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OPINION | Enugu 2023: On Ikeje Asogwa, Campaign Council and PDP’s war machine, by Felix Oguejiofor Abugu

FELIX OGUEJIOFOR ABUGU

By FELIX OGUEJIOFOR ABUGU

Chief Ikeje Asogwa (Ide Iheaka) is former State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose leadership delivered Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s almost-unopposed victory as Governor of Enugu State in 2015. Ugwuanyi was also to massively win his second term in 2019, but this time under the leadership of the current Chairman of the party, Chief Augustine Nnamani. Ugwuanyi’s 2019 victory, along with the victories recorded by all PDP candidates in all the national and state constituency elections, was to cement Enugu’s reputation as easily the most PDP of all PDP States in Nigeria.

Indeed, since 2003, Enugu has been arguably the most PDP of all PDP States in Nigeria in that it is about the only PDP State with all its National and State Assembly Members as PDP flag-bearers. To cap it all, and perhaps as it is to be expected, all Chairmen and councillors of local councils in the State are PDP. In point of fact, one of the strongest points for Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as a party man, is that he inherited a PDP State (although the party was a little troubled at the point of his election) and has kept it the umbrella State all of these seven going to eight years. But that’s by the way…

Now, nearly eight years later, Chief Asogwa has again been called upon to repeat the feat of 2015, that is, make PDP win overwhelmingly again in all the elections it has fielded candidates for in Enugu State: Asogwa is DG of the Enugu State PDP Campaign Council for the 2023 general elections. And being not one to take things for granted or ‘do things small’ and apparently determined to live up to his billing as a go-getter, Asogwa has simply got set for war!

Ikeje Asogwa, Chairman, Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) and DG, Enugu State 2023 PDP Campaign Council

With a 1,795-man Campaign Council, Enugu State PDP, to be sure, is set for war!

Analysts say the State PDP is leaving nothing to chance in its preparations for the 2023 general elections. And for several reasons. One is that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, having inherited a PDP State and kept the State green-white-red all of these seven going to eight years, cannot but hand over to a PDP Governor, a position for which Dr. Peter Mbah with his running mate, Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai, is already on the marks, getting set…

The second reason is that if PDP’s programme and growth projections for Enugu must be fully implemented, then it is only apposite that PDP must hand over to PDP.

And then there is the question of the Opposition. Although the Opposition in Enugu politics has never really been strong or effective (and even now, it isn’t exactly strong), this political season in Nigeria is like no other that the country has ever witnessed in its tortuous political history. And so, even for those who would like to dismiss it off-handedly, the Labour Party (LP) challenge in the politics of 2022/2023 Nigeria is one that no pragmatic campaign DG like Ikeje Asogwa would take for granted or give a short-shrift, but would unhesitatingly organize against, steeling his party against any unforeseen developments from such an uncanny Opposition.

Speaking on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, at a press briefing at the PDP Campaign Headquarters in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, where he announced the constitution of the Campaign Council, Chief Asogwa, who is also the Director General of the Campaign Organization of the PDP governorship candidate, Dr. Peter Mbah, pointed out that the party constituted 1,795 people into various campaign committees “for effective drive of the ruling PDP’s 2023 electioneering in the Coal-City State.”

“Today, we want to announce our State Campaign Council which has been constituted and to inform the general public that we are ready to kick off,” Chief Asogwa declared at the briefing.

“Campaign has already started at the grassroots at the various council areas of the State.

“Today, our town hall meetings in the 68 Development Centres across the State are commencing at Aninri Local Government Area.”

Augustine Nnamani, PDP Chairman, Enugu State

‘Campaign at the grassroots’ refers to some of the solidarity marches PDP stakeholders, members and supporters had, prior to the official kick-off of the campaigns for the 2023 general elections by the party in Enugu, staged at some local government areas in support of the electoral aspirations of the PDP governorship ticket – Dr. Peter Mbah and running mate, Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai – and those of the various PDP candidates, in their respective council areas, for National and State Assembly elections, come 2023.

In Enugu North (the Nsukka Cultural Zone), for instance, such solidarity marches had taken place in Nsukka, Igbo-Eze North, Udenu and Igbo-Eze South Local Government Areas, among others, in support of Dr. Mbah and Barrister Ossai; Governor Ugwuanyi, who is running for the Senate, and various other PDP candidates running for National and State Assembly elections in their various local government areas.

In some constituencies, some stakeholders or groups added to the marches by organizing lunches or receptions for the candidates. As a matter of fact, a recent event organized at Ibagwa-Aka, the headquarters of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, by ODINMA NSUKKA, a political action group, was a reception in honour of “our Governor (Ugwuanyi), the incoming Governor (Mbah) and all PDP candidates of Enugu North extraction in the forthcoming (general) election,” according to the group.

Earlier, former journalist, banker and current Chairman of Enugu State Internal Revenue Service (EIRS), Prince Emeka Odo, had hosted party stakeholders to a luncheon at his country home in Ihe-Etiti, Ihealumona, Nsukka Local Government, in honour of Mbah and Ossai and all the other PDP candidates in Enugu North Senatorial Zone, as part of his personal effort at drumming support for the candidates.

Which is to say, if the foregoing is anything to go by, that in Enugu PDP had had its eye on the ball, declaring uncompromising war on the spirit of complacency in its push to return to power in post-Ugwuanyi Enugu State, long before the formal kick-off of campaigns, a clear sign of the party’s seeming hunger for victory.

Speaking at the Emeka Odo event, which held last month – Sunday, October 8, to be precise – Chief Asogwa assured Mbah and his team and all other PDP stakeholders present, that he and his team would organize and run the State PDP campaigns such that the party would convincingly win the 2023 general elections in Enugu State thereby affirming the State as truly a PDP State

To that end, Asogwa, at the inauguration of the Campaign Council, charged members of his team and all PDP stakeholders in Enugu to get cracking, campaigning and mobilizing the electorate as they had never done before in order to ensure, in the end, another massive wins for the PDP in all state and national elections in Enugu State, come next year (2023).

With a charge to the relevant authorities and stakeholders to mobilize traditional rulers, town union executives, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, traders, farmers, religious leaders, youths, women organisations, transport unions, professional bodies, local government workers, teachers, and others, for townhall meetings in all the 68 Development Centres in Enugu State, in addition, of course, to similar activities in the 17 local government areas proper, Chief Asogwa served notice that the campaigns he had been asked by the Enugu State PDP to drive and prepare the party for the 2023 general elections, was a serious business which should simply be treated as such.

For Ikeje Asogwa, politics is war of a kind that one could only go to unprepared at one’s peril. The better, therefore, to give it one’s best shot, no matter how easy one may perceive one’s opponent to be. It, thus, means that for Chief Asogwa, a man for whom there are no half measures, for whom the word ‘failure’ isn’t to be contemplated at all, the 2023 electoral war in Enugu is a must-win war, as much for the sweetness of PDP’s umpteenth electoral victory in Enugu as it would also seal his reputation in the State as a marvelous organizer.

Hon (Dr.) Pat Asadu, Member House of Reps, Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South Federal constituency and facilitator, ODINMA NSUKKA

Would that mean that the PDP would still win big in Enugu as it did in 2015 and 2019? Possibly, even likely. Would it be another walkover for the party that has ruled the Coal-City State unbroken for all of 24 years, or would PDP have a run for ‘its vote’ this time around? Maybe, maybe not!

What cannot be denied is that, although the Labour Party in Enugu State is in limbo now, having been ordered by the court to conduct a fresh governorship primary in the next one week or so, it could still get its act together at the end of it all. Supposing it does, will the party, come 2023, become the substantial electoral challenge to the PDP’s hold on power, which it has never really had as the ruling party in Enugu State since 1999?

Time, very soon, will tell.

FELIX OGUEJIOFOR ABUGU is MD/Editor-in-Chief of AbeyaNews.com

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