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Ebonyi 2019: Strengths, weaknesses of guber candidates


As the race for the Ebonyi State Government House gets into full swing, Clement Nnachi writes on efforts of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by its gubernatorial candidate and incumbent governor, Mr. Dave Umahi, to retain power.

Ebonyi State is one of the five states in the Southeast geo-political zone. The state was created in 1996 by the regime of the late maximum ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha. Since the inception of democratic rule in the country in 1999, the state has been under the control of the PDP till date. Dr. Sam Egwu was a two-term governor (1999-2007, Chief Martin Elechi (2007-2015) and Umahi (2015 till date).

In the just conducted presidential and National Assembly elections held in the state on February 23, 2019, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, polled a total of 258,573 votes, while the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate Muhammadu Buhari, garnered 90,726 votes.

2019 governorship race

A total of 37 political parties fielded candidates to contest the governorship seat in the state. The major gladiators include Umahi, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, APC, Mr. Splendour Oko Eze of the Advanced Congress Democrats, ACD, Mr. Chibueze Agbo of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Mr. Ogbonnaya Okorie of Advanced Allied Party, AAP, Chief Michael Obiahu of Zenith Labour Party, LP, Mr. Cletus Inya Omiko of the Justice Must Prevail Party, JMPP, among others.

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David Umahi

The incumbent governor is seeking re-election under the banner of the PDP.

Political pundits are of the opinion that Umahi remains a politician that has made indelible marks in the political history of the state since he assumed the mantle of leadership in the last three and a half years.

In his first term in office, Umahi has made giant strides in the area of infrastructural developments, health, education, human capital development, empowerment, roads construction/renovation, urban renewal, and electrification, among others.

Since assumption of office in 2015, the PDP governorship candidate has appointed over 1,000 aides, comprising commissioners, senior special advisers, special assistants, senior technical assistants, technical assistants and many others.

The Nigerian Xpress learnt that over 1,000 widows have been empowered and huge amounts of cash released to enable them kick-start various skills/trades.

In addition, town unions across the 13 local governments areas of the state have been given N10 million each to embark on projects that are beneficial to the people.

A major boost that brightened the chances of Umahi ahead of the governorship election is the outcome of the just conducted presidential and National Assembly elections, with the PDP winning all the nine seats with very high margins.

In Ebonyi South Senatorial Zone, Chief Michael Ama Nnachi polled a total of 103,751 votes to defeat his closest rival Prince Nweze Onu of APC, who scored 19,663 votes.

In Ebonyi North, former Governor Sam Egwu emerged victorious, while Senator Obinna Ogba was re-elected Senator for a second term in Ebonyi Central.

In the House of Representatives election, Chief Livinus Makwe emerged victorious to represent Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Federal Constituency.  Hon. Anayo Edwin Nwonu was elected to represent Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency, while Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga emerged victorious for Abakaliki/Izzi Federal Constituency.

The member, representing Afikpo North/South Federal Constituency, Hon. Iduma Igariwey was elected for a second term.

Sonni Ogbuoji

Chief Sonni Ogbuoji, who hails from Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area in the southern senatorial zone of the state, perhaps, remains the strongest opponent in the governorship tussle in the state.

Chief Ogbuoji currently represents Ebonyi South Senatorial Zone of the State in the Senate. The zone comprisies Afikpo North, Afikpo South, Ivo, Onicha and Ohaozara local government areas.


Since the creation of the state in 1996, the first military administrator, Captain Walter Feghabor, set up a 50-man committee with the mandate of fashioning out an amicable and equitable power sharing formula for all sections of the state.

One of the major recommendations of that committee was that political power must rotate between the two major blocs that make up the state, namely Abakaliki and Afikpo.

With the advent of democracy in 1999, Dr. Egwu, who hailed from Ohaukwu Local Government Area in the Northern zone, emerged the first chief executive of the state.

His successor, Chief Martin Elechi, hails from Ikwo Local Government Area (Abakaliki bloc).

The incumbent hails from Ohaozara Local Government Area in the Southern zone. He is seeking re-election and based on the Charter of Equity that emphasises justice whereby all the previous governors served two terms, political gladiators and leaders in the state have resolved that the incumbent must serve his two terms in office.

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Division in the rank of APC

Recent happenings in the state chapter of APC indicate huge bickering and divisions among party members. Investigations by The Nigerian Xpress show that there is division within the rank and file of the party, leading to discordant tunes.

Chief Ogbuoji, the gubernatorial candidate has not been able to unite all the aggrieved members of the party nor bring all the aspirants, who contested the primaries with him together for the purpose of having a united and formidable team for the election.

Besides, there is little acceptability of his ambition among the people, as he remains unpopular notwithstanding his being a two-term senator.

Most respondents, who bared their minds, expressed misgiving that the governorship candidate failed to make appreciable impact in the last eight years he occupied the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.

Chibueze Agbo

The SDP governorship candidate was a former commissioner for education under the administration of Chief Elechi.

He was an aspirant for Ebonyi/Ohaukwu Federal Constituency under the APC, but failed to clinch the ticket.

Out of anger, he dumped APC and defected to the SDP, citing lack of internal democracy and impunity as reasons for leaving the party.

Agbo is not seen as a serious contender in the race. He is relatively unknown and his choice of political party is also a serious blunder in his quest to rule the state.

As Nigerians await the gubernatorial election with bated breath, the general opinion among the people in Ebonyi is that Umahi, the candidate of the PDP and the incumbent governor is the man to beat, based on the positive impact his policies and programmes have had on the lives of the people in the last three years.

The state has remained the stronghold of the PDP and is strongly likely going to remain so after the March 9, 2019 election.