The PDP has maintained a stronghold on Enugu State politics since 1999 and has been able to withstand the efforts of the APC, APGA, and other parties looking to replace it, but 2023 might be a different year considering that the Enugu PDP has not been inspiring, failing to bring the state to fulfilling its potentials.
Peter Obi’s presidential ambition has given life to the Labour Party (LP) in the Southeast and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, was the runner-up in the PDP state primary. Mr Edeoga has been able to keep his LP ticket by getting a Court of Appeal judgment that overturned a Federal High Court ruling that had annulled the LP primary where he won his ticket. Chijioke Edeoga comes from the PDP and now has the energy of the Labour Party wave that is most intense in Peter Obi’s Southeastern homeland. The Enugu chapter of the APC zoned the ticket nomination to Enugu East Senatorial District and the candidate who emerged somewhat smoothly as its candidate is Uche Nnaji.
Southeast regional powerhouse APGA had an indirect primary election that was won by Frank Nweke. Frank Nweke has an excellent profile. The well-spoken Aspen Institute alumnus is a Senior Visiting Fellow of the Lagos Business School, a two-time Federal Minister in Nigeria, and former Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG). Frank is easily the most recognisable name in the race and is admired by onlookers outside of Enugu State, but it remains to be seen if that energy is shared by an adequate number of voters back home.
Frank Nweke’s success at the polls would also be dependent on how accepted the PDP candidate is. The PDP’s candidate is Peter Mbah who is a former Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development and former Chief of Staff to the outgoing Governor, so he will likely be seen as an extension of the current situation which could work against him.
Enugu State was created when its territory was carved out of Anambra State in 1991. It was arguably the Southeast’s centrepiece because its capital had benefited from being the capital city of an earlier version of Anambra that contained Enugu and parts of the present Ebonyi State. Enugu got lots of infrastructural development and became the social capital of the Southeast. Even with Anambra’s superiority as a commercial powerhouse, its capital Awka has failed to replace Enugu as the key social hub of the Southeast.
Ideally, Enugu should have become the key corporate business hub for the region competing with Lagos and acting as a point of coordination for business activities in the Southeast and the Southsouth but the PDP has failed to make it happen. Within its 7,161 square kilometres lie a range of natural resources that include coal, limestone, gypsum, kaolin, iron ore, oil shale, natural gas, glass sand, alum, and laterite. All untapped.
Frank Nweke is the best-looking candidate from a distance, but the Labour Party is where the energy is. With these dynamics, it is hard to tell where the election swings.