Correspondent Felix Uka writes on the challenges before former Governor Sam Egwu as he plots his way back to the Senate.
Although the 2019 general elections are distant away, some politicians in Ebonyi state are already gearing up for the contests. This is more about members of the National Assembly in the state.
They are doing this in diverse ways and manners. While some are oiling their structures, impacting, positively on their constituents in the bid to retain or gain loyalties, some others are busy defaming and smearing the personality/character of their perceived opponents or opposition elements.
The zoning arrangements of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state might be working against a number of them, especially those who are serving their second term. Even those serving first tenure might have to contend with the zoning formula if their area had taken their chances.
Apart from the challenges of zoning, some might have to contend with the issue of performance.
In terms of performance, the average Ebonyi constituent is more interested on how you relate with him or her, more so how much your representation impacts, directly on their lives.
For Senator Sam Ominyi Egwu representing Ebonyi North Senatorial district, he might be caught in muddle of diminished acceptance even by the lowly in his constituency. This they said is on the account of allegations that he is too far away from his people. A number of them posit that his carriage as former governor of the state has made his representation at the National Assembly less beneficial to them. They complain that while others legislators are busy securing employment for their people at various federal agencies, Egwu tends to feel too
‘big’ to negotiate such for his people.
The recent wedding of his son at the Abakaliki Township Stadium did not help matters. The question raised by a number of them was why he could stage the wedding at a Stadium in Abakaliki, kilometres away from his massive house in his village, Umuebe in Ezamgbo where even the common people in his area could attend and partake even from the crumbs that would fall from the tables.
Apart from these, the other obstacle that might stand the way of Egwu on his bid back to the Red Chambers is that he comes from the minority Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state. Recall that the Ebonyi North constituency he is currently representing is made up of four local government councils of Abakaliki L.G.A, Izii L.G.A, Ebonyi L.G.A and his own Ohaukwu L.G.A.
Already waiting at the wings to challenge Egwu are Chief Fidelis Nwankwo, former Minister of State for Health. He hails from the populous Izzi clan which alone has three local government councils out of the four that make the Ebonyi North district. Nwankwo was Director General (DG) of Divine Mandate Campaign Organization, the political platform that ‘midwived’ the emergence of the incumbent governor David Nweze Umahi in 2015. It was from that position that Umahi negotiated his becoming a Minister then. Even as there have been suspected signs of uncertainty as the how strong the loyalty of Nwakwo remains for the Umahi band, no one could count him as a push over. How he would battle it with Egwu could only be imagined.
Chief Goddy Ogbaga, former Minister of State for Power, also from the Izzi axis is believed to be ready for the ambush. He is seen by many as a symbol of the Izzi politics. Though his wife, former member of the House of Representatives Hon. Elizabeth Ogbaga is a Commissioner in the Umahi-led administration, calculations are that the husband, Ogbaga might not mind going for the slot through any other political party than the PDP if the toss becomes a push.
And there is no doubt that some other potential contestants are studying the scenarios, negotiating the easiest routes to plum position.
Meanwhile, the Ohaukwu bloc, Egwu’s area has been to the senate twice.
The first was Senator Anthony Uduma Agbo who had one term and Sam Egwu the incumbent Senator. The Izii people had their one slot when Senator Chris Nwankwo from the Izzi L.G. A was there. The Abakaliki
clan had Senator Ngiji Ngele and Senator Chris Nshii of blessed memory.
The foregoing could however not to undercut the fact that Egwu still has some of his allies, especially those he appointed into offices for the eight years he held sway as the executive governor from 1999 to 2007.
That notwithstanding, his saving grace might come from Governor David Umahi. Should the governor look away, it could probable be bye bye from the senate for Egwu.
Anyway, going by his characteristics, Umahi would not let Egwu sink unless saving him could seriously endanger his (Umahi’s) own chances for second term. Indeed, the governor had on several occasions remarked that Egwu and his wife, Eunice were key players during his 2015 tough battles to the Government House. Nonetheless, politics is all about interests.
On the other side of the brewing contests, preparatory to 2019 elections, some others have engaged mudslinging against perceived opponents. Last week the heat was on the member representing Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Lazarus Ogbe. A facebook account, Ebonyi Patriots posted on the social media that the lawmaker submitted to the Independent Electoral
Commission (INEC), forged WAEC certificate. That switched on smiles on the faces of Ogbe’s but soured the minds of hs allies.
Obviously embarrassed, Ogbe arranged a press conference, presented to newsmen original copy of the WAEC certificate which he explained he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) for the 2015 general elections.
Ogbee denied the allegation, describing it as handiwork of his opponents and mischief makers who are hell bent in destroying his hard earned image. At the press conference in Onueke, Ezza South local government area of Ebonyi state, Ogbe warned that he will not tolerate his image smeared. “My attention has been drawn to a facebook post which has gone viral that I forged my WAEC certificate which was included in my academic qualifications that I submitted to INEC for 2015 election for house of reps.
“Actually, I have come to clear the air that in 1979 I enrolled into Ezza high school, Onueke and by 1984 I took my WAEC and thereafter was given original certificate. My examination number in the WAEC certificate which I used and sat for the exam is 04608112 while the certificate number is SG 526723A and is verifiable anywhere you can browse it and know the name that is there. You will see Lazarus Ogbe there if you purchase WAEC scratch card and browse the exam number.
“I couldn’t have gone to fabricate or to forge anybody certificate when I have mine. This campaign of calumny and character assassination is emanating from some people I defeated in the 2015 polls. Since I defeated them, it has never gone down well with them and they have been fighting to pull me down. They took me to tribunal and later appeal court and I won them.