By Francis Igata
A palpable trepidation is rife within the political firmament of Enugu State over who will occupy the state’s ministerial slot.
Since the advent of the Fourth Republic, Enugu State has been politically hand in glove with the centre.
The state has largely enjoyed the bandwagon effect of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, for 16 years until the 2015 election tsunami that swept off the PDP at the centre, setting the stage for the party in the state to taste its opposition dexterity against the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Thus, the 2019 general elections will be the father of elections in the state following the overbearing power APC now wields at the centre, which is expected to rub off on the state at the polls.
Pundits say the appointment of minister from the state will immediately mark the journey towards 2019 as there will be a sharp division in the entire political firmament of the state.
The minister as they say, is expected to quickly build a formidable APC structure and machinery in state ahead of 2019 general election that will wrestle power from the PDP.
Although, the task will be a daunting one, the PDP will in 2019, have their hands full in a desperate bid to ward off the APC from Lion Building where their green,white and red flag had flung conspicuously.
White and red flag
Vanguard checks revealed that the electorate are waiting with baited breathe to the news of the ministerial nominee even as they expressed optimism that the appointment will inject vibrancy into the polity, hold PDP government accountable to people, provide a veritable alternative for political office aspirants to ventilate their ambition, break PDP’s stranglehold and make politics in the state interesting.
The state chapter of the APC had immediately after they won the election at the centre, rebuffed moves by the former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji and former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo to join the party, describing them as,”gravy is ready politicians who want to reap from where they did not sow”.
With Enugu being one of the 15 states that are yet to get ministerial nominees, a lot of names have cropped as prospective nominees that President Muhammadu Buhari could choose from. They include:
An arch supporter and ally of President Muhammad Buhari, Okechukwu hails from Eke, in Udi Local Council. Okechukwu’s firebrand disposition as the APC south-east geopolitical zone spokesperson was largely responsible for driving APC’s presence to the consciousness of the people.
Regarded as most competent and favoured for the position, his amiable stance is seen as a magic wand that can build structures, machinery and galvanize support for the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Observers say he is one man that can constructively engage the PDP state apparatus on developmental programmes with a view of charting the party’s cause.
Former governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in 2011, has a BSc from the University of Nigeria, UNN, in 1983. His grass roots reach stands him among other contenders who appear aloof to the electorates in the state. His experience in politics can always come handy as he equally represented CPC in the merger committee that led to the formation of the APC.
Prof Bart Nnaji
Nnaji is a Professor of Robotic Engineering from an American University. He served as Minister of Power in President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and was pivotal to the increase in mega watts distributed across the nation. His policies also revolutionized the power sector to where the APC government met it on assuming power last May.
Observers say he is too elitist and detached, hence may not be able to build an APC trench in the state where political grenades will be hauled against the PDP ahead of 2019.
Traders from the South-east region under the aegis of South-East Amalgamated Market Traders Association, SEAMATA, led by Okwudili Ezenwankwo had while briefing newsmen in Enugu, alleged that the condition given to Nnaji for a ministerial slot was for him to sell Geometric to Afrigem, a northern distribution company that will distribute power to Aba and Ariaria areas of Abia State.
However, Nnaji’s wealth of experience in the power sector will no doubt leap frog the ailing sector to an enviable height which will trigger the much needed socio-economic growth in the country.
Ezea shares the same fate with Buhari having contested for the state’s governorship four times. He contested in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Holding an LLM from the University of Lagos and a BSc in Political Science, Ezea appears to have the trappings of a businessman than a politician.
Although the Enugu-North senatorial zone of APC had thrown its weight behind his nomination, sources say the body language of the president is not favourable to his bid.
Former Secretary to the State Government in 1999, Nnamani is said to have sponsored APC activities in the days leading to the 2015 general election. His quest for nomination is perceived in most quarters as playing to the gallery.
National Vice Chairman, APC, south-east. Not known to many hence one cannot pointedly allude to former or present office he had held to warrant a nomination. Permutations of a nomination looks sublimely slim even as his presence is not robustly felt in the state. (Vanguard)