VON boss bids for Senate, likely to challenge Ekweremadu

Osita Okechukwu

The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has declared his intention to contest election for the Senate in 2019.

Mr Okechukwu, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, said he would run on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to represent the Enugu West Senatorial District.

The district is currently represented by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

Mr Ekweremadu, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is currently spending his fourth term in the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly having been elected in 2003.

Before Mr Ekweremadu, the district was represented by Hyde Onuaguluchi of the defunct All Peoples Party (1999-2001) and Ben-Collins Ndu of the PDP (2001-2003).

The VON DG becomes the second APC member from the South-east serving in the President Muhammadu Buhari government to indicate his intention to seek election into the Senate 2019.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had disclosed on Monday that he was under immense pressure to contest for senatorial election.

Mr Ngige, a former governor of Anambra State, was senator for the state central senatorial district between 2011 and 2015.

In the statement, Mr Okechukwu asked his party members in the district to support his ambition, adding that he would “retire Mr Ekweremadu from politics”.

“My dear APC compatriots, may I seek your endorsement to retire Ike Ekweremadu from the Senate. I pledge to give the good people of Enugu West Senatorial District the following service – selfless, revamp Enugu coal, eastern corridor railway and cassava and rice settlement.”

He did not however indicate when he would officially declare his intention in Enugu while confirming his ambition to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.

A strong supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Okechukwu was appointed DG of VON in May 2016.

Mr Okechukwu left the ANPP together with Mr Buhari to float the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from where they left for the APC. He has remained one of Mr Buhari’s followers since then.

He has repeatedly asked the Igbo to vote Mr Buhari for a second term in 2019, saying doing so would make it easier for one of their own to become the country’s president in 2023.

It is not clear if Mr Ekweremadu would seek reelection into the Senate for a fifth term.

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One of his close aides, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak, told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday that the deputy senate president would unveil his political plan soon.


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