By NZE SAM NWANZE
It may be said that 2019 is still far for political permutations to start. But the fact is that the politics of 2019 has since begun both formally and informally with nocturnal meetings here and there all over the country.
Nigerian politics is like a big business where shareholders congregate to plot their deal with two edged swords. The ‘mafias” with their godfathers in charge always dictate the tune. To most politicians in third world countries like Nigeria, the end justifies the means.
Enugu State is going to present an interesting scenario come 2019. This is because it is going to be a war of the titans. Camps are already being formed, while those decamping to APC know their game plan. In fairness to them, they are not doing anything unusual. What matters is personal interest in the ‘prosperity’ political deals.
Since the beginning of this political dispensation in 1999, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has held Enugu State like a private concern. Every effort made by other political parties to even get a foothold, ended in futility. Indeed, once a person emerges as candidate of the PDP in any election from the local derby to the national level, the fellow would throw a party because it was as good as won. This is why every PDP member who must eat the pie began early to align with the “correct camp” controlled by the godfathers. But the 2019 politics is going to take a different dimension. The equation this time around will be different because of the “Change” factor at the national level which has left PDP in crisis up to now. Those who read the handwriting early, have since joined the “correct” party which to them, is the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Big names like former governor of old Anambra State, Chief (Senator) Jim Nwobodo, Senator Ken Nnamani, Chief Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu, Chief Rex Onyeabor, and recently the immediate past governor of Enugu State Barr. Sullivan Chime and a host of other big names have joined the APC in Enugu State. From what I learnt, many more are waiting on the wings to jump into APC before the real action begins. It was also rumoured that some PDP governors in the South-East were well disposed to decamping into APC if they could be assured of picking the ticket of second tenure and their followers getting back their seats at the various legislative houses, a claim which they have denied. But in politics, denials do not necessarily say the true situation.
It was clear that the major upset was the recent entry into APC by Sullivan Chime,. He was reported to have said that with his joining APC, PDP is dead in Enugu State. This statement is pure political ‘shakara’ though he may still have followers in his Enugu West Senatorial axis, especially Udi, Ezeagu and partly Oji-River Local Government areas. Aninri where Ekweremadu comes from and Awgu Local Government areas are not part of his influential zones. He does not have control of political affairs in the whole state anymore the way it was when he had the knife and yam in his hands.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu will surely try to return to the Senate come 2019. Chime may either come out for the senate or sponsor a candidate. So, it is going to be a big fight. But with ‘stomach infrastructure’ being the bane of Nigeria politics due to poverty and ignorance, the man with the financial war-chest may carry the day. Senator Ekweremadu is a big spender in politics and both of them have something to show as achievements in the area. Chime may not be willing to put much money on the table. The only problem is that many people from the area are already saying that Ekweremadu has had enough and should give another person a chance. This may work against him.
Chief Nwobodo, Sen Ken Nnamani, Onyeabor and many others are from Enugu East Senatorial zone but the fact is that they are regarded by some people as politicians of yesterday whose electoral values are not much now. Therefore, their entry into APC will not really give what may emerge from PDP crisis any worry. This zone will be a battle ground for legislative elections but not gubernatorial.
The Northern Senatorial zone where the governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi comes from may not listen to anybody else than the governor who has indeed done much for them in short a time. The governor, who is now on the saddle is a master strategist, pragmatist and a performer. He is loved by the people of the state especially the work force that has a great influence in the Nigerian politics. The Local Government chairmen in the state will also have greater role to play in governor Ugwuanyi’s second tenure interest.He is quietly using the lean resources of the state to make great strides all over the state. He is trying to make sure that he will have something to show as achievements in most of the communities in the state. As a sitting governor who is a man of the people due to his performance so far in his first tenure, any party he enters, he will win.
What is not sure is what will happen to his followers because some of them may not make it even if they follow the governor to anywhere he goes. The truth remains that a sitting governor who is popular due to his performance in his first tenure, will retain the state no matter which party he goes into with his followers. The former governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, formed PPA when he was pushed out of PDP by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and still won his state.
To push governor Ugwuanyi out of “Lion Building” after his first tenure is a herculean task that may not come through. But other political positions will see real contest between APC and whatever PDP becomes.
Nwanze writes from Abuja.