Enugu 2019: Chime’s posturing versus Udi’s verdict
Recent political developments are, indeed, giving firm assurances that there will be a contest in Enugu State in 2019, despite the popularity of incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, since coming on board two years ago.
Before now, the “he has done well within short a time” frenzy built around the governor, which rented the air, got many thinking it could be easy ride for the Ugwuanyi led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But this notion seems to have given way, since the immediate past governor, Sullivan Chime, perfected his movement into the
All Progressives Congress (APC), after pronouncing his former party, PDP “a dead party.”
Chime served as governor from 2007 to 2015 on the PDP platform and produced his successor. His movement into the APC has swollen the rank of opposition in the state, which had before now the likes of Jim Nwobodo, Ken Nnamani, Eugene Odo, Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu and Sam Onyishi, among others, who made the PDP tick.
He had blamed the infighting that has polarised PDP at the national level as the chief reason for dumping the party, saying he would like to remain “politically active,” as well as “give voice to my numerous supporters, who are looking up to me for direction.”
To further raise the ante, Chime had declared that APC would take over government in the state from 2019, urging those still interested in playing active politics to quit the PDP, as according to him, “there is no party anymore for anybody to lay claims to.”
Apparently in a bid to drown the PDP, which he had accused of sponsoring opposition, nocturnal meetings and media attacks against him since he announced his enlistment from the party, last Saturday, Chime turned his formal registration to the APC into a mini rally.
The event, held at the Community Secondary School, Udi/Abia, (just behind his residence), was attended by APC stalwarts and supporters, led by the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun and Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, who were on hand to receive him.
Chime maintained that there was no other option than the APC. He said the large crowd bore solid testimony to the fact that Enugu is, indeed, now an APC state.
Leaders of the party, who took turns to deliver speeches at the venue, eulogised Chime as “a great asset” to the party.
Chief Emma Enukwu, the party’s National vice chairman in the southeast, described him as “a great man,” saying: “it was during his administration in Enugu that I know that asphalt road could be as thick as 14 inches.
Sullivan is an achiever and I make bold to say that APC in southeast will celebrate people like him. We don’t go after people that have not used the opportunity given to them to bring change. When he was governor, he ensured that the opposition thrived. He is a big plus to our party.”
On his part, Oyegun said: “If a man like this says he wants to join APC at a difficult time like this, then it calls for celebration, because he has decided to join to help move the country forward. He is not joining the
APC because of EFCC, but because he is at peace with his people.”
For Tambuwal: “Chime is an epitome of success and has demonstrated this with the level of service he brought to the people of the state and we welcome him with open hands.”
However, no sooner had the event ended than the people of Udi gathered at Enugu Government House the next day to disown him alongside his new party. Led by their leaders, who include the House of Reps member for Udi/Ezeagu federal constituency, Dennis Amadi, Transition Council Chairman for Udi, Hyacinth Ngwu and all traditional rulers in Udi, they said Chime was on his own.
To Udi people, Chime’s posturing is an effort to turn them against the state governor, who he did not only support in 2015, but also took round the state to gather votes.
While taking their turns to speak, they said the crowd at Chime’s rally was rented from other council areas in Enugu and other neighbouring states.
Presenting the position of the people to Governor Ugwuanyi, who was flanked by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, President of Udi Consultative Assembly, Chief Eric Chime declared that Udi was not a pushover in Enugu State politics.
He said: “We decided to come here as a complete team. The entire clan is here to tell the governor that we are with him. “Our brother said he joined APC to show us the way, but we, Udi people, gave him support for eight years, yet he did nothing for us. Is it now that he is out of government that he will show us the way?
“You can see all of us here, including all the traditional rulers in Udi. We came with one message: we supported you before, and we will keep supporting you. Udi will support you in 2019, as it is not for APC.”
In a remark, Ekweremadu, who described Chime as an inexperienced politician, asked him to learn from history of past politicians in the state, who abandoned parties that brought them to limelight and urged the people to keep supporting Ugwuanyi. “Chime has no sufficient experience in politics, and that is his problem,” he said.
“There are about 60 APC senators, but not one of them came to his rally. He should learn from history of politicians, who left their parties in Enugu State. Jim Nwobodo quarreled with Chimaroke Nnamani to join the opposition. He never recovered. Chimaroke quarreled with Sullivan Chime and he left and formed another party, but he never recovered. Now Chime has left the party that gave him fame, I bet you he will never recover from it. We are working together and if PDP has crisis, we should resolve it together.”
Many are wondering why the fuss about Chime’s defection, since it was not the first time a former governor or politician would be jumping ship after rising to prominence on the platform of a party in the state.
Chimaroke Nnamani, Ken Nnamani, Fidel Ayogu, Jim Nwobodo, Eugene Odo and several others are examples.
However, investigations by The Guardian revealed that 2019 is the issue.
Chime is said to be looking beyond Enugu politics, same as incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
The assumption is that should the north pick one of the serving governors from the APC for the 2019 presidential election, a running mate in Chime or Ugwuanyi may feature. The other has to do with Abia’s former governor, Orji Kalu.
It is being held that Chime’s movement into the APC is part of the plot, while the crowd at the Udi event indicated his popularity and acceptance in the state, despite having vacated office two years ago.
But Udi stakeholders said they are not bothered about his next political move, as they only wanted to show that they are not with him, because his eight years era did not favour Udi as a local government, when compared with what former governor Nnamani did for Agbani people and what Ugwuanyi is doing in Nsukka.
“Check the three zones, and you will discover that each of the governors left something for the people to cheer about their eight years. Go to Agbani and see what Nnamani attracted, which is why his people love him. Presently, Nsukka has changed within the last two years, courtesy of Ugwuanyi. Asking us to leave the PDP and follow him into a new party is like asking us to join the opposition, when we know he did not do anything for us as governor.
“Look at the ninth mile roundabout. He abandoned it for eight years, even though it is in Udi. He went and constructed a road leading to his house.
Look at the schools in Udi; none was rehabilitated throughout his eight years. Look at the old road from Ninth Mile to Nsukka. Rather than attend to it, he went and started a new road at Enugu Nike area.
Now, Ugwuanyi has opened up Ninth Mile and even rehabilitated schools in Udi, and he is saying we should leave him,” Chief John Njeze said.
Another stakeholder, Sheddy Ozoene said: “It is not the first time a former governor is joining a new party, but in Enugu, we have always thought that in spite of what had happened in the past, the era where old and new governors quarrel, was over. Chime solidly and unwaveringly supported Ugwuanyi as governor and went round the state to ask people to vote for him and everybody bought into it, until he started making the present move. So, it is surprising.
“What Udi people did was in response to this, because there was no consultation with them before he took his decision. It is also a strong betrayal because what every right thinking Udi man expects from him is to reciprocate the support he received as governor, as well as when he picked his successor. He is right to say PDP is in crisis and if he is a committed and loyal member of the party, who stood on that platform to rise to prominence, that crisis ought to be a challenge for him, rather than abusing its leaders and taking off to another party.”
State Chairman of the PDP, Augustine Nnamani said PDP remains a strong brand in the state, despite the national crisis. He maintained that until the Supreme Court pronounces the party “dead.” Chime is not entitled to make such declarations.
He said 2019 is almost at hand and the party on ground in the state will be known at the end of everything.