Mild crisis is brewing in the Enugu State chapter of the Labour Party (LP) following an underground supremacy battle between some founding members of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and politicians loyal to the former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, for the LP structure.
The Guardian learned that shortly after Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi threw his weight behind Dr. Peter Mbah for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial ticket, Ekweremadu opened discussions with LP, following the brick wall he met in APC.
He approached the Julius Abure-led LP, seeking the party’s nod for the gubernatorial ticket in an arrangement that presented former Commissioner of Environment, Chijioke Edeoga, as Ekweremadu’s running mate.
Meanwhile, members of APC in the state that were displaced by the emergence of Ugochukwu Agballah as the party’s state chairman, had resolved to move over to LP, where Peter Obi, the presidential candidate, is in serious contention.
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Matters came to a head, Sunday, when the state publicity secretary of LP, Ibuchukwu Ezike, issued a statement announcing that Edeoga, who lost to Mbah at the PDP governorship primary by 9 to 790 votes, has been adopted as the LP governorship standard-bearer.
Recall that in a bid to beat the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conclusion of party primaries, the Enugu Chairman of LP, Casmir Agbo, emerged winner of LP guber primary as a placeholder.
But no sooner was Edeoga announced a replacement for Agbo than former APC stalwarts cried foul, citing the fact that the Ekweremadu group are still in court challenging the outcome of the PDP primaries in the state, which could put LP in a serious dilemma.
The APC defectors claim that the Electoral Act 2022 frowns at losers from party primaries crossing over to another party to contest elective offices, adding that the antics of the former PDP chieftains would endanger the fortunes of LP in the state since they are yet to announce their resignation from the main opposition party.
Attempts to get a member of the Ekweremadu group, Toby Okechukwu, to confirm his defection could not yield fruit at the time of filing this report, but Edeoga confirmed to The Guardian that he is the substantive governorship flag bearer for LP, stressing that he is at the verge of finalising talks on his running mate.