Since November, 1949
Friday 27th April, 2007

How Nnamani delivered Enugu to PDP


Chimaroke Nnamani

South East Bureau Chief, Jude Ossai, writes on the factors that aided the success of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded general elections in Enugu State.

THAT the presidential and National Assembly elections coupled with the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections were conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in most parts of the country amidst violence, rancour and bickering is no longer news.

Indeed, the mixed reactions that trailed the various elections are not strange as aggrieved people are naturally bound to express their anger, disenchantment and resentment against the actions of their perceived oppressors just as the winners jubilate over their victory.

Nigerian Tribune gathered in the South East geo-political zone that the elections of April 14 were more or less like war, as many voters were denied the opportunity of performing their civic responsibility. In Enugu State, the scenario was quite unique as the out-going governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, signaled his interest in the Senate shortly after his dream of ruling the country was aborted few days to the PDP primaries in Abuja.

This development sparked off further ripples in political circles in the state as the opposition saw it as a way of elongating the Nnamani political dynasty in the state beyond 2007. The opposition found his political structure, Ebeano, as the main obstacle standing between them and electoral victory in the state. Prior to the April 14 elections, bookmakers had predicted an uphill task for the Peoples

Democratic Party (PDP) in winning political offices in Enugu State as politics in the state tended to favour governorship candidates like Barrister Ugochukwu Agballa and Chief Fidel Ayogu of Accord Party and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) respectively. But true to the vow of governor Nnamani and his faithful, the Ebeano triumphed as the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Abdu Bulama, announced last Sunday that PDP clinched all the electoral seats, including the three senatorial zones in the state.

However, the electoral results did not come to many residents in the Coal City by surprise, as there were allegations of electoral irregularities. The opposition governorship candidates, led by Chief Ayogu, alleged at a press conference in Enugu that some result sheets and about a quarter of the ballot papers were said to have developed wings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where they were kept.

The opposition in the state felt that the ruling PDP might have cornered the sensitive materials, which included result sheets and ballot papers. There was confusion at the CBN premises as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, General Samuel Atawodi, ordered his men to disperse anybody that was not authorized to be at the area at that particular period.

It was the sporadic shooting by the soldiers on the order of the GOC that scared all the governorship candidates that had besieged the bank to find out why some sensitive election materials disappeared from the apex bank. Just as the opposition was bemoaning its woes, threatening fire and brim stone, the camp of Ebeano was full of praises for INEC in the conduct of the elections in the state. For instance, Governor Chimaroke Nnamani said, “I feel good...I feel great at this opportunity to vote myself out of office. This is the first time in the history of this country that an elected government is making a peaceful and predictable exit.

Governor Nnamani, who made the statement shortly after casting his vote for governorship election, was only trying to be modest as a week later he won Enugu East Senatorial slot. PDP also won all the eight House of Representatives seats in the state. The INEC returning officer for Enugu East Senatorial Zone, Dr. Mrs. Anthonia Ekwo, who announced the results at the senatorial collation centre at Nkanu West Local Government Secretariat, Agbani, explained that Nnamani polled 248,488 votes with AC scoring 12,095 votes to come second. Other scores are Accord Party 8,127; ANPP 10,469 and DPP 207.

In Enugu West Senatorial Zone, Senator Ike Ekweremadu of PDP was re-elected with 222,700 votes to beat the ANPP candidate, Mr. Uche Anya, who scored about 5,000 votes. While Chief Ayogu Eze was declared winner of Enugu North Senatorial seat with 453,244 votes to beat ten other contenders in the zone. In the House of Representatives elections, the PDP won all the seats in the state. The winners include Hon. Gil Nnaji, (re-elected) Enugu East/Isiuzo; Ofor Chukwuegbo, Enugu North/South; Princess Peace Nnaji, Nkanu East/West; Hon. K.G.B Oguakwa (re-elected) Aninri/Awgu/Oji River, among others.
Speaking on his victory at the polls, Governor Nnamani said he viewed his election to the Senate after serving as governor for eight years, as another opportunity to serve the people.

“For me, it is an opportunity to encapsulate the story of a phase of life, what I describe as my Nigerian odyssey, a phase that started about 11 years ago when I decided to leave America and effectively seek an opportunity to serve the people of Enugu State. So, all I can do is to reflect at this moment on the opportunities I had and to thank Nigeria, Enugu State and PDP for providing me an opportunity to make contributions to the development of the nation and leave my footprints in the sands of time. Certainly, it is an opportunity to reflect on the end of a phase of my career”, he said.

With PDP’s victory, the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua, there is no doubt that Enugu State would be happy in remianing with the ruling party.

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