It sounds incredible but it is true. Publiknotiz has authoritatively learnt that two PDP governors in the South East, to wit, Governors Sullivan Chime and Theodore Orji of Enugu and Abia States, respectively, are being held responsible for the intense anger currently building up against President Goodluck Jonathan in the South East zone, which before now, he had considered as his main support zone, a mere nine days to the presidential election.
This is at a time that tempers are spiralling across the South East zone over what is being considered as President Jonathan’s snub of the zone and his taking the support of the people from the area for granted and as a foregone conclusion, whether he reaches out to them or not, a survey by Publiknotiz has revealed.
The recent developments which have got tongues wagging at every public and private discussion has been brought about by what is being seen as a slight on the Igbo people by the president and his political party, the same way he was said to have behaved in 2011 when he obtained the Igbo votes without any negotiations or assurances. Keen political observers across the states of the zone, as our correspondent found out, are amazed that as the president is said to have concentrated his attention and campaign in the South West, allegedly inundating the zone with billions of dollars, the South East is completely rebuffed and forgotten.
As Chief Jevas Okeke, an Ohanaeze chieftain and an industrialist mused to our correspondent in Enugu, “why won’t Jonathan take Ndigbo for granted, after all, we have been weeping louder than the bereaved in the support of the president without anything to show for it, the same way we did in 2011, when our so-called leaders adopted him even before he became the candidate of his party. Why won’t he snub us, after all he knows where we sleep”.
The well-connected politician bemoaned the situation whereby Ndigbo would continue to support the president blindly without anything to show for it and as, according to him, “even before the election, the man does not know that we exist”.
“If he is treating Ndigbo so shabbily when he has not won the election, how will he treat us when he would have won the election with our bulk votes?”, he queried.
As this groundswell of anger starts to solidify, a top clergy man in Awka confirmed to our reporter that he has heard many members of his flock grumbling loudly over what they claim is the obvious neglect of the Jonathan government of the South East, a neglect that appears deliberate judging from how he has allegedly turned his back on the zone during the campaign while consulting and distributing tonnes of money to people and groups at the other zones.
Further investigations by this publication have learnt that unlike in the other zones, many support groups and political leaders who had made good proposals to the presidential campaign organisation and the Presidency requesting for logistics and support to mobilize for the president through rallies or town-hall meetings have been allegedly ignored and rebuffed.
During a heated debate over the issue at the Enugu Press Centre during the week, a journalist with the state radio station in Enugu pointed out that in these days of poor economy, the type of what he described as the “dollar rain” that the PDP is making in the South West and the North could have been of a great benefit in the South East, where poverty is said to be on the ascent.
“Our people have been brought to a disgrace by President Jonathan, for instead of infusing some money into our system as he does elsewhere, our people continue to wallow in poverty”, he lamented, adding that, “everyday, you see throngs of people trooping to Prince Arthur Eze’s house where they hope that a few crumpled naira notes could be hurled at them”. According to him, “Jonathan assumes that once he has awarded super contracts to a few Igbo fat cats, he has taken care of the entire Igbo race and their problems”.
A lady journalist chipped in, “in that case, he should get ready for a shock; he is joking with Igbo people and deluding himself that he already has Igbo votes in the bag”, querying, “by the way, why are we against Buhari, who during the two of three times he contested, he picked Igbo people, Okadigbo and Ume-Ezeoke, as his running mate”
Publiknotiz sought reactions to these complaints from officials at the Wadata House party headquarters and at the Presidency, but was unable to get at officials who can authoritatively answer to these weighty allegations of snobbery and neglect of the South East by the president. Chief Uche Secondus, the national vice chairman for the South was said to have gone to Rivers State where the First Lady had gone to campaign. However, one usually very reliable source at the Presidency confided in our correspondent on the condition of anonymity.
He denied that President Jonathan is deliberately shunning the South East, as he, the president was said to have approved an elaborate plan to do a two day visit to the zone and consult widely with different captive groups and interests, but that he was stoutly dissuaded from such visits by two of the three PDP governors in the zone.
The PDP chieftain informed our correspondent that an elaborate programme which would have necessitated the president to visit and consult in Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra on the first day and sleep in Enugu from where he would have landed at the Owerri Airport and worked in Imo and Abia on the second day before flying back to Abuja had been reportedly approved and cleared by the Presidency.
However, according to this source, during the meeting of the PDP South East governors to deliberate on the programme, the governors of Enugu and Abia were said to have argued very stoutly against any such visit, leading to its being shelved. The source could not authoritatively explain why Governor Chime could be against the visit of the president to his state, and according to him, he might be afraid of being overshadowed by the other contending political interests in the state. He however suspects that the Abia governor was trying to cover what many regard as his smelling political backside which the source said that the visit would have exposed.
Our source revealed that the programme for the presidential visit to Abia contained such items like a visit to the site of Alaoji and Geometric Power Stations; Ariaria market, Aba Sports Club where he would have met with at least 200 prominent Abia indigenes. It was suspected that Governor T.A. Orji, aware of his unpopularity could not refuse being booed and pelted with water sachets during the tour and had argued against the proposed tour.
“It would be hard for him to forget his experience when he appeared at the Aba stadium during the funeral of the late General Odumegwu Ojukwu when he was pelted and booed”, the source suggested.
The source further claimed that the tour would have made the president more popular in the South East but would have been a death knell for the ambition of both the Abia governor who is vying for the Abia Central senatorial seat and for his anointed candidate for the gubernatorial race, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. “T.A. Orji must have also suspected that APGA would have mobilized and stolen the show for their candidate Alex Otti”, according to the source.
Meanwhile, faithful to the fact that nature abhors vacuum, the main opposition party, APC seems to have started cashing in on the obvious lack of presidential presence in the area to make its presence felt, in the hope that it can cash in and mobilize votes that would assure its candidate, the mandatory 25 per cent of votes he requires from the South East states.
The APC is reportedly kicking off with a series of activities in the South East, starting with a town hall meeting with captains of industry of the South East, at Awka, the Anambra State capital on Monday, March 23. The occasion which will be hosted will have General Buhari in attendance and hosted by the popular Senator Chris Ngige, who was a one-time governor of the state. The occasion will be chaired by Dr. Dozie Ikedife, a one-time president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.