By NBF News
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The enlarged caucus of the Enugu State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Monday, endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime as its sole candidates in the forthcoming general elections, just as the governor has returned his nomination form to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The ratification came barely one week after the state caucus had endorsed the duo following deliberations at a meeting attended by National Assembly members from the state including the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Senator Ayogu Eze as well as Honourables Pat Asadu, Gil Nnaji, Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi, Ofor Chukwuegbo, Paul Eze, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyio and Peace Nnaji. Also in attendance were Nigeria's Ambassador to Uganda, Hon. Fidel Ayogu, Senator Ben Collins Ndu, the 24 members of the state House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Eugene Odoh, state party executive committee members led by the party Chairman, Mr. Vita Abba as well as all the 17 local government party leaders and council chairmen, among other leaders.

At the meeting, Governor Chime said, 'it has become necessary for me to brief you on certain issues of importance to us. As I speak to you now, it is only Mr. President who has told me of his intention to contest the 2011 presidential polls and has asked for our support as a state.'Therefore, I'll appeal that you consider his request and graciously grant the necessary approval for us to back Mr. President for the 2011 elections.'

The caucus not only endorsed Jonathan but also extended the same gesture to Governor Chime, prompting him to react this way: 'I must thank you quite immensely for endorsing my boss (president). That was what I came here to plead for but with what you did here today (his own endorsement), I want to say that I'm humbled because I've got more than what I bargained for.'

On Tuesday, the same federal lawmakers who attended the first meeting except Senator Ekweremadu, who sent his apology, were present same as the leadership and entire membership of the state House of Assembly. Mrs. Sally Egbogu, member of PDP's Board of Trustees and Victor Ogene, another national officer were in attendance, as were Dr. Mike Ajogwu (SAN), Ambassador Kingsley Ebeni, Prof. Fab Onah and all the ward chairmen and secretaries.

First, Governor Chime addressed the 260 ward chairmen and secretaries, saying, 'we've invited you to update you on events of the past few weeks. But let me begin by thanking you for the wonderful show that the large Enugu State contingent put up at Abuja during the formal declaration of Mr. President on Saturday.'The time has come for us to also consult because the elections are here again. As you're all aware, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the timetable for the elections, pursuant to the new Electoral Act. Our party (PDP) has also released its own guidelines and forms are being collected, filled and returned.'

'So, we've invited you to intimate you on what happened before now, what is happening today and what may happen in the future. As one united family, we must all be on the same page. Your brothers in the state caucus had met earlier and endorsed Mr. President as our favoured candidate for the 2011 elections after due consultations and considerations. It is only proper that the enlarged caucus approves of that decision.'Amidst huge applause, a motion was moved and duly seconded for the ratification of the endorsement. The house overwhelmingly voted for the endorsement of Jonathan as 'our sole candidate for the next presidential polls.'

When Chime said nothing about his own endorsement, the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh subsequently moved a motion for the ratification of the earlier decision while the chairman of Isi-Uzo Local Government Council, Dr. Sam Ugwu seconded it.Amid screams of approval, the enlarged caucus endorsed Chime as its sole candidate in the next governorship polls.

The governor also spoke on other elective positions. 'Well, I'm happy that we don't play politics of money in Enugu State today, neither do we allow moneybags or influence peddlers to hijack the process. Also, we no longer appoint people into elective positions. Those with ambitions must sell themselves to our people.'While it is desirable to wish that our federal and state lawmakers who are doing well be given the opportunity to do one more tenure after which we can all meet again to chart the way forward, I want to say that it is you, the constituents who will decide our individual and collective fate.'That's why we've begun the consultations in earnest. As we talk, we must, please, be honest and sincere. The primaries must not be seen as a do-or-die affair. All of us cannot occupy the available 36 slots in Enugu State at the same time.

'But I have to make it abundantly clear that once you're legally and constitutionally qualified to run for any position, nobody will stop you from pursuing that aspiration. All we're saying is that if we objectively discuss in-house, we will be in a better position to come out with decisions that will leave our party intact after the primaries.'

Later on Monday, Chime met with other major stakeholders from all the local government councils where motions were again moved and approved for the endorsement of President Jonathan and the governor.'We met few hours ago with our ward chairmen and secretaries to discuss with them,' Governor Chime told the audience. 'We've come together now to rub minds together. This is the time to review the journey so far and to peep into the future.

'It is not my duty to appoint anybody who should represent us at any level. If anything, I'll also be seeking your mandate as party members when the time comes. However, it is important that we begin the consultations so that the process is less acrimonious.'I believe that what we have here today are the people who are PDP. Anybody who was invited and did not make it cannot wake up tomorrow to talk of exclusion. But we must admit that consultation is a continuous exercise.

'Our brothers and sisters who may be seeking re-election will come to you as their appropriate constituents. Those who have their eyes on these seats are going to come to you too. My honest plea is that we consider every application on its merit. I'm sure that at the end of the day, we will agree among ourselves on our first eleven that we shall take to the elections. In our considerations, we must put our common interests over our personal interests so that we can see the big picture.'Democracy has come to say and if we're patient, we shall all get our dues as ordained by God.'Earlier in his speech, the state party chairman, Engr. Vita Abba had urged party members to eschew bitterness and campaign of calumny as the primaries and the general elections draw nearer.

Said he: 'At a time like this, there is the tendency for some aspirants to play dirty. I'm happy that we don't have such tendencies in our state this time. But I'll still urge our people to play by the rules. We cannot have two or more persons occupy any seat meant for one person. So, let us be patient if we fail to get the ticket which many may desire.'We must run clean and decent campaigns. It is only one who does not have any programme to sell that will start talking about persons, running campaigns of calumny. I plead that we avoid such as we progress. Ultimately, we will give our party the best candidates who will be chosen by their people.'