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Godfathers’ Bitter Game: Rampaging Wike scatters PDP in two S-South states
Politics

Godfathers’ Bitter Game: Rampaging Wike scatters PDP in two S-South states

Abubakar, and the national leadership of his party, the most potent political godfather in Rivers state and governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, has let loose his political venom, and

  • PublishedFebruary 18, 2023

Abubakar, and the national leadership of his party, the most potent political godfather in Rivers state and governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, has let loose his political venom, and seriously segregated the party in Rivers and Cross River.

A week before the presidential election, Wike has made it impracticable for Abubakar to hold a presidential rally in Rivers state, where they have further isolated the party into Atiku and Wike divides. However, the presidential candidate of the rival All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Bola Tinubu, stormed the state, Wednesday, for his presidential campaign with Wike’s full good wishes.

Also intriguing is Cross River state, where a charging Wike has torn the two PDP political godfathers and former governors:  Mr. Donald Duke and Senator Liyel Imoke, apart, and inadvertently created a political ambiance that could facilitate victory for the APC in the March 11 governorship polls.

In fact, it was a scandalous affair for the PDP when it held its presidential rally, Monday, in the state. The governorship candidate of the party in the state, Senator Sandy Onor, and Donald Duke, loyal to Wike, were nowhere to be found, while the state chairman, also a Wike ally, who showed up was disregarded.

Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, vice presidential candidate of the PDP and governor of Delta state; Governor Godwin Obaseki (Edo state); Governor Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom state); and Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa state), having practically exhausted their peace options to make Wike see reason, in the last few months, seemed to have left Wike to exhibit his fantasies.

Wike mobilizes for Fubara

By current permutations, the battle for Rivers state governorship on March 11 is between four top contenders, despite the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, listing 16 candidates from the various political parties

The four most visible candidates among who the next Rivers governor will most likely emerge are Siminialayi Fubara (Sim) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Magnus Abe, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and perhaps,  Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Accord Party.

However, the reality in the political space is that none outside the top four gubernatorial candidates is visible on the campaign field. It is amazing somebody running for governor without going from one local government to the other to solicit votes from the people.

Taking a deeper look, of the four top contenders, only two, Fubara and Cole are successfully holding real campaigns across the local government areas.

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The Rivers governor cautioned a visiting Tinubu and APC: “But let me advise you, do not spend any more money on your governorship candidate here (Rivers), he does not stand a chance against the PDP candidate.”

Cole, Abe not easy prey

Notwithstanding the mobilization for Fubara, who is also leveraging on the infrastructural development revolution witnessed under the incumbent Wike. He would face stiff competition from APC’s Cole, while Abe could pull an upset.

Wike/Atiku, PDP feud escalates

However, the crisis in Rivers PDP deepened, during the week, as the presidential candidate, Abubakar, citing insecurity over conflict with Governor Wike canceled his scheduled presidential rally in the state.

Atiku in a statement, Monday, by the Chairman, of Rivers PDP Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, Senator Lee Maeba, said after earlier previous repeated postponements, that the rally billed for this week, would no longer hold, adding: ”The expected victory of Atiku Abubakar does not worth the blood of any Rivers man or woman.”

“Because Atiku did not choose Governor Nyesom Wike as a vice presidential candidate which he lobbied, he was let loose, resulting in his forming and leading a rebel, G-5 or integrity group purposely working against the candidate of the party,” Maeba said.

An unapologetic Wike, who received  Tinubu, Wednesday, at Government House, Port Harcourt, asserted that the APC presidential candidate possessed the character and courage required for Nigeria.

Wike castigated PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, for lacking character in switching political parties, and not being a promise keeper in the agreement to let party chairmanship go to the South when he won the party ticket.

…complicates affairs in Cross River

In Cross River, the interplay of intrigues, legal fireworks, political strategizing, and manipulations that characterized the selection and election of governorship candidates among the political parties may have come to a close, but the battle for Government House, also known as Peregino in the state is raging.

From what is emerging, the contest for the position of governor of the state is between two erstwhile political soulmates, Senator Bassey Otu, and Senator Sandy Onor. Otu is the APC standard-bearer, while Onor flies the PDP flag. Both were in the PDP from where they moved to Labor Party, LP, but the fluid turf of party affiliation and membership in Nigeria has seen them drift apart to become political opponents, one in PDP, the other in APC.

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Onor, swimming against the tide of zoning in the state, with the backing of some forces outside the state, defeated Senator Gershom Bassey, who many thought would bear the PDP flag in a keenly contested primary.

The PDP flag bearer, who only became a senator in 2019, and with the expectation that he would return to the Senate, decided to jettison the probability as the friendship he cultivated with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state, while both served as local government chairs, goaded him to throw his hat into the ring for the post of governor. With the support of Wike, who assisted him to become Senator, he won the primary.

Onor, knowing the forces against him over Wike’s support for him,  said:  ”In the political history of  Cross River State, tell me who became governor without  support from outside, and why is my case different if I have the support of my friends outside the state,  in my effort to govern the state.”

True to his claim, Wike, recently, handed him 20 brand new buses and an unspecified huge sum to pep up his campaign. He is currently going around the 18 local government areas of the state with the support of Mr. Venatius Ikem, the state PDP chair, on his campaign train.

Wike splits Duke, Imoke

However, his major setback is the fragmentation of the party between loyalists of the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Wike’s friends. Senator Liyel Imoke, popularly known as Avatar in the state because of his political Midas touch is campaigning for Abubakar, not mentioning Onor in their campaign.

Shockingly, Imoke’s predecessor, Mr. Donald Duke, is with Wike, working for Onor. Imoke, who backed Senator Gershom Bassey for the governorship ticket is still incensed that Onor went against the tide of zoning, in spite of efforts to let him see reasons why he should abide by the zoning arrangement, which is in tandem with the political desire and wish of many people in the state. It could turn out a millstone for him.

On Monday, PDP governorship candidate, Senator Sandy Onor, Mr. Donald Duke, and their loyalists shunned the party’s presidential rally in Cross River state.

Duke and Onor, who are allies of Wike, were not mentioned in the program along with the state chairman of the party, Mr. Venatius Ikem, who, though attended the rally, was ignored in the protocol.

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Otu, Ayade’s candidate boasts of winning

The governor of the state, Senator Ben Ayade,  of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the party’s gubernatorial candidate,  Senator Bassey Otu, who is hugely popular,  and from the Southern senatorial district, is most likely to reap from the anarchy in PDP in the state. Already, many tout Otu’s southern district as the preferred zone to take over from Governor Ayade, who occupies the slot of the northern district.

Senator Otu has 100 percent backing from Senator Ayade, Mr. Edem Duke, Prince J D Agba, Chief Higins Peters, and other major political bigwigs across the state.

“Winning, we have won, but we are winning them in such a way that they would be ashamed to go to any court as they are doing now. They know they do not stand a chance in the field, which is the reason they are, going from one court to the other to seek shortcuts to stop us. That will not work for them either,” excited Otu told supporters in Calabar.

It does not take much clairvoyance to know the direction the pendulum would swing in the March 11 Cross-River state governorship polls.

Usani dilemma with PRP

Popular political players like the former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, that would have made a huge difference are in the People’s Redemption Party, PRP, which has not much base and spread in the state, thus it would take a miracle to cause an upset.

Pushing out Wike

After initial reluctance, the PDP would have wielded the big stick against Wike by suspending and expelling him from the party, but Wike, who anticipated the move, went to court and obtained an interim order against the party.

On Tuesday, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja extended the interim order it made on February 2, which restrained the PDP, and its leadership from taking steps to either suspend or expel the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, from the party.

At the resumed proceedings in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/139/2023, which Wike brought before the court, Justice John Omotosho ordered all parties to maintain the status quo, pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

Cited as respondents in the suit are the PDP; the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party; the National Executive Council, NEC; its Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu; the National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu; and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

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