•Okowa, Oborevwori, Esiso, PDP leaders plan rapprochement

Wike, Amaechi broaden enemy grounds in Rivers

•Akponudoedehe refuses to bow to Akpabio in A’Ibom

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Egufe Yafugborhi, Ike Uchechukwu and Chioma Onuegbu

PREVALENT strategic muteness of two former governors, Chief James Ibori and Senator Liyel Imoke, more than two weeks after the just-concluded primaries of their political party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  have evoked dissimilar signals to stakeholders in the ruling and opposition parties in their states, Delta and Cross-River States respectively.

The sway of the primaries on political godfathers and stakeholders in the South-South is not only in Edo and Cross River, in Rivers state, the detached battles by the governor, Nyesom Wike and former Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, to control the structures of their parties ahead the 2023 elections have stretched out the gradient of their political rivals.

While in Akwa Ibom state where Governor Udom Emmanuel has seemingly managed to tame the intra-party rebellion over his choice of PDP gubernatorial candidate, Senator John Akponudoedehe has bluntly refused to succumb to former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, decamping from All Progressives Congress, APC, to New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, to pick its governorship ticket.

PDP leaders design meeting Ibori, others

Since the May 25 governorship primary in Delta state, many stakeholders expected that as a national leader of the party in the state, Ibori should have publicly congratulated a member of the Ibori  political family from his senatorial district,  Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, who won the 2023 governorship ticket, but he is not known to have done that.

His failure to do that has raised concern among PDP stakeholders, who wonder if he was going to be apathetic to party’s affairs because his preferred governorship candidate lost.

Leaders of the rival All Progressives Congress, APC, are, however, happy with anything that suggests that the governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, is having problem with Ibori, as that will give them the chance to lobby Ibori to support the gubernatorial ambition of a former member of Ibori political family, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the 2023 All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in the state.   

PDP tacticians do not, however, see how Ibori will leave the party for another after his  associate, Chief Ighoyota Amori, became the PDP senatorial candidate in Delta Central and his daughter, Hon Erhitake Ibori-Suenu the  PDP House of Representatives candidate for Ethiope federal constituency. A host  of his other loyalists also won PDP tickets.

Unconfirmed reports that few privileged leaders of the party went to the 2023 Presidential Candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in Abuja to work against nomination of Governor Okowa as his running mate rankled some stakeholders, who insisted that matters arising from the primaries should be quickly resolved.       

Sources told Saturday Vanguard that Governor Okowa, who respects Ibori as his political mentor has initiated rapprochement moves to reach out to not just Ibori, but also other party leaders and aspirants, who felt offended one way or the other in the course of the primaries. 

Selected leaders of the party have been contacted and were putting finishing touch to the reconciliation plan.  Also, the gubernatorial candidate, Oborevwori and state party chairman, Olorogun Kingsley Esiso were reportedly in touch with Okowa on resolution strategies.

Still difficult to figure out Imoke 

In Cross River where former governor Imoke has been a godfather since the inception of PDP, the political avatar has also not uttered a word since Senator Sandy Onor representing Central senatorial district in the Senate emerged the party’s 2023 governorship candidate. Nobody knows Imoke’s mind at the moment.

Imoke’s desired candidate, Senator Gershom Bassey, who lost to Onor has not also acknowledged the standard-bearer, whereas Daniel Asuquo, Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong and other aspirants that lost out have congratulated him. The situation has, indeed, generated a lot of bad blood in the party.

As it stands the leader of the party remains Sen. Imoke but the complete structure is definitely not under his total control any longer. Already some aspirants that lost were said to be lobbying to become running mate.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state was understood to be a friend and godfather to Onor, which gives him auxiliary strength. 

Cross River state had been a PDP state since 1999, but became an APC ruled state on May 20, 2021, following the open defection of Governor Ben Ayade, elected on its platform in 2015.

Ayade who allegedly wanted his Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpeyong Jr. to take over from him did not have his way as most of the gubernatorial aspirants kicked against his plan.

Etubom Bassey Ndem led the protest but Sen. Bassey Otu eventually emerged as a consensus candidate.

Wike, Amaechi thicken enemy range

The political set-up in Rivers state is hard-hitting after Governor Wike and Rt. Hon Amaechi practically decreed immediate past Accountant General of Rivers state, Sim Fubara, and billionaire investor, Tonye Cole, as PDP and APC gubernatorial candidates correspondingly.

No politician in the state can openly challenge the supremacy of Wike and Amaechi in their parties. Member representing Bonny/Degema federal constituency and the only Rivers PDP member, who dared Wike on power sharing in the party is currently languishing in a Port -Harcourt Correctional Center. Kept on remand, he is standing trial for alleged criminal breaches over which he pleaded not guilty.

For APC which went into her primary under lingering Amaechi and Sen. Magnus Abe’s feud, party stakeholders loyal to Abe publicly declared they would not support Amaechi’s presidential bid, declaring support, instead for Bola Tinubu.

The primaries may have altered permutations towards the general elections, however, the circle of aggrieved persons widened within ruling PDP and opposition APC.

Akpanudoedehe, Akpabio feud rages

The people of Akwa Ibom state are watching to see how the pyrotechnics between Senator John Akpanudoedehe, who dumped APC because of the Akpabio to pick NNPP gubernatorial ticket will end in 2023.

At the time of this report, there was no sign that former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, Archbishop Sam Akpan and  Augustine Ekanem who were in Akpanudoedehe- led faction in APC before his defection would join forces with Akpabio, whose camp produced current APC gubernatorial standard-bearer,  Akan Udofia. 

Although Udofia joined the APC in less than three weeks to the primary, he was able to beat other formidable contestants because of Akpabio’s relationship with the national leadership of the party.

In the ruling PDP, there is uncommon quietness since the conclusion of the gubernatorial primary, but Governor Emmanuel was putting in place machinery to bring all aggrieved aspirants, stakeholders and indeed all members back into the party. 

Although there are 18 registered political parties in Akwa Ibom State, checks revealed that not all have nominated there governorship candidates as at the time of filing this report. So far, gubernatorial candidates for the 2023 general elections in the state are Pastor Umo Eno (PDP), Mr. Akan Udofia (APC), Arc. Ezekiel Nya-etok (ADC) Mr. Nyeneime Andy, Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Senator John James Akpanudoedehe (NNPP).

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