Former deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has withdrawn from the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Charles Asogwa, the director-general of Ikeoha Campaign Organisation (ICO) disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
ICO is the campaign organisation of Mr Ekweremadu .
“We wish to inform our supporters and Nigeria that the former deputy president of the senate and foremost governorship aspirant in Enugu State, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, will not be participating in the PDP governorship primary election scheduled for this Wednesday, May 25, 2022,” Mr Asogwa said.
Although no reason was given for the withdrawal of the lawmaker, it is not unconnected with the existing cold war with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and the leadership of the state chapter of the PDP over battle for the party’s governorship ticket in the state.
Mr Ekweremadu’s withdrawal came just a few hours to the Wednesday’s governorship primaries of the party in the state.
The PDP is the ruling party in the state.
Mr Ugwuanyi and the leadership of the party in the state had maintained that they would respect the existing zoning arrangement in the state in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness.
The party, recently, announced that it had zoned the governorship to Enugu East District.
But Mr Ekweremadu, who hails from Aninri, in Enugu West District, has repeatedly kicked against the zoning arrangement insisting that there was no such agreement in the state.
On April 30, the party conducted its congresses across the various wards in the state where the three-man delegates emerged from each ward for the on-going primaries of the party.
However, some loyalists of the lawmaker approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, and sought to nullify the election of the delegates.
But the court did not rule in their favour.
The court ruled, on Tuesday, that the ward congresses held for the election of three-man delegates from the 260 wards in the state remained valid and that the list should be used to elect the candidates contesting for the 2023 elections.
During Sunday’s primary elections of the party to elect candidates for the House of Representatives and state assembly, all the aspirants from Mr Ekweremadu’s camp lost in the exercise.
Irked by the development, the lawmaker organised a parallel PDP congress where the aspirants were elected.
Recent alleged moves to dump PDP
The lawmaker reportedly met with the state leadership of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) over a possible switch to the opposition party in the state.
The details of the meeting with APGA are still sketchy, but PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the meeting ended in a stalemate as the both parties could not reach any agreement.
Also, earlier on Tuesday, indications emerged that Mr Ekweremadu might defect to the All Progressive Congress (APC) to contest the party’s governorship ticket for the 2023 general elections.
Late the same day, Mr Ekweremadu was spotted at the campaign office of the chairman of Abuja chapter of the APC holding talks in what appeared to be a last-minute effort to join forces with the APC to unseat PDP in the 2023 general election in the state.
Before now, the APC had only Uche Nnaji as the consensus candidate for the 2023 governorship election in Enugu State. But the imminent entry of Mr Ekweremadu into the party may bring a fresh twist, with Mr Nnaji expected to bow out of the race for the lawmaker.
The lawmaker’s visit came hours after news filtered that the state governor, Mr Ugwuanyi had “anointed” Peter Mbah as his successor ahead of Wednesday’s governorship primaries in the state. Mr Mbah is from Enugu East, which is favoured to produce the next governor in accordance with the said zoning arrangement.
Mr Ekweremadu has been in the Senate since 2003.
Uche Anichukwu, the lawmaker’s media aide, did not respond to calls and text message seeking comments from him on the speculated defection of his principal to the APC.