CHUKS NWEZE reports that ahead of 2023 governorship, some politicians in Enugu state have started lubricating their machinery with the hope of succeeding Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi come May 29, 2023.
Although nobody has openly declared interest for the exalted position, shadow boxing has been going on and politicians are using every available opportunity to show that they have their eyes on the ball.
Recently, at a rally organised by Enugu East senatorial zone at Okpara Square, Enugu, to demand from Governor Ugwuanyi that his successor should come from the zone, some politicians used the opportunity to showcase their ambition. And the same played out during the Enugu North and Enugu West solidarity rallies as well.
But from every indication, there are some serious contenders/aspirants among who are likely to succeed Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2023. Such aspirants among others include.
Mbah came to political limelight in 2003 as Chief of Staff to then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani. He is said to be “favoured” by the incumbent as plan B in-case the plot to impose an indigene of Isi-Uzo local government area of the state as a gubernatorial candidate in 2023 fails.
If there is anything that may be hunting the former commissioner, it is the ghost workers syndrome as his critics contend that many civil servants were sent home indiscriminately during his tenure.
Born in 1972 and started his primary education in 1978, Mbah obtained his Senior Secondary Certificate (SSCE) in Education in 1990 from Owode High School, Owode Egba, Ogun state. He also attended the University of East London, United Kingdom where he graduated as a lawyer (L.L.B (Hons)) with a Second Class Upper Division.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu
Chief Ike Ekweremadu is the former Deputy President of the Senate. Senator Ekweremadu who is currently representing Enugu West Senatorial District at the National Assembly is under pressure to join the 2023 governorship race and seek the mandate of the people to occupy the Lion Building under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Sources close to the Senator explained that the pressure is coming from political parties, various political pressure groups, youth groups and women groups as well as prominent individuals including politicians, traditional rulers and religious leaders across the state who see the Aninri born Senator as the best choice to take over the top job at the Lion Building from the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in 2023.
Curiously, the former ECOWAS Secretary is still keeping his political ambition to his chest, saying God will decide his next line of action politically.
However, if the Mpu-born politician decides to try his hand in gubernatorial election in 2023, he has to contend with the issue of rotational system entered orally by the founding fathers of Enugu state.
As it is, many people believe that Ekweremadu’s political height and many years in the Senate should have been channelled towards realising the presidency of Southeast extraction rather than his governorship dream which is seen by many as a step that may torpedo the tranquillity of governorship rotation principle which has been acquiesced to by all political stakeholders in the state.
Indeed, this is not the first time Ekweremadu is being tipped for gubernatorial seat. In 2007, book makers narrowed the flag-bearer of PDP to him before Sullivan Chime who was single-handedly picked by his predecessor, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, eventually won the poll.
Ekweremadu also kicked vehemently in 2015 when ex-governor Chime zoned the governorship seat to Enugu North senatorial zone.
To pro-Ekweremadu’s campaigners, merit should be used for election of Ugwuanyi’s successor, insisting that rotational system has not been adhered to ab initio.
Little wonder, the Enugu residence of Ekweremadu has become a Mecca of some sort as visitors made up of various groups of people such as politicians, traditional rulers, Bishops of various Christian denominations and uniformed women groups among others have been trooping to Ekweremadu’s house in the Coal City in recent time.
Hon Chijioke Edoga
Hon. Chijioke Edoga, a lawyer, writer and politician hails from Eha-Amufu. Edoga is the current State Commissioner for Environment and a former member of House of Representatives who represented Enugu-East/Isi-Uzo federal constituency. The former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is being speculated to have interest in the governorship seat in 2023, although he is yet to make it public.
The people of Nkanu who dominate the Enugu East senatorial zone, made up of six local governments, fear that Governor Ugwuanyi may favour Edoga’s Isi-uzo Local Government Area who are also part of the zone. Ugwuanyi appears to have candidates he is considering for the position. But the Nkanus appear not disposed to an Isi-uzo candidate in 2023. They argue that even though Isi-uzo is in Enugu East, that they are of Nsukka cultural zone, and giving them power is like retaining power in Nsukka, where the incumbent comes from.
Chief Chinyeaka Ohaa
Hon. Chinyeaka Christian Ohaa is an astute Financial Administrator with many years of experience in control and prevention of fraud, especially in Public Sector. Ohaa came into limelight when he was appointed by ex-governor Chimaroke Nnamani in 1999 as the Accountant General of Enugu state. He recently retired as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He hails from Obuoffia, Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu state.
Although Ohaa is yet to make his gubernatorial project public, it is quite obvious that the body language of the financial expert suggests he may likely fight for the juicy office at Government House in 2023. Ohaa is popularly acknowledged for his unequalled passion for the development of the grassroots, youth development and empowerment, selfless service to humanity and hard work.
The snag in Ohaa’s ambition is that he was investigated alongside his erstwhile boss, Nnamani, by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his role then as an Accountant-General of Enugu state.
Hon. Edward Uchenna Ubosi
Hon. Edward Nnaji who was born to the family of Late Felix Ubosi of Umuchigbo Nike, Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu state is the current Speaker of Enugu state House of Assembly.
Little was known of Ubosi until he emerged as the Speaker of the state house of assembly in 2015 under the present administration of Governor Ugwuanyi.
“Ozege” as Speaker Ubosi is fondly called by his admirers is also speculated to be having eyes in 2023 Enugu governorship race.
Although Ubosi, a Public Administrator by profession, has not revealed publicly if he has interest in the gubernatorial seat but his body language betrays his secrecy on the project.
Recently, the speaker converned a mega rally of indigenes of Enugu-East senatorial zone, seeking cooperations from other zones in the state to allow his Enugu-East senatorial district produce Governor Ugwuanyi’s successor.
Findings, however, show that one of the challenges which may face the Speaker’s road to Lion Building (Government House) is unguarded utterances.
For instance, the Speaker’s acclaimed true leadership and uncommon affinity which he has been providing as he presides over the affairs of the state assembly for two tenures, brought to question last month when he threatened at Okpara’s Square rally that there will be bloody battle for governorship race in Enugu in 2023 if the principle of gubernatorial rotation is truncated.
Chief Frank Nweke (Jr)
Chief Frank is a product of the famous Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, the Aspen Institute, Colorado and the University of Maiduguri. The ex-Minister of Youths and later Information has over thirteen years experience at both state and federal government levels and well over 20 years in the private sector of the economy.
Nweke came into limelight in 1999 when he was appointed as Chief of Staff to the Government of Enugu State which led to his appointment as a Federal Minster in 2003, making him one of the youngest members of the federal cabinet.
In February, 2009, Frank was appointed the Director–General of Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), an office he occupies to date.
Although Nweke who hails from Nkanu clan, is yet to make his gubernatorial ambition public but there a is strong rumour that he may have been “anointed” by major stakeholders after due consultations. Nweke with his 2015 slogan: “Let change the game together” is said to be close to major power brokers in and outside the state.
However, the former minister who contested for Enugu-East senatorial seat and lost in 2015 has to contend this time with the issue of concentration of power in core Nkanuland.
Prof Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji
Professor Nnaji is a distinguished Professor of International Law and Global Politics. He holds a PhD in Comparative Constitutional Law and has been Professor of Law and Scholar at University of Kansas USA as well as the University of Naples II,Italy. Prof Jehu Onyekwere who hails from Amuri in Nkanuland is the Director General of International Law, Politics and Integration, Globe Visions Network, Italy.
Prof. Jehu has been appointed Judge severally during the International Criminal Court/MCC events sitting at the Hague, Netherlands.
Nnaji is currently in Nigeria and he is the first aspirant in the state to declare his governorship interest to mass media practitioners, saying he will contest under the PDP umbrella in 2023. Professor Nnaji may be the beautiful bride as he has not stepped on powerful toes.
According to him, he wants to change the face of Enugu politics with a view to bringing more dividends of democracy to the people.
His words, “I have always said this to many people that there are aspects of governance people should begin to tinker with. Good governance brings about good education, roads, access to potable drinking water, electricity, makes provision for good healthcare system and shelter, cares for the elderly, like pensioners. It entails to respect the right of everybody.
“Everybody is equal before the law. The law deals with the poor as well as the rich just the same way. There is no discrimination before the law, so there should be no discrimination when it comes to social utility, social amenities.
“So, I believe that government should be a holistic thing because democracy is an amalgamation of two equals, demos and cratos.
“I believe working in tandem is what is required. People should see themselves as stakeholders. It’s not about the other person but about us. Not about them. People should think intrinsically not extrinsically in other to think that they are part of solution not part of problem.”
How Nnaji will surmount the issue of governorship rotational system and godfather syndrome, among others, will be determined by time more so as he has been outside the country for long though his wealth of experience which has crisscrossed many nations will no doubt be an asset.