Road to 2023: Governors’ last fight to impose successors

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By Our Correspondents

The succession battle between governors and major stakeholders in their states has intensified as the ruling party, All Progressives Congress(APC) and the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) hold their governorship and House of Assembly primaries this week.Untitled3 31

While that of the PDP will hold on May 25, the APC has rescheduled its governorship primary for May 27.

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Power brokers in the two major parties will this week go for broke as they battle to outwit each other in the selection of their governorship candidates.

In some states, the sitting governors have anointed their likely successors while in others, the race is still open to all the aspirants. From one state to the other, the battle for succession is raging.

Kano: It’s grudge war

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The possible successor in the battle for who succeeds the present Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in  2023 will begin to unravel this week . Excitement, intrigues, betrayal, alignment and even  defection among others are some of the highlights of this political frenzy.

Unlike in the past, when the race was essentially a tug of war between the two leading political parties, APC and PDP, the present contest has a new entrant,  New Nigerian Peoples Party(NNPP) led by Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and strengthened by the recent defection of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau to its platform.

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But just like in the past, the 2023 poll would be a continuation of the grudge- war between Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the two indefatigable giants of modern Kano.

It is an open secret that both men had sworn to politically undo each other with either of them pledging to retire the other from politics. Even at the best of times and in the bliss of  friendship, the two gladiators have subtly battled each other over the control of the state, either by presenting themselves in the ring or by nurturing and nominating their trusted proxies to fight on.

Analysts believe that what is emerging as the final list for the position of the governor is nothing but the godsons and anointed proxies of the two strongest political forces in the state.

From the trenches of the APC is the Nasiru Gawana as the governorship aspirant and Murtala Sule Garo as his running mate. They were unveiled to the members of the party at a recent stakeholders meeting held at the Government House, Kano.

The two gladiators have a rich political history, especially under the present political dispensation. Gawanu and Garo, it is not forgotten, were prime actors in the famous controversy at Gawuna ward that stalled the elections. This impasse eventually led to the suspension of the process and formed the basis for INECs declaration of the governorship poll in the state as inconclusive.

Prior to his appointment as the State deputy governor, Gawuna had served as a Local Government Chairman under Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Commissioner for  Agriculture under Rabiu Kwankwaso and Commissioner for Agriculture under Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

On his part, Garo was a product of the Kwankwaso years as governor of the state. An in- law to Atiku Abubakar and with a lot of grassroots followership, he was the state Commissioner of Local Government and one of the most trusted and able lieutenants of the Ganduje administration.

In the aftermath of the governor’s anointment, many of the aspirants within the APC had laid down their dreams or had moved on from there.

Some of them, like the former Speaker of the House and current Reps member for Rano and Bukure constituency, Kabiru Alhassan Rirum,  elected to defect to the NNPP.

The likes of Barrister Inuwa Waya remained in the party to struggle on; A.A Zaura stepped down his dream and settled for Kano Central Senate seat while Senator Barau Jilbrin returned to the quest for the senate seat for Kano North.

In the NNPP, a list of consensus arrangement for various topmost positions appeared in the media a few days ago. From that document,  Abba  Kabiru Yusuf, a relative of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, emerged as the flag bearer of the party for the governorship post. Abba, who has stayed away from public light ever since his impressive performance in the 2019 elections, is to be deputized by Aminu Abdulsalam, a former Chief of Staff to Kwankwaso and seasoned politician.

Both of them, it must be recalled, made history when they emerged as the winner of the first round of the gubernatorial election in the state. They were eventually defeated at the second round of the exercise by the incumbent.

From the PDP in the state, the list of aspirants is impressive. They include known faces like multi- millionaire business man,  Ibrahim Amin Little, son of former Nigeria Head of State,  Mohammad Abacha, son of former Minister of Foreign Affairs,  Sadiq Wali, former Chief of Staff to Kwankwaso,  Dr Abubakar Goni, and the former Chairman of the Kano State Public Complaints  and Anti Corruption Agency,  Buyi Magaji.

Others are the former Commissioner of Budget in the state, Yusuf Dambatta, Mustapha Bala Getso and a former Commissioner of Work, Mauzu Magaji as well as Jafar Sani Bello. Bello told Daily Sun by phone that he is very optimistic he would pick the ticket of the party, adding he and his team had worked very hard to emerge victorious.

Daily Sun reports that a number of litigations between the current State Executive led by Shehu Shagagi and the Aminu Wali faction of the party have shrouded the activities of the party, reducing its impact as an alternate political party in the state.

But there is hope that as soon as they are done with their litigations, the party would rise up to its challenges and be counted.

From the Peoples Redemption Party is the son of Tanko Yakasai, Salihu Tanko Yakassai.  He was removed from office for siding the Nigeria masses against Buhari, and has remained very popular.

Enugu: The mind game

No fewer than 20 persons are jostling to replace Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State by May 29, next year, in the three major political parties of PDP, APC and APGA.

Sixteen of this number are from the PDP and they include, former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, Prof Bart Nnaji, Chijioke Edeoga, Peter Mbah, Senator Gil Nnaji, Capt. Evarest Nnaji, Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye, Chinyeaka Ohaa, and Dr. Gabriel Ajah.

Others are Dr. Kingsley Udeh, Pastor Beloved-Dan Anike, Nwabueze Ugwu, Dr Josef Onoh, Erasmus Anike, Prof. Jehu Nnaji and Chukwudi Nneji.

In APGA are former Minister of Information, Frank Nweke (Jnr.), Jeff Nnamani and Donatus Uzoemena, while the APC has Chief Uche Nnaji as the only visible aspirant.

Three major factors would determine who succeeds Ugwuanyi at the end of the day; namely: influence of zoning principle; how the Isi-Uzo matter is handled and the eventual fate of the clamour for South East Presidency.

Barring any changes in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable, all these issues must be settled in less than 10 days.

There have been campaigns that there is governorship zoning arrangement in the state and that it is the turn of Enugu East Senatorial District. Interest groups have invested substantially in pushing this agenda including hosting campaigns. Yet, within this group also exist those who lobby that there should be micro zoning to either Nkanu East or Isi-Uzo Local Government Area citing backwardness in the case of the former.

But another formidable group led by the senator representing Enugu West, Ekweremadu insists that the governorship slot having gone round the three zones should now be open for grabs. For them, what matters most at this period is competency; the capacity of the aspirant to deliver.

In the midst of all these, there has also been contention over the three-man delegates list of the party. Both camps have instituted law suits regarding what the authentic delegates’ list should be.  This has further opened flanks for squabbles within the party.

Governor Ugwuanyi has not spoken publicly on where he stands on the unfolding scenarios including naming his preferred aspirant. His has been a clear case of ‘hide and seek,’ though it is open secret that he totally supports zoning the slot to Enugu East. He attended different rallies to shore up support for zoning the governorship there.

As it stands, virtually all the aspirants are jostling to get the governor’s endorsement. But, the popular thinking in Enugu is that the immediate past Commissioner for Environment, Chijioke Edeoga, who hails from Isi-Uzo has the backing of the governor.

Edeoga, a former member of the House of Representatives has continued to power in a manner that not a few see him as the anointed one. The only snag for him is that people are seeing him as an extension of Nsukka cultural bloc where Ugwuanyi belongs.

The fear is that the core Nkanu people in Enugu East Senatorial District may work against him in the election proper if he eventually grabs the party’s ticket.

In that situation, they may support any of their own that emerges from either APGA or APC. There is also the feeling that Ekweremadu may toe the same path in the event that he is denied the PDP ticket.

The foregoing scenario has further compounded PDP’s headache in Enugu State.

Another important factor is that the outcomes of the PDP and APC Presidential conventions relating to the South East would determine the direction of the governorship race in the zone. So, voters in the zone will naturally vote for any party that gives presidential ticket to somebody from the region, and Enugu would not be different.

Meanwhile, 15 PDP governorship aspirants from Enugu East Senatorial District, Saturday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to accept, without hesitation, any one among them whom the governor chooses to become the candidate of the party.

It was only Prof. Hillary Edeoga that failed to produce himself for the meeting where the undertaking was entered into before the Enugu East Traditional Rulers Council led by its Chairman, Igwe Julius Nnaji, the Odezuluigbo II of Nike.

In the MoU, the aspirants also agreed not to drag the fallout of Ugwuanyi’s choice and the primary election to any court of law, agreeing also, that those not favoured by the choice would be carried along in the new government to be formed in 2023.

They said they were committed to “A compromise on matters that will promote unity, law, and order during the campaign and election period; respect for the governor of Enugu State and acceptance of his choice of a candidate from this group in the best interests of the Enugu–East Senatorial Zone and Enugu State at large.

The MoU was prepared under the auspices, guidance, and direction of the Traditional Rulers Council of the Enugu–East Senatorial District and the PDP Zonal Chairman, Enugu-East Senatorial District, Chief Nnamdi Nwafor and adopted at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel in Enugu.

Taraba: Religion and zoning as major factors

In Taraba, several intrigues and permutations have continued to play out in the hustle for the governorship seat with alleged outright imposition of candidates and substitution of delegate list in some political parties.

Apart from that, religion and zoning remain some of the topical issues that would decide the fate of the aspirants.

The PDP has enjoyed uninterrupted rule of Taraba since the return to democracy in 1999, producing all the governors so far and most of the legislative positions both at the state and federal levels.

During the 2015 and 2019 general elections, the candidate of the APC gave a hard run to the party but the party still held sway ultimately. This was partly due to the high regards they had for the zoning arrangement that saw the first governor from the Northern Zone between 1999 and 2003, Central Zone between 2007 and 2015 and Southern Taraba from 2015 to date.

However, as the preparations for the 2023 general elections gather momentum, the party seems to be in disarray as the zoning arrangement seems to have been relegated to the background.

Following the zoning arrangement, the governorship position is supposed to return to the Northern Zone in 2023. However, while the governor is said to be in full support of the arrangement, some interests in the South have insisted that the seat must remain in the zone for the next eight years.

According to Alhaji Abdulrazaq Musa, the pioneer Chairman of PDP in the state who is also the leader of PDP elders forum from Northern Zone, the move by some interests to set aside the zoning arrangement could spell doom for the party.

However, only recently, an elder statesman was alleged to have stirred the anger of the party members in his bid to impose a candidate from the Southern Zone who is very unpopular in the state.

While about five aspirants from the Northern Zone have picked the forms and have been screened by the party, two other aspirants front the South have also been screened and cleared to contest.

Among the top aspirants in the northern zone are the Speaker of the state Assembly, Professor Joseph Albasu Kunini, former PDP Chairman in the state, Victor Bala Kona, former Accountant General of the state, Ayuba Aminu Kotolo, Dr Hilkia Buba Joda and Professor Jerome Nyame. In the South, Mr Damian Dodo (SAN) and Senator Joel Ikyenya also picked the forms and have been cleared to vie for the ticket of the party.

Meanwhile, the APC in the state is also relentless in her bid to take over the state in 2023.

The state Chairman of the party Alhaji Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi told Journalists recently that the ruling PDP in the state has done all the campaign for the APC through the gross underperformance of the present administration in the state and expressed optimism that the party will win the state unfailingly in 2023.

The party has also enjoyed influx of high profile persons from the PDP recently including the former Senate Deputy Minority leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, former speakers of the state House of Assembly, Mr Abel Diah and Dr. Mark Useni among others.

However, a clash of interests among the old and new comers is threatening to tear the party apart. Only recently, the party Chairman announced and inaugurated a new set of officials for four local government areas in the Southern zone of the state in a move many believe was intended to alter the political calculations in favour of a certain new comer and aspirant in the party. So far, the move is met with still opposition and litigations.

While the party maintains that the zoning arrangement is a creation of the PDP and has nothing to do with the APC, most people believe that religion will okay a central role in deciding the fate of the party.

In the two governorship elections that the party has participated in so far in the state, most people believe that the party failed to make headways because they fielded candidates who are Muslims, giving credence to the notion that the APC is a religious or Muslim party.

For most analysts, “the APC stands a very good chance of clinching the governorship seat of the state if they are fair enough to allow a Christian fly their flag, rather than insisting on a Muslim”.

Taraba is a predominantly Christian state with a good Muslim population. In recent times, however, the Muslim Council raised the alarm over what they considered as marginalisation of Muslims in the state by the state government.

Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the NNPP, and other political parties are also on standby, deliberately delaying their primaries to create room for those who may feel aggrieved with the outcome of their respective party primaries and may decide to defect to other options.

While the issues of zoning, religion, litigations and imposition of candidates continue to play strategic roles in the clamour for who succeeds Governor Darius Ishaku in 2023, insecurity and poverty are a major concern for the people.

Recent security challenges in the state occasioned by bomb blasts, rise in thuggery and street violence especially at political gatherings are a major cause for alarm for the people.

Whether the political parties and political bigwigs will be willing to play the game by the rules, allow delegates to chose the right candidates and rally support for whoever emerges for each party, or whether the process of primaries will lead to the crash of some political parties and the rise of others remains to be seen in the days ahead. For now, one thing that is obvious is that the political calculations in Taraba as regards the governorship tussle remain  a mirage.

Cross River: Consensus collapses

In Cross River, the consensus option initially envisaged has collapsed as the APC, PDP governorship aspirants head for primaries.

A few days away from the exercise, the two major parties in the state are working round the clock to manoeuvre the political space for the governorship victory in 2023.

Before now, the discordant tunes over zoning and consensus were the trending campaign issues but all that seem to have collapsed ahead of the governorship primaries.

The APC in the state took the bull by the horns on May 10, 2022 when it announced Sen. Bassey Otu as the consensus governorship aspirant. Sen Otù, seen by many party stalwarts as a game changer, was a former Senator representing southern senatorial district of Cross River state.

But describing the consensus as contrived and taken ‘amid good food and vintage liquor’, the Director-General of Chris Agara Campaign Organisation, Richard Ogbeche, in a statement dissociated them from the arrangement, saying “we are not part of the so-called ‘consensus’ APC candidature.”

The statement said as legitimate members of the APC, they have always respected and will continue to respect the lawful decisions of the party and all its organs at all levels, but added that such respect and loyalty should however be mutual since the leadership of the party and the governor are as important to the members as the members should be important to them.

Agara pointed out the grave disrespect to some governorship  aspirants and assured its teeming supporters that he remains committed and competitive in the race and is prepared to pursue his aspiration to its logical conclusion.

The emergence of the Chancellor and owner of Arthur Jarvis University, Sir Arthur Jarvis Archibong, as the PDP Southern Senatorial Elders Forum consensus aspirant ahead of the party’s governorship primary has not only unsettled some aspirants, but thrown the party in the zone into confusion.

Jarvis who polled the majority votes during the Southern Senatorial district PDP leaders’ meeting, was named the unanimous choice of the Southern Senatorial district against other aspirants including Senator Gershom Bassey, Daniel Asuquo, Efiok Cobham, Amb. Nkoyo Toyo and Pastor Eyo Okpoene.

The meeting held on May 8, 2022 and presided over by the former Governor Donald Duke was aimed at encouraging the aspirants to, on their own accord, whittle down their numbers and thus enhance the chances for the success of a Southern candidate for the party.

Duke in a statement explained that the inability of all the aspirants to present one aspirant led to the decision of the elders in the house to decide on a non-binding straw poll that would reflect the acceptability of the aspirants.

No doubt, the motive behind the moves for consensus was to see the possibility of both APC and PDP in the state coasting easily for a no contest and then affirming their candidates on the D-Day. But it is clear that the consensus arrangement is in the balance.

As it stands, both parties are working on a tightrope as it is certain that all the aspirants who have been cleared are going into contest.

Abia: Crisis of succession boiling over

Twenty four years since it has been in the saddle, the PDP in Abia State has never had the kind of crisis it is going through now. Analysts argue that the crisis is such that if nothing is urgently done, the party may not come out of it without serious bruises.

At the center of the problem is the race for 2023; which zone in the state will produce Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s successor. While Abia North Senatorial District insist that power must return to the zone where it started in 1999, the Ngwa axis which is presently holding on to power, are insisting a segment of it (Umunneato) in Abia  Central would produce the next governor.

The leadership of the party in the state has not helped matters when it zoned the governorship ticket to both Abia North and Abia Central at the same time. With this arrangement, the Ngwa in Abia Central, have been accommodated in the race.

This strange zoning arrangement, created some controversies. Critical stakeholders of PDP in Abia, including former Senate President, Adolph Wabara, former governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji; former NDDC, Chairman, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, former SSG, Dr. Eme Okoro, amongst others who had earlier insisted that power must shift back to Abia North, condemned the zoning arrangement, warning of its inherent consequences for the party.

On the other hand, it appears that Ikpeazu was comfortable with the zoning arrangement since it was later discovered the person he was said to have anointed to succeed him, Prof Uche Ikonne is from the Abia Central Senatorial District.

Ikpeazu, pitching himself against the major stakeholders of the party, most of who were instrumental to his becoming governor, and the other governorship aspirants, including his deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu; the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abiribe, Ncheta Omerekpe, Nnanna Nwafor, Senator Emma Nwaka, Chima Anyaso and others, the battle line was drawn. The battle of who controls the 3-man delegates that would vote for Ikpeazu’s successor has reached its peak and would be decided this week.

There are some controversies over the election of the 3-man delegates. Governor Ikpeazu was reported to have been seen in a video, addressing some party members at Obingwa Ward 7 claiming that delegates had been elected.

While the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party, appeared to have concurred with the governor over the 3-man delegates election, some stakeholders of the party, and all the other governorship aspirants, except Prof Ikonne insisted there was no 3-man delegates election held in the state.

The aspirants last week, took their matter to the national leadership of the party in Abuja.

Led by Abaribe, the aspirants who appealed to the party’s NWC to do away with any list submitted by Abia SWC as 3-man delegates list and conduct the Abia governorship primaries with the statutory delegates, warned of the legal consequences of doing otherwise.

The state secretary of PDP, David Iro said in a statement, there was no delegates election held anywhere in the state and this earned him one month suspension.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said Abia PDP was yet to conduct its ad-hoc delegate election.

INEC’s position was made known via a letter by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony in response to an enquiry made by a legal practitioner.

However, as the battle over the 3-ad hoc list rages, one Mr. Akuoma Friday on May 17, 2022 went to court and obtained an Exparte Order making it mandatory for the controversial three-man adhoc delegates as the only electors at the primaries in Abia State.

The court presided over by Justice C.U Okoroafor, adjourned till May 25, 2022, the day of the governorship primary, for hearing on the matter.

By the order, it means statutory delegates in Abia State have been barred from participating in the primaries.

Some stakeholders of the party have in the light of the above, appealed to the national leadership of the party to reschedule the primaries in Abia to allow for the vacation of the court order, to avoid Abia from going the way of Zamfara after the 2019 elections wherein the state was disqualified from having participated in the election.

Whatever happens, this week, Governor Ikpeazu’s successor will be known.

Ebonyi: Battle reaches crescendo

The battle over who succeeds Governor David Umahi in 2023 has reached a crescendo with senatorial zones, clans and major political actors at each other’s jugular.

Aspirants under the ruling APC are the Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Francis Nwifuru; immediate past Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation And Fiscal Commission, Elias Mbam; Labour party candidate in the 2015 general elections, Edward Nkwegu (all from the North), and former Senator Julius Ali UchA (from the central).

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But Governor Umahi who hails from the Southern part of the state has already anointed the Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Mr. Francis Nwifuru, as his choice of successor.

Nwifuru who hails from Izzi clan in the Northern Senatorial District of the state was among the 16 lawmakers who defected from the PDP to the APC in solidarity with Governor Umahi when he defected to APC in the year 2020.

Umahi openly endorsed the lawmaker in April during a burial ceremony in Okposi, Ohaozara local government area of the state.

However, the endorsement of Nwifuru by the governor did not go down well with other aspirants and some critical political actors especially the founding members of the APC in the state.

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The first to reject the endorsement was the former Ebonyi Central Senator and pioneer Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly,Mr. Julius Ucha, who is also a governoship aspirant on the platform of the APC.

Ucha who was a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) that merged to form the APC in 2013, described the Speaker’s endorsement as undemocratic and unacceptable.

He pointedly told Governor Umahi that the endorsement of the Speaker will fail.

Ucha who hails from the majority Ezza clan in the central senatorial district vowed to contest the election.

The former Ebonyi Central Senator who had emerged a consensus APC govership aspirant for Ezza clan advised Governor Umahi to quickly rescind the endorsement to give all aspirants a level playing ground.

Speaking at a press conference in Abakaliki, Ucha who was the candidate of the party in 2015 general elections, warned that any attempt to circumvent democratic process in the party’s primary election will be vehemently rejected.

While the dust raised by Ucha’s press conference was yet to settle, a faction of the party in the state that operated under the aegis of Old APC stakeholders led by a factional Chairman of the party in the state, Harou Ajah, petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of APC, Abdullahi Adamu.

In the petition which was also published in some national dailies, the Old APC members alleged that the Speaker of the assembly endorsed by the governor was not a member of the party.

Ajah claimed that Nwifuru and 15 other lawmakers sacked by the Federal High Court Abuja over their alleged defection to APC had sworn affidavit and presented to the Appeal Court that they never defected to APC and asked the appellate court to reverse their sack.

Interestingly, intra-party wrangling ahead of the primary elections is also heating up the PDP in the state.

Political interests and sectional sentiments have also caused serious disaffections among major political players in the opposition PDP.

But the real bone of contention in the PDP is the struggle among the three senatorial zones over which zone should take the gubernatorial ticket ahead of the general elections.

Some argue that since the governorship has rotated peacefully among the three Senatorial zones, the ticket should return to Ebonyi North where it started in 1999.

First civilian Governor of the state and Senator representing Ebonyi North in the National Assembly, Dr. Sam Egwu belongs to this school of thought.

But the Ezza people in the central senatorial district have vehemently rejected the idea arguing that being the eldest clan,  and given the pivotal roles played by their sons during the struggle for the creation of the state, they should be given the opportunity to produce the governor of the state in 2023.

Rivers: Battle of old rivals

The situation is not going to be much different in Rivers, the oil-rich state.

In Rivers, the governor, Nyesom Wike, is a strong politician to reckon with. He has his unique style of playing politics and it works for him.

Analysts see him as a rugged politician, who uses that approach to bulldoze his way to victory.

However, the game is not likely to be an easy one as he will once again confront his arch opponent and current minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi who is the leader of the APC in the state.

Some argue that with the irreconcilable internal crisis between the Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe factions, the Wike-led PDP would take advantage of the crisis to victory. The crisis in APC, which has lingered for seven years is not likely to end now as none of the factions is willing to sheathe its sword.

However, critical observers are also not sure how the ruling PDP will settle its own brewing crisis owing to the number of aspirants who want to succeed Governor Wike.

The aspirants include the former PDP chairman in the state, Felix Obuah, former Secretary to the State Government, Tammy Danagogo, Senator George Sekibo, former Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, Senator Lee Maeba, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara, Isaac Kamalu and Mr. Sim Harry.

There is a strong rumour that the governor may either favour Kamalu or Harry but the snag is that they are believed by Rivers people, to be politically unpopular even though both of them held sensitive appointments in Wike’s administration.

Also, there are speculations that the governor might decide to allow the Rivers South-East senatorial district to produce his successor to settle the Ogoni ethnic nationality whose people have decried decades of political marginalization in the state.

So, as it is, nobody can authoritatively predict who succeeds Governor Wike in 2023 but the flag bearers of the two major parties will likely be known this week.

Benue: It’s Ortom Versus Akume

In Benue, the battle is between the PDP, the ruling party in the state and the main opposition party, APC. For those who know the state, it is going to be a tough battle in view of the fact that the incumbent, Samuel Ortom of the PDP will be facing the APC led by a former governor of the state and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume.

For obvious reasons, the PDP being in power is the party to beat in the state.

As at the last count in the PDP, it was gathered that 14 governorship aspirants had bought forms, submitted and have been screened and ready to participate in the primaries.

It would be recalled that the party, after serious deliberation with stakeholders from the three Senatorial districts of the state, had adopted the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Titus Uba as consensus aspirant for the 14 Tiv Speaking Local Government Areas and the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu as consensus aspirant for the 9 Idoma and Igede speaking LGAs.

Although, the party tried to adopt a consensus, 12 out of the over 30 aspirants who earlier indicated interest to contest the election refused the consensus arrangement and went ahead to purchase nomination forms.

But after series of meetings and consultations with the 12 aspirants who had purchased their forms, eight of them from the Tiv speaking area agreed to toe the party’s decision to adopt Uba as their aspirant.

The aspirants made their stance known on Friday, May 20th, 2023 after a meeting with Governor Samuel Ortom and Senator Gabriel Suswam at the Government House in Makurdi to finalise their consultations ahead of the party’s primaries.

The aspirants who gave their nod to the aspiration of Uba include, Barr. Chille lgbawua, Arc. Joe Ikyaagba, Dr Jibo, Mrs. Susan Waya, Dr. Paul Ubwa, Dr. Paul Orhii, Dr. Akumbur and Dr. Dominic Akaahan.

Also, in a chat with newsmen shortly after the meeting, Igbauwa who is Chairman of the Forum of PDP Governorship aspirants in the state, disclosed that eight out of the 12 of them that purchased their nomination forms have agreed to work together to ensure that the consensus candidate of the party is returned at the forthcoming primary election without rancour.

He said they were committed to following all the processes prescribed by law and ensuring that due process was followed in support of Uba so that at the end of the day, their agreement would be lawful.

Igbawua who was flanked by Governor Ortom, Senator Suswam and the other aspirants also said their meeting was to consolidate their decision and resolutions when 10 of them met Thursday, May 19th, 2022 on the matter.

So, as it stands now, and barring any last minute change, six gubernatorial aspirants on the platform of the PDP will be slugging it out at the Party’s primaries billed to hold this week.

The aspirants who will be going into the PDP primaries include, Titus Uba, Benson Abounu, Dennis Ityavyar, Ben Akaakar, Paul Angya and Terkaa Ucha.

But in the APC, out of the 32 aspirants who indicated interests to contest the number one seat, only 12 have purchased the nomination and expression of interest forms.

Of the number, it was gathered that 10 were favoured by the zoning arrangements of the party while two others who were zoned out of the contest went ahead to get the ruling party’s nomination forms.

The party had zoned the governorship seat to the Jechira intermediate area of Zone “A” comprising Vandeikya and Konshisha Local government areas as well as aspirants from the Benue South Senatorial District known as Zone “C.”

APC’s Publicity Secretary, Dan-Morgan Ihomun, in an interview told Daily Sun that with the new zoning arrangement, only two aspirants who had bought the nomination forms for the governorship seat were not favoured.

According to Ihomun, the names of those aspirants zoned out of the contest who bought nomination forms include former Attorney General of the Federation, Mike Kaase Aondoakaa as well as immediate past Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom, Pastor Terwase Orbunde.

Asked what becomes of those who had bought the nomination forms but were not favoured by the zoning arrangement, the Publicity Secretary said the party will not stop them from participating in the primaries in any way.

“The issue is very simple for those from the local governments that are zoned out of the contest but went ahead to buy forms. As you know, the zoning and consensus has to be accepted by all the candidates themselves and in the event that they do not accept the decision of the party, of course they are free to go into the election. If they win fine, it is as simple as that.

“So, as it is, only Aondoakaa and Orbunde are out of the zoning arrangements,” Ihomun added.

The Party’s publicity scribe also disclosed that the leader of the party in the state and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, as a party man and law abiding citizen of the country, would not interfere in the selection process of who emerges as the party’s flag bearer during the primaries.

Akwa Ibom: Not yet Uhuru for Uno

The succession train in Akwa Ibom has not derailed from its usual high-tension manipulations, accusations, intrigues, disappointments, rancour, squander-mania and bandwagon effect. It has always been so since 1999.

Governor Udom Emmanuel’s attempt to wrap up the issue of who succeeds him by anointing Mr.Umo Eno, his erstwhile  commissioner for lands and water resources, ran into seeming serious troubled waters with avalanche of condemnations, criticisms, zoning jingoism, hues and cries, threats and blackmail.

The governor, who seemed unperturbed up to the point of ignoring the rancour at home to pick the PDP presidential nomination  form, appears to  have weathered the storm, especially  if the party would deploy the ad-hoc delegates in the primaries as those who mounted stiff opposition and appeared to have  boxed the governor and his successor-apparent into a corner, could be deflated at the primaries.

So other things being equal, Umo Eno is coasting home to PDP nomination victory leaving  Onofiok Luke and Sen Bassey Albert to decide who comes second and third while rest of the pack only as former aspirants. This is because the state government is in total control of nearly 4000 adhoc delegates and some sizable number of statutory delegates.

The realisation of impending failure has caused  some aspirants to defect to the main opposition party, APC, which however is embroiled in its characteristic factional squabbles with two state chairmen and some state executive Council members.

Such defectors include Mr Akan Udofia, said to have bought forms in both political parties, but  recently declared for APC.

Analysts believe that unless Sen Godswill Akpabio gets the presidential ticket to boost the moral of APC, the party may soon sing its nunc dimittis in the state; and the impending governorship feud between Senators John Akpanudoedehe and Ita Enang, could even make its case worse.

Plateau: Immersed in cloud of uncertainty

In Plateau State, a cloud of political uncertainty is hovering round the APC and PDP as delegates prepare to select candidates who will fly the tickets of the two parties in 2023.

Nine governorship aspirants purchased the nomination forms of APC and have been cleared by the party to contest the party primaries billed for Thursday May 27, 2022 while 18 aspirants purchased the PDP nomination forms and have also been cleared to contest the primaries scheduled for Wednesday, May 25, 2023.

The number appears very high in the PDP due to the cost of nomination forms compared to the APC where about 20 persons had earlier indicated interest in the governorship but only nine afforded the N50 million to pick the form.

Political pundits believe that the opposition PDP has greater number of aspirants based on the fact that PDP is grounded in the state and has high chances of producing Lalong’s successor if the mistake of 2015 is not repeated.

All aspirants in each political parties are working round the clock, clinging on political bigwigs in the state to outsmart one another with a view to clinch the ticket of their respective parties.

Across the two major political parties, the voting pattern would be based on the existing political blocs in the respective parties. In the APC, the contest is between the Governor Simon Lalong bloc, Sen. Joshua Dariye bloc and those who are scrambling for relevance.

For PDP, the political relevance and influence of former Governor Jonah David Jang would determine who picks the ticket as all the aspirants are holding tight to their political ideology to gain sympathy of the delegates.

Literally, the two major parties have zoned the governorship seat to Plateau Central where virtually all the aspirants hail from with the exception of few who came out from different Senatorial zones.

Names that are popping up, likely to fly the ticket of the APC includes Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda, former Resident Electoral Commission, INEC, Benue State, Dr. Patrick Dakum, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN), Prof. Sonni Tyoden, Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Sunday Biggs, Former Permanent Secretary, Plateau State Government and Nde David Victor Dimka, former Comptroller of Nigeria Custom Service among others.

It is rumoured that Governor Simon Lalong has issued directive to the party, local government chairmen and all his appointees to deliver Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda, a development that has heated politicking in the ruling APC.

Similarly, the strongest contenders in the PDP includes Caleb Mutfwang, a technocrat and former Executive Chairman of Mangu Local Government Area, Timothy Golu, former member, House of Representatives, Prof. Shedrack Best, former Secretary to Plateau State Government, Amb. Bagudu Hirse, former Nigeria Ambassador and former Minister of Forieign Affairs and Mr. Dauda Gotring, a former Banker and former Staff of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

An ardent supporter of the PDP would consider the factors crucial because of the allegations of anti-party by some PDP members during the 2015 election that led power out of the party.

In the APC, it is alleged that Governor  Lalong has pitched tent with Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda due to the crucible role he allegedly played as INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner of Benue State in returning Lalong in 2019 against all odds.

The rumour has unsettled other aspirants who believe that they are credible, competent and spent huge resources to nurture and sustain the party since inception in 2014.

The aggrieved aspirants had in a press conference in Jos endorsed by 18 aspirants including those who couldn’t afford the nomination forms asked the governor to revert his decision of contemplating dumping the party for another.

But the state APC chairman, Rufus Bature cleared the air that the party has no preferred candidate for the primaries and said a level playing ground would be provided for all aspirants to contest for the party ticket.

He noted that the party is working round the clock to consolidate on the victory of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Kaduna: It’s battle royale

Today, what is uppermost in the minds of the people of Kaduna State is who takes over from the incumbent governor, Nasir El-rufai in 2023.

Interestingly, a good number of politicians from other political parties, particularly the APC) and PDP have declared their intentions and picked forms for the number one seat of the state.

But feelers from within and outside the state have indicated that the interest shown by politicians especially amongst the allies of the incumbent governor is an indication that the primaries in the APC will be more fierce than the El-rufai’s 2015 and 2019 primaries contest.

However, recent development has shown that top echelons of the ruling APC are doing everything possible to enforce consensus candidate at the primaries.

However, one of the APC contenders Sani Sha’aban has faulted the process of selecting delegates by the party in Kaduna and has since written a petition to challenge it.

The congresses were done by consensus by APC’s elections guidelines and constitution in the 23 Local Government Areas of Kaduna State last weekend.

But, the Appeals Committee for the Ad-hoc Delegate Congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State, has upheld the Congress, describing the exercise as successful.

Meanwhile, the leading opposition party in the state, the PDP held a consensus building meeting. The meeting was said to be a signal to the ruling party that PDP is now ready to take over power in the coming elections.

In PDP, the 2019 Gubernatorial Candidate  in Kaduna, Isa Ashiru appears to be the most favoured aspirant. In the 2019 election, Ashiru came second, while Governor El-rufai was declared the winner of the election.

Oyo: Intrigues and horse trading at its best

Barring last minute changes, the 2023 gubernatorial poll in Oyo State  will be a straight contest between the PDP and the APC.

From all indications, the incumbent governor, Seyi Makinde of PDP will emerge as the party’s candidate. Though a former deputy governor of the state, Hazeem Gbolarumi, has also indicated interest to contest the governorship poll on the platform of PDP, political pundits have observed that he has no chance against Governor Makinde.

In the APC, there are many gladiators jostling to get the party’s gubernatorial ticket. They include a former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chief Adebayo Adelabu, who was the party’s governorship candidate in 2019; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Teslim Folarin, who was the Senate Leader between 2007 and 2011; former chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Akeem Agbaje; a cardiovascular surgeon and former Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr.  Azeez Adeduntan; and an engineer, Alao Oyedele.

A legal luminary, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), has also shown interest in getting the governorship ticket of APC. The Chairman, National Communication Commission (NCC), Prof Adeolu Akande, is also among the governorship aspirants on the APC platform.

Investigation carried out by Daily Sun’s reporter revealed that the contest for the governorship ticket of APC is really between Adebayo Adelabu, and Teslim Folarin. Further investigation has also shown that Adelabu may be the favoured aspirant that will eventually emerge as the APC governorship candidate.

Federal lawmakers, who are privy to the disposition of some powers that be in Abuja, have, however, made it known that discussion is on for Adelabu to get the party’s governorship ticket, while Folarin should return to the Senate from Oyo Central senatorial district. The caveat is that Adelabu must return partially the money spent so far by Folarin in pursuing his gubernatorial ambition. But the final decision has not been taken ahead of the governorship primary of APC that will be held on Thursday, this week.

It was further revealed that Adelabu is being favoured because he was the 2019 governorship candidate of the APC , when he garnered over 350,000 votes and came second after Seyi Makinde of PDP that won the poll.

Then, another factor that is working in favour of Adelabu is the fact that he bought scores of Sienna cars that were used for campaign in 2019. After he lost the poll, he did not ask the beneficiaries to return them. The people have been using the cars since then.

Meanwhile, the way things are now, Governor Seyi Makinde and Adebayo Adelabu, will emerge as PDP and APC governorship candidates respectively. The candidates of other political parties may either contest against the duo, or form alliances, either with PDP, or APC.

Checks also showed that developments within the PDP and APC have made it very difficult for political analysts to say with certainty, who will emerge as the state governor in 2023. The internal wranglings within the PDP and APC have made the governorship poll very dicey.

At present, the governorship aspirants across the political parties are scrambling for the soul of delegates, and favour of political leadership to emerge as candidates.

Nasarawa: Gov Sule versus three PDP gladiators

In Nasarawa, the political atmosphere is charged. Governor Abdullahi Sule of APC is eligible to run for re-election, and had made his intention known to the Nasarawa people when supporters of the governor under the aegis of Abdullahi Sule Amalgamated Support Groups, led by one Murtala Abubakar-Muhammad, had  purchased the N50 million expression of interest and nomination forms, aimed at compelling the governor to seek reelection.

Declaring his intention to run for a second term in office in Lafia, Sule said he was re-contesting the governorship seat in 2023 to justify the efforts of his supporters who had contributed their funds to purchase the forms for him.

He said, “Some of these people who are barely making a living came together and raised the funds to buy the nomination and expression of interest forms for me to re-contest for the 2023 governorship election.

“This gesture is very touchy and important to me, so I cannot turn down their request. Therefore, I hereby declare to re-contest as governor in the 2023 election.

But a twist unfolded as the former wife of the present National Chairman of the APC,  Hakiyat Fatima Hussain Abdullahi picked the expression of Interest and Nomination form to contest for the governorship position in Nasarawa State.

Picking the form at the party Secretariat through the national organising secretary, Suleiman Muhammad Argungu, she said the quest to contest is to alleviate poverty from the people of the state and to ensure equal representation of women in politics.

With the development, it is therefore important to note that Hajia Fatima is  aspiring to contest in the party primaries against the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Sule, who has declared his intention to contest for the  second term last week.

When Daily Sun contacted stakeholders in APC, none  agreed to comment on the issue in other to avoid taking sides  between the different camps emerging in the state.

But for Sule to  get his second term bid, he must contend with three gladiators of the PDP who have come together towards ensuring taking power off  the ruling APC.

All the three aspirants of the PDP in Nasarawa  pledged to accept the outcome of the forthcoming primaries in good faith.

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