elder brother, Joe Nwodo, and Reverend Hyde Onuaguluchi. The rest is now history.
When democracy returned in 1999, Enugu State, like other states in the South East zone of Nigeria, pitched tent with the newly formed Peoples Democratic Party. That was probably because most of the founders of the party, an off-shoot of the famous G-34, were from the zone.
So, this made the contest for various elective offices in Enugu State less rancorous as positions were amicably shared by power brokers.
It could be said that there was no visible presence of opposition parties in the state in 1999 as it was PDP, PDP, and PDP.
However, in the buildup to the 2003 general election, the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) tried to make inroads, especially at the governorship level.
Dr Fidel Ayogu from Enugu North senatorial zone attempted unsuccessfully on the platform of ANPP to rattle the PDP to snatch the state away, but PDP survived the nightmare and continued to hold sway.
Again in 2007, Dr Okay Ezea, also from Enugu North senatorial zone, emerged from the blues to pick the governorship ticket of the Labour Party, LP, a relatively unknown party in the state at the time.
He crisscrossed the length and breadth of the state, but in the end, the monster refused to surrender his birthright, “The LION BUILDING”.
Dr Ezea made another cameo appearance in 2011, but this time, his chances became thinner, maybe because Governor Sullivan Chime was doing marvelously and deserved a second term.
Ezea had always made it clear that he was out to redress the injustices and development imbalance suffered by Enugu north zone under the PDP government since 1999.
The PDP continued its dominance with no clear-cut opposition in the state. Though, in fairness to the ruling party, it has built a very strong shield which had hitherto proved insurmountable by those who tried to wrestle power from her.
In fact, since 1999, politics in Enugu State has been built around the PDP. The slogan “Ojebego” became so popular among interested stakeholders such that once the governor endorses anyone the game is over.
However, the event leading to the 2023 general election appears to be changing the old narrative.
There is no gainsaying that the PDP, both at the national level and in Enugu State, is sleeping with one eye open.
From all indications, it may not be business as usual. Since its last monetised national and state delegate primaries, the unity of the once biggest political party in Africa is seriously in jeopardy.
The party is fragmented and the umbrella is leaking seriously. It is said that the enemy within is more dangerous than the enemy without.
In Enugu State, it is no longer news that Hon Chijioke Edeoga is now the confirmed candidate of the Labour Party. It would be recalled that Edeoga, an erstwhile staunch member of PDP in the state, participated in the party’s primary held on May 25, 2022.
However, after much speculation and political intrigues, he was officially elected by Labour Party delegates in Enugu on August 4. 2022.
The primary which was conducted by national officers of the party was well attended by party faithful and well wishers. Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were also on hand to observe the delegate primary.
In his acceptance speech, Edeoga made a categorical statement: “To put Enugu State on right pedestal, we are going to carefully and systematically dismantle the PDP. The reason for so doing is obvious: if there is anybody who is in a position to do it, I am the one because I am a founding member of the party in Enugu state.”
Edeoga said he would embark on a tour of all the political wards in the state. “I intend to tour all the wards in the state. I plan to firmly put LP in place in all the wards in Enugu State. Not only to put LP in place in the wards, but also with my fellow contestants: the House of Assembly candidates, National Assembly candidates; and my deputy governorship candidate, I promise to make LP a winning party in Enugu State.
“You may believe it or not but with my colleagues in this race and the party structure, we will systematically, one after the other, by the power of our conviction and our resolve to change the ugly past and to rewrite the history of our dear state, dismantle the PDP in Enugu State.”
Edeoga thanked the 81 party delegates who voted him as the candidate of the LP, telling them that their labour will not be in vain.
“I thank 81 delegates that turned out to vote. You have sent me to the market and I assure you that I will not disappoint you. I will surely come back with something.”
It is on record that Hon Edeoga has been a partaker on the PDP’s dining table since 1999 both in the state and federal level.
He was a member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP. He also served as senior special adviser (SSA) to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, and just recently, he voluntarily resigned as commissioner (two terms) in the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
As it it stands, just like the 1861 race to Nikki, the race to the Lion Building has just begun.
Ezechime write from Emene, Enugu.
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