The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and other members of the National Assembly from Enugu State, on Thursday shunned a rally held in Enugu to drum up support for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Among those who stayed away from the rally organised by the Enugu State Movement, ESM, was the senator representing Enugu East Senatorial District, Gibert Nnaji, as well as and some members of the House of Representatives from the state.
Only Ayogu Eze, who represents Enugu North Senatorial District, and some of the eight members of the lower chamber from the state, attended the rally packaged by the Enugu State Movement, EMU, whose sponsor is the governor, Sullivan Chime.
All three senators and eight members of the House of Representatives from the state are of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Other bigwigs of the PDP at the rally were Vice President Namadi Sambo and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, former National Chairman of the PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo, governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo, former governor of old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Rufa’I Alkali and a businessman, Arthur Eze.
Although, it could not be immediately confirmed why Mr. Ekweremadu boycotted the event, it was however gathered that it may not be unconnected with the political rivalry between him and the governor, who also hails from the Enugu Senatorial District as the deputy senate president.
The rivalry, it was learnt flowed from the governor’s plot to stop all the federal lawmakers from Enugu State, who have spent more than one term in the National Assembly, from running for re-election.
Mr. Chime is also believed to be interested in replacing Mr. Ekweremadu at the upper house.
The deputy senate president is a major sponsor of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, which on August 19 held a massive rally in Awka, Anambra State, to ask Mr. Jonathan to seek re-election.
At the Awka rally, all the PDP governors from the South East zone, except the Enugu State governor, were in attendance.
On his part, Mr. Nnaji is also believed to be having a rift with Mr. Chime following an alleged plan by the governor to replace him with his Chief of Staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo.
Speaking at the Enugu rally, Mr. Chime said the turnout for the event by the people of Enugu was an indication that the state would vote massively for Mr. Jonathan.
“We’re here to support the bid of President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo to return to office in 2015,” he said. “Our people have here demonstrated their support for Mr. President. Enugu State is 100 per cent for the PDP. I can assure you that come 2015 any vote for any other person apart from jonathan must be a vote cast in error.”
The deputy senate president, who asked Mr. Alkali to leave Enugu out of any campaign programme that would be drawn up, said those who did not attend the Enugu rally were not in support of Mr. Jonathan’s re-election.
“Anybody that is not part of this show cannot claim to be supporting Mr. President,” the governor said, adding that Enugu State was for the President.
Mr. Nnamani, in his address said Mr. Chime’s structure was the only platform that could achieve victory in elections in the state while Mr. Nwobodo asked other presidential hopefuls in the country not to bother to come to Enugu to campaign as it was for Mr. Jonathan.
Responding, Mr. Sambo thanked the people of the state for the support for him and Mr. Jonathan even as he praised Mr. Chime for his transformation agenda for Enugu State.
However, a group, Enugu Rescue Group, ERG, has criticized Mr. Chime for claiming that those who did not attend the rally were opposed to Mr. Jonathan’s re-election.
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Martin Okenwa, ERG said “the governor was notorious for his anti-Jonathan tendencies.”
It described the Enugu rally as a damage control from the backlash of the non-support and participation in the Transformation Ambassadors Nigeria, TAN, South East rally in Awka, Anamabra State.
The statement said, “Governor Chime’s comment is an irony because from the turbulent days of the struggle for the emergence of President Jonathan as the Acting President to the successful efforts spearheaded by TAN to have the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, adopt Mr. President as its sole candidate, both the Enugu State Government and the Governor are renowned for their opposition and hide-and-seek games.
“Not only was Sullivan Chime the only South East PDP Governor who refused to collect the TAN registers to mobilise signatures in support of the President, it is a public knowledge that the Governor took the entire State Executive Council and all the Local Government Council Chairmen to a birthday party in Umuahia on the day of the rally attended by all the other PDP South East Governors.
“The Enugu rally was therefore a belated damage control and futile attempt to key himself into the Jonathan 2015 reelection haven seen that Jonathan had carried the day with his adoption by the PDP as its sole presidential candidate.”
The group said it saw the governor’s comment as an attack on Mr. Ekweremadu “the same man that moved the important motion and authored the Doctrine of Necessity both of which snowballed into the Jonathan presidency at a time the Governor was hobnobbing with anti-Jonathan forces.”