As the people of Enugu State prepare to elect the next governor in 2023, the way seems clear for a return to power of the Ebeano political dynasty through Peter Mbah, the candidate for governor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). ANAYO EZUGWU Reports
When members of the Ebeano Dynasty, a political movement in Enugu State, gathered on September 26, 2020, they made a bold statement about their return and their will to reclaim political space in the state.
They also handed over the leadership structure of the group to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. It was a gathering of old and new. The group’s coordinator and former Secretary of State Government (SSG), Dr Dan Shere, told the crowd that despite the setback suffered by the group following disagreements among its members, Ebeano embraced peace and reconciliation.
He said the Ebeano political structure of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State was not dead. His words: “Ebeano is the dream of Enugu and its people. A dream for industry, ventures, commerce and inventions in Enugu, a dream for a total transformation of the whole landscape of Enugu and a dream for the alleviation of poverty in Enugu by ensuring that the economy is in the hands of artisans and the middle class, a dream of sustained and standardized urban renewal, a dream of stimulating rural development and a dream of smiles for the people of Enugu.
True to its words, the group reinforced on May 25 its determination to reconquer the political space of the state by supporting the emergence of a founding member of the dynasty, Peter Mbah, as a candidate for the post of governor of the PDP in the state.
Mbah, who served as chief of staff to former Enugu state governor Chimaroke Nnamani and finance and economic development commissioner, is a known ally of the former governor and is expected to succeed Governor Ugwuanyi given the the popularity of the PDP. in the state. Nnamani had during his administration created the Ebeano political family.
Guided by the philosophy of equality and absolute loyalty, the group made waves as its activities grew to the point of dictating the mood of politics in the state. His endorsement was as good as victory for anyone vying for elective office in the state as any politician who became anything in Enugu was a product of the Ebeano political family.
From Senator Ken Nnamani who later became President of the Senate between 2005 and 2007 to Senator Ike Ekweremadu (former Vice President of the Senate), Nnamani’s successor and former Governor Sullivan Chime, Senator Ayogu Eze, including but not including limit, the outgoing governor, Les Ugwuanyi, all without exception are products of the Ebeano political dynasty.
Ebeano became so popular that by the time Nnamani left office in 2007, the family had amassed so much popularity and membership, including those holding various elective and appointed positions inside and outside the state. . In fact, the 2007 elections that inaugurated Nnamani’s successor were easy for the PDP in the state, following the group’s dominance. This election brought the administration of Chime to power. However, no sooner had Chime emerged than a heavy blow hit the group.
Chime has distanced himself from the Ebeano family. Although this brought him to power, Chime did not recognize Ebeano as it was not a political party; it was not recorded as such. To back up the fact, he delivered what sounded like a death sentence on the group when he insisted that he was elected by the PDP and not by Ebeano.
During one of the rallies in Michael Okpara Square, Chime gave his assessment of the group well, when he pronounced Ebeano “dead”, insisting that he does not exist in the political lexicon of the PDP. He had advised those still marching to be members of the band and hoping to get an appointment in his administration or get him to fund band activities to try elsewhere.
Marching his speech, Chime began the decimation of Ebeano. He started a new political structure which saw him get rid of those working for his election and brought in new people. Not done and probably realizing how difficult it could be to run the group without funds, he mounted a campaign against Senator Nnamani, expressing a desire to replace him.
Chime had felt that Nnamani’s inability to attend regular sittings was an inconvenience to the state, believing that it was better for the state if someone could at least sit down, hear and contribute to the proceedings than an absentee. It was then that the search for Nnamani’s successor in the Senate began, which produced Gilbert Nnaji. This campaign treated Nnamani ruthlessly.
Things went wrong. It could not maintain a strong political position and its members began to abandon it. There were uncertainties surrounding his quest to return to the Senate under PDP. Seemingly to save himself and survive the onslaught, Nnamani decided to quit the PDP and form People for Democratic Change (PDC). He contested the senate seat for the senatorial area of Enugu East in 2011, but lost to Nnaji. This defeat became the blow to Nnamani’s political career.
It was too much for the band to bear. He led his supporters into the streets to protest the election result, alleging it had been robbed. Nothing changed at the end of the day when Nnaji returned to the Senate. In 2015, with Chime still in charge as Governor, Nnamani contested the Enugu East Senate District seat again, but again lost.
It was then that he decided to retire from politics and return abroad to continue his medical practice. The Ebeano Group went bankrupt until 2017 when Ugwuanyi brought Nnamani back into politics, promising him the ticket to the seat of the Enugu East senatorial district. Nnamani ran and won the election.
This marked the revival of the political structure of Ebeano. Nnamani also expressed loyalty to Ugwuanyi for reviving his political career by endorsing the governor as his leader. The former governor at the solidarity meeting said Ugwuanyi was free to navigate the political ship of 2023 as he saw fit, assuring that the group’s members, as staunch partners, would work as usual for his achievement.
His words: “I was governor from 1999 to 2007. At the time of the handover, I named the area that will produce my successor and from that area I named my successor to Sullivan Chime, who , of course, is a member of Ebeano. political family. After eight years that Chime served, he also appointed his successor to come from Enugu North. It was in 2015 and that is why we have the current governor, who is the chief of Ebeano as governor.
“So, after eight years, it’s your right to name the zone that will succeed you. Be it Udi, Nsukka or Enugu East and whoever you appoint will become the governor. Politics is serious business. It is the equality of levers to balance interests. At Ebeano we do not have major or minor players but equal players.
You can become everything public service has to offer in this democracy. But you have to keep showing loyalty and support and that’s why wherever the governor says we should go, we go. In 2023, there is no vacancy, but whenever our leader, who is the governor, says it is vacant, it is vacant.
But as the picture and the possibility of the Ebeano dynasty returning to the helm of state affairs becomes clearer, the Enugu chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on the people of the state to resist the attempt.
Party State Chairman Ugochukwu Agballa has urged the people to resist Governor Ugwuanyi’s attempt to return the family to the seat of government in Enugu in the 2023 gubernatorial elections. Agballa, who took the speaking at a recent press conference, sounded the alarm that Mbah’s emergence as the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in the state was a direct throwback to the dark ages of bad State management by Ebeano.
“I feel sorry for Enugu State. This is not the Enugu we worked for. I am the bridge between the founding fathers of Enugu and the new generation because I worked with them. I served them in (my father’s) house; the Onohs, when they came for the Wawa meetings at my house.
“What we have in Enugu is a far cry from the dreams of these great men. And my duty today is to restore the old order and provide the platform for genuine people to rule us.
Any attempt by anyone, including my friend and Governor, Lawrence Ugwuanyi, to bring back the political system of Ebeano to oversee the political affairs of Enugu will be met with resistance from the people of Enugu State. “I stand here as the face of this resistance.
We will not accept the reintroduction of a group that brought sadness, tragedy and brutality to the people of Enugu State, a group that destroyed people’s homes in order to perpetuate themselves in power. I have always been opposed to them and I revive this opposition today.
“Today we challenge this attempt to bring back, in any form, the Nnamani political dynasty and hegemony. We oppose it. I understand, my friend Ugwuanyi must have been bewitched because it does not look like him. Ugwuanyi is a man of peace, whose leadership brought peace, and that’s what endeared me to him.
Undoubtedly, the APC’s stance is expected given that the party also has its sights set on the ‘Lion Building’ as Enugu’s government house is known, it remains to be seen if Mbah will carry on with the legacy. of the Nnamani administration if he is elected as the next governor of Enugu State or if he would use his brilliant entrepreneurial skills to develop the state.