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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

How to Resolve the Enugu Political Crises – By Kennedy Okoronta



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Sillivan Chime's men and women at the EnuguUSA election at the national election
Sillivan Chime’s men and women at the EnuguUSA election at the national election
The ominous political climate in Enugu is very palpable. You could see it. You could feel it even from millions of miles away from the Coal City. Sadly, what is happening in Enugu appears like how we treat the bad portions of our roads. The concerned authorities fold their arms until potholes deteriorate to ditches and small erosions mature to wide gullies, divide the roads and claim lives.
I have gone through newspaper reports and articles on Enugu in the past one year, and there appears to be a tacit consensus that Enugu would be one of the hotbeds of the 2015 politics.
First, the Governor allegedly unilaterally zoned the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP to Enugu North. Some stakeholders, notably, Senator Ike Ekweremadu grumbled. Ekweremadu said he would be happy if someone from that zone emerged the governor, but not on the grounds of zoning as there was none, but on the grounds of fairness and equity since they were the only zone yet to produce a governor since 1999. Of course, there are many examples, including that of Chimaroke Nnamani’s deputy, Okechukwu Itanyi (Enugu North), who contested the PDP primaries against Sullivan Chime (Enugu West) even though he hails from Enugu North. Generally, Ekweremadu’s point was that there was need for stakeholders to meet and ratify zoning if that were the case. But even more importantly, he declared he was not in the gubernatorial race.
To me, that was a wonderful and reasonable suggestion. First, Ekweremadu and the Governor were on the same page that Enugu North deserves to have a shot at the Enugu Lion Building. Although the Governor’s camp made so much unnecessary fuse about it, nobody could contradict Ekweremadu’s points. The good thing, however, and to Chime’s credit, was that he eventually summoned a meeting of the Enugu PDP Stakeholders, as suggested by Ekweremadu, and the Nsukka-ward movement received everyone’s blessing. As simple as that.
Sen Ike Ekweremadu commissins the Ogbombara Spring Water Harvestation Project attracted by him to Ndeabor, Enugu State
Sen Ike Ekweremadu commissins the Ogbombara Spring Water Harvestation Project attracted by him to Ndeabor, Enugu State
In other climes, things should have flowed from here. The snag here is that Chime never “forgave” Ekweremadu for “calling him to order” and went further to push it too far by not only trying to zone the senatorial seat to his political block in Enugu West, but also declaring that all ranking members of the Enugu State contingent to the National Assembly must not seek reelection in 2015. Since then, Enugu State, Chime, and Ekweremadu have never known peace. The problem with most of our governors is that they see themselves as demi gods. They feel unnecessarily slighted by any contrary voice of reason. It should not be so.
Till date, Enugu remains a suppressed volcano with occasional outbursts in the form of chicken impeachment, dethronement of royal fathers, etc. Awgu Local Government Council is in disarray. As pro-Chime forces led by the Council Chairman, Hon. Mathanus Nze, were accused of mobilizing the armed thugs that allegedly invaded the Legislative Council chambers to unleash mayhem and cause pandemonium. Alleged pro-Ekweremadu lawmakers, numbering 8 out of 11 Councilors, have reacted by serving impeachment notice on the Council Chairman. They also impeached and suspended the leadership of the Legislative Council whom they named as accomplices.
Before now, the traditional ruler of Amandim-Olo in Ezeagu LGA of the same Enugu West District was dethroned for failing to return to the government a bus donated to him by Ekweremadu as the Chairman of Enugu West Senatorial District Traditional Rulers Council. But the traditional ruler contended on an AIT programme that the vehicle was given to him on request and in his personal capacity. He provided government the receipts of purchase and registration documents. He also displayed a letter written to the Governor by Ekweremadu affirming that it was indeed a personal gift to the monarch. This was eventually greeted with dethronement and imposition of another traditional ruler on the community.
I do not think the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and President Jonathan have to wait until guns start booming and bombs start exploding in Enugu to arrest the ugly slide towards anarchy. All these political tensions and emerging crisis are very, very unnecessary and constitute a big distraction to the bigger picture, which is to ensure that President Jonathan polls the maximum votes in Enugu and eventually gets reelected, while the PDP produces Chime’s successor and win all the federal and state legislative seats in 2015.
Good enough, Ekweremadu, true to his words, did not join the governorship fray. Neither has he so far opposed the Governor’s anointed successor. It shows that Ekweremadu puts Enugu interest first. No doubt, his joining the governorship fray or anointing another candidate could have altered the political landscape a great deal. He has enormous goodwill across the state as well as the resources and political connections to pursue it.
Therefore, the answer to the feud is simply a compromise because in fairness to the Deputy Senate President, Chime cannot singlehandedly anoint his successor (forget the stage-managed Enugu North stakeholders endorsement meeting) and at the same time insist Ekweremadu cannot return to the Senate. It also amounts to playing God for the Governor to in addition want to dictate who gets each of the National and State Assembly seats.
The middle way would have been for the for Sullivan Chime to go for either the governorship (producing his successor) and forfeit the Senate or go for the Senate and leave the governorship for Ekweramadu. But since he has already anointed his successor and Ekweremadu has not made any trouble, such singular act places the burden of reciprocity on the Governor to forgo the Senate.
Besides, Ekweremadu’s none-return to the Senate, for whatever reason, would be at a grave political cost to Enugu West, the State, the South East, given his ranking in the Senate, experience, and great representation. The Mark-Ekweremadu Senate leadership has also been the longest and most stable since 1999.
As a suffix, and with every sense of goodwill, my Governor too should consider his health. No political position is worth his life. It is not his fault that he has health challenges because people do fall ill. We will continue to pray for him. But he should also know that heaven helps those who help themselves. Throwing Daniel into the lions’ den and Daniel willingly jumping into the lions’ den are not the same. The later is a clear case of suicide. And even the bible cautions that “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God”.
Okoronta writes from Enugu

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