By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Chioma Onuegbu and Ozioruva Aliu
WHEREAS the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, conspicuously decreed former Commissioner for Land and Water Resources in the state, Pastor Umo Eno, as his preferred successor months before the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Wednesday governorship primaries, his Rivers counterpart, Nyesom Wike, acted like a political czar in enthroning his favorite, ex- Accountant General of the state, Sim Fubara.
Okowa finally perches with Sheriff
But Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, who flew without perching, until Wednesday, when he installed the Speaker, Delta state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Sheriff Francis Oborevwori, as the party’s governorship standard-bearer was unpredictable.
He pulled many threads to outdistance his political mentor and former governor, Chief James Ibori, who is the leader of the ruling Ibori PDP family in the state. Ibori wanted Olorogun David Edevbie to succeed Okowa, but the governor had a different idea.
Ibori strategically stayed away from the Asaba primaries, but the tally of 597 votes Oborevwori kept against Ibori’s candidate, Edevbie, who came a detached second with 113 votes, indicated the political shrewdness of the governor.
If there was still any doubt that Oborevwori was his choice, it was cleared when the governor, accompanied by the Speaker and others, at a thanksgiving in Government House Chapel, Asaba, danced like the Bibilical David in celebration.
Okowa and his political mentor had been embroiled in politics of his successor. With Oborevwori’s emergence, it is believed that the leaders knowing their present-day capabilities would mutually respect themselves the more and also meet as quickly as possible to strategize for the main election in 2023.
Udom spares nothing for Eno
In Akwa Ibom state, Emmanuel was electorally ruthless as he used his power of incumbency to mobilize delegates in favour of his candidate, Pastor Eno, who polled a total of 993 votes from 1,006 ballots. Put together, other aspirants recorded only 13 votes with Mr. Akan Okon and Onofiok Luke scoring three votes each.
An aggrieved governorship aspirant and member currently representing Uyo federal constituency, Hon. Michael Enyong, aka Babantang, conducted a parallel primary same Wednesday, where he scored 2448 votes to defeat other aspirants.
Another major contender, Senator Albert Akpan, aka OBA, and his allies had earlier filed a court case at the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging the ward Congresses that elected the Ad-hoc delegates on April 30, 2022
Work with Fubara, says Wike
Throughout the intense horse- trading for Rivers PDP governorship ticket, Governor Wike akin to Okowa, never publicly admitted anointing anyone. He left no party leaders and 16 aspirants dominated by his political appointees in doubt about his resolve to lord a non-career politician, former Accountant General, Sim Fubara, over the very aggrieved insiders.
In the results counted by Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Prof Walter Botu, Fubara polled an overwhelming 721 of total 898 delegates’ votes, far above his closest rival and immediate Rivers Commissioner for Finance, Kamalu Isaac’s 86 votes.
Sure of the backlash the open secret imposition could generate, Wike told the stakeholders: “Nothing anybody can do about it. We have gotten a candidate and everybody must work to support him.”
Obaseki, Orbih flex muscles
PDP did not hold governorship primaries in Edo state, but in the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate primaries, it was a battle of who blinks first between the governor, Godwin Obaseki and his men and the Vice Chairman, South-South, PDP, Chief Dan Orbih.
The party has been sharply divided shortly after its victory in the 2020 governorship election over sharing of political appointments and control of the party structure. The polarization of the party between the two actors remains unresolved as the party held parallel primary election across the 18 local government areas of the state, even in Edo Central senatorial district which has always been a dominantly PDP zone.
Diri cruises smoothly
In Bayelsa where no governorship primaries like Edo state, Governor Douye Diri invisible hands were felt in the emergence of some candidates just as the deft work of his predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson was seen not only in picking his Bayelsa West senatorial ticket, but influencing the emergence of other party flag-bearers.
Incumbent House of Representatives member presenting Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency, Hon Fred Agbedi, also won his primary
Arguably, Bayelsa polity is witnessing what could perhaps be described as the most peaceful primaries ever seen in its history since the return of democracy in 1999 save for the isolated incident at Ogbia where a life was lost.
The PDP in Cross- River state deferred its governorship primary from Wednesday to Thursday, while All Progressives Congress, APC, was holding its governorship primaries at the time of this report, Thursday, Delta and other states of the South-South.
Deputy Senate President, DSP Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the only gubernatorial aspirant in APC, Delta state, arrived Asaba, the state capital, on Wednesday, for the primaries that was more of a consecration for him. Counting was going on at the time of this report on Thursday with no opponent. He is the main challenger of PDP’s Oborevwori at the 2023 governorship polls in the state.
He skillfully eased out the party’s 2019 gubernatorial aspirant and his political patron, Chief Great Ogboru, from APC’s 2023 gubernatorial race to situate himself as the lone governorship contender.
In Rivers, gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Magnus Abe, whose skirmish with former Minister of Transport and Aviation, Rotimi Amaechi, deteriorates by the day, boycotted the party’s governorship primary.
But in Akwa Ibom state, it seemed the factions loyal to former Minister of Niger –Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and one of the governorship aspirants, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, were poised to hold parallel governorship primaries.
Akpanudoedehe bloc had made known the venue of its primary, but the speculation was that whoever Akpabio is backing would win.