BY EMMANUEL ELEBEKE
WITH barely one month to the governorship elections, activities in different states have reached feverish levels as the candidates campaign for votes. In some, it is easier to recognise where the pendulum swings to; in others, it is too close to call.
Chuks Ugwoke, the Enugu State Commissioner for Information who also doubles as the Director of Media of the Sullivan Chime Campaign Organisation is emphatic that the situation in the state is, according to him a case of, “the clear favourite versus other pretenders to the throne.” He gives reasons why Governor Chime will triumph at the polls.
We have about a month to go, how has been the lobby for votes?
In the case of Enugu State, I believe that it will be uncharitable to call it a ‘lobby for votes.’ Yes, it will also be unfair to our people who have publicly and in unambiguous words, told Governor Chime that it’s pay-back time, that it is now the turn of our people to reciprocate his good gestures. As I speak to you, the governor has campaigned in 15 out of the 17 local government areas.
In all of the ones covered, there was not one where the people wanted him to speak to them about their votes. It was always the indigenes, from the influential to the masses, thanking him for the projects already executed and others that are on-going in their councils and telling Governor Chime that their votes are for him and other PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) candidates. These are verifiable facts.
I hope it doesn’t smack of immodesty to say that in Enugu, it’s a case of a clear favourite versus other pretenders to the throne. The chairman of one of the opposition parties in the state, the other day, praised the governo
r for providing a level-playing field devoid of any intimidation. Governor Chime has always insisted on running issue-based campaigns, not name-calling.
But we’ve read in the papers that the People for Democratic Change (PDC) led by the immediate past governor, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani has been embarking on house-to-house campaign…
My reaction would be to highlight some facts and that will expose the fears, which other opposition parties desperately want to hide. One, Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime flagged off his state campaign before an overwhelming crowd of party members and other supporters at Okpara Square in Enugu. After that, he took his campaigns to the three senatorial districts.
On Friday, March 18 (today), he will be rounding up his campaign tours of all the 17 Local Government Areas. We have over ten thousand volunteers who will commence aggressive door-to-door campaigns across all the 260 wards starting from this Monday.
Now, let me unveil the mask: if our opponents you referred to or those labouring in vain chose the house-to-house campaigns only, then I believe that it is an escapist route of trying to conceal their unpopularity and that tells the entire story of the situation in Enugu State.
We want them to hold Local Government rallies and a state-based one at any chosen venue in Enugu so that the world can measure our people’s acceptability of their platforms and candidates. They do not want our people and especially the media to judge them based on the quality and quantity of people they are able to assemble at such LG rallies.
Well, we hear that people troop out to catch a glimpse…
(Cuts in) If you say that people come out to catch a glimpse of the actors during their house-to-house campaigns, you’ve not told us about the angry questions and comments from our people. What message do they take to the people: that they made mistakes and should be given another chance?
The difference between them and Governor Chime is that they are busy talking about the next election while the governor is interested in enthroning projects and programmes that will benefit the next generation. Governor Chime is building for the next generation. Can they make comparisons between what they did in eight years and what the current governor has done in four years? I mean, we’re all living in Enugu.
I’m sure you’ve been following up on events during our local government rallies: what the people feel and say about what they have received from this government? There is no Local Government Area that has not felt the impact of what the governor is doing in terms of projects, programmes and appointments. Not a single one!
The other day at Isi-Uzo Council, hundreds of PDC members decamped with their leaders and joined PDP. Few days after, Engr. Johnson Ezeanyanwu, the Director of Special Duties of the Labour Party governorship candidate pitched tent with Governor Sullivan Chime with other leaders and members in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area. They all said they decided, on their own, to join a man who has transformed our state.
So, we’re unperturbed by the deceit going on. We’ll stick to our commitment to run issue-based campaigns no matter what these desperate office seekers do or say. Our people have the final say on the day of election. But we thank them quite immensely for their show of support, for their overwhelming enthusiasm to be part of the campaign to re0-elect Governor Chime.
Why do you sound so optimistic of victory at the polls?
It’s informed by the mood of the times, by the facts on ground, by the groundswell of support. If you line up your first eleven against a third rate opposition, the result is somewhat predictable. We’re taking our campaigns to all the nooks and crannies of the state; others are visiting select neighbourhoods with few invited journalists accompanying.
This is a contest between a five star performer who has endeared himself to the people’s hearts against some pretenders promising an astonished audience what they have been enjoying these past four years.