By Larry Martins

The political battle between Governor Sullivan Chime and incumbent senator, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy president of the senate has taking another dimension and the political tension brewing in Enugu state has also thickened following the position of ?the people of Awgu local council area of Enugu state operating under Save Awgu Forum, Enugu(SAFE), when they rejected the zoning formula of the ruling People?s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

In this context, they vowed to contest all possible elective positions during next year?s general elections, including the Enugu West senatorial seat that has been a causing repples in the state.

The group which seems to have the backing of the main notable leaders of the people of Awgu has also caused upset for the group agitating for the creation of the proposed Etiti state in the South East geopolitical zone when it protested any attempt to include the local council in proposed state.

The deputy senate president?s home local council, Aninri, was carved out of the present Awgu local government area and the two local councils with Oji River local government council constitute a political geographical contraption called the Greater Awgu.

Also in the communiqu? of the SAFE after its day-long summit on Saturday, issued yesterday, did not state that the people would support the bid of Ekweremadu to return to the senate come 2015, it appeared from the speeches made during the summit by notable Awgu personalities, that they are likely to be favaourably disposed to supporting the deputy senate president instead of Governor Chime.

In the communiqu? read by the leader of SAFE, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, the group vowed to take Awgu local government back to the epicenter of Enugu politics, regretting that the people of the area have been progressively relegated to the background politically in the state.

Also contained in their communiqu? was a point which formed part of the worries of the notable speakers on Saturday, including the chairman of the occasion? and former military administrator of Imo state, Commdr Anthony Oguguo(rtd), fiery charismatic Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, and the leader of SAFE, was the drama that played out on Saturday when the venue originally advertised for the function- Golden Royale Hotel- was shut when the members of the group arrived for the maiden summit.

The organizers pointed accusing fingers at agents of the state government, claiming that the government was, perhaps nursing the notion that the summit was to endorse the deputy senate president.

The function eventually held at the Ofu- Obi Cultural Centre owned by the Catholic Diocese of Enugu where Fr. Mbaka, as well as Oguguo and Emperor Ibe were outstanding in arousing the consciousness of the people of Awgu council area to the need to rise up to the occasion and see how they get their fair share of political positions come 2015 in Enugu state.

Though the Emperor Ibe-led SAFE did not expressly canvass support for Ekweremadu, but merely maintained that their people would contest all positions come 2015, the Catholic priest who is also from the area stated during his emotion-decked speech, that the deputy senate president has done quite well and must go back.

Yet, on another plank, SAFE expressed anger that even within the Greater Awgu, aforementioned, the main Awgu now made up of the present Awgu local government has been left without any position among the present 54 political positions and appointments within the state and federal government.

Hence, in their communique read at Isuawa country home Ibe,?they said, ? SAFE agreed that the major goal and objective of the summit is to take Awgu people back into the mainstream of Enugu Politics.

?The so called zoning formula/arrangement of rotation of governorship position in Enugu State is non-existent and unacceptable to SAFE as it promotes discrimination and marginalisation of Awgu people. We are ready and prepared to field candidates of All Elective Positions in Enugu State for the forthcoming 2015 general elections?, the group stated.

It also informed that hard times awaited their kinsmen who are seen to working with forces that have been relegating them to the background politically when it stated that ?having identified our brothers, who are enemies of Awgu, who have been working against the interest of Awgu people, we shall take calculated steps by inviting the wrath of God of Awgu to go after them.
?Going forward, we shall no more accept the imposition of candidates for elective and appointive positions due to Awgu local government area by anybody in our party in futurE and that we are willing and ready to work with any group, zone or individual that share in our aspirations, pains and values.

?We call upon our sons and daughters at home and in Diaspora to rise up, speak out and fight against this monster of opposition, discrimination, injustice and marginalization of our people now and in future and ?unless our grievances are addressed, redressed and the right thing done by the leadership of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we will not hesitate to seek for another platform to realize our collective goals and aspirations.
?We shall continue to be loyal to our party (PDP) and as law abiding citizens, uphold democratic ethics and principles in all our dealings but we reaffirm our position not to PLAY SECOND FIDDLE again no matter the pressure and determination from our adversaries.
?Also, for the umpteenth time, we reiterate that SAFE remains a Non-Partisan Organization and has not endorsed any candidate for any position for the next general election?, it maintained.

On the issue of state creation, Ibe, on behalf of the people, made it clear that Awgu people would not want to be part of any other proposed state other than Enugu state, saying that ?we want to stay here an slog it out with those who have been marginalizing us.

?That Etiti arrangement appears to us to be the design of some persons who have governorship ambition, but for us, we do not see what would make that proposed state more viable than where we are now?, he insisted.

Ironically, as the Awgu people rose against the zoning formula of the ruling party in the state which has ceded the party?s governorship seat to the Enugu North senatorial zone while Chime from the Udi axis of Enugu West zone is challenging Ekweremadu, some guests on the occasion came from Nsukka and Udi.

Beside the political agitations that held sway at the maiden Awgu summit with the them, ?Towards the Sustainable Empowerment and Development of Awgu People?, the lectures delivered by expert resource persons drawn from the academia and the industry, were delivered for the empowerment of the people of the area.


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