By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Egufe Yafugborhi, Emmanuel Unah, Harris-Okon Emmanuel, Ike Uchechukwu, Chioma Onuegbu, Davies Ihemanchor, Emem Idio and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
SINCE the conclusion of the primaries for governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly elections of the various parties, especially the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, there have been plots and counter-plots in the parties in the South-South. Our correspondents report.
Uneasy calm between Oshiomhole, Obaseki in Edo
There is tension between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is from the state.
There are insinuations among the supporters of Oshiomhole that the governor is trying to build his structure ahead of his second term bid in 2020 and wants to ensure that his loyalists dominate the next state House of assembly. They also believe that his loyalty to the structure that brought him to power has failed with his actions and style of governance in the last two years.
Sunday Vanguard reliably gathered that this was one of the reasons the committee sent to Edo by the national secretariat of the party to conduct the party primaries did not announce the results of the state House of Assembly shadow elections and, at press time, the names of winners have not been officially released.
There are allegations that shocking replacements were being made by the national secretariat to have a state House of Assembly that would not be loyal to the governor. This, it was gathered, is part of the long term plan to puncture his return to Osadebey Avenue in 2020.
The party conducted the primaries twice and, even then, there are still protests from some members. The first exercise was cancelled by the National Working Committee, NWC, of APC as it said the committee from the national secretariat was not on ground to conduct the exercise. A fresh exercise was conducted and, since then, dust has been raised by several members across the state.
One contentious area is Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency where the Chairman of the committee in charge of the primaries, Hajia Farida Suleman Odangi, said the result was not ready because of violence in some areas and that the incidents would be investigated and a decision taken by the national secretariat of the party.
The Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Kabiru Adjoto, contested the seat in the constituency with the incumbent, Hon Peter Akpatason. The national secretariat submitted Akpatason as its candidate for the election.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that Adjoto is heading for court as he believes he won the primary election. This is notwithstanding a meeting Oshiomhole held with the two contenders in Abuja where he was said to have appealed to Adjoto to support Akpatason, having been one of the lawmakers who stood by the party during the crisis in the National Assembly that led to defections.
The PDP has, in the meantime, released the list of its candidates for the state House of Assembly and National Assembly elections, saying it was ready to win majority of the seats come 2019. The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Chris Nehikhare, said the process of picking the candidates was painstaking as the party presented its best.
But some members of the party in Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde Federal Constituency have petitioned the state Chairman, Chief Dan Osi Obih, on alleged imposition of a candidate in the primary elections in the constituency and urged him to declare Hon Etinosa Ogbeiwi the winner of the House of Representatives election, instead of Uwa Osunbor who the party announced as its candidate.
APC in turmoil in Delta
In Delta State, APC is practically torn apart as the Olorogun O’tega Emerhor/Cyril Ogodo faction has dragged the Chief Great Ogboru/Senator Ovie Omo-Agege/ Prophet Jones Erue faction, the party and the National Chairman of the party to court to stop them from submitting the names of candidates that emerged from the parallel primaries of the faction to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
There was a purported story that it had secured a restraining order to the effect, but the other group countered, saying there no such restraining order. One of the Delta North aspirants, a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Victor Ochei, who lost out in the governorship primary to Ogboru has also taken the APC and Ogboru to court, claiming there were no primaries and calling for a fresh exercise in the state.
Another aggrieved governorship aspirant, Prof Pat Utomi, had his petition dismissed by the party’s Appeal Panel. Also an alleged attempt by some vested interests in the party to substitute the names of actual winners of primaries in some areas generated dust. Clearly, the party is in turmoil in the state.
On the contrary, PDP has managed to maintain a level of tranquility despite the agitations of some losers.
Aggrieved PDP members defect in Bayelsa
The intrigues and political manoeuvrings exposed the underbelly of the two parties in Bayelsa state. Many incumbents lost the primaries in the PDP, making some to publicly renounce their membership of the party. They cited imposition of candidates, while some moved to other parties to actualize their ambition.
One of them, the immediate past President of Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, Udengs Eradiri, an aspirant for the House of Representatives seat for Yenagoa/Kolokuma-Opokuma Constituency, attacked the party after losing to former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Professor Steve Azaiki and a loyaltist of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who joined the race few weeks to the primaries.
In the same vein, a former Local Government Development Authority Chairman, Mr Asari Kerry, who is also a political appointee of Governor Seriake Dickson picked the Labour Party ticket to represent Southern Ijaw State Constituency One after losing to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Oil and Gas, Mr Bony Ayah, in the party primaries.
Also, no fewer than 200 PDP members, including an aspirant in Ogbia, the local government area of former President Jonathan, Mr. Johnbull Azuibatman, recently defected to the Advanced People’s Democratic Party Alliance (APDPA) to fly the latter’s flag in protest over the alleged imposition of the incumbent member, Mitema Obodor, representing Ogbia Constituency I, on them.
However, the likes of Senator Foster Ogola, incumbent occupant of the Bayelsa West Senatorial District seat, Senator Nimi Barigha Amange, incumbent leader of the state House of Assembly, and other incumbents, who lost the National Assembly primaries, are still licking their wounds and monitoring the political space for their next line of action.
Calm in APC
As for the APC, its standard flag bearers emerged through consensus arrangement in a hitch free exercise superintended by its leader and former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Surprisingly, the APC in Bayelsa seems to be devoid of rancour and acrimony after the primaries. It was even surprising to note that there were no parallel primaries, while party chieftains at loggerheads with Sylva appeared to have sheathed their swords and worked for the collective interest of the party.
Other parties waiting on the sidelines
On his part, Bayelsa State Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Famous Paleowei, said the party will welcome, with open arms, defectors from other parties, who are victims of imposition.
Describing the party as the third force, Palewoei said the ADC, which currently has a member in the state House of Assembly, will spring a surprise during the general elections by winning seats in both the state and federal legislatures.
Obong Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the governorship candidate of APC in Akwa Ibom State, will slug it out with the incumbent governor, Udom Emmanuel, who is candidate of the PDP, in the 2019 election.
Ekere is at daggers drawn with two of his opponents, who appealed against his victory at the primary election and, knowing the danger disunity could cause him at the polls, he has been meeting with party’s stakeholders and stalwarts to broker a truce to ensure that APC presents a formidable force to wrestle the governorship seat from the incumbent governor.
Beyond the governorship tussle, the PDP in the state may likely implode over internal wrangling arising from the outcome of the state House of Assembly primaries, as 11 lawmakers were roundly trounced by new entrants into the race, a development the lawmakers have blamed on their party’s inability to protect them.
As a a fallout of the defeat, a member of the House representing Mkpat Enin state constituency, Otobong Ndem, has dumped PDP for APC and sources confided in Sunday Vanguard that many aggrieved members of the House would likely leave the party.
A former Speaker and incumbent member representing Etinan Federal Constituency, Samuel Ikon, was reportedly forced out of the race to pave the way for the incumbent Speaker, Onofiok Luke, who picked the ticket on a platter of gold.
In the APC, protests apparently rocked the primaries for the state House of Assembly and National Assembly, over the alleged hijack of the tickets for the Okobo State Constituency and House of Representatives, even as angry faithful in Oron Federal Constituency took to the streets to protest alleged substitution of the candidate said to have won the primary with the name of a former Commissioner who, it was said, didn’t buy form for the position.
The hostility for the Uyo Senatorial District would be rekindled between Senator Bassey Albert and his old foe, Bassey Etim, populary known as Bafil, who fought a bitter battle with the incumbent senator in 2015 to the Supreme Court.
The political terrains in the state are charged and would soon get into the overdrive when the candidates begin their electioneering campaigns.
Intrigues in Rivers
The primaries of the PDP and APC, in Rivers State have come and gone. The attendant conflicts have, however, continued to spring up machinations, some with potentials to alter permutations ahead of 2019, especially in the APC.
Though Rivers APC had parallel primaries to pick flag bearers for all the elective positions ahead of 2019, the results of the indirect primaries held by the faction loyal to South-South APC Leader and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, were the ones adopted by the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee.
The direct primaries held by the Sen Magnus Abe’s faction and its results had seemed inconsequential until a High Court in Port Harcourt, on October 10, sacked the Ojukaye Flag-Amachree chaired Amaechi’s faction and nullified all party primaries it had conducted.
Abe camp had barely celebrated its victory at the Port Harcourt High Court when, five days later, an Appeal Court, also in Port Harcourt, charged warring Ojukaye Flag-Amachree and Peter Odike’s led factions to desist from any move likely to truncate the court process till the matter is heard at the appeal.
Before the recent primaries, 23 aggrieved members of the party loyal to Abe had approached a state High Court seeking the nullification of the last congresses of the party that produced Ojukaye as party Chairman for alleged irregularities which alienated them from the process. Appeal on that matter had dragged to the Supreme Court in SC/764/2018.
But the party’s Appeal Panel recently dismissed Abe’s case clearing the coast for Tonye Cole, the candidate of the Amaechi faction.
Fireworks in C’River
The back-stabbing, maneuvering and interplay of intrigues that characterized the primary election/selection of flag bearers in the two major political parties in Cross River State are still raging two weeks after the event.
In the APC, the battle for the governorship ticket was between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Pastor Usani Usani and the senator representing Central senatorial district of the state, John Owan Enoh. Usani lost out in the party’s Appeal Panel verdict.
The Minister, who, for 16 years, was virtually the lone voice in opposition in the state, was outsmarted by the PDP entrant into the party post-2015 elections to grab the ticket. Usani, who was elevated from the position of state Chairman of the party to Minister, had nursed the ambition of grabbing the ticket to contest the governorship slot, which he had done for two consecutive times, but, this time, the ticket eluded him as the APC NWC handed over the party’s structure in Cross River to the Deputy National Chairman, Hilliard Etta, and Senator Victor Ndoma Egba forces, leading to his being sidelined and the emergence of Enoh.
Usani had emerged the winner of the primary conducted by his factional Chairman, John Etim, but had his joy cut short when the NWC recognized Enoh as the flag bearer.
In the PDP, the governorship primary has led to court cases and defections by aggrieved losers who ostensibly were the underdogs. Mr Emmanuel Ibeshi, a former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, who was disqualified at the last-minute before the governorship primary, is in court to demand for an explanation from the party on why he was disqualified.
Mr Ekpo Okon, the senatorial aspirant for the southern district who lost to the incumbent, Senator Gershom Bassey, has defected to the APC where he is reportedly being considered as running mate to Enoh, the party’s governorship candidate