Strictly, Enugu State is the socio-political heart beat of Igbo land having been the administrative headquarters of the defunct Eastern Region. Enugu is to Ndigbo what Ibadan and Kaduna are to Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani, respectively.
Perhaps, it is against the backdrop that politics in Enugu elicits emotions and anxieties within and outside the Igbo enclave as it is the cynosure to all eyes, especially policy makers who use the state as a barometer to gauge the pulse of the people of Southeast geo-political zone of the country.
Emerging events in the Coal City State indicate that politicians particularly political office seekers have increased their subterranean meetings at geometrical ratio, re-strategizing ahead of the 2023 general elections with a view to controlling the political structures of the state.
What perhaps pushed up the political tempo of Enugu politics was the sudden cross over of Hon. Chijioke Edeoga from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Labour Party (LP) where he picked the gubernatorial ticket of the party.
Edeoga a former Commissioner for Local Government and later Environment was until the recent development was seen as a strong ally of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi fuelling the current insinuations that he was betrayed by his boss, citing his lose at PDP governorship primary as an instance.
But inside source contend that in its real sense, Edeoga was not short-changed having earlier been told by the power that be that he was a Plan B with Chief Peter Mbah the eventual winner of PDP gubernatorial primary as the preferred candidate.
Unlike in 2019, when the struggle for the control of political structure was between contending politicians from the two dominant political parties-PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the 2023 general elections will be dominated by forces in PDP and LP in Enugu State.
The question in the lips of many residents in the state is: Is Peter Mbah holding the ace despite the emergence of Chijioke Edeoga in Labour Party?
Edeoga, an In-law to Nwodos is not a stranger to Enugu politics having been chairman of a local government council and member of House of Representatives before the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
To pro-Mbah’ s group, “From Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, Sullivan Chime and Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, it has been PDP running the political affairs of the Enugu State and Mbah has the capacity to hold the ace.
According to a former governorship aspirant, Professor Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji, “PDP has been a large family where positions are decided at the PDP primaries. Whoever picks the party ticket is as good as having won the election proper”.
“Whatever threats to PDP’s dominance in Enugu has always been PDP itself. This comes in the form of internal crisis, which over time, have been successfully handled.
“But each time the crisis are resolved the party comes out stronger. Peter Mbah is the man to beat in 2023 Enugu governorship election. By God”s grace through the support of Enugu State electorate, Mbah will triumph at the poll, the Professor of International Law and Global Politics added.
This reporter recalls that the closest of PDP”s internal wranglings for the gubernatorial ticket where one Anayo Onwuegbu came very close to denying then incumbent Sullivan Chime the PDP governorship ticket in 2011.
It was so close that Onwuegbu’s name was at a time pasted as the PDP Candidate at the State INEC headquarters. This was the period Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo was the National Chairman of the party. The rest as it is said, is now history.
Again, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani in search of a return to the Senate at the height of his face off with his political godson, Sullivan Chime, joined PDC-People for Democratic Change.
Nnamani was reportedly cruising to victory until the instrument of government was brought to bear, and as usual PDP had its way.
Again, Ekweremadu’s rift with Governor Sullivan Chime over the Enugu West Senatorial position split the party leading to a parallel gubernatorial primary which produced Senator Ayogu Eze.
Ugwuanyi was adopted as the party Candidate and the ensuing legal battle ended at the Supreme Court.
How Governor Ugwuanyi not known to be loquacious but highly tactical in political scheming was able to stop Ekweremadu”s governorship ambition without firing a shot is now history.
But suffice it to say that Ekweremadu, a heavy weight in his own right was seen as a major threat to the sustenance of the PDP domination in the state.
The former deputy president of the senate who is facing trial in United kingdom (UK) over his alleged attempt along side his wife, to harvest human organ as well as indulging in human trafficking may not have time now for politics of his home state, Enugu.
As it is, Mbah has also candidates from other political parties to contend with namely; Uche Nnaji of APC, Frank Nweke (Jnr) of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Dr John Nwobodo of Accord Party (AP) Pastor Donatus Obi Ozoemena of Africa Democratic Congress (ADC).
The trio of Nnaji, Nweke and Nwobodo are of Nkanu stock while Ozoemena hails from Awgu Local Government Area of the state.
With zoning of governorship seat in the state being played up, there is general believe that the battle for the soul of Enugu will be between Mbah and Edeoga of the PDP and LP, respectively.
Already, Mbah”s supporters have begun aggressive public enlightenment on electorate in various communities of the state on the need to obtain their PVCs with optimism that their candidate will clinch the exalted seat at Government House in 2023.
Little wonder, when a former House of Representatives and one-time Leader of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Prince U. S. A. Igwesi was asked of his take on the emergence of Mbah as flag-bearer of PDP in Enugu, he said, “I am excited and I feel that another Messiah has come to rescue and reposition Enugu State. If Peter Mbah can replicate what he did and is still doing in the private sector with Pinnacle Oil and Gas in Enugu State as governor, Enugu will be on her way to El-dorado.
“Pinnacle Oil and Gas is a leading name and a major player in the downstream sector of the oil and gas sector with an expensive revenue base. Pinnacle oil and gas plays a leading role in the petroleum product trading, marketing and distribution in Africa. They have continued to innovate and develop revolutionary concepts and technologies that have optimized operations in the sector. The above feats and achievements were driven by no other person than the man Peter Mbah, a maritime lawyer and seasoned technocrat.
“Mbah’s experience in the private sector, vis a-vis some of his political interventions as former chief of staff and Commissioner for Finance in Enugu State will no doubt enhance his administration and management of the state. Enugu State will be lucky to have him”, he posited.
Be that as it may, time will determine who wins the 2023 governorship poll in the state as more intrigues and power play characteristics of democracy in Nigeria are still unfolding.