Why Enugu PDP stole an election and wanted a rogue governor for just a few months,


By Jonas Okwuata

Before the 2023 elections, ndi Enugu prayed with a quotation from the Bible, "Affliction shall not arise a second time." After the governorship election was stolen in broad daylight, thanks to the influence of unquantifiable cash on INEC headquarters, REC Prof Madu Ofo Iwe, returning officer for Nkanu East Dr Nnaemeka Ogbene and several other INEC officials, I could hear the lamentation of ndi Enugu in another Bible verse, "What I fear most has come upon me!" Those words were uttered by Job, I think.

REC Iwe and his accomplices must have understood the futility of trying to install a loser as the winner of the Enugu polls. They only wanted to have an escape route as well as a justification for the bribes they allegedly received, which runs into billions of naira. Everyone including Mbah and his business partner in Government House knows that the stolen mandate can't be kept for long. For the man who had sold the PDP governorship ticket to Mbah for a whopping N16bn, getting Mbah on the seat for even one month would free him from any blackmail afterwards. He would seem to have delivered or fulfilled his own part of the bargain. He would have enough time to escape overseas, far away from his enemies and others he had injured. He would be able to escape from the EFCC, ICPC or other antigraft agencies that could be lying in wait.

Mbah and his benefactor (business partner?) desperately wanted the former to be declared governor-elect because they know the Nigerian justice system is very weak. When they shout the refrain "Go to court!" after violating the rights of ndi Enugu to elect their leaders, they hope the judicial process would give them enough time to descend on the state's allocations for at least a few more months.

Here is a man whose career has been studded with acts of corruption. He evaded the NYSC and had to procure a fake discharge certificate. His first job after leaving school in 2001 was to serve as a front for a corrupt governor. In 2007 he was detained by the EFCC for 10 months. He, former governor Chimaroke Nnamani and two others were regular guests of the anti-corruption agency  until 2015 when they entered into a plea bargain. They forfeited stolen assets worth tens of billions of naira. What was left undiscovered by the EFCC was used to set up the Pinnacle company in Lagos.

After Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi resurrected the thieving and murderous Ebeano, it was time to capture the state's treasury and make it safe for looters forever. And that's how Mbah entered into the governorship contest. Nobody knew he was coming until Ugwuanyi cleared the way for him by wrecking other candidates financially. Robotic "delegates" each received N400,000 cash and were directed to vote for Mbah on May 25.

Money was never a problem for the PDP governorship campaigns because they had easy access to the state's funds. About 40% of the monthly internally generated revenue (almost N3bn) was given to a "consultant" that remitted funds to the PDP campaigns through the backdoor.

The Enugu PDP knew it had no chance of winning the elections except by cheating and brigandage. The picture became clearer after the first round of elections on February 25. But the governorship poll was to be won at all cost and by all means! Otherwise, thousands of Ebeano disciples would perish outside government protection. The desperados did everything to get votes for Mbah and suppress the votes of opponents. Still, the LP candidate was leading by a wide margin. 

The PDP's last act of desperation was to get Mbah announced as governor-elect. Jim Nwobodo and others were called to help. Accordingly, Nkanu East LGA was the last LGA to turn in its governorship election results. Although 7,435 voters were accredited by BVAS to vote in the LGA, the vote thieves led by returning officer Dr Nnaemeka Ogbene manufactured 30,000+ votes for the PDP candidate and insisted that REC Iwe must accept them and declare Mbah the winner. 

The tussle moved to Abuja along with billions of naira on offer. Four days later, the coast was clear for the desperados. Mbah was declared winner, to the shock of most ndi Enugu. There were no celebrations anywhere in the state except by some famished PDP supporters who received their last dose of hope.

Three months on the seat of Enugu governor would enable Mbah and his accomplices to recover the funds they have spent on this election. Ndi Enugu should expect  multi-billion-naira contracts to be awarded within days so that much money could be creamed off. The monthly security vote, LG allocations and the state's allocation would be fair game. The Enugu State government may borrow more money from all sources, even though the state is already bogged down by more than N200bn debt. Civil servants should not expect their salaries, much less the backlog they're owed. Pensioners should expect a raw deal too.

Ndi Enugu should brace up for delays in the election petitions tribunal and in the regular courts. Mbah and his people will do everything to use the full time provided for the judiciary to do away with election matters. By the time Hon. Chijioke Edeoga of LP will be invited to mount the saddle, Enugu will have sunk deeper into debt. Desperados could be dangerous indeed.


 _Okwuata, a development expert, lives in Lagos._