The once rosy relationship between Governor Sullivan Chime and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has soured. At the heart of the crisis is interest and political permutations ahead 2015 in Enugu State. STANLEY NKWOCHA explains why the titans have got their heads locked in.
When Senator Jim Nwobodo co-opted former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani to run and become the governor of Enugu State in 1999, little did he know that he was embarking on a political suicide. Till date, one mistake that the elder Nwobodo may be quick to recount will be his support of Nnamani for governor.
Nevertheless, what Nwobodo lost in loyalty, then governor Nnamani quickly gained in support and friendship from others, as his Ebeano political family became the rallying ground for the breeding of youger politicians. So massive was the political family that it took just few years for Nnamani to carve a niche for himself and become the newest leader of Enugu State politics, throwing up folks like Sullivan Chime and Ike Ekweremadu. While Chime rose from special adviser on legal matters to commissioner for justice and attorney general of Enugu State, Ekweremadu on the other hand rose to become secretary to Enugu State government after being a chief of staff to the then Governor Nnamani.
2007 soon came and while Sullivan Chime succeeded Nnamani, Ekweremadu found his way to become the Senator representing Enugu West and eventually the deputy senate president. Forced to become political allies during this time, the story is about to change with just about a year to another electioneering year. And the cause of the problem? Political interest!
Incumbent Governor Sullivan Chime has lit a fire affecting Ekweremadu’s interest in 2015 and as it does appear, some other members of the National Assembly from the state will also be girding their loins to join the battle against the governor as their boats is tending to be rocked also.
At the crux of the matter is the Governor’s zoning of both the governorship and senatorial districts to the detriment of Ekweremadu as well as his announcement that all national assembly members who have spent two terms or more should pack up as there is no space for them in 2015. He noted that since the advent of democracy in 1999, the two zones of Enugu-East and Enugu-West had had their turns through Senator Chimaroke Nnamani (1999-2007) and himself (2007 – date).
The zoning of the governorship to Enugu North senatorial district, also known as the Nsukka zone, and the purported zoning of the Enugu-West senatorial seat to Udi, which is outside Ekweremadu’s Greater Awgu area, has all but pitched both men against each other. Other accompanying issues are fallouts of the last PDP mini-national convention, and the last Enugu State local government election.
Making no pretence of his posture, the governor recently took a swipe at the Federal lawmakers, blaming them for the deplorable state of the Ozallu-Agbani-Amagunze highway that passes through Nkanu West and Nkanu East local government areas of the state. He afterwards rebuked them saying that the era when politicians appointed themselves as godfathers in the state was gone.
Said Chime; “As governor, I have no structure than the PDP. The era of one person trying to lord it over others and claiming to be a godfather is gone in Enugu State. It is unfortunate that some of my brothers who found themselves in some positions now feel they are bigger than the structure which delivered them.” The governor further rubbed it in when he added that, “Enugu being a poverty stricken state, membership of the National Assembly should be seen as a ‘Poverty Alleviation Programme.”
Chime’s postulation means that only three members of the House of Representatives who are serving their first term are so entitled to re-contest, while only one in the Senate is qualified. Those qualified in the House of Reps to re-contest include Stella Ngwu, representing Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani Federal Constituency; Toby Okechukwu (Awgu/Aninri/Oji River), and Kingsley Ebenyi (Enugu East/Isi-Uzo) Federal Constituency. Others are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Udenu/Igbo-Eze North); Peace Nnaji (Nkanu East and West); Offor Chukwuegbo (Enugu South/Enugu North); Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi (Udi/ Ezeagu), and Patrick Asadu (Nsukka and Igbo-Eze South). While Senators Ekweremadu (Enugu West) and Ayogu Eze (Enugu North) will have to take a bow from the Upper Chambers if the Governor’s projections rock in.
Expectedly, Chime’s position has been met with some fierce criticism by some of the affected politicians who have cautioned the governor to allow peace to reign by allowing the people to vote for their chosen representatives and not begin politics of imposition.
Ekweremadu, has however, blotted out saying, “I’ll be glad if somebody from Enugu North becomes the governor of the state in 2015, but not on the basis of zoning. There is no zoning in Enugu. I am not aware and nobody is aware. I have been in politics in Enugu since the beginning of this particular dispensation. People from every part of the state have vied but somehow, somebody would win. So, I am sure that our brothers from Nsukka understand that clearly.
“I stand to be challenged. I want anybody to tell me a document or a meeting where the governorship of Enugu has ever been zoned since 1999. I will be happy if somebody from Enugu North becomes governor but not on the basis of zoning. Probably, they are the only ones that have not produced the governor of the state. But like I said, it has nothing to do with zoning. There is nothing like zoning in Enugu as at today. Until zoning is done, I don’t think anybody who wants to run from other parts of the state can be stopped.
“But for me, I am not running for governorship,” Ekwerenmadu stated.
Already the crisis is taking its toll on the state and its major gladiators as war of words between them have been elevated. This is just as ‘open confrontations ‘ are becoming rife by the day.
For instance, at the burial of Senator Ayogu Eze’s mother recently that had President Goodluck Jonathan in attendance, Ekweremadu it was reported entered the venue of the event and exchanged pleasantries with most of the people present without uttering a word to Chime who in turn declined mentioning the deputy senate president in his protocol list while making his speech at the event. Same situation was the case when they had met at the opening of the Akanu-Ibiam international airport several weeks back in Enugu.
Is this the sign of ugly power play to come in Enugu as 2015 approaches? Largely known to be a strong hold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the seeming power play if not truncated early enough will surely lead to a messy outburst sooner or later. The political thermometer in Enugu, is clearly gaining measurable degrees centigrade by the day.