By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Zamfara and Ogun states are supposed to be strongholds of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. Theoretically, they are still. At least, the two states governors are of the APC. However, the situation of the party in the two states is akin to a debilitating paralysis. In both of them, APC is like a king without a crown.
Intrigues and internal sabotage in Zamfara APC has ensured that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, barred the party from presenting a gubernatorial candidate for the state. The implication is that the 2018 governorship election in Zamfara will be a walk over for the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
INEC, on October 10, 2018 announced that it has barred the Zamfara state chapter of the ruling APC from fielding any candidate during the 2019 general elections after failing to conduct primary elections as a result of factionalization.Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa’s factions of the party could not agree on a candidate.
This magazine has learnt that APC factions in the state have adopted, and are funding guber candidates of fringe parties.
Ogun state presents a familiar picture.The out-going governor, Ibikunle Amosun has publicly vowed to work against the APC candidate, Dapo Abiodun after his choice for a successor, Adekunle Akinlade, was denied the ticket.
Though Akinlade has found solace in All Progressives Movement, APM, after ditching the APC and has the backing of Governor Amosun, watchers of Ogun politics opine that APC in the state are so fractured that the governor’s faction, now branded APM, and the faction loyal to the state former governor, Segun Osoba, which produced Dapo, are too weak to produce a governor from either side.
To this end, pundits tip the candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Gboyega Isiaka, as an underdog who may spring surprises in the election. Isiaka, who had vied for Ogun guber election in the past, reportedly has the backing of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.The ADC candidate is also said to enjoy the secret support of some APC chieftains from both parties who are working on the theory that the only credible option open to the party(APC) is to support Isiaka to win after which he would be poached. The PDP is not in contention here because like the APC, Ogun PDP is factionalised and weakened.
The party is parading two factional governorshiop candidates—Senator Buruji Kashamu and Ladi Adedibu- each claiming the authenticity of the guber ticket. Howerver, a court has just upheld the expulsion of Kashimu from the PDP, thus confirming Adedibu the authentic governorship candidate.
The perilous condition of APC in Abia, Enugu, Cross River and Rivers are the same, and differs slightly from the paralysis in Ogun and Zamfara. The four states mentioned are PDP states where APC is in the opposition and parades factional candidates. Each of the factional candidates is resolute in contesting the 2018 election on the party’s platform.
In the streets of Aba, Abia’s commercial city, and the capital, Umuahia, posters of the factional APC candidates in the state- Uche Sampson Ogar and Ikechi Emenike adorn walls and eletricity polls side by side. Giant billboards proclaiming the candidature of the two are also common sights. Since parallel primaries produced both men in October, Abia APC has been in turmoil.
Though the National Working Committee of the APC and INEC recognize Ogah, a multi billionaire industrialist as candidate, an Abuja High Court last week nullified the primary that produced him and declared Emenike as the authentic flagbearer. Ogah is, however, still carrying on as candidate while Emenike has inaugurated his campaign team.
Like Ogun, another party, this time, PDP, is set to reap bountifully from the Abia APC crisis. APGA which should have naturally been a major beneficiary of the APC debacle is in itself enmeshed in a debilitating internal wrangling with Alex Otti and Chikwe Udensi both laying claims to the party’s guber ticket.
Some members of APC and APGA factions in the state, faced with uncertain political future in their parties, the magazine was informed, are rooting for the second term seeking PDP governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, on the basis that it would be impossible for their weakened and factionalised parties to defeat the incumbent.
Except the Supreme court intervenes by quashing an Appeal court judgement which ,on Wednesday, affirmed APC in Rivers has no candidates in all the levels of next year’s elections, that party will simply stay on the sidelines and watch as the PDP glides to an unchallenged victory next year.
The internal squabbles in Rivers APC have their locale in the battle for supremacy between Minister for Transport, Chibuike Amaechi and his erstwhile ally, Senator Magnus Abe.
Matters came to a head during the APC ward and local government congresses in the state in May, and further deteriorated during the governorship primary in October. Amaechi and Abe’s factions conducted both exercises independent of the other, producing factional delegates and factional governorship candidates. Abe’s faction produced him as APC governorship candidate while Amaechi’s produced billionaire oil mogul, Tonye Cole, as candidate.
In the streets of Port Harcourt, the state capital, campaign posters of both men compete for space, but insiders in both factions confided in this magazine that APC in Rivers is in a bad shape. “Even if the Supreme Court eventually comes to our rescue, it will be an uphill task dislodging Governor Wike. The so called Federal might may not even help, not when as a result of this crisis, thousands of our members defect to the PDP every week and some of our party leaders sneak to Government House at night to negotiate their political interest”, a member of Abe’s faction who does not want his name mentioned, told The Source.
Along Ndidem Isong Road in Mariam area of Calabar, the Cross state capital stands a storey building housing the campaign office of Senator Owan Enoh.Few poles away, opposite, is the campaign office of Pastor Usani Uguru, Niger-Delta Minister. Parallel primaries produced both men as Cross River APC governorship candidates. Though the national leadership of the party submitted Senator Enoh’s name as its candidate, Pastor Usani has been unrelenting in trying to retrieve what he describes as “my mandate”. A reprieve came his way on Thursday when an Abuja High Court declared the APC faction that produced him as legitimate.The implication of the judgement is that Enoh who defected from the PDP to APC few months ago, has lost out and, the Minister now enjoys court-ordered recognition as the flagbearer.
However, whoever eventually flies the APC flag in Cross River will be doing so on the platform of a party gasping for breath. Severe fracture in the APC in the state has left the party with uncontrollable haemorrhage. Thousands of members across the state daily defect to the PDP. Among party faithfuls who have so far moved to the PDP is Senator Florence Ita-Giwa. Sources claim prominent loyalists of both Enoh and Usani are making overtures to the state governor, Senator (Professor) Ben Ayade for posssible synergy in his re-election bid having come to the realisation that their principals’ governorship dreams may have become quicksand dreams.
Senator Ayogu Eze who represented Enugu North in the Senate was a PDP member few weeks before a parallel primary threw him up as APC’s governorship candidate for the state. Another primary had ealier produced George Tagbo Ogara as the candidate. Though the APC national leadership submitted Senator Eze’s name to INEC as its candidate, Ogara insists he was short- changed. He is in the court, and confident the judiciary will give him justice. He and Eze are feverishly campaigning independent of each other. Their posters are in common sights in the coal city.
Meanwhile, while Enugu APC bickers, governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s support base burgeones as APC members who do not see political future in both Senator Eze and Ogara swell PDP’s ranks. One of them told this magazine: “It’s better to join a team that you are sure will carry the day than waste your time and vote on a party that can’t agree on who flies its flag. APC is not ready to take power in Enugu”