The large number of governorship aspirants on the platform of the Enugu State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has become a source of worry to both party chieftains and traditional rulers in Enugu East Senatorial District of the state.
The party has a staggering 17 aspirants shoving to succeed incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (PDP), when his tenure expires on May 29, 2023.
All the governorship aspirants hail from Enugu East Senatorial District, where the governorship slot has understandably been zoned to, except the former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who comes from Enugu West Senatorial District.
Not a few party chieftains say Senator Ekweremadu’s aspiration goes against the letter and spirit of the existing zoning arrangement in the state for elective political offices, especially that of the governor. But Ekweremadu says the idea of zoning arrangement is akin to fake news.
Nevertheless, it seems that the party’s chieftains have been having sleepless nights over the large number of governorship aspirants that had been screened and cleared to contest the forthcoming governorship primaries in the state.
One of the party chieftains who spoke to SummitNews on condition that his name would not be mentioned in print expressed fear that the upcoming PDP governorship primaries in the state would end up in chaos if the 17 aspirants participate in the primaries.
“We may have crisis in our hands if all the aspirants are allowed to participate in the governorship primaries. I see the need to prune the number to about two or three to avoid crisis that might affect the party’s chances of retaining power in the state,” the party bigwig said.
It was gathered that efforts by the PDP stakeholders in the state to prune the number of aspirants to a manageable size proved abortive, hence the task of doing so, was transferred to traditional rulers in Enugu East Senatorial District.
On Wednesday, May 11, several of the governorship aspirants met with traditional rulers from Enugu East Senatorial Zone, at the palace of the Traditional Ruler of Nike Kingdom in Enugu East Local Government Area, HRM Igwe Dr. Barrister Julius Nnaji, apparently to discuss ways and means of getting some of the governorship aspirants to bury their gubernatorial aspirations.
It was gathered that Igwe Nnaji spoke extensively on the futility of all the aspirants continuing with the struggle to become the chief tenant of Lion Building, Enugu, in 2023, explaining that only one person among the 17 aspirants will eventually occupy the dignified seat.
SummitNews further gathered that the traditional rulers encouraged the governorship aspirants to meet regularly ahead of the governorship primaries “to get familiar with themselves,” with a view to arriving at a consensus candidate to fly the party’s flag in the forthcoming general elections.
However, some of the governorship aspirants were said to be rankled by the proposition of a consensus candidate on the ground that it’s anti-democratic.
“After spending about twenty-seven million Naira to buy Expression of Interest and Nomination form, it will be undemocratic not to allow all aspirants to contest the governorship primaries,” said one governorship aspirant.
However, before the governorship aspirants emerged, many PDP stalwarts in the state had publicly asked Gov. Ugwuanyi to name his successor, saying that they would support to the hilt, any one that he chooses to succeed him.
Prof. Bart Nnaji, Mr. Peter Mba, Barrister Chijioke Edeoga, Barrister Nwabueze Ugwu, Revd. Ifeanyi Nwoye, Mr. Chinyeaka Ohaa, were among the governorship aspirants that atttended the meeting called at the instance of the traditional rulers.