2019: Intrigues as governorship aspirants jostle in Kwara, Yobe, Borno, Plateau, Sokoto and Akwa Ibom states

Posted by News Express | 26 August 2018 | 3,944 times

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•INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud

This is the second part of the analytical piece entitled “Battle for governorship seats heats up in states”, culled from The Nation, the first part of which we published yesterday.

 

KWARA STATE 

More than most other states, the race in Kwara State is attracting a lot of attention, as it shapes up to be a battle between the status quo and would-be ‘rescuers.’ While the status quo is represented by the Saraki dynasty which has held the state by the jugular politically, those in the rescue club include technocrats, labour activists and the intelligentsia who believe things must change. The clamour for a paradigm shift has been buoyed by mass discontent in the state. As Saraki reinvents the wheel to preserve a political legacy he inherited, many aspirants feel it is time to end the hegemony of his clan. The electorate in the state will, however, have the final say.

For the first time in the history of the 51-year old state, many credible aspirants have shown interest in the gubernatorial race. As at press time, the PDP has 11 aspirants, the Labour Party two, while APC boasts of 10 so far – to make the haul 23

They are ex-Governor Sha’aba Lafiagi; ex-Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi; ex-Minister of National Planning, Prof. Sulaiman Abubakar; a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Zakary Mohammed; a former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu and the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmed.

Other heavyweights are a former member of the House of Representatives, Mashood Mustapha; a director with FCMB bank, Alhaji Luqman Mustapha; a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Shuaibu Oba Abdulraheem; Abdullahi Yanah, who is an associate of President Muhammadu Buhari; ex-governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Kwara State, Mohammed Dele Belgore ( SAN); Ahmed Mustapha Akanbi; Abdulfatai Yahaya Seriki;  Ibrahim Ajia, who was a  former Aide-de-Camp to ex-Senate President Pius Anyim; and Femi Sanni.

The list also includes ex-Speaker Abdulrazaq Atunwa, ex-Chief of Staff, Toyin Sanusi; a member of the House of Representatives, Ahman Ali Patigi;  a former National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje; the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission( NBC), Modibbo Kawu; Akeem Lawal, son of a former governor of the state, Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal; Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazak; and a notable Rotarian, Dr. Mike Omotosho.

COMRADE ISSA OBALOWU AREMU: He is a noted labour leader with unblemished records. Were the ticket to be a free gift Aremu will be easily crowned because of his rich credentials. But he has to struggle for the coveted seat on the ticket of the Labour Party. He is a man of many parts: a columnist, a labour leader, a philanthropist, a delegate to the 2014 National Conference and an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies. Aremu has devoted his life to the struggle for better welfare for Nigerian workers. Until he came out for the race, his image loomed larger in the country at large. Many never knew he was a Kwaran.

Strength: Eminently qualified if the poll is on merit

Weakness: Labour Party is virtually unknown in Kwara. He may not be able to match the financial war chest of other contenders.

MOHAMMED DELE BELGORE: He is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) whose gubernatorial campaign in 2011 under the platform of the defunct ACN created sensation and shook the Saraki dynasty. But he lost the steam upon defecting to the PDP before the 2015 poll. A progressive by inclination, his romance with the conservatives landed him in court for trial for 2015 poll cash. His trial is certainly distracting him.

RATING: He may not have the resources to pull through an expensive gubernatorial campaign.

SHA’ABA LAFIAGI: He is a former governor of Kwara State whose name rings a bell till date because of his achievements. He changed the state with landmark projects. A graduate of Economics, Lafiagi has a knack for excelling in whatever task is given to him. He is also good at unifying all groups in the state. His tenure was cut short in 1993 by the coup which brought the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha to power.

RATING: He is a force to reckon with if PDP zones the governorship seat to Kwara North.

ABUBAKAR SULAIMAN: This ex-Minister of National Planning has been a loyal PDP member and a foremost critic of APC-led government. A professor, he is a grassroots mobilizer and an apostle of empowerment going by the number of jobs he facilitated for many Kwarans during his 10-month ministerial voyage.

Strength: Age is on his side and popular at the grassroots.

Weaknesses: His EFCC case might be an impediment. The Saraki dynasty which is controls the PDP machinery in the state, may not trust him with the ticket because he is independent-minded.

MOHAMMED ZAKARY: A former Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Publicity, Zakary is an ardent loyalist of Saraki. He is gifted, sharp and a politician with a solid base at the grassroots. A quiet philanthropist and strategist, Zakary has age on his side and he is from Kwara North Senatorial District which ought to produce the next governor if the state if there is no political exigency.

RATING: A strong contender for the governorship ticket.

BOLAJI ABDULLAHI: An accomplished author and journalist popularly known as “Omoluabi” (a gentleman, a trusted hand). Abdullahi is an unrepentant loyalist of Saraki and he sacrificed his achievement-laden ministerial slot to stand by his political mentor. He was the success arrow of Saraki as a governor with his outstanding performance as the State Commissioner for Education. He floated a quality assurance project which addressed the rot in the state educational system.

Strength: He is respected and favoured by the Senate President. Other aspirants know that Saraki has soft spot for him despite the pretence that he will leave the race open.

Weaknesses: He is perceived as elitist, isolated from the grassroots, and not a believer in money politics in a state where ‘stomach infrastructure’ is the in-thing. He is an aspirant who is caught between being from Kwara Central and Kwara North.

RATING: A leading contender.

MASHOOD MUSTAPHA: Born in 1963 and popularly called MM, Mashood was a member of the kitchen cabinet of ex-Governor Saraki for eight years. He was the Deputy Director-General for his re-election as a governor in 2007. He later became a member of the House of Representatives in 2011. He is an investor in the state. He has gone far in growing his influence within APC.

RATING: He has the resources to give the Saraki dynasty a good fight in 2019. His albatross is his brother, Luqman Mustapha, seeking the same ticket.

SHUAIBU OBA ABDULRAHEEM: No Kwaran has contributed to the grooming of youths for the future more than Prof. Abdulraheem who was a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin. He has empowered many youths from poor homes and provided jobs for hundreds more than the present godfather of Kwara politics, Saraki. His leadership template is robust and visionary. But as an academic, his sojourn in politics has been negatively impacted – to the extent of his parting ways with the Senate President. He has miscalculated politically and that has set him back.

RATING: He has elitist following but no resources to change the status quo.

LUQMAN OLAYIWOLA MUSTAPHA: He is the Regional Head, Abuja and the North for the FCMB. An Associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Luqman is intelligent, highly resourceful, and a banker of repute who started his career in 1991 with Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria which was owned by the Sarakis before it went under. He is very close to the grassroots.

RATING: Strong. He can create an upset if he gets APC ticket.

KAWU BARAJE: A respected teacher, a disciplinarian and a pacesetting school principal, Baraje, was a former National Chairman of PDP where he made his mark. As a loyalist of the late Senate Leader and strong man of Kwara politics, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, he has kept faith by standing with the scion of Saraki dynasty, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Strength: He is a retired technocrat who has never contested for any elective post.

Weakness: Age is not on his side and he’s not too close to the grassroots.

ALI AHMED: He is a former member of the House of Representatives and the current Speaker of the State House of Assembly. He played a crucial role in mobilising and lobbying the National Assembly to pass the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which has strengthened the nation’s Judiciary.

A close ally of Saraki, Ahmed is an unassuming egghead but not independent minded. He is still battling to have a grip on the grassroots.

RATING: Weak

ISHAQ KAWU MODIBBO: He is the current Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); a very intelligent journalist and foremost linguist who speaks about 10 languages. He was a former Editor of Daily Trust and a gifted staff of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). His entry into governorship race remains a surprise and a matter of much speculation. He is passionate about Kwara project, especially how to liberate the state.

RATING: His ambition is a hard sell because he has no resources. He only has a vision.

MAKANJUOLA AJADI: A former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter-Parliamentary Matters, Senator Makanjuola Ajadi, is also said to be interested in the race. The former senator of Kwara South extraction is said to be planning to run under APC. Though, he has not openly declared for the party in the state.

RATING: Uncertain

MIKE OMOTOSHO: Dr. Omotosho was the governorship candidate of the party in 2011and 2015 in the state. He has been urging his supporters and Kwarans to participate in the continuous voters registration exercise.

The pharmacist-turned politician has been a politician of ideas and philosophy.

His banner dots parts of the state capital. It reads: “To bring Kwara out of the wilderness. Omo to sure 2019 Support Group.”

RATING: Uncertain

ABDULRAHMAN ABDULRAZAK: This Abuja-based businessman has been a serial aspirant. He was a PDP aspirant in 2011 and 2015 in the state. He is an indigene of Ilorin and the son of the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from the North, Abdulganiyu Abdulrazak.

At the public gathering to celebrate his father’s 90th birthday anniversary in Ilorin, one of the preachers at the event urged him to take a shot at the seat once again. His platform not yet known.

RATING: Uncertain

RAZAK ATUNWA: Razak Atunwa is currently a member of the House of Representatives. He was once the Speaker of the state House of Assembly. The UK- trained lawyer is a loyalist of Saraki.

RATING: Uncertain

IBRAHIM AJIA: He is a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police and former ADC to Sen. Anyim. He is close to some PDP stalwarts. He is inexperienced in politics.

RATING: He cannot make much impact.

TOYIN SANUSI: He was a former Chief of Staff to at the Government House he is now aspiring to occupy. He was also a former chairman of Ilorin West Local Government Area. He is a loyal Sarakite. He is not grounded politically, he operates within the shadow of the Saraki dynasty.

AHMED MUSTAPHA AKANBI: He is the only neutral and apolitical aspirant. He obtained his LLM from the University College, London. A son of the late President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, he was one of the eggheads who contributed to policy on the “Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.” He is highly multi-talented.

YOBE STATE

Yobe State is practically a one-party state, ruled by the APC.

Although the incumbent, Ibrahim Gaidam, is in the last lap of his second term, not much is happening in the party to show that an election to replace Gaidam is only a matter of months away.

This much was confirmed by the party hierarchy at a recent press conference in Damaturu when it said it was yet receive any written request from any aspirant for the APC ticket.

It was gathered that the governor has instructed the party leadership to mitigate political activities in the state until the leadership of the party decides who flies the APC ticket next year.

The ‘embargo’ has instilled fear into many of those eyeing the ticket on the platform of the party.

Some of them, sources said, are appointees of the governor.

But there is an exception in Sidi Yakubu Karasuwa, a House of Representatives member from Nguru/Machina, Yusufari/Karasuwa constituency, who has reportedly met the governor to inform him of his aspiration.

Others also said to be in the race include Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan, Lawan Shettima Ali, Alhaji Saleh Abubakar, Abubakar Ali, Mai Mala Buni, Ibrahim Bomoi and Aji Kolomi.

Senator Lawan has been a member of the National Assembly for 19 years and enjoys a good relationship with Gaidam. He is from Yobe North (Zone C), which has never produced a governor. RATING: Strong.

Lawan Shettima Ali, the current Commissioner for Works, Transport and Energy in the state is also a former National Secretary of the defunct ANPP. His biggest weakness is that he is from the same senatorial zone as Gaidam. RATING: Zoning may be his major headache.

Alhaji Saleh Abubakar retired from the State Civil Service on Thursday as Head of Service (HOS). He was Chief of Staff to the late Gov. Mamman Ali. He served in the same capacity for Gaidam for eight years before his appointment as HOS. RATING: Fairly strong – having served in a role usually reserved for loyalists and those who can be trusted.

Abubakar D. Ali is the current Deputy Governor and younger brother to the late Governor Mamman Ali. Some observers believe that Gaidam may decide to compensate the Ali family by supporting his deputy. RATING: Strong.

Mai Mala Buni, the current National Secretary of the APC may not have declared his intention yet, but many in the state are tipping him for the governorship seat in view of his excellent relationship with the governor. RATING: Strong.

Alhaji Ibrahim Bomoi is one of the few who have openly declared their interest in the seat. He is a former Director of FCT Treasury. He is from zone B where late Senator Mamman came from. There are also speculations that “Bala Bursar, as he is popularly called, also enjoys a cordial rapport with the governor. RATING: Aspirant to watch.

Aji Kolomi, popularly called Ajiko, is a retired Permanent Secretary and has also declared his intention to run for the seat. He has had wider consultations in the state in the last few months and his posters adorn Damaturu and other towns in the state. RATING: Uncertain.

BORNO STATE

The political atmosphere in Borno is charged with no fewer than 12 politicians of note showing interest in replacing Governor Kashim Shettima.

From the ruling APC are Senator Mohammed Abba  Aji, Alhaji  Umar Alkali, Mohammed Makinta, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Senator Bashir Baba Kaka Garbai, Hon. Mohammed Matches Benisheikh,  Kaka Shehu Lawan, Hon. Adamu Lawan, and Senator Abu Kyari.

Seeking PDP’s ticket are: Grema Terab and Hon. Mohammed Imam while Ibrahim Gadabur wants the ticket of Labour Party (LP).

Mohammed Abba Aji from Borno Central was in the Senate when Ali Modu Sheriff served as governor of Borno State. By age, he is seen as one of the oldest aspirants in the state. He has already made his intention public. He is widely recognised as a member of the influential Borno Elders. RATING: Strong.

Also in the race is Engineer Mohammed Makinta, who was chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) during the tenure of ex-Governor Malla Kachalla after Sen. Ali Modu Sherriff sent the former governor on political exile. Some observers claim that Makinta is only trying to revive his political career by jumping into the race. RATING: Weak.

Mustapha Baba Shehuri, the current Minister of State, Power and Housing, is a grassroots politician who has risen through the ranks. He had served as Chairman, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council and contested as governor on the platform of CPC in 2011. The minister may be counting on his Abuja connection to win the race. RATING: Fairly strong.

Senator Bashir Baba Kaka Garbai is a younger brother of the current Shehu of Borno. He is also a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy who is sufficiently rich to last the distance. He was a schoolmate of Governor Shettima and they remain friends. RATING: Uncertain.

Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawan, the current Commissioner for Justice and Attorney- General of the State, is described by many as a courageous man who will make a good governor. He is generally seen as the driver of the ongoing urban renewal in Maiduguri. One party stalwart described him as “a man of his own”. He also enjoys a good rapport with the governor because of his courage. RATING: Uncertain.

Hon Adamu Lawan, the current Commissioner for Works and Housing, is seen as a close ally of the governor having worked together in Zenith Bank. He is a quiet but brilliant mind. RATING: Uncertain.

Senator Abu Kyari is a son of a former military governor of the old North-East, Brig Gen. Abba Kyari. RATING: Weak.

Grema Terab is the immediate past Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). Terab is having a running battle with the police after he was arrested at a rally in his house in Maiduguri sometime in April. RATING: Weak.

Hon Mohammed Imam, a former chairman Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) used to be in the ANPP. He is widely respected by youth in the state. He has age on his side and is energetic. RATING: Weak.

Ibrahim Gadabur is of Labour Party (LP). RATING: Weak.

PLATEAU STATE

The contest for governorship in Plateau State in 2019 promises to be very interesting considering the interest the seat is generating across the length and breadth of the state. The aspirants include the incumbent Governor Simon Lalong of APC.

From the opposition PDP are: Hon. Kemi Nshe, Hon. Johnbull Shakarau, Senator Jeremiah Useni, Baba Timothy Parlong, Geoffrey Bawa Shitgurum, Senator Victor Lar, Nanzum Bako, Abashe, Architect Jatto, Hon. George Daika, Ponyah Ibrahim, Yitman Maimako, Datong Dominic Gwamnan.

The tempo of political activities in the state has continued to increase on daily basis. The colourful campaign posters and towering campaign billboards that have taken over every available space on the streets of Jos, the Plateau capital, attest to this.

Of the over 90 parties on the register of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the only active ones in the state are APC, PDP, ADC and perhaps APGA. Of these four, only APC and PDP, have what it takes to contest for the governorship ticket in the state.

Governor Lalong remains the candidate to beat, while the PDP which had previously held power for 16 years, has vowed to stage a comeback.

Chairman of the party in the state, Chief Damishi Sango, said recently that Plateau remains a PDP state and APC is just a caretaker in Government House.

“We have realised the mistake we made in 2015 that brought in APC to power and we are out to correct it in 2019,” he said.

The power sharing equation in Plateau State between APC and PDP since 2015 shows that neither is in absolute control of the state.

Although APC won the governorship, PDP won all the three senatorial seats. PDP also won six of the eight House of Representatives seats of the state leaving only two for APC. In the State House of Assembly poll, PDP was in the majority until two lawmakers defected to APC to give the ruling party a slight majority.

However, in 2016, one of the three PDP senators, Joshua Dariye defected to APC to strengthen the grip of the ruling party on the state. Later on one House of Representatives member, Hon. Edward Pwajok, also defected from PDP to join APC. As it stands, the ruling APC has one senator, three members of the House of Representatives as  well as all the local government chairmen appointed by them. PDP on the other side has two senators, five members of the House of Representatives and few state assembly members.

As serious contenders who are really prepared for the battle, APC and PDP have so far demonstrated strong zeal to contest the 2019 election. While the ruling party has endorsed the incumbent Lalong as its sole candidate for the governorship contest, PDP has a number of aspirants to choose from.

There is Senator Jeremiah Useni, who currently represents Plateau South. The retired general was FCT minister in the Abacha regime. There is also George Daika, a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly and former House of Representatives member from Shendam/Mikang/Quanpan.

Also in the race is Godfrey Bawa Shitgurum, a businessman from Shendam where Lalong also comes from.

Deciding factors

The deciding factors in Plateau governorship elections have always been ethnicity, religion, political party and zoning. As a Christian-dominated state, only a Christian governorship candidate can garner majority votes in the state. This explains why there is no single Muslim among the aspirants so far.

Even among the Christian faithful, denomination also counts heavily. The two dominant denominations in the state are the Catholic and an indigenous church known as COCIN which has highly influential presence in all the 17 local government areas of the state.

The Catholic Church to which Governor Lalong belongs also plays a big role in deciding who wins the slot.

Ethnicity is another factor. The incumbent is Geomai, but the Taroh who inhabit the southern zone are also interested in the top seat. It is now left for voters to decide who they prefer.

Almost all the political parties have zoned the position to Plateau South where Lalong hails from. This explains why 99% of the governorship aspirants so far are from Plateau South. Shendam, the home local government of Lalong has no fewer than seven aspirants. The Taroh of Langtang North and Langtang South have about nine governorship aspirants.

This choice of Plateau South by all the contending political parties only goes to show that for any political party to stand up to the incumbent, it  must zone its governorship ticket to the same place. That was exactly the simple formula that gave APC the victory of 2015.

SOKOTO STATE

The recent gale of defections in Sokoto State appear to have made the terrain uncertain. For the first time in a long period, the political horizon in the Caliphate state is shifting track with attendant surprises.

Following  Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s lead, 18 lawmakers in the State House of Assembly have left the APC to join  PDP leaving  the remaining 12 for  APC.

Senator Abdullahi Danbaba Dambuwa and four members of the House of Representatives also moved over to the PDP. Yet, many in the state say the defections are not a game-changer.

They chant: “Ba ma yin PDP. APC Sak. Sokoto sai Alu! Nigeria sai Baba. Cikin ruwa ko rana.” (“We are not for PDP. We are completely APC. We are for Wamakko and Buhari come rain come, come sun shine.”)

Despite the defections, observers say the APC still holds the ace in Sokoto.

They cite the strong political structure and wider acceptability of Buhari and Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko across the state.

There is no gainsaying that the senator who represents Sokoto Central Senatorial District and current chairman of Northern Senators Forum (NSF) is a hub in Sokoto politics whose reach is said to dwarf those of Tambuwal and another former governor of the state, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, a PDP presidential aspirant.

The recent defection of a former Minister of Transport, Yusuf Suleiman from PDP to APC has further strengthened the influence of the APC in the state.

Suleiman’s new political direction has depleted Bafarawa’s eastern zone bloc where the former minister also hails from.

Had Tambuwal’s deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, followed him to PDP, he would have received the governor’s endorsement.

But Aliyu Sokoto, a Wamakko loyalist remains in the APC.

The governor may, however, turn to Senator Abdullahi  Danbaba Dambuwa .

Dambuwa will have Mukhtari Shehu Shagari, among other aspirants, to contend with in the primaries.

Tambuwal’s supporters and those of Bafarawa, who sees himself as the PDP leader in the state, might find it difficult to reach a compromise on the PDP candidate for obvious political interest that may play out.

Bafarawa, according to sources, is unlikely to support Dambuwa.

But beyond that, the governor is facing tremendous challenges in his home base in Tambuwal where prominent political and opinion leaders are on a separate page with him.

These include are a former Commissioner, Umaru Nagwari Tambuwal and former chieftain of the opposition PDP, Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal who recently defected to APC, who have sworn to stop the PDP in the area next year.

Wamakko is yet to publicly endorse anyone in the APC for the governorship race.

But party sources say Yusuf Suleiman, Farouk Malami Yabo and incumbent Deputy Governor, Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, are likely to vie for the ticket.

Yusuf Suleiman is an experienced politician with appreciable grassroots support especially in Sokoto east axis.

A former Deputy Governor of the state, Mukhtari Shehu Shagari, is seen as a loyal, consistent and reliable party member.

The lawyer who is popularly called “Sai Mai Ruwa” is also a favourite of the youth. He is from the same zone as Tambuwal. Should party loyalty and commitment be considered factors in the race, Shagari would stand a good chance of clinching the PDP ticket.

Farouk Malami Yabo is also immensely popular among youth on account of his accessibility and grassroots base. Observers describe him as a good listener.

He is a former Commissioner for Finance and Local Government.

Deputy Governor Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto is also loved by the younger population. He was a commissioner under Wamakko.

A member of the House of Representative and Wamakko loyalist, Sa’adu Nabunkari, is expected to throw his hat into the ring soon on the platform of the APC.

Clearly, the battle is between the APC which believes it is in control of the larger chunk of the population and the PDP which is boasting of incumbency.

AKWA IBOM STATE

Ahead of the 2019 general election, the political temperature of Akwa Ibom State is approaching boiling point as the battle for the governorship seat gets hotter and intriguing by the day.

The contest for the Hilltop Mansion, as the State Government House is christened, is essentially between the two frontline political parties-the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The incumbent governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel of the PDP is bent on going for a second term having been first elected in 2015. He is targeting 2023 as the time he would have completed his eight years in office.

But the APC is scheming and deploying its entire political arsenal to dislodge him and by extension the PDP from government.

The APC in the state is yet to conduct its governorship nomination to decide who flies its governorship flag, but quite a number of politicians of the party have indicated interest in contesting the governorship.

For now, some of them include the Managing Director of the Niger Delta mDevelopment Commission (NDDC), Dr. Nsima Ekere, former FCT Minister of State, John James Akpanudoedehe, Mr. Solomon Okpo and Engineer Edet Efretuei.

The PDP in the state has technically adopted the incumbent governor as its sole candidate for the 2019 governorship duel, thereby shutting out other possible contenders on the party’s platform.

As events and activities unfold, pundits have surmised that there seems to be a balance of power between the two parties with each of the parties having factors working for or against them.

The PDP and Governor Emmanuel, for instance, have the advantage of incumbency.  The party, according to the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, also enjoys the goodwill of Akwa Ibom people.

Again, Akwa Ibom State has since the return of democracy in 1999 been consistently ruled by the PDP. First it was Obong Victor Attah from Uyo Senatorial District who governed the state between 1999 and 2007.

He was succeeded by the immediate past governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District who held sway between 2007 and 2015. He handed over the baton of power to the incumbent, Emmanuel, still of the PDP.

Flowing from this, the people of the state have never known any other party apart of the PDP, and have in fact confessed and professed that the PDP is a religion in the state.

However, recent political developments in the oil-rich state have indicated that the much touted PDP religion in Akwa Ibom could be changed.

The first threat to the PDP reign in the state is the number of APC chieftains from the state who have been given juicy federal appointments by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Among federal appointees from the state are the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Solomon Enang, the Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr, Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority (OGFTZA), Obong Umana O, Umana, and Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma to mention a few.

It is expected that these federal appointees would team up to deliver the state to the APC in 2019.

Also working in favour of the APC is the fear of federal might which the Buhari administration may deploy to capture Akwa Ibom in the February 2019 election.

But the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Udoh, has dismissed the fear of federal might arguing that the will of the people which is for the re-election of Udom is far greater than the wishes of the federal government.

But what appears to be a greatest threat to the PDP government in the state is the recent defection of the immediate past Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio to the ruling APC. He shocked Nigerians and rocked the political boat of the state and country when he dumped his former party for the APC.

His action, many believe is a direct affront to the PDP and a clear signal that he has given his political godson, Governor Emmanuel quit notice from the Hilltop Mansion.

Since the earth-shaking defection of Akpabio, touted as the ‘generalissimo’ of Akwa Ibom politics, tongues have continued to wag, fears and apprehension have heightened, and doomsayers have declared that the end is in sight for the PDP and Governor Emmanuel.

Akpabio, during his ‘uncommon defection’ rally at the Ikot Ekpene Township stadium, had boasted that his exit from the PDP marked the death of the PDP in Akwa Ibom and the entire Niger Delta region.

Those who know the political clout and wizardry of the former Senate Minority Leader believe firmly that he would deliver the state to the APC.

Already, he has started wide consultations across the state in addition to series to meetings to strategise towards actualising his target.

However, some political analysts do not see Akpabio having the ability to deliver the state to the APC considering the fact that he could not pull a substantial number of PDP faithful to follow him to the APC.


Source: News Express

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