Ugwuanyi Flags off 2nd tenure campaign in style
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Before now, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Enugu-West Senatorial District have been holding their meetings inside the main hall of the Awgu Local Government Area headquarters.
But their fourth meeting on Sunday, May 14, took a different dimension as they held it at the Awgu council headquarters’ pavilion, apparently to accommodate the large number of people invited to the expanded zonal meeting.
What has caused the change, why the razzmatazz at the meeting? Indeed, the people of the zone are angry and, therefore, were responding to a challenge thrown to them by one of their own, former governor Sullivan Chime, who had recently dumped the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Chime upon quitting the PDP had said the party was dead and cremated in Enugu State.
But his kinsmen were quick to disassociate themselves from his claim as they visited Governor Ugwuanyi to say that Chime was on his own. It was on the same plank that his Senatorial District decided to hold an expanded meeting, where they too distanced themselves from Chime and endorsed Ugwuanyi for 2019 under the platform of the PDP.
Thus, as noon approached on the D-Day, taxi drivers who still have the “Sullivan Cabs” lined up from the beginning of the road leading to Awgu from the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway.
As soon as Governor Ugwuanyi and his entourage got to the beginning of the road, the taxi drivers took over duty from the dispatch riders as they led the way with Ugwuanyi riding behind them into the Awgu council pavilion.
On arrival, Ugwuanyi and the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, went round the pavilion to greet the PDP members from the five local government areas of Awgu, Aninri, Ezeagu, Udi, and Oji River that make up the Enugu West Senatorial District.
Welcoming the large crowd, the PDP state Vice Chairman, Enugu West and Zonal Chairman, Enugu West Senatorial District, Ozo Okey Ozoani, disclosed that the meeting was the fourth to be held by the zone, advising the people not to confuse it to be a rally because of the large turnout.
“We have been holding this meeting with over 700 persons in attendance on each occasion and we usually use the meetings to raise money with which we oil the machine of the party,” he said.
He insisted that the people of the district were solidly behind Ugwuanyi, saying that they hope to one day stage a rally at Okpara Square to demonstrate their support for him.
Ozoani said they have been yearning to see Chief Ekweremadu again, adding that they were excited that he came with the governor to their meeting.
He, therefore, called on the ward chairmen of the five councils to present their progress reports, with all of them assuring Ugwuanyi of their unflinching support.
The ward chairman from Udi Local Government Area announced that some of their kinsmen who followed Chime as he decamped to the APC have returned to the PDP, pointing out that over 300 defectors from Udi were at the meeting.
Leaders of the district at various levels of government took turns to reaffirm the support of their people to Governor Ugwuanyi.
Deputy Speaker of the Enugu House of Assembly, Donatus Uzogbado, who spoke on behalf of the other House members from the zone said the state Assembly members would solidly stand behind Ugwuanyi in 2019.
He said the state was lucky to have Ugwuanyi as governor under this period of recession, saying that it would have been very difficult for the people of the state without him.
He thanked Ekweremadu for the support he is giving the governor, saying that no other party would be able to gain entry into the district as the people are PDP and one indivisible entity.
Also Mr. Charles Egumgbe who spoke on behalf of the Commissioners and Special Advisers from the zone disclosed that the state follow a tradition in choosing the governor, saying that from 1999, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani served eight years for Enugu East Senatorial District, handed over to Sullivan Chime who equally served eight years for Enugu West, insisting that Governor Ugwuanyi who is from Enugu North District must do eight years.
Egumgbe who was the pioneer state chairman of the PDP said there was nothing to worry about in the wind of political defection blowing in the state.
“Anybody who leaves the PDP in the state will regret it,” he warned.
Also speaking, the member representing Aninri/Awgu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Chief Toby Okechukwu, thanked Ugwuanyi for attending their zonal meeting.
He recalled that at the tail end of the Chime administration, they were holding their zonal meeting in the same venue one day and when Ekweremadu came in some of the people loyal to Chime started running away saying “so, when you have peace, it should not be taken for granted.”
Okechukwu who told the governor that Ekweremadu had done much to develop the district, said they are also supporting Ugwuanyi for what he has done for their zone.
He said that those of them in the National Assembly were doing their best to ensure they get what is due to their people.
His counterpart representing the Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency, Dennis Amadi, reminded the gathering that his people from Udi had in the penultimate week visited Ugwuanyi at the Governor’s Lodge to demonstrate full support for his leadership, saying that “we are here today to solidify that support.”
Amadi said they have broken all political walls in the Udi/Ezeagu Constituency, pointing out that the people were one in their support for the PDP.
The arena was charged when 5,000 members of the APC, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Labour Party filed out to denounce their old parties and to defect to the PDP.
The leader of the defectors, Chief Matthias Nnukwuagu, said that the majority of them were formerly in the PDP, but left because of the way Chime was running the party then.
He said they decided to return as the former governor has left the PDP, as well as seeing the new hope brought to the party by Ugwuanyi.
Nnukwuagu maintained that nobody coerced them to come back to the PDP, saying that they were doing so on their own volition.
The bomb-shell came when Ekweremadu announced that the meeting of the district had endorsed Ugwuanyi for 2019 and his governorship campaign kicked off that day with two buses donated to him.
He told the governor that the people of the zone at the meeting took stock of his administration and were satisfied with his performance necessitating their gunning for him again for 2019.
Responding, Ugwuanyi thanked the people of the zone, saying that Ekweremadu has also demonstrated good leadership in the district.
He described Ekweremadu as an illustrious son God sent to show the way, saying that it was a good thing that he comes from the Enugu West Senatorial zone.
The governor also said the Senator is a man that stands for good governance, adding, “Ikeoha Ndigbo, we are proud of you.”
Ugwuanyi told the people that he was excited about the outcome of their meeting, pledging to continue to serve them well.
He also said he was grateful to the PDP, which he said took him to the House of Representatives, as well as made him the governor of the state.
He urged the people to continue to pray for him and Ekweremadu as they strive to move the state forward.
He later gave the keys of the two buses donated by Ekweremadu for his campaigns to the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Austin Nnamani and the zonal Chairman, Ozoani.
Other dignitaries who attended the meeting included the Deputy Governor, Hon. Cecilia Ezeilo; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Edward Ubosi; former state PDP chairmen, Chief Vita Abba, Ikeji Asogwa; Hon. Pat Asadu; former Aviation Minister, Mrs Fidelia Njeze; Amb Godwin Agbo; state Ohanaeze Chairman, Chief Alex Ogbonna; members of National Assembly from the zone and many others.