Coronation of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in Enugu

There is no standoff anymore in the contest for the governorship ticket of the PDP in Enugu State, south-east Nigeria. On Friday, as the ruling party’s campaign train moved to Enugu (from Lagos where the presidential campaigns officially commenced on Thursday), only one name was mentioned: Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (“Gburugburu”).

The primaries for the ticket had been raucous in the “Coal City State” in December, with each of at least four aspirants holding separate primaries. One of them, Senator Ayogu Eze, who received promises from the party’s leaders in Abuja before taking part in the primary he “won”, has been barred by a court from parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate. Sam Onyishi has gone to court too, but the outcome next week is obvious. Two or three others have “stepped down”.

Hon. Ugwuanyi, a member of the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007 and from 2011 to date, was chosen by Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime after he held consultations with stakeholders in the state up until September last year. President Goodluck Jonathan brokered a peace deal between the governor and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, resulting in Ekweremadu retaining his ticket for Enugu West and Chime (who had obtained the party’s form for the same ticket) resting his ambition.

The presidential/gubernatorial campaign in Enugu could well be regarded as a coronation of Ugwuanyi: Enugu has virtually been a one-party state since 2003 when the elections in that year were blatantly rigged in favour of the ruling party and many political gladiators in the opposition could not put up with the winner-take-all politics played in the state and most others in the country. Though the opposition APC (its gubernatorial candidate is Okey Ezea) is visible in Enugu, it is not likely to upset the PDP.

Ugwuanyi, 50, currently heads the House Committee on Marine. He holds two master’s degrees and was a university lecturer. But his best credential is that he knows politics and comes from Enugu North (Nsukka cultural zone) that has been marked to produce the state’s governor in 2015.

Almost all governorship candidates are addressed as “your excellency” by their supporters. In Ugwuanyi’s case, it is an epithet now richly deserved. The only fear he should entertain is postponement or cancellation of the general elections in Nigeria billed for next month.

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