By Dapo Akinrefon & Gbenga Oke
THE political permutations in the country are definitely bound to change as the 2011 general elections gather storm. Indeed, next year’s elections will certainly be interesting as a result of the possibility of politicians and their various supporters jumping ship especially from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to other alternative political parties.
Already, politicians across the country are forming alliances with the aim of outwitting each other at their party primaries.
Political parties as well as politicians are not leaving any stone unturned in order to ensure that they emerge flag bearers of their respective parties.
Meantime, those who lost out during the 2007 general elections have since restrategised and concluded it is high time they jump ship.
It is no doubt that next year’s general elections will prove to be interesting as the various major political parties will do tough battle in a bid to hold on to their territories.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is gearing up to take over more territories, but other opposition parties may, perhaps, give the largest party in Africa, a run for its money.
The PDP camp is gradually being depleted with gladiators in some states moving out in great numbers to preferably the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which most believe to be the main alternative political platform for now.
It is also seen as an opportunity for them to actualise their dreams of occupying political offices come next year.
PDP state chapters in Rivers, Delta, Ondo and perhaps Imo are major casualties because the bigwigs in these states are not finding it easy with the incumbent governors.
In the build up to the 2007 general elections, one time Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Dr Olusegun Rahman Mimiko resigned his appointment to run for the governorship of Ondo State but was buffeted at all sides allegedly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Thereafter, Mimiko with his teeming supporters, left the PDP to contest on the platform of a newly registered political party, Labour Party, but lost out. Not satisfied with the outcome of the elections in Ondo State especially against his former boss, Dr Olusegun Agagu, he headed to the Election Petition Tribunal and then to the Court of Appeal where he was announced winner of the elections in the state in February, 2009.
Having been declared winner of the polls, the Ondo governor has been in the forefront of wooing members of the PDP to the Labour Party, a feat, which he is succeeding at.
Though, Mimiko still remains in the opposition, nationally, there is the possibility of him returning, along side with his supporters to the PDP.
Also, former Vice President. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, left with a chunk of his loyalists in 2007 when the then former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, used all in his arsenal to frustrate the presidential aspiration of his vice.
Despite moves to omit his (Abubakar’s) name from the ballot paper, the former number two was undeterred as he challenged the action at the law courts.
Again in Rivers State, a former Minister of Transport during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Dr Abiye Sekibo has jumped ship.
A close associate of the former governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili, Sekibo is poised to do battle with the incumbent governor, Mr Rotimi Amamechi
Not satisfied with the turn out of events in the politics of the state especially at the state chapter of the PDP, the former Transport Minister has since pitched his tent with the Action Congress of Nigeria, a development which his boss, is not inclined to.
Worthy of note too is the fact that Prince Tonye Princewill, the governorship candidate of the AC (now ACN) in 2007, has since defected to the PDP, urging that all hands must be on deck to ensure Governor Rotimi Amaechi succeeds.
Whether Sekibo has what it takes to upstage Amaechi, who is perceived to have done well in terms of his developmental successes recorded so far is left for the electorate in Rivers State to decide. But observers of political events in the state, opine that Sekibo’s dream, might be a tall one.
It is the same in Delta State, another oil rich state.
Mr Ovie Omo_Agege, a former Secretary to the Delta State Government was a front line contender for the governorship race in 2007. He lost out in the scheme of things and feeling aggrieved, he defected from the PDP along with his supporters to the ACN.
The political calculation in the state has since changed his fortunes to govern the state, no thanks to the nullification of the election of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and the ordering of fresh elections. With this development, Omo_Agege’s chances in 2011 has become a matter of legal permutations.
Though, not disposed to Uduaghan, there is every tendency of him thwarting his return to Government House, Asaba; this is as a result of his acclaimed support base in the state.
Another topnotch of the PDP, from the South East, who is believed to have dumped the party for the CAN is Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume.
Ararume vied for the governorship seat of Imo State on the platform of the PDP. Just like Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Ararume protested this decision of the party to deny him of the ticket and secured a Supreme Court ruling in his favor.
Though he won the PDP primaries in 2007 to become candidate for governor of Imo State, but instead, the party chose Engineer Charles Ugwu in his place. He was later expelled for alleged anti_party activities, after which the PDP chose not to field a candidate, leaving the field open for Ikedi Ohakim of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA., who has since defected to the PDP.
The governorship race in Akwa Ibom is also not left out.
On October 16, the political equation of the state took a new twist as a former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, left the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Akpanudoedehe is, possibly, banking on the support of former governor of the state, Architect Victor Attah, who is no longer disposed to the perceived antics of his successor, Governor Godswill Akpabio.
Aside this, the former minister is counting on the Ibibios to support his bid, while Akpabio who is of the Annang stock is counting on his performance with projects spread through out the three senatorial districts.
It has, however, been argued that the battle line, perhaps, has been drawn along ethnic lines. This is not far fetched owing to the fact that the Ibibios are the largest group, while the Annangs form the second largest group in the state.
ACN’s stand on new entrants
When sought by Vanguard to state the position of the party as regards joining the fold, National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Chief Bisi Akande said with the influx of politicians especially from the PDP, it will not be swept off its feet by mere shenanigans employed by the politicians.
He stated that though many of those aspiring on the party’s platform have been in position before, he said others have not been, but he was quick to add that “as a political party, we are going slow and steady in the organization of our party.”
Akande explained that the party will do all in its resolve to separate the wheat from the chaff.
He enthused that “we have started registration of members and when we finish the registration of members, it will take only ten days and we are introducing a phenomenon into it, I call it a phenomenon because it has not been done in the country in the last 30 years. Whoever wants to be a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria must pay money.
When asked if such was inscribed in the party’s constitution as regards registration of members, he replied in the affirmative.
According to him, “if you want to be a member of our party, you must pay membership fees. We are not Father Christmas at all, if you want to be a member of our party, you must be ready to finance the party and you must start financing the party through your membership fee. Not that we will be begging money from candidates or aspirants to run the party; members will run the party first and then, we start registration.”
Continuing, he said “the registration will take ten days and from there, we will know how many people are members of the Action Congress of Nigeria and the spread, then we will start with congresses to organize our ward, local government, state and national executives.
“When that is finished, we will come out with a guideline on how to contest election to the various elective positions. By then, you will know those who will be contesting on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, so don’t single out anybody at this stage until then.”
As the 2011 general election draws nearer and as events unfold, political pundits opine that the crave for the ACN by PDP discontented PDP members will increase.