Untold fears of S’South govs

On November 10, 2018

…Why they met Buhari

…Disquiet over use of federal power, INEC, security agents, judiciary

….APC plans to take over Delta, Rivers, A’Ibom in 2019

SOUTH-SOUTH Governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP seeking re-election in 2019 are reportedly uneasy over reported threats by some leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government to use federal power against them.

The South-South states which APC said must be captured are Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.

The governors are worried about the likely consequences if security agents, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and judiciary are employed to perfect the game plan.

Amid what came to pass in the last Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections, where state power, INEC and security agents were allegedly used to the benefit of the ruling party, they have reasons to be agitated.

Four of the five PDP governors in the zone, Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) led by Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), who is the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, met October 30 with President Buhari in Abuja, but none of the governors wanted to discuss the details.

Prof Ben Ayade of Cross River state was inescapably absent, while Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who is the only APC governor in the zone was unexpectedly not invited.

He and Dickson are, however, not seeking re-election in 2019.

Rivers governor, Wike has All Progressives Congress; APC’s Tonye Cole to contend with, Okowa’s opponent-in-chief is Chief Great Ogboru (APC), Udom is facing his former godfather, Senator Godswill Akpabio and gubernatorial candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, while Ayade is squaring off with Senator John Enoh.

As chief security officers of their respective states and politicians, the governors have intelligence at their disposal, which is what they went to discuss with Buhari.

Many, however, believe that what took them to Aso Villa, Abuja, was the alleged plan by APC to take over their states at all cost.

To worsen their forebodings, APC power brokers in their respective states had again and again boasted that they would use “federal power” get rid of them and nothing would happen.

National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who hails from neighboring Edo state, has never concealed his stance that the party would kick out Governor Okowa from Government House, Asaba next year.What Gov Dickson disclosed.

But, Dickson, who led the team, told reporters: “My colleagues and I came to have audience with the President to discuss issues pertinent to our country and also pertinent to our respective states. We had a robust and fruitful discussion with the president and he promised to look into it in any way possible.”

The Bayelsa governor asserted that the meeting had nothing to do with APC or PDP, adding: “We do not want to go into the details.”

Undisclosed details

A dependable source, however, told Saturday Vanguard: “The governors are politicians. You do not expect them to make a public declaration of their suspicions. They expressed their concerns to the President and demanded that he provide a level-playing field in the forthcoming election to avoid crisis”

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“As expected, Buhari replied that he would look into their concerns and also assured that he would provide a level playing field. But you can be rest assured that the APC will still do what they want to do. They want to take over the states and they specially marked Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom,” the source asserted.

APC plans to pay Wike back in his own coin

Saturday Vanguard made some checks even before the governors visited Buhari.

Our checks showed that in Rivers state, the fear of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi over his professed undertaking to sack PDP in 2019, employing federal might and his clout in the APC-led government has turned out to be the beginning of wisdom for Governor Wike.

Left alone with the APC and its governorship flag bearer, Cole, Wike would have gone to sleep, knowing that the candidate does not have the necessary capacity to outfox him, but with federal might, a cloak-and- dagger policy, which the APC accused Wike of using when PDP held sway at the centre, he is on edge.

On how enthusiastic the APC is prepared to fight Wike, a confidant of Amaechi told Saturday Vanguard, “Ordinarily, the party would not have embraced the leader’s choice of gambling with a starter like Cole, a political face unknown to the Rivers electorate, but the party leader and the majority in support have vowed to pay Wike back in his own coin.”

According to him, “In 2015, Wike used federal might to bulldoze himself in. He did not earn his victory. We want him to feel what we felt in 2015. Funny enough, he knows the fate awaiting him come 2019, the reason he is wailing and not having confidence in the coming election.”

Another danger

Aside fear of federal might, another odd against Wike is the growing determination among the people to ensure that only a candidate from a riverine locality governs Rivers in 2019.

In annals of the state, power sharing, deriving from the governorship in Rivers was said to have rotated between occupants from coastal communities and those from land area.

This gentleman agreement between upland/riverine divide in the state was compromised in 2007 when Amaechi, an Ikwerre (uplander) took over governance from his deposed cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia, who in a six -month prohibited mandate, took over from Dr. Peter Odili, another uplander from Ndoni.

Amaechi, now whipping the upland/riverine dichotomy sentiment against incumbent Wike, is, incidentally, remembered among arrowheads that breached the mutual power rotation.

Amaechi’s failure to reverse this breach with the failed projection of his political godson, Dakuku Peterside (riverine) for governor against Wike in 2015 has permitted nearly two decades of continued upland dominance.

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The vexed tone to the development has been further aggravated by the realization that even under the breached equation, only Ikwerres, since Omehia, have occupied the Office of the Governor of Rivers State to alienation of other upland ethnic groups.

Wike’s fight back strategy

Strangely enough, Wike has also been drawing strength from seeming weaknesses and odds against him.

By some twist of fate, the insistence on a riverine APC candidate among Amaechi’s professed justification for not supporting desperate Sen. Magnus Abe for the governorship has continued to fuel the crisis that has factionalized the Rivers APC between the former and latter camps.

The growing division continues to weaken APC’s chance at toppling Wike to the extent that many have accused the incumbent governor of stoking the Rivers APC crisis.

Amaechi’s camp had repeatedly accused Wike of supporting Abe’s camp to cling to the lingering court war to ensure that Rivers APC fields no qualified governorship candidate for 2019 or contest as a broken party if it does have a candidate.

“Unless Amaechi and Abe reach an amicable resolution and run the course in one accord, the party may totally lose out and hand incumbent Governor Wike an easier than anticipated second term”, an APC chieftain cautioned.

Wike once told security operatives in the state: “I do not need you to rig elections for me, my projects will speak for me in 2019 and if you try anything funny, Rivers people will not allow you. They will defend their votes to sustain good governance.”

He has time after time expressed lack of confidence in INEC to conduct free and fair polls come 2019 and had severally urged the International Community, especially the American government, British government the EU and other global political unions to prevail on the APC- led federal government to ensure free and fair elections.

Akpabio, nemesis of Gov Emmanuel

The most heady danger to the second term ambition of Governor Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom unfortunately is coming from his one- time teacher, mentor, godfather, predecessor and serving Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is currently a member of APC.

Emmanuel has continued to receive massive endorsements from the different political blocs, religious and traditional groups, but observers of recent political developments in the state know that the 2019 race will not be a very smooth ride for him.

Apart from Akpabio, Governor Emmanuel also has the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) Obong Nsima Ekere, APC governorship candidate to prevail over.

Though there is no clear-cut reason Akpabio fell out with his godson and successor, who he single handedly produced and foisted on Akwa Ibom people in 2015, the relationship between them is now portrayed by political propaganda, accusation and counter accusation, blackmail, character assassination and even threats.

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Shortly after his defection, Akpabio warned that APC would take over the “Land of Promise” like Adolf Hitler invaded Poland in 1940 and referenced Hitler’s Minister of Information ‘Warsaw never saw war but when war came to Warsaw, Warsaw saw war’ remark, which sparked controversy in the state.

Igini, REC rebuffs federal, state power

But, by far, Emmanuel’s silent fear is the deployment of federal apparatus, principally INEC and the police in support of Ekere.

Some residents have even linked alleged plot and show off by some APC supporters that they will use federal might to their advantage to their lack of interest in collecting their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, in the state.

Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in the state, Mr. Mike Igini, however, dismissed the fear, saying: “Let me assure you that in Akwa Ibom votes will count, it is the will of the people that will happen here. There will be no state might, no federal might.“

And part of our efforts at making sure that the votes of Akwa Ibom count and that election will take place here was revealed during the stakeholders meeting held in August.

After we had done the profiling of the state in terms of identifying the location of our polling units, we found a total of 22 polling units legal, but inappropriately located somewhere in the premises of some politicians and several other places.

“We have relocated them to public places that are accessible to the people. That is a clear message to all stakeholders that you cannot have polling units in private homes of anybody. All old things must pass away and that is why I said for 2019 in this state, there will be election, polling units will see original result sheets and ballot papers, “he said.

Okowa uneasy over likely federal incursion

In Delta state, the biggest warning to Governor Okowa is not the emergence of regular governorship candidate, Chief Ogboru as the gubernatorial candidate of APC.He defeated him in 2015.

However, Ogboru, who contested against former Governors James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan in five previous occasions, is determined more than ever before to win, counting on the power of the APC at the national level.

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Even when still embroiled in internal crisis in the state, APC remains boastful of unseating Okowa 2019.

Some party members point to the defection of Uduaghan as a booster, but former Minister of Information and political godfather of Okowa, Prof Sam Oyovbaire, dismissed the point that the ex-governor can stop Okowa.

An unperturbed Okowa had on several occasions repulsed the intimidation of APC, insisting that the opposition does not have the capacity to dislodge him in the 2019 election.Beyond the public displayBut beyond the braggadocio, the governor and PDP strategists are nursing the fear of federal power on the state.

They openly boast that APC cannot try its federal might in the state, but behind closed doors, they are jittery at the possibility.

Senator Enoh threatens Ayade in C’River

In Cross River state, Governor Ayade’s foremost opposition to his second term ambition is APC. Senator John Enoh representing the Central senatorial district is the party’s gubernatorial standard bearer.

Enoh has started the battle by choosing another grassroots politician, Ntufam Ekpo Okon, who defected from PDP to the APC after he lost the contest for the senatorial ticket of the Southern district of the state to the incumbent, Senator Gershom Bassey on the PDP platform.

The two have enormous resources and popular appeal among the electorate to constitute a full-size threat to AyadeAyade, cognizant of the battle ahead going by his past experience with Owan Enoh, who was in the PDP before his defection, last year, is not leaving anything to chance.

He had already appointed 50 persons within each polling unit to canvass for votes within their areas.

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