As the 2019 general elections draw nearer, there are indications that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) will again slug it out in Bayelsa State as it happened in 2015. While the belief that the PDP is an Ijaw party is no more, the APC is supposed to be opposition could be said not to be on ground. Besides this, what will still give the PDP an upper in the state is former President Goodluck Jonathan’s factor. The belief of most Bayelsans is that the party that gave them a president should not only be retained in the state, but supported at the national level.
In the state House of Assembly, there is only one APC legislator in the person of Sony Goli of Brass constituency out of 24 members. While some members of the APC in the state are banking on federal might to make in the state in the 2019 presidential election, the PDP leadership in the state dismissed that as wishful thinking, saying such has never worked in the state.
No doubt that APC is the main opposition party in Bayelsa State, but the fact remains that most of its chieftains operate from Abuja which does not give the party an edge over PDP. There has also been power tussle within the party for instance during the last local government and state congresses, parallel congresses were held in the state where two chairmen emerged in the person of Joseph Fafi and Jothan Amos.
Aside former Governor Timipre Sylva who is almost the only hope of the party in the state, Heineken Lokpobiri and a former commissioner in the Dickson administration, Ibarakumo Otobo, who defected to APC some months back, there is every likelihood that PDP will emerge tops in the 2019 presidential contest in the state in 2019.
It has been rumoured that three PDP senators in the state would be given automatic tickets to return to the red chamber. If that happens, the party is likely to go into the 2019 elections without much friction a development that may put APC in the state in a disadvantaged position.
Delta: APC chieftains set to battle PDP
APC in Delta State is hoping to takeover the oil rich-state after 20 years of PDP’s control. While the incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had maintained that his five prong SMART agenda of ‘prosperity for all Delta’ had delivered on peopleoriented projects and created wealth and jobs for over 3,500 youths through empowerment programmes in skill acquisition and agriculture since 2015, change agents of APC in the state had continued to cry foul, illegality and highhandedness against him as well as insist that years of PDP’s rule inflicted woes on the oil-rich state. To this effect, APC had girded its loins with the likes of the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor; incumbent Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; the senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege; former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Ochei, former South South Zonal Vice Chairman of PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; Lagos based Economist, Prof. Pat Utomi; fifth time governorship candidate in the state, Chief Great Ogboru, among others, not only to take-over the state, but to deliver it to their party in the presidential election. This plot has been boosted by the recent defection of the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who has indicated interest for Delta South Senatorial District seat. Uduaghan has told those that cared to listen that PDP has been hostile to him, which explains why he toed the line of his counterpart in Akwa-Ibom state, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
While Ojougboh, a staunch loyalist of former PDP factional National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, defected to the APC with thousands of his supporters after the Supreme Court declared Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the authentic national chairman of PDP, the former Speaker, Ochei, who jostled to succeed Uduaghan but came third at the PDP primary election in 2014 before he later picked the ticket the Accord Party (AP) for Delta North Senatorial District, but failed in the election, is currently a close ally of Kachukwu.
Ogboru, who holds the highest record of election contention in the state had criss-crossed three political parties, including the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and Labour Party (LP), has found a close ally in Omo-Agege, who defected from Labour Party with him to APC. They are both set for a titanic clash with PDP in their new fuond love in APC.
With Okowa warming up for a second term and various interest and groups endorsing him, and PDP presidential aspirants shuttling the state, it is clear that he will not support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid, but he has the likes of Ogboru, Ojougboh, Ochei, Kachukwu, Emerhor and Omo-Agege to contend with. These APC chieftains have what it takes to match the governor and the PDP strength to strength and money for money in the state.
Cross River: Gladiators set to turn the table against PDP
Given the calibre of people in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, there is no doubt that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Senator Ben Ayade will have a run for its money. This hope was based on the fact that with the former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba leading the likes of Senator John Owan-Enoh, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa and Senator Bassey Otu in the APC, the state might witness a contest of the equals. Besides, there are also the likes of former speakers and acting governors at various times, Hon. Larry Odey and Hon. Paul Adah, in the APC fold. Also in the party is the former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Barr. Venatius Ikem. Ordinarily, with this kind of line-up, one would think that the APC will stand up to be counted as elections draw close.
However, the internal wrangling in the party which seems unending has pointed to self-destruction. Since the beginning of this year, APC in the state has moved from one internal crisis to another, with allegations and counter-allegations trailing every crisis. On Wednesday, August 21, the mainstream APC led by the former governor of the State, Chief Clement Ebri held its state congress which the Usani group boycotted, claiming that there was a court order restraining the national secretariat from conducting any congress. Now, the die is cast, especially with the national leadership of the party expected to recognize the Ebri faction. As it stands, Usani and his group needs to wear their thinking cap to overcome the huddles that the successful group is likely to place on their way.
However, any other move against the outcome of the state congress may be visited with sanctions from the national secretariat. But if the two factions join forces together, they may turn the table against Governor Ayade and the PDP in general given the belief that the governor has not done enough since mounting the saddle.
Edo: APC in firm grip
Available statistics show that the ruling APC is strongly in control of Edo State. With the positive tracks of numerous achievements in infrastructural and human capital development recorded by the immediate past eight years administration of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the state has become a rallying point and focus by major stakeholders and key players in the South-South zone. It was no wonder that Oshiomhole’s tactical politics earned him the state leader of the APC shortly after he left office in 2016. For one, his fiery and vocal stance on issues worked effectively for his choice during the recent APC national convention at which he became the bride and was finally elected the National Chairman of the ruling party.
Oshiomhole it must be worthy of mention demystified the PDP and whatever remains of the party today in Edo State with a devastating blow on the seeming unconquerable or invincible concept of political godfatherism . At the moment, however, just as the wild wind of the gale of defections rocks some states ahead of the 2019, Edo State is exceptionally intact with its members not looking at other sides as viable options though recently there was splashes of defection from the APC to the opposition PDP by the immediate past chairman of Ikpoba Okha local government council and ex-chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in the state Mrs. Itohan Osahon-Ogbeide; business magnate, Chief John Osamede Adun and Mrs. Lucy Omagbon, who was former chairman of Ovia North East council. At the legislative level, none of the members of the house has defected to any of the opposition parties while the APC remains in the majority with 21 lawmakers as against 24 members of the house.
These are clear indications that no serious bigwig has left the fold. Instead, the party lately gained maximally when the former Majority Leader of the state Assembly Hon. Mathew Iduoyemkenwen and the lawmaker representing Egor/ Ikpoba Okha federal constituency in the House of Representatives Hon Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonnahinma, defected to its fold. Furthermore, a former chairman of ALGON Chief Felix Akabue had since defected to the ruling party. Interestingly, the APC has positioned itself as the party to beat in the forthcoming general elections in the state. For instance, in the north senatorial district, the credibility of the party remains unshaken and perfectly retained because of the influence of Oshiomhole’s influence.
The state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has started addressing the concerns of aggrieved party leaders on welfare issues, inclusiveness in the running the affairs of the party and the state. Obaseki, it would be recalled had initially stated his resolve to focused on governance and paid less attention on politics which almost plunged the party into crisis.
Recently, the governor embarked on meeting with the party leaders at the senatorial levels to assuage their pains and complaints. There is no doubt that the party still retains its winning streak in the state. In Edo North senatorial district, it has the likes of the incumbent deputy governor,Hon. Philip Shuaibu; Senator Domingo Obende, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere; Speaker of the state Assemby, Kabiru Adjoto, Hon. Peter Akpatason representing Akoko Edo federal constituency and Hon. Taiwo Akerele who is the current Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki.
In the South senatorial zone are Osarodion Ogie; who served a Chief of Staff to Oshiomhole and now Secretary to the State Government (SSG); Hon. Charles Idahosa a former political adviser to Oshiomhole; former deputy governor, Dr. Pius Odubu and former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Patrick Obaghiagbon. In the Central senatorial district are the likes of Chief Felix Akabue, John Inegbdion, Alex Okoh, Anslem Ojezua who is serving his second tenure as the state chairman of the state APC and Hon. Frank Okiye, a former Majority Leader of the stet Assembly.
Anambra: Up for grab by any party except APGA fields a presidential candidate
There are strong indication that incursion in the South-East, particularly, in Anambra State by the All Progressives Congress (APC) may change the political landscape in the 2019 elections. This is because some of the major political gladiators and heavyweight in Anambra politics across the major political zones in the state are currently in APC. APC in Anambra Central can boast of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige and Senator Uche Ekwunife, among others while Senator Andy Uba and Chief Gorge Moghalu are the leading voices in Anambra South.
APC can also boast of its candidate in last governorship election, Hon. Tony Nwoye and Dr Chike Obidigbo as trusted hands in Anambra North. Unlike other states in South-East, which has been in the grip of the PDP for many years, Anambra is firmly controlled by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The party has won the last three governorship elections in the state. Prior to the 2015 general election, PDP was a formidable opposition in the state, but the party lost the slot to APC after the 2015 elections as some of its chieftains like Senators Andy Uba, Uche Ekwunife and Hon. Tony Nwoye defected to APC and the party proved its worth in Anambra politics as its candidate, Nwoye came second during the November 2017 governorship election won by Governor Willie Obiano, the APGA candidate. In 2019, political analysts believe that APC may have a good outing in the state if the political gladiators in the party unite to face the ruling party in the state.
Though Governor Obiano belongs to APGA, some schools of thought believe that he may have sympathy for APC and support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019 given the alleged support the President gave him during the election that returned him to the Government House, Awka. But, this is if APGA will not field a presidential candidate. Since Anambra is not holding governorship election in 2019, the political gladiators in the state will flex muscles to ensure that they proof their worth in the state in the state and national Assembly as well as the presidential elections that will take place in the state. If the present state of APC in Anambra State is anything to go by, political calculation shows that the party will have a good outing in the forthcoming polls.
Abia: Kalu rallies others for APC
The politics of Abia State in 2019 will be interesting. For the first time in many years, there will be more than one party strong enough to take over the rein of government the state. In 2015, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) pulled a surprise, taking 11 seats in the 24-member House of Assembly that was hitherto dominated by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It also almost snatched the governorship seat. APGA during the last general elections provided a platform through which the people expressed their disaffection with the ruling PDP and that was why most of the APGA candidates got elected into the state Assembly.
All the people wanted was to vote out PDP so it didn’t matter to them who was the candidate of APGA. In 2015, APC was little known in the state. Besides, its perception as a northern party didn’t help matters. But all that have changed. APC now has prominent indigenes of the state in its fold. The roll call is intimidating. For instance, former Governor of Abia State, Dr Uzor Kalu, the leader of the party, has brought his goodwill to bear in the party. He has drawn former political associates back to the party. APC can now boast of the likes of the likes of Benjamin Apugo, Chief Marc Wabara, who has declared for the Abia South Senatorial seat.
Wabara, a retired bank chief executive was a governorship aspirant on the platform of the PDP in 2015. Senators Chris Adighije and Nkechi Nwaogu are also political heavyweights in the state now in the APC. Both of them represented Abia Central in the Senate.
The party also has in its fold former members representing Ikwuano/UmuahiaI, Acho Obioma and Stanley Ohajuruka, who was also a Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly. At the January 9, 2018 APC mega rally in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, Hon Martins Azubuike, immediate past Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly led three other members, including Prince Ikedi Ezekwesili, (Umunneochi) Solomon Uchenna Okogbuo, Bende South and Theophilus Ugboaja, Ikwuano to join the party. At the moment, Ikechukwu Apugo, former General Manager of ASEPA has declared for the Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency seat just like Dr. Uche Ogah is taking a shot at the governorship. Chief Friday Nwosu is also eyeing the government house having declared his intention to contest the seat in 2019 just as Martins Azubuike has also declared intention to unseat Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
The day Nwosu, who dragged Governor Ikpeazu to court over irregularities in his tax receipt after the 2015 elections, came to the APC secretariat to inform party leaders of his intention; he did so with the former Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Agwu U Agwu. Nwosu, a legal practitioner is from the same Obingwa local government area as Ikpeazu, just like Chris Akomas. But Agwu had been in the State Assembly for Arochukwu State Constituency for three terms during which time he became the speaker of the House. In 2015, Ogah was the toast of the electorate but when he did not get the ticket he took it in good fate.
The people expected him to join another party but he refused. It was that goodwill that the people transferred to Alex Otti and APGA as the alternative. Now that he has come back to political contest, the interest of the people in him will surely revive. Dr. Akomas was Senator Theodore Orji’s deputy but now a governorship aspirant on the platform of APC. It is indeed going to be an epic battle in 2019 especially given the antecedent and pedigree of former Governor Kalu, who is a no pushover in the state’s politics.
He knows how to press the right buttons and with the advantage of federal might, which the PDP used to its advantage in previous elections, he has vowed to deliver Abia State 100 per cent to APC. He has personally committed his time and resources to achieve this goal. The APC in Abia State now has its presence in all the 17 local government areas and over 800 wards in the state. The party also enjoys the support and membership of the former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu. Majority of the members are men of repute, who have won elections before and quite familiar with the intricate game of politics. They are poised to take over the state. As the parties prepare for their primaries many more are expected to join the APC. For the first time, Abia State will be going into the elections with strong opposition unlike in previous elections in which the outcome was predictable.
Ebonyi: APC poised to make impactdespite PDP’s dominance
In Ebonyi State, APC has made significant in-road into the state after the 2015 general elections. The party before that last elections was unpopular in the state as Labour Party was the second dominant party in the state after the ruling PDP. But since after the general election, the APC has become stronger through entrance of popular politicians in the state into the party. Among them is the immediate governor of the state, Chief Martin Elechi; Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation and senator representing Ebonyi South zone, Senator Sonni Ogbuorji; former Ambassador Chief Alex Nwofe, Labour Party governorship candidate in 2015, Chief Edward Nkwegu, former member of the Senate, Senators Emmanuel Agboti, Chris Nwankwo and Anthony Agbo; former House of Representatives members, Chief Christopher Omo Isu, Chief Tobias Okwuru and Chief Peter Ogeali; former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and former Minister of State for Power and Steel, Chief Goddy Ogbaga. Others are former Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly and former Attorney-General of the state, Augustine Nwankwegu; immediate past Secretary to the state Government Professor Bernard Odoh, former council chairmen, former House of Assembly members and commissioners. Apart from those who defected after the 2015 general elections, the party’s membership before the election include two term senator and governorship candidate of the party in 2015 general election, Julius Ali Ucha and his running mate Dr. Steve Egbo, former House of Representatives member, Chief Peter Edeh, former Minority Leader of the state House of Assembly Enyi. C. Enyi, among others. Though the party is factionalized into two factions in the state led by the Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and APC governorship candidate in 2015 general elections, Ucha, the entrance of some notable personalities and political heavyweights in Ebonyi State into the party has made the APC a force to reckon with in the 2019 general elections and there is no doubt that the APC will make appreciable impact in the state, especially in the presidential election.
Rivers: Amaechi rallies troops against formidable opposition
There is no doubt that the APC would be confronting a formidable opposition in Rivers State in its quest to improve on its performance in the state in the 2015 elections given that Governor Nyesom Wike has vowed any plot by the ruling party to subvert the will of the people of the state. But the ruling party would be banking on its anchor man in the state and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi. The minister who is the immediate past governor of the oil-rich state has already been appointed Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation. Amaechi, who served as also speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP before he defected to the APC in November 2013, practically staked all he has for the Buhari presidential project in 2015. He opposed and worked against the return of his kinsman, former President Goodluck Jonathan to power, even when the consensus in his native South-South zone, was that all should work for Jonathan’s second term bid irrespective of party differences. Amaechi even shelved his vice presidential ambition and accepted the position of Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, thereby saving the APC an implosion that would have rocked its chances in the presidential election. He also mobilized resources to support and took the party’s presidential campaign to the doorsteps of most of his kinsmen though they never shared in his vision. While Amaechi before then fought many battles against the then PDP government and came out unscathed, his ego was bruised during the 2015 governorship in his state as his long time political ally, Wike, who he later fell apart with, defeated his anointed – Dakuku Peterside. Wike, who contested the election on the platform of the PDP, polled a total of 1,029,102 votes to beat APC’s Peterside, who had 124,896 votes. The wide margin, notwithstanding, Amaechi’s camp never gave up until the Supreme Court declared Wike winner of the poll. The former governor’s consolation was pockets of legislative seats won by his party. But it was not all loss for Amaechi as he had Peterside appointed as Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). He also got his other loyalists appointments in key government agencies. Leading the APC in the 2019 elections, Amaechi would be banking on the appreciable in-road APC has made in Rivers State since 2015. The party has two of the state’s three senatorial seats as well as appreciable number of federal and state constituency seats. The federal might, which worked against the party in 2015 will no longer be available to the PDP. This implies that there is likely to be a balance of power during the polls.
Imo: Internal wrangling threatens party
cohesion In Imo state, the priority political project for the incumbent Governor, Rochas Okorocha is to ensure he executes his succession plan to the letter. The governor is willing to pay any premium to guarantee that his son in-law, Uche Nwosu who is also his Chief of Staff is returned as governor of Imo state in 2019 and that is from all indications, paramount to any other political consideration. The turmoil in the Imo state chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) largely stems from scheming and positioning for 2019 governorship of the state. It is not likely that Imo APC would put its house in order before the presidential poll as the political rancour runs deep. At a time most parties are closing ranks and forging stronger alliances to be able to confront APC at the 2019 general election, the APC in Imo state is factionalizing and polarizing along hardly reconcilable lines. Just before the contentious congresses of the APC in Imo state, stakeholders like Senator Hope Uzodinma and House of Representatives member, Hon. Goodluck Nana Opiah joined the APC to boost its rank in the state. Rather than welcome Senator Uzodinma, the governor made it clear that he was not wanted in the party and made it clear that as the leader of the party in the state that he did not recognize Uzodinma’s membership of the APC as he had joined the party through the back door. There is no better way for a party to grow its ranks and enhance its chances at the polls than through the influx of members that possess substantial political capital or clout. Out of the three Senate seats in Imo, APC occupies two and the two senators are poles apart from the governor’s faction of the party. Out of the 10 Federal House of Representatives seat, APC occupies four and only two of them are loyal to Okorocha’s faction of the APC. And with the recent double congresses that produced two APC state chairmen; with one loyal to Okorocha while the other is loyal to a rival APC coalition in the state, the APC in Imo state is further burdened with deep-seated divisive politics largely driven by desperation of its stakeholders in the state. Consequently, with less than six months to the general elections APC members in Imo state are still tearing at themselves and by the time the elections come around, they may be all worn out from their internal wrangling to be able to face the combined forces of opposition political parties. Also, the APC faction under the governor is not entirely open to every APC politicians, especially when such politicians may want to challenge the plot to give Nwosu the party’s governorship ticket for 2019. This has forced every APC chieftain with governorship ambition to move with their supporters and seek shelter in the rival APC camp thus further diminishing the party’s capacity to work together and deliver any candidate, what more a presidential candidate.
Akwa Ibom: Akpabio’s defection unsettles PDP
Though Akwa Ibom has been a stronghold of the PDP since 1999, the recent defection of the immediate governor of the state and former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to the APC altered the political calculation in the state and will offer the centre’s ruling party a leeway into the oil-rich South-South state. Akpabio, a two-term governor of the state on the platform of the PDP and senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, moved to the ruling party with some of his loyalists. His defection, not only altered the state’s political calculation, but unsettled Governor Emmanuel, who ghas declared for a second term. Though the governor described Akpabio as a greedy, insatiable man who wanted him to be his puppet and that because he didn’t surrender the government to the former governor to run from Abuja, explained their parting of ways, the battle line has been drawn between them, and no one is sure, who will blink first. A former military governor of the state, Otuekong Odongesit Nkanga, who advised Governor Emmanuel on what to expect with Akpabio’s defection to APC, urged him to prepare for war ahead of 2019 elections. “This is a critical time for Akwa Ibom State. Your Excellency, you should actually prepare for war. It’s time to raise your soldiers and prepare for war in 2019. It’s going to be survival of the fittest and the winner-takes-it-all,” he said. The former military administrator is the Director-General of Governor Emmanuel’s campaign organisation. For Akpabio, who recently like APC’s invasion of Akwa Ibom to Hitler’s invasion of Poland during the Second World war, is expected to work with his former allies, who later turned foes to deliver the state to the APC in 2019. They include Don Etiebet, Umana Umana, Nsima Ekere, and John Udoedehe.
Enugu: APC banks on new entrants
The forthcoming general elections is expected to renew the rivalry between ruling PDP in the state and the main opposition APC. Both parties have been locked in a supremacy battle since after the 2015 polls, with each of them claiming superiority over the other. While the PDP has remained dominant in the state, APC had witnessed influx of high profile politicians in the state since after the 2015 general elections and they expected to lead the party to battle in 2019, with the hope of improving on its performance in previous polls in the state. Those to lead the battle include former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo, who opened the floodgate of defections into the party. He was followed by former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani; a one-time governorship aspirant in the state, Chief Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu; businessman, Emperor Baywood-Ibe; former Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly; Hon. Eugene Odoh; immediate past governor of the state, Barr Sullivan Chime and former military administrator of Gombe State, Group Capt. Joe Oji (rtd). Others are former National Secretary of PDP, Chief Rex Onyeabor; wife of former National Chairman of PDP, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, Dorothy; former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Chief Joe Mmamel; former Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr. Kester Agbowo, business mogul, Chief Emeka Ani and a host of others. Also a transport mogul and MD Peace Mass Transit Ltd, Evang. Sam Onyishi, who had earlier left the party for PDP, returned to the APC. Only recently, the party inaugurated two important committees as part of moves to reposition itself ahead of the 2019 general elections. One of the two committees is the reconciliation committee headed by O