By Emma Amaize, Sam Oyadongha, Jimitota Onoyume, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Emmanuel Una, Ike Uchechukwu, Davies Iheamnachor, Harris-Okon Emmanuel, Chioma Onuegbu, Emem Idio, Perez Brisibe , Ochuko Akuopha and Theresa Ugbobu
THERE were quite some surprises from the Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and Assembly primaries of the different political parties in the South –South region. In this report, our reporters in various states in the region give an update on the happenings.
DELTA…Amori’s loss to Oboro
The major shock in the primaries in Delta was the defeat of a powerful Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain in the state, Senator Ighoyota Amori, by a female member of the House of Representatives, Hon Evelyn Oboro, in the party’s Delta Central senatorial primary.
Before the primaries, it was practically a concluded affair that that the ticket was for Amori backed by leaders of the party in the area, including a former governor, Chief James Ibori, but Oboro sprung a bombshell.
Senator Amori, who earlier won in 2015 but lost his seat in the court to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege said he was facing tribulations in the party.
His words: “Despite the deliberate attempts to silent or shut me out of the party in the past, I have remained unperturbed and steadfast. Since I joined other stakeholders in founding the party in Delta State, I have remained a loyal party man; and that I shall continue to be. I will continue to champion as I have always done, efforts to propel our great party PDP to victory in the 2019 polls.”
APC:Though not unanticipated, the manner which the feud between the Chief Great Ogboru/Senator Ovie Omo-Agege/Prophet Jones Erue and Olorogun O’tega Emerhor/Chief Cyril Ogodo factions has torn the APC apart in the state, leading to divergent primaries, expulsion and counter- expulsion is ominous for the party.
BAYELSA… The fall of incumbents
In Bayelsa, many incumbent lawmakers in PDP gunning for second or third terms and expecting a roller coaster ride on account of their supposed cozy relationship with the executive arm were jolted as they were dislodged by new comers. Interestingly, many of the perceived governor’s allies and loyal assembly members were denied tickets.
Prominent among them are Senator Foster Ogola, the incumbent senator representing Bayelsa West, who lost the primaries scandalously to the state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Barr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo having scored paltry two votes.
The leader of the State Assembly and member representing Governor Seriake Dickson’s state constituency, Pastor Peter Akpe, who is also a close ally of the governor lost his third term bid, same with Mr. Daniel Igali, the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, NWF, chairman who was also not third time lucky.
Also, certain aspirants even with a track record of performance could not get second term. For instance, Senator Ben Bruce, representing Bayelsa East was forced to withdraw from the contest for a second term because since 1999, the seat has been rotating among the three local government areas of Brass, Nembe and Ogbia on a single term. And as it were, nobody has ever gone done a second term since the advent of the current democracy dispensation not even Senator Melford Okilo.
Besides, Chief Blessing Izagara against all odds clinched the PDP ticket for the East senatorial district of the state in a crowded field which included the tested Senator Nimi Barigha Amange, a former representative of the zone at the red chamber.
As for the jostle for the APC ticket in the same senatorial zone, many had anticipated a smooth ride for Mr. Charles Opuala, a former Finance Commissioner when Chief Timipre Sylva held sway as governor of the state until the party stakeholders settled for Chief Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, a former chairman as consensus candidate.
AKWA IBOM …Greedy party leaders pummeled
In Akwa-Ibom, some PDP leaders, who wanted to play smart games by bolting with the money meant for the delegates were cornered and beaten black and blue.
For, APC, three persons were reportedly fingered as Okobo Police Station Okobo in Okobo local government area was destroyed by irate political thugs. They were nabbed for alleged hijack of materials during the governorship primaries.
Some aspirants who lost out in the governorship primaries are still seething with rage, but the winner of the keenly contested race, Obong Nsima Ekere pledged, during his acceptance speech, to reach out to all aggrieved members with a view to brokering a truce and ensuring harmony in the party ahead of the general polls.
Besides, political thugs also took to the streets in Oron Federal Constituency to vent their spleen over the alleged substitution of Robinson Edumoh with the former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Victor Antai, who recently decamped from the PDP to the party.
Antai, former Mbo Council boss, was reportedly disqualified from the senatorial race and sources said he did not purchase form for the House of Representatives, but his name was sent to the state secretariat of the party as the flag bearer.
CROSS RIVER …PDP vs PDP
Notwithstanding the battle by the main opposition party, APC, in the state, the nomination of candidates by the parties for the 2019 election in Cross River witnessed what can be described as emergence of candidates that defected from PDP in virtually all the positions contested.
From the governorship through to the state House of Assembly seats, virtually all those who got tickets on the platform of the APC, Social Democratic Party, SDP, Youth Democratic Party, YDP, were once prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Senator John Owan Enoh, the governorship candidate of the APC was elected on the platform of the PDP in 2015 and only defected to the APC a few months ago. The senatorial candidates of APC in the Central district, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, Southern senatorial district, Senator Bassey Otu defected to APC after the party won the 2015 election at the national level.
Quite stunning was the emergence of Mr Jude Ngaji, Senator Ben Ayade’s Security Adviser as APC House of Representatives candidate for the Ogoja/Yala federal constituency. He bought the APC form while still firmly in the contest for senate on the platform of the PDP.
Another shocker is the emergence of the old guard in the PDP, who many had thought would be swept away following the agitation for their political eclipse after many years on the scene as flag-bearers. One of them is Mr Essien Ayi popularly called Mugabe for his long stay in office. He had represented Calabar South/Akpabuyo/ Bakassi federal constituency for a record five terms prompting an outcry for his exit but he still got the ticket.
Also, Mr Bassey Ewa who represents the Abi /Yakkur federal constituency wanted to move to the Senate after three terms, but while angling for the senate ticket on the platform of the PDP, the party announced automatic ticket for returning National Assembly members. When he made to return to the House of Representatives, somebody else had taken the slot, he was too late and eventually lost both ways.
RIVERS…Sack of Amaechi guber candidate, party executive
The biggest shocker of the APC primary in Rivers state was Friday sack of the governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, nominated by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi faction of the party in the state, as well as party executives put in place by his group.
Following the crisis rocking the Rivers state chapter APC, there were two primary elections for all the elective positions to be contest for by the party in the 2019 general elections.
Amaechi’s faction adopted indirect primaries in all the elections as approved by the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party, but the faction loyal to Sen. Magnus Abe, under acting Chairman, Peter Odike, insisted on direct primaries, stating that the highest arm of the party, National Executive Council had earlier approved it.
Last week Sunday, the two factions conducted primaries into all the offices and two candidates emerged for each of the seats. Though the national leadership of the party adopted the exercise and candidates picked by the Ojukaye- led faction, Abe camp stuck to its parallel own direct primaries in anticipation of court nullification of the processes and outcome of the Amaechi faction.
True to their calculation, a Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt sacked the elected executives of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State led by Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.
The court also declared as void the election of Tonye Cole as the governorship candidate and all other candidates to have emerged from the faction of the party for the 2019 election, the Ojukaye faction of the party.