ABAKALIKI-THERE are indications that the battle for 2019 elections has kicked off in Ebonyi State as political activities are gradually gathering momentum in different parts and platforms across the State. The arrowhead in such activities is none other than the governor of the state, Engr David Umahi who has decided not to toe the path of his predecessor, Mr Martin Elechi which caused him his political expectations and aspirations during the last general election in the state.
According to some seasoned political analysts, former Governor Elechi’s undoing was his his insensitivity to the yearnings of the people as well as his failure to allow certain existing political status quo remain without prejudice. The former governor was said to have undermined the influence of certain stakeholders, opinion leaders as well as political arrangements which eventually foreclosed his chances to make lasting impact in the political arena.
Governor David Umahi, having carefully studied and understood the mistakes and misfortunes of his predecessor decided to avoid taking such wrong steps that may work against his second term agenda.
One of his key formulas for victory in the 2019 general election therefore is to allow those in elective positions to return without any opposition. He is of the belief that if he ensures that those in elective positions are returned, his chances will be brighter as he will have adequate foot soldiers to pursue his political ambition.
Based on that, the governor during his Christmas message to members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly who visited him endorsed the candidacy of all the 24 members of the House for the next legislative election in the state. In a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Emma Anya, Umahi expressed delight over the cordial relationship existing between the legislature and the executive which has translated into speedy passage of people-oriented bills, adding that he would fight for the legislators to retain their positions in the next election.
Responding, the Speaker, Chief Francis Nwifuru, said the members of the House came to felicitate with the Governor and to thank him for his magnanimity towards them. With this endorsement, it is believed that the gesture was targeted at the survival of the present administration beyond 2019, unlike the shortsightedness displayed by his predecessor in the 2015 general election.
It was also said by political analysts that similar gesture might soon be extended to National Assembly members as such initiative would pave way for the Governor to have the backing of the members representing the 24 state constituencies at the House of Assembly, six federal constituencies at the House of Representatives and three senatorial zones at the Senate. With such political moves, it is believed that this will pave the way for him to emerge victorious at 2019 polls.
However, many people are also of the view that retaining his Commissioners and Special advisers till 2019 will enable him form a formidable squad and political structure for his second term bid. It was also argued that if he allows a democratically elected council Chairmen to emerge, it will strengthen his strategy aimed at capturing the 13 Local Government Areas without much struggle during the forthcoming election.
As these endorsements are now playing out in the State, the Ebonyi state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have also decided to adopt Governor Umahi as its sole candidate for 2019 general election. This is coming with more than two years before the 2019 election. The state Chairman of the PDP, Chief Onyekachi Nwebonyi, announced this last Tuesday when he led the State Working Committee of the party on a Christmas homage to the Governor in Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area.
As the leader of the PDP in Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi is gradually developing a strategic template that would guarantee his second term in office while other political parties are also not relenting in similar adventure.
The All Progressives Congress, APC has equally commenced its registration of new members across the 13 LGAs of the state to avoid the lapses during the last election, where the party’s registration exercise was conducted very late. The party also accused the PDP of intimidating its members which was however denied by the State Chairman of PDP, Mr Onyekachi Nwebonyi.
However, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, last week called on members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, not to allow themselves to be intimidated because of their membership status in the state. Onu made the call in his home town, Uburu, in Ohaozara Local Government Area of the state while participating in the on- going National Registration Exercise of the party.
The Minister advised members of the party to report any form of intimidation and harassment to the national leadership and stakeholders of the party. “We would take drastic actions once we receive such reports because we understand that some people are causing problems for you in the state”, he said
He warned that the party would not allow such intimidation because the state and the country belong to everybody and people should be allowed to exercise their fundamental human rights.
According to him,“in states controlled by the APC, other parties are allowed to thrive because the party intends to build a new Nigeria where people would be free to exercise their franchise. It is instructive to note that the second elected governor of the state belonged to APP while the third-elected governor, also belonged to the APP and this applies to members of the state and National Assemblies”.
Chairman of the National Registration Committee to Ebonyi State, Mrs Tina Adike commended Onu for his leadership qualities which have uplifted the party in the state, the zone and the country.
She said,“We spent the past one week ensuring that the two factions existing in the state bury their hatchets and work assiduously for the success of the registration exercise. We decided to officially register Onu first in the state due to his pedigree as a national figure and rallying point of APC members in the state, zone and country”.
The State APC Acting Chairman, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze remarked that the occasion was significant because Onu is the symbol of APC in the state. As most political parties in the State are strategically setting up their plans for 2019 general election, it is a common practice that Chief Executives of states in the country have always made effort to return for a 2nd term insisting that their coming back would bring about consolidation of the projects they began in their first term in office.
Apart from the strategic formula put in place by the present administration for a second term, it is also necessary for it to be more dynamic in line with the present economic and political realities in the state and the country at large. Political scientists believe that the most potent political formula the Governor uses is the ‘stick and carrot’ formula to ensure he wins the heart of Ebonyi people but this formula needs to be readjusted, so that he can avoid the mistakes of the past on time.
The present administration should in 2017 focus more on human capital development and less infrastrucural development, considering the present economic handicap facing the people of the State and also systematically abolish some of its presumed harsh taxation policies to ensure economic prosperity of Ebonyi people.
There have been cries over non payment or slow payment of pensions and gratuities to pensioners in the state. These cries should be addressed holistically without any form of political bias. The Governor should also increase workers salaries at least by 50 percent following his last campaign promises to the civil servants who defied former Governor Martin Elechi’s directives and gave him the needed victory during the last election.
With all the strategies Governor David Umahi has put in place, while he also addresses the welfare of Ebony people in the course of his administration, winning in the 2019 polls may be easier for him than when he first emerged as Governor on 29th May, 2015 on the platform of the PDP.