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By Mr. George Okpeta

When I read recently on online media about a planned and well-oiled media attack against Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi by some people from Nkanu axis and renegades of the Ebeano political family in a premeditated attempt to cajole him into choosing his successor from the so-called core Nkanu land, I was dismissive of it and took it with pinch of salt.

 I did so because some online media have published or peddled more rumours and fake news than verifiable news stories, especially as 2023 general elections draw near.

Recent developments, just few days to the commencement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries in Enugu had proved me wrong. Such is the trending article on social media titled “Enugu 2023; Ugwuanyi, Nwodo, Utazi, Ofor, Edeoga and the conspiracy against Enugu State written by one Godwin Udeh, who is not far from a hatchet jobber, operating with a Pseudo name to delude the people.

No doubt, Udeh’s article was characterised with cheap blackmail, malice and unfounded allegations against Gov. Ugwuanyi. This is a clear case of the owl crying in the night and the child dying in the morning.

Udeh’s jaundiced article is indeed the commencement of the planned media onslaught on Gov. Ugwuanyi by some groups from Nkanu axis to pitch him against Enugu people ahead of the governorship primaries and 2023 general elections. I am not Ugwuanyi’s spokesman neither am I Okey Ezea, Senator Chuka Utazi or Chris Offor’s media spin doctor. But that does not mean that I am not well informed or grounded on the issue at stake and write about it with facts. It is all about the rotation of governorship seat in Enugu state among the three Senatorial zones and the forthcoming PDP governorship primary. 

It is obvious that the writer of the article, Godwin Udeh, falsely accused Governor Ugwuanyi of colluding with the trio of Senator Chuka Utazi, Chris Offor and Okey Ezea to truncate the governorship zoning arrangement in the state and make former Commissioner of Environment, Barr. Chijioke Edeoga from Isi Uzo LGA the next Governor of Enugu State.

What a contradictory and concocted beer parlour allegations against Governor Ugwuanyi, a man who has said repeatedly that at the fullness of time, justice, equity and fairness will take pre-eminence in the choice of his successor. Why are people trying to be hurriedly pre-emptive of Governor Ugwuanyi in his choice of successor, even when the fullness of time has not elapsed?

Is it because of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s humility and democratic nature that has made some negative and paid elements in the state to cast aspersion on his person, do anything they like and go scot-free?

It is not surprising that this premeditated, sponsored and diversionary media campaign of calumny against Gov. Ugwuanyi and Barr. Edeoga is being unleashed now.

 The timing has shown that those behind it are not far from those that are contesting or have vested interests in the governorship primaries and elections in the state.

It is not surprising because some people within Enugu East Senatorial zone, especially those from Nkanu East and West Council areas see themselves as superior and savvy than others, especially those from Isi Uzo LGA. This is quite unfortunate.

It is not surprising because Governor Ugwuanyi’s taciturnity and studied silence ahead of the party governorship primary in the state has created confusion and worry in the minds of those of them, who believed erroneously that power will be given to their favoured aspirant on the platter of gold. It seems that it has dawned on them that every governorship aspirant is on his own.

It is quite unfortunate and disappointing that instead of some of the PDP governorship aspirants especially from the so-called core Nkanu land to be taking their consultations to the length and breadth of the state to solicit for support and market their candidacies, they are busy sponsoring social media fairy tales and lies against Governor Ugwuanyi and the people of Enugu North Senatorial zone.

Back to Edeoga’s entrance into the governorship race and his soaring popularity that has become a source of worry to other aspirants and people, especially from the so- called core Nkanu land, which comprise of Nkanu East and Nkanu West local government areas, just two out of the six local  government area that make up Enugu East Senatorial zone, Edeoga is from Isi Uzo LGA in Enugu East Senatorial zone and is overqualified to contest the governorship election just like other aspirants from the zone. This is especially as the zoning of governorship in the state favours their Senatorial zone to produce Governor Ugwuanyi’s successor in 2023.

The rotation of governorship seat in Enugu state that has engendered peace, equity and fairness was on the basis of tripod arrangement of the constitutionally recognized three Senatorial zones in the state namely- Enugu East, Enugu West and Enugu North. It was never arranged or upheld on the basis of cultural bloc or group or affiliation as being ignorantly and mischievously peddled by the writer in his article to arrive at predetermined destination.

When Isi Uzo LGA was gerrymandered into Enugu East Senatorial zone in 1996 from Enugu North Senatorial zone by some privileged personalities mainly from Enugu East zone just to reduce the huge population of the people of Enugu North Senatorial zone and deal with them politically, didn’t they envisage equality of all the council areas in the Senatorial zone or that what is good for goose is also good for the ganders?

Haven’t the people of the so-called core Nkanu benefitted from Isi Uzo politically since 1996 till date? What has the Nkanu people left for or gave to Isi Uzo LGA people politically and otherwise in the spirit of brotherhood since 1996 till date? Why the phobia and stereotype against Isi-uzo people in Enugu East Senatorial zone by the so-called core Nkanu people and Senator Chimaroke Nnamani’s renegades? What is the voting strength of the so-called core Nkanu people that made them think that they are so indispensable in the politics and voting in the Enugu East Senatorial zone?

Besides, there is nothing like core Nkanu land in the Nigerian constitution. It is non-existent. We know about Nkanu East and Nkanu West Local government areas that is in Enugu East Senatorial zone.

Assuming without conceding that Barr. Edeoga is a relation of Gov. Ugwuanyi, how does such disqualify Edeoga constitutionally from contesting governorship election? In Abia state, former Governor of the State, Chief Theodore Orji is presently the Senator representing Abia Central zone.

His first biological son, Hon. Engr. Chinedum Orji, a ranking member of the State House of Assembly, is the current Speaker of the House. What is this hullabaloo about Bar. Edeoga being a relation of Gov. Ugwuanyi? Is Barr. Edeoga not from Isi Uzo LGA? Is Isi Uzo LGA not in Enugu East Senatorial zone? Is it not the turn of Enugu East Senatorial zone to produce Governor in 2023 in line with the conventional rotation of governorship seat in Enugu state since 1999? Answers to the above questions are in affirmative. So, why these lies about Gov. Ugwuanyi and Barr. Edeoga?

Instead of dissipating energy in maligning Barr. Edeoga whose campaign has gained mileage and traction ahead of the primaries, other aspirants especially from Nkanu East and West Council areas should intensify their campaigns and consultations across the length and breadth of the state to woo the stakeholders and delegates.

As it is, it seems Gov. Ugwuanyi as a true democrat may not anoint anyone as his successor. The choice will be made by Enugu delegates at the primaries. The matter may be settled in the field. Those who have waited for Ugwuanyi’s anointing or endorsement may be disappointed at the end of the day.

As the delegates and the rest of Enugu people have always insisted that there is zoning of governorship seat in the state, let them pronounce or reaffirm it with their votes during the primaries.

Gov. Ugwuanyi we know is not perturbed or moved by this kind of cheap media blackmail as executed by the so called Godwin Udeh. Udeh’s article is that of hands of Esau and voice of Jacob. More of such baseless, spurious and sponsored articles will be peddled on social media platforms before, during and after the primaries and general elections.

Bad and serial losers in any contest will always have something to say to discredit the process and justify his or her loss or defeat.

This is normal and expected in every election. What we are seeing in Enugu is a case of the oppressor crying for being checkmated from years of enslaving others.

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The Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and former Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, together with a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Friday paid a visit to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt.

Though the reason for their meeting is yet to be known, there are speculations that it is connected to the 2023 presidency and also on the forthcoming general elections.

SaharaReporters earlier reported that the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party and former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, also met with Wike, behind closed doors in Port-Harcourt.

Both men, however, did not speak on the purpose of the meeting, as journalists were not granted access.

Obi’s visit comes four days after the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, also met with Governor Wike at about 9pm behind closed doors.


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Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh

Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh has announced that she is the running mate to the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Rivers State, Tonte Ibraye for the 2023 election.

“I thank Mr. Tonte Ibraye the Governorship Candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) Rivers State for nominating me as his running mate,” Tonto Dikeh said in an Instagram post.

“We are looking forward to investing massively in social protection, creating a social value system for young people, increasing women’s inclusion in our governance system, supporting small businesses and strengthening our traditional institutions to be active players in the drive to bring sustainable development to the good people of Rivers State.

“I am glad to be a proud member of the #RiversRescueMission2023 Please get your PVC and join the movement. You are the Future and The future is now!TonteTonto2023.”

Ibraye won the ADC governorship ticket during the primary elections in early June.

The vice chairman of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Abuja chapter defeated Dr. Warmeth Wright and Joyce Barida in a primary election organised by the party in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

Ibraye, an advocate for maternal, newborn, and child health, polled 187 votes out of 188 votes.

A representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Emmanuel Isong, who monitored the exercise, described it as free and fair.

Ibraye called for full implementation of the Electoral Act in all processes leading to the general election, especially the enforcement of the provision for electronic transmission of results during the poll.

Addressing the delegates, he said: “One thing I must tell you is that, you have made history today. It will no longer be business as usual.”

“I believe some of you are aware some people will contest and they go to the ruling party to endorse them. I must assure you that I will not use your votes to trade with anyone.”


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Peter Obi, a former Anambra State governor and LP presidential candidate and Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former Kano State governor and presidential candidate of the NNPP.

The joint panel set up by the Labour Party and the New Nigeria People’s Party to work out an alliance between Rabiu Kwankwaso and Mr Peter Obi has submitted its report for consideration, findings by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.

Kwankwaso, a former Kano State governor and presidential candidate of the NNPP, is said to have a strong followership in the North with his Kwankwasiyya movement, while Obi, a former Anambra State governor and LP presidential candidate, is having an increasing support base among youths in the southern part of the country and the social media.

While it is no longer possible for political parties to merge, in line with Section 81 (2) of the Electoral Act, both presidential candidates are working on a joint ticket with the hope of defeating the ruling All Progressives Congress, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and others in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

The Section 81 (2) reads, “Political parties intending to merge shall each give to the commission nine months’ notice of their intention to do so before a general election.” Already, the 2023 general elections will commence on February 25, which is less than nine months away.

Kwankwaso in an interview about a week ago confirmed that a committee was set up to work on the alliance and that conversation was ongoing. He said, “We are in talks with Peter Obi and a committee is working to look into how to form a merger between us.

“The merger is important because as you can see, both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party did not pick their running mates from the South-East.”

As the deadline for the substitution of candidates and running mates for the presidential and National Assembly candidates draws near, there is a mounting anxiety among the supporters of the two candidates over the progress made in the alliance talks.

Meanwhile, the running mate to Obi and director-general of his campaign organisation, Dr Doyin Okupe, confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that the panel had concluded its sitting and talks were ongoing on the way forward.

Okupe said, “A committee was set up before now and the committee has completed its work. There have been informal meetings and third party stakeholders interventions and we have had structured official meetings too.

“In all, we came to two agreements; one is that we are going to work together as political parties in order to achieve this change that we all desire. What we did not agree upon is who would be the president and who would be the vice-president. We didn’t agree on that. But we left it open.”

Asked if the parties would agree on the issue before the deadline for political parties to submit the names of their final running mates, Okupe said, “We are aware of the deadline, and we are working on it. When we adjourned our last meeting, we adjourned sine die. So, if there is a change, we will reconvene. But we are moving on. There is no problem. We have agreed to work together to create a platform for a national coalition, so that objective is still in place.”

Also, the National Chairman, NNPP, Prof Rufai Alkali, told Saturday PUNCH in an interview that the party was engaging with the people and getting support and solidarity from many places.

When asked who would become the candidate and running mate between Kwankwaso and Obi, Alkali said, “Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso is a seasoned politician and he knows the country very well. Certain decisions have to be taken at the appropriate time in a way and manner that would bring more strength and credibility to this journey.”

Asked if a decision had been reached on it, he said, “When we do, you will be among the first to know. No decision yet.”

About the panel’s report, he said, “I am not aware of anything and I am not going to comment on that.”

On the prospect of the NNPP in 2023, Alkali said, “I have been in other parties before the NNPP, and I must say it is amazing. We keep receiving calls from people that are likely to join us and we are making a lot of progress.”

Sources in both the NNPP and LP confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that an influential former President was among those being consulted on the issue.

Kwankwaso in Rivers

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday received Kwankwaso in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

After losing the PDP presidential primary to Atiku Abubakar and the running mate slot to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Wike, who is said to be aggrieved by the development, has continued to receive high-profile politicians, including Obi who visited him on Thursday.

Meanwhile, both of them were seen in front of the Wike’s residence exchanging pleasantries on Friday. This was about 24-hours after a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, as well as the senate minority caucus led by its leader, Philip Aduda.

The Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, also visited Wike on Wednesday, while Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State visited him earlier in the week.

It is believed that the visits have to do with the forthcoming presidential election. All the visits were followed by a closed-door meeting but the outcome had remained unknown.

…19 days to go

Meanwhile, the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission indicates that political parties have until July 15 to withdraw or replace their candidates and their running mates for the presidential and National Assembly elections.

By implication, the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Obi of the Labour Party and other candidates who submitted interim names for running mates have about 19 days away to submit the final names.

Item six of the timetable read, “Last day for withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by political parties for the presidential and National Assembly (elections) is July 15, 2022, while for the governorship and state Houses of Assembly is August 12, 2022. Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022 provides not later than 90 days to the election.”

The APC and its presidential candidate had been confronted with the possibility of a Muslim/Muslim ticket, given that Tinubu is a Muslim from a Christian-dominated South while his running mate is expected to come from the North, which is dominated by Muslims.

The Christian Association of Nigeria and other groups and individuals vehemently opposed a Muslim/Muslim or Christian/Christian presidential ticket, saying such would be insensitive and rejected by the people.

Voter registration extension

Amid the growing public clamour for the June 30 deadline for the continuous voter registration to be extended, INEC has said it is unable to extend the exercise for now because the matter is already subjudice.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and 185 concerned Nigerians had filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos asking the court for, among other things, an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to extend voter registration by a minimum of three months and take effective measures to ensure that eligible Nigerians are able to register to exercise their right to vote in the 2023 general elections.

Speaking on rumours that the commission had agreed to extend the exercise for 60 days in line with the request of the House of Representatives, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC National Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission had not extended the June 30 deadline.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Oyekanmi said, “INEC has not extended the CVR deadline. What the commission did about two weeks ago when we noticed pressure in particular areas, namely the South-East states, Lagos, Kano, and the Federal Capital Territory, was to send additional 209 INEC Voter Enrollment Devices to those areas to ease the CVR procedure.

“The commission wanted to wait and assess the effect of that action to determine the next step, but that is by the way now because SERAP went to court and tried to stop us from stopping the CVR.

“What the court has said, as part of its order, is that we should not announce any date or end the CVR but come on June 29 to respond to issues raised in the suit filed by SERAP. So now, even if we want to extend, we cannot do anything until we have answered the court and responded robustly to the issues raised in the suit and that would be on June 29. So, we can’t take any action on the CVR until then.”

Also speaking on the issue, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said in an interview on Channels Television on Friday night that the chairman of the commission was disposed to extending the exercise.

He noted that the surge in the number of registrants lately had made the extension inevitable.

He added, “We are going before the Federal High Court on June 29 to put the cards on the table. We are convinced that after we make our arguments, the court will be convinced on the reason why we cannot extend the CVR beyond a certain period.

“But we are convinced, given the enthusiasm of Nigerians and the new resolve of Nigerians to register that an extension is inevitable and the commission is disposed towards extending the period for the CVR but not up to the period that some people are canvassing.”

He said it would be a futile exercise to extend the registration and be unable to print the permanent voter cards of those registered and get them to collect the cards and vote. “So, we are favourably disposed to an extension of the CVR,” he added.

‘Tinubu, best candidate’

The Asiwaju Tinubu Campaign Organisation has described the APC presidential candidate as the most successful leader among all the presidential candidates.

The Director-General of the organisation, Chief Adebayo Shittu, at a press conference in Ibadan on Friday, said apart from being a governor of Lagos State for eight years, Tinubu developed leaders who became vice-president,  governors, senators and many others even after leaving power almost 15 years ago.

According to him, governance is not strange to such a leader and getting competent hands to work with him will also not be an issue.

He added, “He turned Lagos State around when he was there. He raised the internally generated revenue of the state and despite that the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, stopped allocation to the state for two years, the state did not suffer. That is the kind of person we need now.

Speaking about Tinubu’s running mate, Shittu stated that he would pick someone who would help him to win. He added, “We should not place too much emphasis on religion or ethnicity. If you board a plane now, you won’t ask them if the pilot is a Muslim or a Christian or the state of origin. What you would be concerned with is the competence and the experience of the pilot. So, we need to be concerned about competence and not religious beliefs.”

LP as alternative

A presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the recently held primaries, Sam Ohuabunwa, has said Obi has widened the options Nigerians could choose from in 2023.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, he said, “For a long time, it looked as if we had just two options, but now there seems to be the third option. That widens the democratic space and is giving relief to those who want alternatives.

“Though for now, it is too early to say or make any prediction, we are happy that there is a third option for Nigerians. The two parties are formidable and they cannot be glossed over easily.”

Ohuabunwa, who is the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals and former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, maintained that the APC and PDP presidential primaries were characterised by vote-buying.

“The monetisation of our politics is depressing because at both the APC and PDP primaries, everybody saw the impact of big money. If we thought it was just for the primaries of the leading parties, we also saw smaller parties complain about money and all that. If we leave the primaries and come to the general elections, we see the accusations going on in Ekiti (governorship elections). It is depressing for people like us.”


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