By Dr Ezeh Emmanuel Ezeh
THE forthcoming Nigeria’s 2023 general elections presents what Donald Rumsfeld called the ‘unknown unknowns’ and there are many reasons to justify that assertion.
First, the overall political structure of the state has become more fluid. Secondly, the people seem to have energetically broken free from the bandwagon mentality of voting for just one political party across all positions. The third factor is the wave of the Obidient Movement. A Movement that is simply and entirely a referral rejection of the politics of property, corruption, impunity and unmitigated incompetence represented by the duo PDAPC. The shocking reality of this rejection is the large turnout of people who openly thronged out to welcome Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party. The statement made on 3rd February was thunderous. It is therefore safe to conclude that, with the introduction of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the multidimensional Electoral Act 2022, Ebonyi people are more confidently poised to elect their choice candidates as federal lawmakers come 2023. Further, is the inexplicable failure of the political class, especially the abysmal performance record of APC across the socio-political and economic spheres of our country. APC's epic failure helped to rouse the Nigerian spirit, just as the main opposition party, PDP, has also shown that it learnt nothing from its fall from power. As a party, PDP leaders have continued with impunity as a religion, these and many other existential issues have pushed the youths, especially, the "Sorosoké generation, in frantic search for a new order. The Nigerian youth are therefore united in saying that 'enough is enough'. Interestingly, given the high probability that Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party will win the 2023 presidential poll, it has become imperative that the Southeast, especially Ebonyi, should elect knowledgeable candidates into the forthcoming 10th National Assembly. That is about the only way for them to participate meaningfully in the anticipated new era of knowledge-based governance.
The era of imposition of candidates on the masses as reward for blind loyalty to certain cabals is dying and should be buried in the rubbish heap of sad history. It is time for the people’s voice to prevail at the polls.
The 10th National Assembly promises to be purposeful and result-oriented and Ebonyi State cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past, of sending under-performers, backbenchers and bench-warmers to the centre with exception of few outliers. A new Nigeria beckons and only patriots, rather than men of property, are needed to make things happen.
A look at the frontline candidates for National Assembly seats shows some remarkable contrasts. In Ebonyi North Senatorial contest, for instance, we have Senator Sam Egwu, who is projecting himself on the PDP for the third time, with emphasis on what his constituents stand to gain from his parliamentary experience so far.
Then, there are also Barr Onyekachi Nwebonyi and Barr Anslem Enigwe, both of whom are seeking first-time mandate on the platforms of APC and Labour Party (LP) respectively. In addition to their personal track-records and passion to serve the people, they are also pushing forward the strong argument that Ebonyi LGA, from where they both hail, deserves a chance in the Red Chambers, having not occupied the seat since the return of Democracy in 1999. Coming to the two House of Representatives seats within Ebonyi North, the case of Abakaliki-Izzi Federal Constituency is generating much interest. The general expectation is that the Labour Party ticket will post the greatest political upset in the history of Ebonyi State. Dr. Ezeh Emmnauel Ezeh, who is the LP contender trumps his co-contenders in terms of qualifications, preparedness and global exposure. Apart from being a fresh face on the ballot, Ezeh’s track records and other sterling personal qualities seem to have positioned him as the arrowhead of the new political thinking in Ebonyi State. His philanthropic activities and wide-range exposure in the area of wealth-creation, Organized Private Sector leadership and community service, make him easily welcome to the electorate. But, Ezeh is contending with old politicians like Chief Emmanuel Uguru and Hon. Barnabas Ofoke. Uguru, a one-time Local Government Chairman and a commissioner under the current administration, also hails from a part of the constituency that has monopolised the seat for four consecutive tenures (16yrs). For Ofoke, the PDP candidate, is confronted by the party’s locust years, just as the people say that nothing outstanding could be ascribed to him other than his father’s influence as the acclaimed political Professor of Izhiland. Pundits describe his aspiration as a case of another "emilokan" sentiment. Then, Hon Victor Aleke, the PDP candidate for Ebonyi/Ohaukwu Federal Constituency, emphasises his experience as a former member of the State House of Assembly. But Aleke has rivals as Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze and Prince Chibueze Agbo of APC and LP respectively that are also riding majorly on experience of their past public offices. At Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku (LP), Engr Kenneth Eze (APC), Hon Lazarus Ogbee (PDP) and Senator Emmanuel Onwe (APGA) are the major gladiators battling to represent the district in the Red Chamber. For the House of Representatives seats in the zone, Mrs Nora Alo (APC), Mr Johnson Nwachukwu (PDP) and Mr Ugota Chinedu (LP), are seeking to represent Ezza-North/Ishielu Federal Constituency; while Hon Chinedu Ogah (APC), Barr Vitalis Nwanne (PDP) and Dr Pius Inya (LP) are the frontline contenders for the Ezza-South/Ikwo Federal Constituency. In Ebonyi South Senatorial Zone, the major candidates battling for the Upper Chamber are, Governor David Umahi (APC), Hon Linus Okorie (LP) and Senator Ama Nnachi (PDP). For the House of Representatives positions in the district, Afikpo-North/Afikpo South Federal Constituency, Hon Eni Uduma Chima (APC), Hon Iduma Igariwey (PDP) and Chief Pharm Tony Ekoh (LP) are the major contenders. In Ivo-Ohaozara/Onitsha Federal Constituency, Engr Felix Igboke (APC), Mr Jerry Obasi (PDP), Chief Nkemkamma Osikama (LP) and Mr Chinedu Nwota present as the major gladiators. Nkemkamma is another successful private sector player, who is poised to upstage PDP and APC. Among the Senatorial and House of Rep candidates highlighted above, the challenge is now for Ebonyi people to look beyond petty sentiments during the polls if they insist on better representation at the National Assembly. The contenders seeking re-election into the national parliamentary positions must be assessed based on the relevant key performance indicators in their former session. Conversely, those seeking first term mandates, voters should assess their personal track-records, integrity, capacity, competence and their level of commitment to the course of the new Nigeria and the forward looking Ebonyi State we all yearn for.
Buoyed by expectation of coming political disruption, our youth are arguing forcefully that no longer should National and State Assembly candidates ride on the political momentum of governorship candidates for their election. Each contestant should present/publish his or her legislative agenda for proper scrutiny by their constituents. This would provoke a sense of accountability on the side of parliamentarians and also serve as benchmark for performance evaluation.
Good enough, the Labour Party candidate for Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency, Dr Ezeh Emmanuel Ezeh, has raised the bar and taken the lead by presenting in clear terms his legislative agenda, published both online and offline. The legislative aspect of the government, the league of professionals in politics say, is a serious business and the people involved are expected to be actively involved in the lives of the people they represent. Ebonyians across all constituencies must rise now and put an end to the era of flaccidity on the side of those entrusted with parliamentary offices.
As Obidients, we dare to believe that a New Nigeria is POssible.
Dr Ezeh, the Labour Party candidate for Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency, writes from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State