Being the text of a press conference addressed by RARE Initiative on the socio-political developments in Enugu State, in Abuja, Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Good morning, gentlemen of the press.
We summoned this press conference to bring your attention to certain unpleasant
happenings in our dear state, Enugu, since preparations for the 2023 general election
We at the Reclaim, Assess and Rebuild Enugu Initiative, also known as RARE Initiative, have been taking keen interest in the progress of democracy in Enugu State. We concluded that, after 24 years, Nigeria’s democracy should no longer be nascent but grown both in institutional stature and in terms of socioeconomic development.
As a result of that resolve, we monitored the governorship primaries of the four frontline participating political parties in the state, namely, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Labour Party (LP).
We were disturbed by the influence of godfathers in the then two leading parties — PDP and APC — and were convinced that some politicians were determined to preserve the status quo, which has led to declining social welfare and development in the state.
Through the activities of these entrenched interests, otherwise known as political
godfathers, the outcome of the governorship primaries in both PDP and APC were predictable as they threw up preferred candidates of incumbent and former governors. The lack of freedom of choice and level playing field ensured that the people’s will was not reflected on the outcome of the primaries, because the distribution of votes from the delegates did not show the competitiveness expected of the contests.
However, we were relieved beyond measure when the Labour Party (LP) emerged as the new wave of third force political movement to become a credible alternative platform in the country’s democratic space.
Based on popular demand, and similar to the developments in PDP that forced Mr Peter Obi out of the party, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga was prevailed upon to join the platform to ensure that Enugu State people got the opportunity to elect a candidate devoid of godfather burden as their governor.
Regrettably, after Hon. Edeoga emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of Labour Party (LP) some officials of the Enugu State government doubled their efforts to distract the candidate and possibly abort his governorship ambition.
Negative and false reports were planted in various media platforms, especially the
social media, to create the impression that Edeoga flouted a gentleman’s agreement to support whoever emerged from the PDP governorship primary. While that smear campaign was on, some highly placed officials in the Enugu State government conscripted one Capt. Evaristus Nnaji to start contending for the Labour Party (LP) governorship ticket with Hon. Edeoga.
Investigations by RARE Initiative showed that Captain Nnaji is being bankrolled by the PDP government officials to disrupt Hon. Edeoga’s governorship race. These men in Enugu State Government House became frightened after noticing that the former federal lawmaker that represented Isi-Uzo federal constituency was coasting home as the people’s choice.
We have it on good records how the same political jobbers also tried to influence the
outcome of the APC state congress, which threw up a former governorship candidate of Accord Party (AP), Chief Ugo Agballah, as Enugu State chairman. RARE Initiative gathered that N500million was given to a highly placed national officer of APC to scuttle Agballah’s election as APC chairman for Enugu State.
We therefore want to use this opportunity to call on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to
restrain his appointees from wasting money that should have been used in developing Enugu State on needless political poker games.
As we speak, the same political cabal in Enugu State has been walking around various courts in search of a favourable ruling in the pre-election matter brought by Evarest Nnaji against Chijioke Edeoga’s nomination as Labour Party governorship candidate.
Enugu State people have demonstrated in many ways that they are tired of godfather
politics and have rejected the attempt to impose two candidates that were used as
conduits by two former governors to misappropriate the resources of the state.
At this juncture, we wish to commend President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for embarking on the naira redesign and replacement policy. We at the RARE Initiative believe that the redesigning of naira currency denominations of N200, N500 and N1,000 marks the beginning of the end to money politics and vote buying.
Experience has shown that state governors have been behaving as tin gods, because
of the massive cash haul at their disposal from security votes, which they hoard in
various vaults and containers in their states. It does not require rocket science to know that state governors depend on the stack of cash from security votes and ecological funds to influence court cases and interfere in the electoral process.
We urge the Nigerian judiciary to join the national systemic cleansing going on in our polity to ensure that possessors of illicit funds do not influence or determine the expressed will of the masses through nomination process or elections.
For us Enugu State people, especially members of RARE Initiative, we have undertaken eternal vigilance and chosen to watch how the judicial pronouncement will affect the Labour Party governorship ticket that was freely given to Chijioke Edeoga.