From Maurice Okafor,Enugu
In a stable democratic setting, the beauty of democracy is mostly attributed to the flourish of vibrant opposition party/parties which keeps the ruling party on its toes and responsive to the needs of the grassroots, through objective criticism of actions or in actions of the party in power.
Since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, the presence of a viable opposition to the ruling party,PDP,in Enugu state has remained a mirage. The PDP has continued to produce one hundred percent of all elective positions in the state from the Councillor elections in the 260 wards in the state up to the National elections.
Expectations that the All Pogressives Congress (APC) in the state which presently commands some of the men with timber and caliber in Nigeria’s political circle and those of them holding juicy appointments at corridors of power, to change the tide of political control of the state with the forthcoming local government election in the state,scheduled on February 29, by the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission(ENSIEC) seems unrealistic.
The age long unresolved internal wranglings within the Enugu state chapter of APC seems to be at it’s worst stage, as the party seems to have drifted into three factions from the usual two factions headed by Chief Ben Nwoye and Deacon Okey Ogbodo. Deacon Okey Ogbodo and Comrade A.C Ude,the pioneer deputy chairman of the party in Enugu state,who was in the 2019 President Buhari Youth Coordinator in the state fell apart over decision to field candidates for the February 29 local government elections.
Deacon Okey Ogbodo who leads another faction said the party will not field candidates until ENSIEC proves it’s sincerity to conduct free and fair council election, instead of being an appendage of PDP,the ruling party in Enugu state.But Comrade A C Ude went the extra miles to field candidates of the faction for the election, with claims to have conducted party primaries of the faction,in his capacity as pioneer deputy chairman of the party in Enugu state, a former organising secretary and 2019 PMB youth coordinator in Enugu state.
THE AUTHORITY checks revealed Chief Ben Nwoye with his faction has submitted names of the party’s candidates for the elections, based on the primaries he conducted with serious caution not to accept any list of candidates from any other faction, insisting he remains the only recognized state chairman of APC in Enugu state.
Chief Nwoye who briefed news men a fortnight ago, also accused ENSIEC to prove it’s sincerity towards the conduct of February 29 local government election,alleging the whole process of ENSIEC operation has been in secret.
But speaking to a group of news men at his office, the ENSIEC administrative officer,Mr Tagbo Nnamah denied allegations that the commission has a hidden agenda,stating they have finished training of adhoc staffs, ensured over 3,000 polling units where the votes will be cast are restored. He said the ENSIEC doors are very open and advised the Enugu State chapter of APC should go and sort out it’s internal problems and should not shift blames to anybody.
THE AUTHORITY checks revealed that barely two weeks to the Enugu state council elections, the leaders and major stakeholders of APC in Enugu state,among whom are the Minister of Foreign affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama,the Director Voice of Nigeria (VON DG),Mr Osita Okechukwu,Chief Ken Nnamani,the National Vice Chairman (South East),Chief Emma Eneukwu who is from Enugu state,Chief Baywood Ibeh, a business mogul and one of the major financiers of the party in Enugu state,Ex Governor Sullivan Chime,are yet to seat and resolve internal problems of the APC, Enugu state chapter,so they can go into the election with one voice.
However, the ruling PDP seems to have solved it’ s own internal wrangling which emanated on the methods of their choice of candidates for the council elections. The method of return of some candidates of the party raised dust at Nsukka local government area and degenerated to protests with mock coffin etc.In Oji River,a group of some concerned citizens who operate under the aegis of ‘Save Oji River Initiative”had protested over what they described as era of poor grassroots governance in the atea ,with urge on the parties to present credible candidates in the February 29,council elections.