• Ibori, Imoke still seething in Delta, C’River

•Stifled silence in Rivers over Wike, Amaechi

•Akpabio, Enang at each other’s throat; overwhelmed PDP aspirants tackle Udom

•Obaseki, Orbih run parallel lines in Edo

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Ike Uchechukwu, Chioma Onuegbu and Ozioruva Aliu

MORE than one month after the primaries of the political parties, followers and citizens in South-South region are surprised that leaders, who ought to have buried the hatchet and moved ahead with winning strategies for their parties in the 2023 polls were still complaining and bickering over spilled milk. In Delta and Cross River states where their former governors and national leaders, Chief James Ibori and Liyel Imoke respectively, maintained silence days after the primaries, the cold attitude has continued more than a month after.

Okowa, Ibori yet to even out
The assumption that all was over between Okowa and Ibori after the vice presidential ticket battle at Abuja in which Ibori originally backed other contenders is far from the reality though Okowa has covenanted to continue to honor Ibori as his leader.

The face- off seems to have caused a crack in the Ibori political family as Olorogun David Edevbie, who lost to Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevewori, also a member of the political family, but now the 2023 governorship standard-bearer, had gone to court to challenge his emergence.
The seeming crisis is essentially as a result of the power play between Chief James Ibori and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on who should produce the party’s governorship candidate.

Omo-Agege contending with nobody
In the rival All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the 2023 gubernatorial candidate has no power to contend with at the moment after he ran his political backer, Chief Great Ogboru, currently All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, gubernatorial candidate out of APC.

Imoke/Duke rivalry obstructs Onor
In Cross River state where leader of the party, Senator Imoke and his successor, Donald Duke have not been on the same page, the gubernatorial candidate, Senator Sandy Onor, is not ally of Imoke and it is still generating furore.

Before Onor’s emergence, Imoke and Duke noticeably walked on parallel lines and with Duke and Onor as friends and friends of Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, the leader, Imoke, is finding it difficult to align with them.

However, the deputy governorship position is like a ticking time bomb with several protests from party faithful against the emergence of Emana Amaweh with Sir Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Rt. Hon Essien Ayi and others drumming support for Sir Arthur Jarvis.

Ayade on point on Otu, current problem is running mate
On the other hand, state governor, Ben Ayade, who dumped PDP for APC seems to have gotten it right with Sen. Bassey Otu as his party’s governorship candidate.

The major contention in the party is who emerges as the running mate, some have written in favor of Stephen Odey while others are backing Peter Odey from Ogoja state constituency.

Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel has not been able to quench disagreements, hostilities and grumblings over the materialization of Pastor Umo Eno as governorship candidate.

Angry governorship aspirants who had gone to court ahead of the primaries to seek redress over the alleged illegal nomination of Ad-hoc delegates that voted the PDP candidates favored by Udom Emmanuel were yet to withdraw their petitions more than a month after the primaries.

In fact the scenario is that they appear more willing to wait for the outcome of court judgment on the matter fixed for July, despite the reconciliation and peace committee put in place by the state leadership of the PDP to resolve all grievances.

Some of them had already expressed lack of confidence in the Senator Effiong Bob -led Reconciliation committee because the composition has only members of Maintain Peace Movement, MPM, which was set up to project Umo Eno and other candidates on the governor’s side.

Senator Enang battles Akpabio
In Akwa Ibom APC, conflicting arguments, criticism and hostilities between the two factions have created more confusion in the political landscape over authentic candidates of the governorship, and National Assembly seats, especially Akwa Ibom North West senatorial ticket.

Findings reveal that some names of persons as House of Representatives and senatorial candidates not in the report of valid primaries monitored by the state office, were uploaded by the APC to INEC Headquarters and published.

One of the prominent chieftains and a frontline governorship aspirant, Senator John Akpanudoedehe had already deserted the party with his teeming supporters to the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP.

And another frontline governorship aspirant and immediate past Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, and his supporters, it was gathered, has not been in talking terms with Akpabio and his supporters since after the party primaries.

After the primaries, the friction had kept worsening by the day, a situation many feared may not be resolved easily and soon too.

Obaseki, Orbih in fight to finish
In Edo state, while the primaries threw up less acrimony in the opposition APC, the ruling PDP is in complete mess as litigations have taken over the entire exercise that produced parallel candidates in all the elective positions as a result of the gulf between Governor Godwin Obaseki who has been trying to assert himself as the leader of the PDP and the Vice Chairman, South-South of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, who believes he has the structure of the party in his pocket.

For the APC, there were reports of parallel primaries for the House of Representatives seat for Akoko-Edo federal constituency that produced the deputy majority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon Peter Akpatason and Johnson Afaghase, but when contacted, state secretary, Lawrence Okah, said: ”We do not have any issue with our primary elections, all our candidates have emerged and there is not two candidates anywhere, all the issues have been resolved”.

The only APC senator in the state, Francis Alimikhena representing Edo North hurried out of the party when it became obvious that former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole would clinch the ticket which he eventually did.

However, it is not the same for the PDP because for the 24-member state house of assembly, 48 candidates emerged for the PDP, for the nine House of Representatives seat, Edo state PDP had 18 candidates while six candidates emerged for the three senatorial seats available to be contested for.

There are cases in the courts both at the state and federal levels and appellate courts over whose ad-hoc delegates list that was used for the primary is authentic. Despite the factions, there were upsets on the emergence of candidates.

Gloomy muteness over Wike
Since Governor Nyesom Wike snubbed prominent contenders and party chieftains to lord newly retired Accountant General of Rivers state, Sim Fubara, as PDP 2023 governorship candidate, no aggrieved stakeholder or splinter group has openly vented any dissent.

While there has been no high profile defection among the 15 other aspirants, who showed interest in the primary or other aggrieved party chieftains, feelers from the party indicate the silence is ominous.

“It is not enough to be angry, you must weigh their options to avoid more regrets. The governor has a grip on the party, and if you decide to live, what are your chances wherever you may go. Virtually all who bought forms totally depended on Wike’s endorsement.

“House of Representatives member, Farah Dagogo, the only aspirant who openly opposed Wike’s dictatorial tendencies ended in prison for criminal charges he has pleaded not guilty to. He was only granted bail Tuesday,” a party chieftain told Saturday Vanguard.

However, Fubara, the PDP flag bearer is facing a different kind of threat. He is an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) target. Once he had escaped arrest, saved by body guards who manhandled the EFCC team that attempted to pick him at the Port Harcourt Airport.

Probabilities swell because of Amaechi
For Tonye Cole, voted Rivers APC candidate in response to the will of the party leader, Rotimi Amaechi, the odds are multiple. Bernard Mikko, among aspirants, who contested the May 26 gubernatorial primary had gone to court seeking nullification of the exercise and disqualification of Cole.

Another aspirant, Tekena Iyagba, had earlier withdrawn in anger to secure ticket of African Action Congress, AAC, to contest the 2023 governorship.

Added to the lingering face-off between Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe who does not recognize Cole as flag bearer, the odds against Cole and his godfather, Amaechi are high.
Many believe that both Wike and Amaechi picked long anticipated riverine candidates to drown the anger against their parties in the general election.


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