Enugu Metro on why All Progressives Congress (APC) State chairman, Chief Ugochukwu Agballah, cried out against Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

Why is Enugu APC Chair Ugochukwu Agballah fighting hard to prevent Senator Ike Ekweremadu from picking his party’s governorship ticket? Political analysts have pondered on the motive which remains almost hidden up till this time.

Enugu Metro findings however show that Agballah is fighting two battles. One is a self-concept battle and the other is what his party colleagues describe as a proxy war. He is accused of being a proxy warrior for Lion Building, in its continued subterranean battle to politically destroy Sen Ike Ekweremadu.

Ekweremadu and Agballah are both from Enugu West District. Agballah knows that the Senator’s entry into his party will politically injure him in many ways. For one, it spells an end to his de facto leadership of the party in the State. Additionally, his party colleagues told Enugu Metro that Agballah has governorship ambitions. He is believed to be using his position to bid for the prize in eight years time. This, they say, explains his willingness to collaborate with anyone with a similar mission. The mission is ostensibly to stop any other Enugu West aspirant from winning the 2023 Enugu governorship election.

Furthermore, Agballah’s APC colleagues publicly accuse him of working with opposition PDP to further weaken his party. One proof, according to APC’s Comrade AC Ude, is the refusal to field a Senatorial candidate for Enugu West. In doing this, Agballah allegedly disdained APC heavyweights including Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and VON Director-General Osita Okechukwu. The decision to not field a candidate effectively leaves the PDP candidate unopposed, going into the election!

On the accusation that he prosecutes Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s subterranean political battle with Ekweremadu, we dug up no concrete proof. However, some of the decisions that Agballah initiated or supported of late defy logical explanations.

For instance, there is no zoning formula in the APC. However, the party had rushed to proclaim a formula that aligned with that of PDP. This decision conflicts with what the national organ is doing to win the Presidency. APC is currently keenly watching what PDP does in order to strike back with a better and saleable presidential candidate. It also defies explanation why Agballah divulged private conversations with the Senator and additionally heaped abuses on him. Yet the discussions were initiated by the APC national leadership, as Enugu Metro learnt.

Thus, at the national level, there are deliberate and strategic delays to find and field the best and strongest presidential candidate. Party people spoken to are therefore perplexed that, at the state level, Agballah makes do with a weak candidate. There is anger among his colleagues that the state chairman stoutly resists the opportunity to propose a stronger candidate.

Strong candidates

Most of Agballah’s party colleagues believe that Ekweremadu’s entry will change APC’s flagging fortunes in Enugu State. Agballah apparently not only disagrees but has launched a public battle to “create a scene” as another party official put it. This is what led some of his colleagues to believe that their Chairman is fighting a proxy war for Lion Building.

The State PDP presented a candidate with probably less than 25 percent support in the local council areas of the State. APC failed to field a stronger candidate that can generate a broad coalition with a winning strategy.

Colleagues accuse the APC Chair of working for Gov Ugwuanyi. He is also alleged to have collected N500 million for the job of making Enugu APC weaker. Comrade Ude says the chairman is attempting to use the Ekweremadu public abuse to divert attention from accusations that he is being bribed by Enugu Government House to weaken his own party.

Enugu Metro learnt that the national leadership of APC directed the State chairman to recognize Ekweremadu as flagbearer. Going public to abuse Ekweremadu and betray confidential discussions represents a final act of desperation. Exposing private conversations also complicates efforts to give APC a foothold in Enugu through the Senator. The Enugu State APC chairman appears set to prevent Senator Ekweremadu from leading the party to the next elections.

High-wire politics at play

Behind Chief Agballah’s outburst against Senator Ike Ekweremadu is the high-wire politics of who governs Enugu State in 2023. Analysts say that this reflects the rearguard action to safeguard the choice of Mr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah as successor to Gov Ugwuanyi.

Mr. Mbah’s choice as PDP governorship candidate did not provoke excitement across the State. It rather came as a shock to many that Lion Building unceremoniously dumped its preferred candidate, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, on the eve of the primaries. This action provoked disquiet in political and social circles in Enugu.

The biggest fear is that Mbah’s emergence resurrects the dreaded Ebeano political movement, effectively dismantled by former Gov Sullivan Chime. Instructively, most political godfathers of the State are yet to publicly congratulate the winner. His choice has also not been enthusiastically embraced by the populous Enugu North District, the home base of the Ugwuanyi. Most leaders of the zone supported Edeoga’s candidature. Privately, leaders of Enugu North District express disgust that their son (the Governor) “sold out at the last minute.” The Governor’s action thus creates a gap that opposition parties will attempt to fill by looking for saleable candidates.

Apart from Ekweremadu, who is from Enugu West, observers expected APC to alternatively shop for a candidate from Isi Uzor LGA. This would have energised Enugu North District. Surprisingly, the Enugu APC appears to be the only party that is not looking for strong candidates, based on the calculations of its party chairman.

As at this moment, Chief Agballah is racing against time. He has only a week to secure the primaries he rushed to conduct ostensibly to fend off an imposition from Abuja.

The APC bid

The press conference against Ekweremadu that Agballah organized revealed quite a lot about the political undercurrents. From his outbursts, it is easy to glean the following facts:

  • 👉 The APC hierarchy is eager to draft Ekweremadu as the party’s Enugu governorship flagbearer for 2023.
  • 👉 APC national drafted both its South East Zone and Enugu State Chairmen to recruit the Senator.
  • 👉These representatives held several meetings with the Senator. It is possible that the conversations are ongoing.
  • 👉Enugu State APC chair wants at all costs to prevent Ekweremadu from getting the ticket. He views suggestions from other party at the national level as “disturbance.”
  • 👉 Analysts view Agballah’s strange press conference and outburst as a final act to pre-empt Ekweremadu’s emergence as APC candidate.
  • 👉 Agballah’s action aligns with PDP desire to prevent Ekweremadu from getting APC or any other party ticket.

The APC Challenge

Analysts say that the APC governorship primaries is the first sign that APC State leadership does not want a strong opposition against Enugu PDP.

Chief Uche Nnaji’s win came as a surprise to most of party faithful. The primaries outcome confounds outsiders and party men alike. As one top party official told Enugu Metro: “Nwakibie (his pet name) has never mounted a rostrum to chant “APC!” in his life. I dont recall ever hearing or seeing him do that.

“So how did he become our candidate? What is his capacity to confront the opposition we need to beat?”

However, having handpicked Nnaji, the party chairman feels compelled to defend the choice.

In one fell swoop, he lashed out at the party leadership, implying that the national chairman is under pressure to “subvert the Electoral Act.”

As one APC stalwart put it, “this is like serving notice to the national body that he is ready to fight if they insist on Ekweremadu.”

“That makes you wonder which side Ugo Agballah is on. Do we (the APC) have a candidate with name recognition that can go against an array of powerful politicians that the opposition has? Or is he in fact working for the opposition? Does he want to make sure that, as usual, the APC does not make a headway in this coming election?” he asked.

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