ENUGU 2015: UNDERSTANDING WHY AYOGU EZE IS UNSTOPPABLE
One of the good things going for the 2015 general elections was the declaration by the ruling People's Democratic Party, PDP, that all consensus governorship candidates raised by party's state chapters, null and void. The warning by the party's national leadership that state chapters' executives, as unbiased umpires, should not be involved in such is something that is equally heart-warming.
Some states' leadership of the party had attempted to stifle fair contest for the party's ticket by embarking on controversial endorsements. In Enugu state, the party's leadership had endorsed the House of Representatives member representing Igboeze North and Udenu Federal Constituency, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the consensus gubernatorial candidate for the 2015. Perhaps, sensing the unpopularity of what they sought to do, the party leaders in favour of 'endorsement' ambushed the other aspirants who had thought they were attending a stakeholders' meeting only to be brow beaten into the endorsement story..
Prior to the directive by the national leadership, Ugwuanyi's controversial endorsement had proven divisive with unlimited potentials to cause disaffection and estrangement among political allies, many of whom were shortchanged by the less than savoury development. But worse than the possibility of crisis or division was the nightmarish scenario that such imposition in the name of endorsement would have denied the people of Enugu state of genuine leadership that would have been provided by those the shabby process attempted to shut out.
The frontrunner that the so called endorsement was meant to shut out was no other than Senator Ayogu Eze. The Senator, who is the Chairman of Senate Committee on Works and representing Enugu North Senatorial District was initially being pressured into dropping his quest to serve the people of the state. When it became apparent that he would not be cowed by any interest nor succumb to blackmail of any sort the permutation changed to anointing a consensus candidate, apparently to spite Senator Eze.
What his traducers did not reckon with was that his desire to serve was not only genuine but also deep rooted. His determination was evident in his reaction in the wake of the controversial endorsement of a consensus candidate. He said: 'I wish to state clearly and unambiguously that I've not and will not step down for any anointed candidate. I'm still squarely in the race for the Enugu Lion Building in 2015'. This should convince those who think Senator Ayogu Eze is in the contest for chow to realise this refusal to back down is not in any way a declaration of war on the party leadership in the state but confidence of a man who knows what he wanted to do.
This tenacity in pursuit of service to the people of Enugu state is not a new found love as the records are clear on the things he has done with the mandates he has had to serve. In his days as a journalist, Senator Eze's work stood him out among his contemporaries. The experience from journalism came in handy when he became a Special Assistant to the State Governor, Special Adviser and later a commissioner. The experience from serving the state was further boosted in the years that he has been in the Senate and actively participated in the activities of the committees on Police Affairs, National Planning, Information and Media and Federal Character & Inter-Government Affairs.
His sterling performance in the Senate was peculiar to the extent that a report in Thisday described him thus 'For Ekweremadu and Senator Ayogu Eze, chair of the senate committee on Works, it may be said that, on the strength of their individual visibility in the senate alone, they have already laid down a marker by which their colleagues and team mates will ultimately be judged.' Beyond being a consummate lawmaker, this quote clearly shows Senator Eze as a team player.
He has touched the lives of youth in his constituency and the zeal with which he did this have demonstrated that he could do more from the executive arm of government and with a mandate that cuts across the state. His constituency projects are remarkable as they directly affect the lives of the people. In the parliament, his contributions not only further the interest of the senatorial district but they also place the state in national reckoning. Evidence of this abounds in the number of federal projects that he was able to attract to the place. He is able to pursue the interest of his constituents while leaving other nationals of the country at ease. At interpersonal level, Senator Eze's warm relationship with the people is legendary just like his love for the students' community in Enugu state.
These qualities apparently explain the sense of outrage among his supporters and the people of Enugu state at large when they heard about the adoption of a consensus candidate for the PDP. The outrage that greeted the development at that point was justified as these people would have been denied the services of this well-meaning son of the state. Their protest is reinforced by their knowledge that their aspirant, as the frontrunner, will easily outpace the other aspirants. Senator Eze has said he will gladly accept the outcome of the primary election and go the extra mile to work for the party once a candidate emerged, but this, certainly is his own way of reaffirming his assurance that he will clinch the PDP ticket. His rising popularity above others in the race gives him an apparent edge.
On this note, it is important that those who orchestrated the controversial consensus candidacy do not attempt to repackage same under a new guise. They are likely to attempt smuggling in their efforts through some contrived back door given the level of desperation they have shown in the first instance.
For now, Senator Ayogu Eze remains unstoppable having presented credentials that easily intimidate other aspirants in this contest. It is thus crucial that he like other aspirants is allowed to test his popularity at fair, credible and acceptable primary that is not manipulated with state power, or any other undue influence for that matter.
Written by Engineer Udeh Ikechukwu.