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2023: The hurdles before Ekweremadu in Enugu

2023: The hurdles before Ekweremadu in Enugu

The countdown to the 2023 General Elections is currently gathering momentum and in Enugu State, the ambition of former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu to exchange his Senate seat at the National Assembly for the governorship cap is under threat. 

Here are three reasons why Ekweremadu’s journey may not be smooth sailing;

1. Zoning: 

The big elephant in the room that can not be wished away is the issue of zoning among the geo-political and cultural divisions in the state.

This is the biggest argument against Ekweremadu and, incidentally, the loudest voices are coming from his own Enugu-West district where the five local government chairmen making up the constituency have accused him of trying to torpedo the zoning arrangement already agreed to as far back as 2013. 

They claim Ekweremadu himself was present when the decision was made at a meeting of the Enugu State Caucus of the PDP on July 7, 2013, a claim the Senator denies now with a wave of the hand. 

He said: “It’s a critical concern when it comes to zoning the governorship of a state. It is not a case of friends gathering in a Government House to declare the governorship zoned. As a result, it’s absurd. That is why I dislike discussing this topic since it irritates me and forces me to say things I don’t want to say. I would follow an agreement if one existed. “However, there is none.”

2. Suspected to be anti-Biafra:

 In August 2019, Ekweremadu was the victim of a violent assault in Germany by elements suspected to be members of the separatist Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) over allegations that he’d not used his position to speak up for the secession of the South East from Nigeria.

While IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu are campaigning for an independent country of Biafra made up of ethnic Igbos, Ekweremadu has clamoured for a restructuring of the country, which directly contradicts what the group is fighting for. 

This has not endeared him to a lot of the southeasterners compared to the immensely popular Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe from Abia State who posted bail for Kanu when he was incarcerated. 

Kanu, though currently in detention and standing trial, is still immensely influential and could determine Ekweremadu’s fate. 

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3. Longevity in government:

 Ekweremadu has been around the corridors of state power since his appointment as Chairman of Aninri Local Government Council on the platform of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1997 and was subsequently named Chief of Staff two years later. He served until 2001 when he became the Secretary to Enugu State Government and served till 2002 before going on to contest and win election to the Nigerian Senate from Enugu West Senatorial District, succeeding Collins Ben Ndu. 

This longevity, erroneously equated with unfettered access to state resources is another reason why opposition is mounting against Ekweremadu’s ambition from those who feel he’s had enough in over 20 years and should allow others to have their turn.

It will be a major miracle if Ekweremadu is able to surmount the mountain of opposition to his expiration in the PDP or if he would be willing to jump ship to another party to realise his dream. 

The clock is ticking.

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