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EBONYI: Tending Towards Progressive Dichotomy


ON April 11, 2015, Ebonyi voters would focus on a plethora of issues to choose their next governor. The friction in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the contentious issue of zoning are some of the major factors that would affect the outcome of the governorship election.

There are four front row governorship candidates struggling to succeed Governor Martin Elechi, two of who have sympathy for the defeated PDP presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. They include, Senator Julius Ali Ucha, Senator Anthony Agbo, Architect Edward Nkwegu and Engineer David Umahi. Umahi clinched the PDP governorship ticket in a very controversial circumstance.

Architect Nkwegu emerged the Labour Party governorship candidate immediately supporters of Governor Elechi defected from the PDP, to protest the shoddy treatment meted to the governor. Senator Agbo seemed to have espied the crisis that engulfed PDP long before it happened and left the party for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

For Senator Ucha, the contest for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket with former Chairman of Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board, (EBUBEB), Chief Austin Igwe Edeze, dragged on till the National Working Committee of the party caved in to legal fireworks.

Yet, of all the four governorship candidates, Ucha stands out as the only former governorship candidate in the race. In 2007, he aspired for the position, but was denied the PDP ticket because the then Governor Sam Egwu favoured Elechi to succeed him. Perhaps, out of that painful experience, Ucha moved over to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and contested the 2011 governorship election against Elechi, who was seeking a second term mandate.

And feeling that weakness of structure and paucity of funds combined to deny him victory in that election, Ucha moved over to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) shortly before the merger arrangement gave birth to the APC.

Ucha hails from the Ezza clan in the same Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone as Elechi. Agbo and Nkwegu are from Izhiamgbo and Izzi clans of Ebonyi North Senatorial zone.

Agbo says his governorship aspiration is a divine assignment insisting that he represents the Finger of God to right the socio-political wrongs in the state. Of all the four governorship candidates, only Nkwegu is bereft of any political baggage, having never contested for any elective position in the past.

Currently, the issue of the botched zoning arrangement based on senatorial districts, has given way to the consideration of clans as basis of distribution of power. Umuahi is being accused of scuttling the powershift arrangement brokered by Governor Elechi by his insistence to contest the nomination of former Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, from Afikpo North in the same Ebonyi South Senatorial zone. Most people in the Ebonyi South Senatorial zone see Umahi’s insistence on running for governorship after enjoying eight years in elective office, as the cause of the surge of ethnic consciousness in the state.

In the ensuing progressive dichotomy facilitated by population figures, Afikpo North voters tend to identify with Sir Edward Nkwegu of the Labour party against the PDP’s Umahi.

Even at that, the Ezzas, especially loyalists of the APC candidate Ucha, feel that as the eldest son of Umuekumenyi, it should be their turn to govern the state. Yet the Izzis insist that it was a political accident that favoured Izhiamgbo, where former Governor Egwu hails to produce the governor in 1999, contending that based on their superior population they should be allowed to take a turn in 2015 before the Ezzas.

Currently, talks are on to harmonise these positions and ensure that the governorship does not escape from the old Abakaliki bloc, which has the Umuekumenyi in the majority.

Just like in Izzi, where some friction exists between the Umuera and Igboejima clans, in Ohaozara the people of Okposi have a historical antagonism with the people of Uburu, from where the PDP candidate hails. Even within Uburu, some natives hold political grudges against the PDP candidate, recalling how he scuttled the governorship of their son, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, on two occasions.

Consequently, the net effect of this progressive dichotomy may possibly favour Architect Edward Nkwegu of the Labour Party. That would, however, depend on how General Buhari’s presidential poll victory would affect Senator Ucha’s stand on the call for a common candidate from the old Abakaliki bloc. Based perception indicators, the odds favour the Labour Party to clinch the Ebonyi Governorship.

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