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With tribunal victories, can Enugu PDP turn the table?

CHUKS NWEZE from Enugu writes that though the Labour Party and the Obidient Movement hurricane almost wrestled Enugu state from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 general elections, an emerging new twist is that the PDP is gradually resuming its stronghold of the state.

It was like a bolt from the blues when the wave of the Labour Party (LP) and those of the Obidient Movement swept off most of the candidates of the other parties leaving the LP candidates victorious in the 2023 general elections. 

Ugwuanyi consumed by LP hurricane 

The most amazing and interesting to the Enugu indigenes, particularly, and the Labour Party, was the outright defeat of the former governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, whose senatorial bid was thwarted by a former the serial loser, Barrister Okey Ezea, who incidentally wanted to be governor of Enugu state since 2007 to no avail.

This time around he succeeded in sending Ugwuanyi back to his village where he is nursing the injury of defeat. The former governor became the most prominent casualty of the LP hurricane and its rampaging Obidient Movement in Enugu state in their quest to sack the old order from partisan politics. 

Many had thought that Ugwuanyi who was a sitting governor at the time of the election would have used his power of incumbency to his own favour, at least to ferry himself to the senate but that ambition crumbled as far as 2023 general elections was concerned.

Nnamani’s failure to retain senatorial seat 

Also surprising and unexpected was another defeat suffered by the ruling party when another former governor of the state, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani who was in the Red Chambers at the time of the election, having been there for two consecutive occasions failed to retain his seat. 

This time, he was roundly beaten by Kelvin Chukwu, a first timer and the candidate who replaced his slain brother, Barrister Oyibo Chukwu.

Many had seen Nnamani’s defeat coming because to them, the assassinated legal practitioner was said to be coasting to victory when he was gruesomely murdered three days to the National Assembly and presidential election. 

That election had to be rescheduled for March 18 instead of February 25, 2023. Again Nnamani was said to have incurred the wrath of his party men and women when he openly threw his weight behind his friend and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu now President of Nigeria.

Consequently, his party the PDP, had viewed the open support for Tinubu by their own member as anti-party conduct and he was eventually suspended even though he remained the candidate of the party.

Because it was too late for the party to withdraw his candidature having submitted his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the party faithful in the state waited to oust him through their ballot papers and so they did.

Why PDP stronghold crumbled

Analysts have said the avalanche of the victories scored by the LP candidates in Enugu state in particular, against the PDP candidates did not come as a huge surprise because of the political revolution and popularity enjoyed by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, via the Obidient Movement was overwhelming. 

It was this Obidient Movement or Obi hurricane that led to the stultification of the ambition of many a candidates of the PDP and other parties that did not win a single seat in the upper and lower legislative chambers. 

The 2023 general election turned out to be a huge success for the Labour Party that was relatively unknown in Enugu state before the election 

That new twist of integrity and frugality in the political waves introduced by Mr Obi made it possible for LP to earn position of prominence in the political campaigns and subsequently secured the many victories recorded by its candidates.

This is only comparable with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s exploits in the 2015 general elections when he campaigned on the mentra of war against corruption and scored an overwelming majority votes which earned him the seat of the president.

How LP won

Back to 2023 general elections in Enugu, out of the three senatorial positions, LP won two seats, leaving one for PDP.  For the House of Representatives, LP garnered seven seats out of the eights seats and in the Enugu State House of Assembly election, LP pulled a stunt and got 14 seats out of the 24-member seats.  

Analysts were of the opinion that it was only in the rescheduled governorship election that would have taken place on March 11 but deferred to March 19 that gave PDP the opportunity to clinch the governorship position.

Following the outcome of the 2023 elections in favour of Labour Party, the fate of Enugu PDP now hangs in the balance.

Experts are of the opinion that the LP victories have made nonsense of the PDP’s earlier sure victories in previous elections that hitherto looked like a walkover for PDP.

In previous elections, PDP would win from councilor to Presidential election in the state and that had been the unwritten culture since Nigeria returned to civil democracy in 1999 until the coming of LP.

New twist

Unexpectedly, however, there is another twist. While LP had scaled through the elections and won overwhelmingly in Enugu, the table is turning against it now as some of the victories it recorded in the last election are fast tumbling at the Election Petition Tribunal, (EPT).

At the last count, the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu has upturned the victory of some LP candidates and giving it to either PDP candidates or ordering for a re-run.

For instance, no less than five LP House of Assembly members have had their elections overturned. If at the end of the day, PDP candidates win, PDP will now assume majority in the House which LP is presently occupying.

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