South-South: Where political godsons outplayed godfathers.

To those who figured out the machinations at play, the just concluded general elections in the South-South geo-political zone were a match of political godfathers versus their political sons, just as the electorate exercised their constitutional power to elect their leaders.

By the time the elections, which started with the February 25 Presidential/National Assembly ended on March 18 with the Governorship/House of Assembly elections, the combatants settled scores in fascinating styles.  

Ayade outfoxes Duke, Imoke

In Cross-River state, where the battle for supremacy had raged for a while, a godson, Governor Ben Ayade, tackled two godfathers, Senator Liyel Imoke, and Mr. Donald Duke, both former governors of the state, and for all intents and purposes, he held them spellbound them in the manner he installed the governor-elect, Senator Bassey Otu.

In 2015 when Senator Imoke backed Ayade for the governorship of the state, Duke, his predecessor, kept his distance. This is because he and Imoke were not seeing eye-to-eye.

The freezing relationship between the two political soul mates started far back in 2007 when the occasion came for Imoke to become governor of the state, but it did not excite Duke who propped up his then deputy, Water Eneji, to succeed him. The effort did not see the light of day.

Throughout Imoke’s tenure, Duke did not overtly relate with him. The two stayed their separate ways, but after Imoke’s exit from office, Ayade, who he crowned, tried to cultivate Duke’s friendship and kept Imoke at bay. Unluckily, the company did not last, as the two could not work together for long.

The unfriendly relationship between the three forced Ayade to defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2021.

In the run-up to the 2023 elections, during the campaign, Duke kept attacking Ayade, prompting Ayade to send him an inbox message, threatening to “expose” Duke if he did not stop.

The altercation between them went viral on social media.

In the election, Ayade backed the return of the governorship position to the southern senatorial district. The three senatorial districts had previously served eight years each but Duke preferred the emergence of Senator Sandy Onor, the preference of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state for the post, since he is a close friend of Wike. 

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Imoke supported his age-old political ally, Senator Gershom Bassey, who is also from the southern district.

However, with Wike’s support, Onor emerged as the candidate of the PDP in the primaries.

This effectively pitched the two friends, Duke and Imoke, further against each other.

To ensure the victory of his candidate in the polls, Duke, who later became the chair of the PDP Governorship Campaign Committee went everywhere with Onor to canvass for votes, while Imoke and Gershom kept aloof.

Duke’s effort ended disastrously when he and Onor lost their polling units, wards, local government, and state in the election.

Gershom Bassey who apparently illustrated the mind of Imoke celebrated the loss by stating in an interview that the people of the state had chosen equity, justice, and fair play.

Ayade and his party, APC, worked for Senator Bassey Otu, who is from the southern part of the state and primarily loved by the people. He won the governorship election in a landslide.

The fight among the godfathers caused a predominantly PDP state to become an APC state, following the recent sweeping victory of APC in the National Assembly, House of Assembly, and gubernatorial polls across the state.

Okowa confounds Ibori

In Delta state, it was not straightforward for the governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, whose divergence with his leader and erstwhile governor, Chief James Ibori, on who would be the PDP governorship standard-bearer for the 2023 elections led to a chain of reactions against Okowa.

After the stormy encounter, Okowa, and the forces that stood with him overpowered Ibori, the leader of the famous Ibori PDP political dynasty, of which he (the governor) is a member, as they successfully delivered the party’s candidate, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as governor-elect of the state.

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While Ibori is mulling over how to rise above the degradation, Saturday Vanguard has it on good authority that Okowa, and his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who joined hands to stop the APC governorship candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who Ibori finally pitched tent with, were planning a soft landing for him.

Wike scoffs Amaechi  

Since 2015, two opposing forces, one led by the incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike, under the banner of the PDP, and the other headed by his predecessor- turned arch-rival, Rt. Rotimi Amaechi, had dictated the pace and tone of partisan politics in Rivers state.

After three- election circles between these foremost Rivers political power brokers, Wike lorded it all over Amaechi.

Expressing the trilogy of victory over Amaechi within the period, Wike told the immediate past Minister of Transportation, “2015, you were super governor, we beat you, in 2019, you were super minister, we beat you, now, you are super nobody, and we beat you. What can you do again?”

Whereas Amaechi gave a fierce fight against Wike in all ramifications in APC’s loss to the ruling PDP in the 2015 and 2019 elections, the PDP overwhelmed the APC in the latest exercise, winning all 23 local government areas in unassailable margins.

Wike was once the Chief of Staff to Amaechi when the former minister was governor of the state, but today, they are political foes.

Udom shocks Akpabio

It is no news that the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel, faced very strong opposition to establishing his successor, Pastor Umo Eno, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Interestingly, the forces he battled with were mostly from within his own political party, the PDP, especially the several litigations against his successor and the party by an aggrieved gubernatorial aspirant.

Akan Okon, Udom’s former cabinet member, had gone to court immediately after the PDP primaries to challenge the processes that produced Eno as the candidate of the party.

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However, ahead of the poll, Mr. Okon lost all court cases aimed at stopping Eno from recognition as a standard-bearer, including the allegation of forgery of results of West African Examination Council Certificates, WAEC, and birth certificate.

He contended with Senator Bassey Akpan; the senator representing Akwa Ibom Northeast (Uyo) senatorial district, who refused to drop his gubernatorial aspiration to support Eno. Akpan moved out with his supporters to the Young Progressive Party, YPP.

There were reports a few weeks before the March 18 governorship poll that Udom’s former boss and precursor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Senator Akpan were planning an alliance aimed at stopping Governor Emmanuel from producing his successor.

The former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio, took over from Niger Delta leader, Obong Victor Attah, who later regretted making him his successor.

Just as Akpabio fell out with Attah, so Udom and Akpabio also have their differences and tread different political paths to date.

However, sources privy to the development were quick to say that the plot failed because Akpan refused to step down for Akpabio’s godson and gubernatorial candidate of the APC, Obong Akanimo Udofia, who came a distant third in the election.

Other aggrieved gubernatorial candidates of the PDP closed ranks and worked for the success of the party ahead of the campaigns.

Among them were the former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and serving member, representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium federal constituency, Barr Onofiok Luke, and Senator Effiong Bob, both Eno’s tribesmen of Nsit Ubium local government area.

Meanwhile, unlike in the previous administrations, Governor Udom enjoyed the backing of elders and most stakeholders of the party across the state to produce his successor, and religious leaders under the umbrella of “Fathers of Faith,” who massively mobilised their members to vote for Eno. 

Source: vanguardngr

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