Uncertainty in G-5 as Rivers PDP vow not to support Wike’s governorship candidate
Uncertainty in G-5 as Rivers PDP vow not to support Wike’s governorship candidate
Less than one week to the governorship elections, there is tension in five Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, states over the prospects of their candidates.
The panic stems from uncertainty over the likely voting pattern in the states, which was informed by the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections.
In the states, which include Oyo, Rivers, Benue, Abia and Enugu, party members are divided on voting for their respective gubernatorial hopefuls following the failure of their governors to support PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Also, there is an uneasy calm over the possibility of All Progressives Congress, APC, in affected places supporting its governorship hopefuls in the elections instead of reciprocating a similar gesture offered by PDP governors in affected states.
Findings by our correspondents further indicated that apart from the damage caused by the instructions given by governors to their subjects to vote for candidates of other parties at the polls, the bandwagon effect arising from the popularity of Labour Party, LP, candidate, Peter Obi, is already casting doubts on the chances of PDP hopefuls.
All these have combined to put PDP candidates and their principals who refused to support Atiku on a tightrope as the elections are held next Saturday.
The candidates include Siminalayi Fubara, Rivers, Peter Mba, Enugu, Okey Ahaiwe, Abia, Seyi Makinde, Oyo, and Dominic Ucha, Benue.
In the build-up to the presidential poll, their principals, Governors Nyesom Wike, Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Okezie Ikpeazu, had demanded the resignation of National Chairman of the party, Sen Iyorchia Ayu, as a condition to support Atiku.
The Wike-led group known as G-5 had claimed its demand was informed by the need for equity in PDP.
But most party members and other Nigerians dismissed their agitation as personal, which emerged after Wike lost the party’s primaries to the former Vice President.
Their decision not to back the PDP presidential hopeful apart from dividing their state chapters, contributed to its loss at the polls, especially in Rivers and Oyo where the governors are believed to have an agreement with APC.
However, checks revealed that APC in affected states may not reciprocate the gesture, having resolved to support its candidates instead of PDP flag bearers.
RIVERS: Threats from all flanks
Before last week’s elections, it was an open secret that Wike was supporting APC candidate, Bola Tinubu, instead of his party’s standard-bearer.
At two events before the exercise, Wike tactically spoke about who his supporters were voting for.
First, he said he was in support of APC governors’ resolve for power shift to the South.
He said this when Tinubu visited him in Port Harcourt, indicating that Tinubu was his choice.
”I have no apology to anybody. You have the character and courage we require in this country. But let me advise you, don’t spend any more money on your governorship candidate here, Rivers. He doesn’t stand a chance against the PDP candidate,” he said.
At the elections, Wike reportedly worked for Tinubu’s victory in Rivers.
Of the 23 Council results, Tinubu won in 14 councils, Obi took second with five councils while Atiku won in four councils
Tinubu won in Obio-Akpor, Emohua, Eleme, Opobo-Nkoro, Abua-Odual, Gokana, Oyigbo, Omuma,Tai, Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru, Khana and Ikwerre councils.
APC garnered 231,591 votes, LP, 175,071 and PDP, 88,468 votes.
A section of the APC in the state through its spokesman, Tony Okocha, had attributed its victory to Wike’s support.
“We will reciprocate the governor’s gesture by supporting who he wants us to support,’’ he said.
But another faction dismissed the pledge of voting for Wike’s candidate in the elections.
Spokesman for Rivers APC, Darlington Nwauju, who said this, said Rivers APC faithful would queue behind their candidate, Tonye Cole.
He said:”Tony Okocha has neither the legal nor moral right to speak for APC. He works with the PDP in Rivers. And in March 2011, Rivers people in APC and beyond party leanings will vote Tonye Cole as governor.
“On him claiming the governor made the victory of the APC (in the presidential election) possible in Rivers, even the governor himself denied having a hand in it. So I have no response to Tony Okocha concerning that.”
On the part of the state chapter of PDP, Atiku’s supporters, News Week Nigeria learned, would not be backing Wike’s candidates.
One of them, who pleaded anonymity, said they have resolved not to have anything to do with the governor, who was described as a betrayer whose only driving force is self-interest.
‘Let him vote for his candidate. Except he manipulates the exercise the way he did last week, his candidate will lose. Even APC won’t be there for him. We won’t be there for him. This is someone who betrayed the party that made him who he is, just because he lost at the primaries. Anybody associating with that man should be careful,” he said.
Meanwhile, News Week Nigeria learned Wike’s candidate faces a big challenge posed by supporters of Obi, who accused the governor of rigging the elections in favour of Tinubu. To them, the governorship poll is payback time.
BENUE: Race to avert another humiliating defeat
The outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections was nothing but an unpleasant surprise for PDP faithful in Benue State.
PDP’s dominance in the state loomed large with three senators and nine House of Representatives members.
But after the February 25 polls, all that dominance came crashing down. It lost two senatorial and 10 House of Representatives seats to APC.
While several reasons have been advanced for the fate that befell the ruling party in the state, there is no gainsaying that of all the reasons, pundits believe the fundamental cause was the fact that the party went into the elections with a divided house.
There were discordant tunes on the choice of a preferred presidential candidate and that adversely affected harmony in the party, which invariably led to the trouncing it received during the elections.
However, the party seems to have overcome the division that almost shook its foundation. There are now daily meetings of stakeholders who may have decided to put the last exercise behind and forge a common front against the opposition.
That was attested to by the Special Adviser to Benue State Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Terver Akase, who while responding to enquiries on the likelihood of members of the party rallying around its governorship and House of Assembly candidates, expressed optimism that PDP would emerge victorious.
“Yes, PDP will win the governorship election in Benue State. We are moving into the March 11 election as a united group,” he said.
On his part, the Secretary of Campaign for Equal Rights and Opportunities for all Nigerians, CERON, Mr. Francis Odiir, who shared his thoughts on the unfolding events in the state, noted that all eyes would be on the PDP to see if it could save itself from another humiliation.
He said, “PDP had before now radiated confidence and carried itself with so much panache until the discordant tunes on who was the preferred candidates of the power brokers in the party.
“That actually created a huge crack that was exploited by the opposition, which led to that awkward outcome.
“On March 11, we expect the PDP to put its house in order after members have all learnt their lessons the hard way.’’
Also, Convener of Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP, Joe Bukka, said: “Members of the party must work very hard to rescue the party or the elections might signal the final demise of PDP in the state.
“The party can achieve success if members can put aside their differences and go to the ‘battlefield’ to save themselves.”
Meanwhile, both parties have already started throwing jabs at each other ahead of the said election.
Benue APC had accused the PDP of plotting to rig the polls.
The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Daniel Ihomun, had in a statement alleged that PDP was plotting to deploy unconventional tactics to win the election.
OYO: APC members root for Folarin
If the reports coming from Oyo State chapter of APC are anything to go by, Governor Seyi Makinde may not find it easy next Saturday.
Tinubu won all 33 local government areas in the state with 201,494 votes.
Atiku had 89,554 votes while Labour Party’s Obi garnered 11,397 votes.
The governor is believed to have worked for Tinubu’s victory, leading to expectations that APC may likely support his re-election. But the party has denied having any working arrangement with him as regards the polls.
In fact, APC chieftains in Oyo have told the governor not to expect any support from them, saying their votes are for their governorship candidate, Teslim Folarin.
The party told the governor to brace up for imminent defeat.
Director-General, Asiwaju Tinubu-Shettima Coalition for Good Governance, ,ATSCGG, Adebayo Shittu, said this in Ibadan.
He said: “It would be recalled that Oyo State, as one of the foremost Yoruba states, had always been ruled by progressive parties under different names and colours.
“However, the state fell into bad times under the last administration of the late Sen. Ishaq Ajimobi. Unfortunately, he could not manage the APC primaries for local governments, state assembly, gubernatorial and National Assembly.”
“Consequently, all party members who aspired for one position or the other were wrongly disenfranchised, and they decided to leave the party. Apart from exiting the APC, most of them joined Seyi Makinde and PDP to defeat the APC in the 2019 general elections.
“This saw the emergence of Seyi Makinde as Oyo State Governor. As God would have it, Seyi Makinde, therefore, got the Oyo State governorship seat without the needed psychological preparation or required political experience.
“The results of last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections have shown clearly that our patriotic citizens have unanimously resolved to completely submit and support our great party, the APC.
“We are, therefore, assured that with the results, the state assembly and gubernatorial contests on March 11 would be a walk-over for our great party.”
ABIA, ENUGU: Uncertain fate
The fate of the governorship hopefuls in Abia and Enugu states is also uncertain. At the last elections, PDP candidates including the state governors lost the presidential and National Assembly elections to LP.
This has led to fears of a likely repeat at the gubernatorial and state assembly elections. Apart from the division caused by Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi’s decision to toe the line of Wike, the Peter Obi challenge poses a grave danger to the prospects of PDP governorship candidates in both states. For instance, Atiku’s supporters in both states told Sunday Vanguard in confidence that they wouldn’t work for the emergence of Mba and Ahaiwe. PDP has been in power in both states since 1999.
In Abia, going by realities on the ground, political relegation appears inevitable except the PDP puts itself together.
But it’s unlikely that the ruling party can muster the needed force to resist the building wrath against it particularly from the ‘Obidients’, and others who feel that PDP has not shown reason to be allowed to continue to preside over the affairs of the state.
Pundits believe that Ikpeazu, who is still convalescing from the pains of humiliating defeat in his senatorial ambition, is too devastated to mobilize the party for any formidable fight on March 11.
To make matters worse for the PDP, other stakeholders of the party who have the experience and financial war chest to deliver the party in the forthcoming battle also suffered some level of defeats last week.
Similarly, the silent but very serious grumbling over the disregard for the Abia Charter of Equity in deciding the PDP governorship ticket is another big hurdle that may count against the party.
Some of its members and even stakeholders from Abia North who feel that power ought to have been allowed to rotate back to the zone in the spirit of equity and justice, may not fight desperately for the party’s victory, especially in the zone where their kinsmen contesting in other parties consider their stronghold.