By Lawson Agbo
To say that the tenure of the factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, Ugo Agballa, has been dogged by controversies since his emergence is to state the obvious. In fact, even his emergence in a parallel congress of the party was stewed in controversy such that he could not be issued with Certificate of Return on the same day as the rest chairmen in February.
Given the circumstances of his emergence, virtually every critical stakeholder of the APC in his state has since deserted him, rendering him a cathedral without congregation or masquerade without drummers.
Worse, there are also the controversies emanating from the N238 million allegedly dolled out to the Enugu APC to fund House of Assembly, National Assembly, and governorship nomination and expression of interest forms in the state and the alleged $1.5 million APC national convention largesse that reportedly grew wings. These remain unresolved.
Unfortunately, rather than address these issues and play the right politics to put his house in order, Agballa has carried on like a man who pleasures in chasing rats around while his house is on fire. If he is not attacking former governor, Chimaroke Nnamani he is libelling the Enugu State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Peter Mbah or maliciously attacking his party men and about everyone and everything. And he goes about it in ways that call to question his “fit and proper test” in the legal profession.
In the process, he has jettisoned the things that should matter to him as chairman of a party in the run up to a general election to chase after things that further push his party into extinction in the state. While Agballa takes pleasure in talking about the PDP governorship candidate and chieftains, Enugu APC has no governorship candidate in the real sense of it. Although the Enugu governorship slot of the APC is filled at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the general perception is that Ugo Agballa and his governorship candidate, Chief Uche Nnaji, are running for business and the national campaign fund, not to win.
During the primaries’ window, Ugo Agballa and Chief Uche Nnaji fielded Robert Ngwu, who hails from Nike as the deputy governorship placeholder. But Ngwu not only hails from the same Enugu East senatorial zone as Uche Nnaji, both men are also from the Nkanu clan. But they could not replace Ngwu within the window allowed by the Electoral Act. The difficulty in finding a replacement is not surprising, given the ruinous state of the Enugu APC, the party’s unpopularity in the South East, and the perceived double-dealing tendencies of Agballa.
So, although they deceitfully unveiled and now parade George Ogara, who hails from Enugu North, as Nnaji’s running mate, Robert Ngwu remains the deputy governorship candidate of the APC. This can easily be confirmed from the final list of candidates published where Robert Ogbonna Ngwu’s name appears at serial number 278 as Enugu APC’s deputy governorship candidate.
No part of Nigeria is politically mature to elect a governor and deputy from the same senatorial zone let alone from one clan. It is a recipe for electoral failure. The only ticket closest to it in Enugu is the Labour Party governorship ticket where Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, who hails from Isi-Uzo LGA seeks to succeed the incumbent governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who is not only his direct blood relation, but also hails from Udenu, a LGA created from Isi-Uzo LGA in 1981. It is more like an indigene of Aninri LGA seeking to succeed an Agwu man/woman as governor.
Furthermore, APC has no candidate for Nkanu East/Nkanu West Federal Constituency, the very home constituency of the APC governorship candidate. Instead, Nnaji’s younger brother and incumbent House Member, Nnolim, is contesting on the platform of the PDP. There are equally other places such as Igboeze North/Udenu Federal Constituency where the APC has no House of Representatives candidate. Also, out of the 24 State House of Assembly seats, APC has mere placeholders (not real candidates) in over 11 state constituencies.
Meanwhile, a glance at Ugo Agballa’s rancorous relationships with Enugu APC leaders further shows that he and his governorship candidate are not truly in the race to the Lion Building. In Enugu East senatorial zone where Uche Nnaji hails from, the candidate and Agballa are not working with former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani; member of the Police Service Commission, Chief Onyemuche Nnamani; Ambassador of Nigeria to Poland, Major General Christian Ugwu (Rtd.); and Agballa’s immediate predecessor, Dr. Ben Nwoye, who are all from the same LGA as the gubernatorial candidate. They are also not working with other APC stalwarts like Ifeanyi Nwogu, Charles Nwabueze, Maduka Arum (Mama), etc., while G.B Onoh has since joined the Labour Party because of Agballa.
In Enugu West senatorial zone where Ugo Agballa hails from, they are not working with former governor and Agballa’s kinsman, Barr. Sullivan Chime. They are not working with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; presidential aide, Juliet Ibekaku; Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, etc., who hail from Udi LGA as Agballa. They are not working with Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu and Joe Mammel in Oji River. They are equally not working with Ginika Tor in Awgu LGA, while former APC state chairman, Chikwado Chukwuka, has since abandoned the party for Agballa and pitched his tent with the PDP.
In Enugu North, Agballa and his governorship candidate are not working with former Speaker, Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh, General J.O.J Okoroagu (Rtd.), Senator Ayogu Eze, Barr. Bart Ugwoke, Ikechukwu Ugwuegede, etc., while Ambassador Fidel Ayogu and General Chris Eze (Rtd.) abandoned APC for the Labour Party following Agballa’s controversial emergence as state chairman of APC.
Even the elder brother of Ogara, who they are deceitfully parading as APC running mate is running for Igboeze South State Constituency seat on the platform of the Labour Party. So, the brothers of the governorship and purported deputy governorship candidates are running for various offices on the platforms of other parties.
If Agballa and his governorship candidate cannot work with these party leaders and political juggernauts, who then are they hoping on to deliver the Enugu APC governorship ticket? More so in a state that is traditionally PDP and where the PDP is also the ruling party. As a matter of fact, in the governorship candidate’s electoral ward, there are tested political stalwarts like Uche Nnaji’s younger brother, Nnolim, Sam Ogbu Nwobodo Ogbu, Ray Nnaji, Nana Ogbodo, Emeka Nwatu, Steve Oruruo, etc. So, are they going to sacrifice their ward because of Uche Nnaji’s deceitful and unrealistic ticket?
Consequently, the popular thinking about Agballa’s posturing is that he wants to give Abuja a false impression about the Enugu APC, a false sense of a lively opposition, just to wet the ground for the much-awaited APC’s 2023 campaign funds. But Agballa could quietly land the largesse without making further mockery of himself and his party in the state.
Ndi Enugu have been patiently awaiting the governorship manifesto and campaign timetable of Enugu APC. They are earnestly expecting him to launch Enugu APC campaign council. In the absence of the real leaders of Enugu APC, who have all abandoned Ugo Agballa and his governorship candidate to their conceitedness, Ndi Enugu verily want to know the calibre of people that will populate their campaign council.
Growing up, there was this mentally challenged woman, who would usually call the attention of passersby to her smelly backside and burst into a feat of laughter. Unfortunately, it is APC’s fate in Enugu State. Rather than put his house in order, Agballa laughs at and advertises his inadequacies and the inadequacies of his party to the world like Nwanyi Orie, as we called her because he is in it for business, not to better the fortunes of the party.
• Agbo writes from Enugu