We are aware that Enugu State has a fair share of Nigeria’s social and economic disaster. Enugu wears the emblem of the headquarters of the South-East region. It commands huge natural and human endowment but as a mini-Nigeria, suffers from the cancer of bad leadership.
Statistical evidence suggests that the Coal City state parades all the bad indices of Nigeria’s political character. Enugu has 17 local government areas with a vibrant total population projected at little above four million people; a large percentage of which is poor, deprived and struggling with existential challenges.
The lever of power in Enugu State lies in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), making the party a dominant political vehicle since the arrival of the Nigerian fourth republic. Political commentators would not hesitate to declare Enugu as PDP State on account of the party’s hundred percent hold on the hegemonic pattern of power principalities of the State.
The essence of democracy is to allow citizens add value to political leadership. The extant legal framework put forward by the commitment of President Buhari has handed the power of political leadership recruitment to Nigerians. The power of democratic freedom has now been delivered to ndi Enugu as our votes will speak loud at the 2023 poll and beyond.
How They Stand Today
We will look at the four leading governorship candidates in the turf whom we considered as major contenders. We evaluate these candidates on account of perceived strength and drawback as regards the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Enugu State.
FRANK NWEKE II – APGA
He was minister of information and communications under the Obasanjo administration and later served as Director General, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG); a think tank playing advisory role to the Nigerian government.
Frank is educated. His knowledge of economic management, strong national connection and oratorical capacity are the things he is bringing into the contest. His exposure to global economic issues is a great capital for gubernatorial ambition.
Whether these qualities would translate to election victory at Governorship level in Enugu State lies in the realm of conjecture.
- Lacks Elite Support
The candidacy of Frank Nweke II doesn’t have the support of political elite who mainly constitutes the Ebeano group. The current Enugu politics still hangs on the apron string of elitism and political patronage.
- Party Spread
The All progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is seen by many as Igbo political party. The symbol of late Emeka Ojukwu remains the rallying cry of the APGA campaigns.
APGA is not a party with sufficient coverage in Enugu. The party doesn’t have the required spread to guarantee victory. However, whether Ndi Enugu will vote in 2023 on the basis of their supposed regional affiliation to APGA is yet to be seen, though a remote possibility.
- Lacks Political War Chest
A candidate of little financial power cannot win election in Igbo land. Frank Nweke II does not command such huge cash depot to adequately convey his messianic message to the Enugu electorate.
Though, the Governor of Anambra State may deploy financial resources to support the APGA’s candidate but such support may not be sufficient to weaken the strength of other contenders.
Projection: About 32% likelihood of winning
PETER NDUBUISI MBAH – PDP
As former member of the Enugu state executive council Mbah is not new to politics of Ndi Enugu. He was Chief of Staff and commissioner for finance and Economic Development at different periods. He has carved a niche for himself in the business community as a successful oil magnet and CEO of Pinnacle oil.
Mbah is a lawyer with strong intellectual background. He has good knowledge of Enugu politics having served at different capacities in the State. He has the support of the ruling class and widely regarded as the preference of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, the Ebeano juggernaut.
He has the cash-muscle to oil the wheel of the PDP campaign. Incumbency factor favors him being a candidate of the ruling party in Enugu state and we expect government to deploy state machinery in pursuit of his victory.
- Corruption Cloud
In 2012 a case of corruption was instituted against him. He was accused of misappropriation of huge amount of money. The case was, although, struck out.
The people are still asking questions about same corruption allegation on the ground that striking out a case by the court doesn’t simply guarantee innocence. Mbah would have to work harder dispelling this cloud of corruption hovering over his person. This may challenge his governorship credibility.
- Burden of PDP and the Elite
The People Democratic Party (PDP) would have ruled Enugu State for 24 years in May 29, 2023. The over 1.9 million voters in Enugu may weigh the age-long PDP rulership against the growing hopelessness among the people. And the verdict on the party’s performance may reflect on the election outcome.
Mbah is a candidate of those whose political selfishness and kleptomaniac has continued to keep Enugu on the arc of underdevelopment. He is an anointed son of the status-quo to which the electoral anger of the despondent Ndi Enugu may be harsh through the ballot.
Projection: About 54% likelihood of winning
CHIJIOKE EDEOGA -LP
Edeoga is a political old horse with huge experience than other contenders. He was member House of Representatives, Commissioner for Environment, and Council Chairman at different periods. He comes along with both executive and legislative experiences. He is a lawyer, writer and politician.
There is general feeling that it is the turn of the people of Isi Uzo axis to produce the next governor of Enugu State.
He is a prominent political leader from Isi Uzo who was rumoured to have earlier secured the support of the incumbent governor to clinch the PDP ticket. He campaigned across Enugu political constituencies in pursuit of the PDP governorship ticket. He lost with just 9 votes.
Edeoga pulled out of the PDP with a large number of his supporters. He moved to the Labour Party (LP) on which auspices he was elected the governorship candidate of the party in Enugu State for the 2023 general election.
His major strength lies on the incredible political alternative that the LP has provided across the country. The ‘Obi-datti’ and ‘obedient’ political tsunami is likely to propel Edeoga to victory in the guber poll in so far as the obi force remains unflagging two weeks after presidential election.
- Financial Inadequacy
Edeoga seems to lack sufficient war chest to prosecute his campaign. The fund required to oil the LP campaign must be such as to give the ruling party a crippling fight in Enugu State.
The PDP has adequate grassroots spread across the state; it will take additional effort of Edeoga to turn LP into a household party within a short time.
- Over Reliance on Obedient Movement
Peter Obi is creating some sensation online because of general discontentment with poor national leadership. So, Obi may not give a dime to anybody and still get positive outcome at the poll. The idea of hoping on obedient pack of blessings cannot work in Enugu State where hunger can make mbanefo visit Satan.
Projection: About 51% likelihood of winning
CHIEF UCHE NNAJI – APC
Chief Uche Nnaji is a complete political greenhorn. He is a successful business man, founder of OUCH; a creative fashion enterprise.
His political party (APC) controls the center and may deploy some financial resources to help prosecute his campaign in Enugu.
- Micro-Zoning Question
Nnaji hails from same local government as former Governor Nnamani. The current zoning sentiment doesn’t support his candidature.
- APC is Weak and Divided in Enugu State
The division in the party came to the fore when notable party leaders in the state like Senator Ken Nnamani, Governor Sullivan Chime, Ben Nwoye, and Osita Okechukwu amongst others petitioned the national leadership and demanded the immediate removal of the state chairman of the party, Ugo Agballa. This continuous division in APC makes the party a constant weeping child of Enugu politics.
This is so enlightening