Enugu 2019: Palpable Fear in Government House as Gov. Ugwuanyi Loses Control to Ex-Gov. Nnamani
How it all started
Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani governed Enugu State from 1999-2007 and also represented Enugu East senatorial district at the National Assembly from 2007 to 2011. He fell out with Sullivan Chime, his successor whom he played a huge role in bringing to power and then joined the People for Democratic Change (PDC) where he contested and lost his bid to return to the senate in 2011. He the contested again on the same platform in 2015 and narrowly lost to PDP’s Gilbert Nnaji in an election that he was widely believed to have won save for high scale irregularities.
Shortly after Nnamani failed to regain his mandate through the courts in 2015, chieftains the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by his former colleague from Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu came knocking, asking him to join them. On hearing this development, the Governor who was a beneficiary of his political dynasty quickly double crossed the APC chieftains and promised his predecessor heaven on earth if he makes a return to the PDP. Nnamani returned to the PDP two weeks after.
Gov. Ugwuanyi was said to have reneged in his first promise to Nnamani- to allow him (Nnamani) nominate the PDP candidate for Nkanu West Local Government Area. Instead the governor accepted a name from another ally, a federal permanent secretary, Chinyeaka Ohaa for the position. Nnamani was so disappointed that he cut off all ties with the governor and withdrew into his shell until a few weeks before the party primaries in 2018.
Nnamani’s unassailable influence in Nkanu land (Enugu East Senatorial District) is already public knowledge and the All Progressives Congress (APC) tried to exploit the differences that exists between him and the governor by approaching and offering him the senatorial ticket but Gov. Ugwuanyi knowing that losing Nnamani to the APC might cost him his reelection bid, double crossed APC again, this time around offering him a ‘blank cheque’ to make up for his earlier disappointment. Nnamani again accepted the governor’s offer.
Gov. Ugwuanyi offered not only to bankroll Nnamani’s campaign but also accept nominations from him for two out of the three House of Representatives seats under Enugu East Senatorial District. This prompted the dramatic come back of Nnamani’s close allies, Hon. Offor Chukwuegbo who was a two term member of the House of Representatives (Enugu North/Enugu South) and Mr. Nnoli Nnaji (Nkanu East/Nkanu West), who contested on the PDC platform alongside Nnamani in 2015 as PDP candidates for the 2019 general elections.
The imminent squabble
Since Gov. Ugwuanyi has fulfilled all his promises this time, the campaigns has been rosy until a few weeks ago when the governor’s close allies started complaining of Nnamani’s overbearing influence. The governor himself has been trying to play down the level of influence until it happened in the full glare of the public a few days ago. One of the governor’s close allies who was also an eyewitness told …………….. how Nnamani rebuffed the governor’s directives, leaving him (the governor) helpless, embarrassed and bewildered.
‘We were on a campaign road show in Enugu North LGA. On passing the gate of secretariat, an NYSC member ran towards us and reminded the Governor’s aides that they have been waiting in their numbers inside the local government secretariat to receive the governor for hours. Upon hearing this and knowing the importance of Youth corps members in the upcoming elections, Ugwuanyi appealed to Nnamani to make a detour so they can meet the Corp members together. Nnamani did not only reject but did it in a manner that was so embarrassing, telling the Governor that he has another important campaign at Iva Valley to attend and quickly entered his waiting vehicle. The bewildered governor then made a face saving move by giving the leader of the corp members some financial assistance for him and his group and reluctantly followed Nnamani to zoom off”.
The fear in government circles and the 2023 dimension
With the recent developments, most of the inner circle of the Governor especially those from Enugu East senatorial district where, by the Zonal arrangement which has been in practice since 1999, will produce the governor come 2023.
The fear is that with Nnamani in the senate the governor might even be unable to choose his successor like his predecessors. They strongly believe most of them will not return to their positions by the virtue of his (Nnamani’s) nominees which is the last part of the said agreement between him and the governor, there by making the governor vulnerable and then paving way for him (Nnamani) to push his own personal agenda. They now see Nnamani’s candidacy as a self inflicted wound that has refused to heal. They also reminded the governor of how Nnamani’s overbearing attitude cost him his relationship with his successor, Sullivan Chime. In all, they believe that the governor is weak an unable to checkmate Nnamani’s excesses which is injurious to their ambitions.