Enugu State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Jude Akubuilo at the convention
The bid by the Government of Enugu State to install its candidate to lead the highly influential Enugu-USA, an umbrella body of Enugu indigenes living in the United States of America, USA, failed at the weekend as delegates elected the first woman President of the body, Dr. Ifesinachi Ugwuonye.
A strong delegation of the Government to the convention, which held in Houston, Texas led by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and former Adviser to Governor Sullivan Chime on Diaspora Matters, Dr. Jude Akubuilo dressed in T-Shirts and faze caps that bore Governor Chime’s picture and had “Sullivan for Senate” boldly written on them, featured prominently at the convention.
Other members of the delegation were the Commissioner for Works, Engr. Goddy Maduaeke; Special Adviser on Diaspora Matters and Special Projects, Prof. Ike Mbah; and the Managing Director, Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, Mr. Ikeje Asogwa,
Their presence was, however, not enough to muster the requisite votes for their candidate, Mr. Leo Ugwu from Udi LGA as Dr. Ifesinachi Ugwuonye, a lawyer and indigene of Obeleagu Ndiuno in Ezeagu LGA cruised to a landslide victory.
Given the influence of the Enugu-USA in Enugu politics, Governor Chime’s strategists, it was gathered, were determined to install a candidate the government was “comfortable with” as a prelude to swaying Diaspora support for the Governor’s preferred successor and his quest for Enugu West Senatorial seat.
It could be recalled that many key members of the Governor’s cabinet, including the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and former Adviser on Diaspora Matters, Dr. Jude Akubuilo were drawn from the Enugu-USA organisation.
Sources close to the Enugu Government House and the convention said the Enugu-USA election might have cost the State Government more than USD92,000.
However, it was gathered that the efforts to defeat Dr. Ifesinachi Ugwuonye, described by government sources as “rigid and difficult to deal with” were thwarted by the Greater Awgu indigenes and delegates who voted en masse against the Governor’s candidate.
The incumbent Senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, hails from Aninri, which is part of the Greater Awgu political block in the Enugu West Senatorial District.
Although Dr. Ugwuonye and Mr. Ugwu hail from the same Udi/Ezeagu political block, delegates were said to have routed for Dr. Ugwuonye to prove a point and ensure the independence of the umbrella organisation of Enugu citizens resident in the USA.
Meanwhile, a member of the Enugu State Government delegation to the convention, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was not true that the Government sponsored any of the candidates as they were only in Houston to “promote Governor Sullivan Chime’s bid for the Senate”.
But this might have backfired as competent sources insisted that it was one of the major grouses of the delegates against the Sullivan Chime Administration.
A delegate, who gave a detailed account of the election queried: “How could people sit down in Government House Enugu and decide who is going to lead Enugu-USA?
“How could people be so petty to wear senatorial campaign T-shirts and faze to come and disorganize our events in a foreign land? Wasn’t that too petty and desperate?”
With the election, Enugu-USA has become the first major Igbo diaspora organisation to elect a woman as its President.
Other candidates elected into key offices include Hon. Kristy Obimah, Vice President; Hon. Chukwuma Ojukwu, Secretary; Hon. John Agbo, Chairman of Board of Trustees; and Hon. Ijeoma Nweze, Secretary, Board of trustees.