The ruling Peoples Democratic Party elects candidates for the governorship elections amid protests, but the biggest losers appear to be former ministers who left the President Goodluck Jonathan administration to contest the party primaries filled with intrigues
| By Olu Ojewale | Dec. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |
THEY had high hopes of becoming governors of their states. Hence, they left their plum job as ministers to try their luck in the local murky waters of their states’ politics where they hoped to become governors. They could have succeeded if they had mastered all the intrigues that played out during primaries which held across the country on Monday, December 10. But they did not as all the five former ministers who left the federal executive council to contest for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, tickets to govern their states failed, except one who proved to understand the dynamics and left no stone unturned as he campaigned in all the nook and crannies of his state as if the powers in Abuja never supported his ambition unlike the others.
Left to rue the unfavourable adventure are Labaran Maku, Musiliu Obanikoro, Emeka Wogu, and Onyebuchi Chukwu, all former ministers of information, defence, labour and health, respectively. Only Nyesom Wike, former minister of state for education, got the Rivers State governorship ticket. In spite of heated opposition from some leading politicians and the PDP stakeholders in the state, he won the poll with a landslide 1,083 votes out of a total of 1,108 delegates’ votes.
Wike, a former chairman of Obiakpor Local Government and a virulent political opponent of Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers has the backing of Patience, wife of President Jonathan. On his victory, Wike said: “My victory is victory for democracy. I will reclaim the stolen mandate of the PDP and recover what is rightly ours in Rivers State. The era of rascality and impunity has caused Rivers State dearly. Today, the state enjoys a pariah status.”
But whether the 17 other aspirants who boycotted the primaries in protest will allow him to have a smooth run to the election time is another issue. They claimed that the whole process that led to the primaries had been skewed to produce Wike as the party candidate. The aspirants, who spoke at the campaign office of Lancelot Anyaya, a retired major, in the new GRA area of Port Harcourt, said what happened as governorship primaries was a charade because “due process was not followed. So, real election did not take place. What you saw as election was a tragic comedy of wickedness by a few persons to enslave Rivers people.” The aspirants said they had presented their complaints to the national leadership of the party, promising to wait for response before any other action.
Prominent among those against Wike’s election were Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, Don Baridom, Biobele Odesola, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Oseleye Dennis Ojuka, Alabo Paworiso Samuel-Horsfall, Gabriel Pidomson, Samson Ngerebara, Bernard Mikko, Nimi Walson-Jack, Bekinbo Dagogo-Jack, Atamuno Atamuno, Tamunosisi Gogo-Jack, Fafaa Dan Princewill, Tonye Princewill and Silva Opusunju.
If it were possible for Governor Martin Elechi, the former minister of health would be his successor as governor of Ebonyi State. But his were wishes not in conformity with that of his deputy, Dave Umahi, who fought his way to beat seven other contestants to win the party ticket at the primaries held at the Abakaliki Township Stadium, on Monday, December 8. In the poll which had 592 delegates, Umahi polled 541 votes, hence, he was declared the party candidate for the state gubernatorial election in 2015.
Other contenders in the race for the party ticket were Paul Okorie, Aja Nwachukwu, Hycinth Ikpo, Paulinus Igwe Nwagu, Michael Ude Udumanta and Offia Nwali.
Interestingly, Chukwu did not show up at the venue of the primaries having realised that the growing agitation against the governor over his choice was going to hit the rock.
Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, who served as chairman of the governorship primaries panel, commended the peaceful conduct of primaries.
But that could not be said of the primaries held in Lagos State. Given his connection to the military, if were possible, Obanikoro would probably have used the military to get the people behind him as delegates at the PDP convention which elected Olujimi Agbaje by 434 votes to be the gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2015. The former defence minister came second with 345 votes. Obanikoro has since rejected the result, accusing Bode George, former national vice-chairman of the PDP, and Ademola Ogunlewe, former minister of works as being behind his defect. Threatening fire and brimstone, the former minister of state for defence, promised not to leave any stone unturned to get justice.
Wogu, former minister of labour and productivity, must be very disappointed with himself for coming third when he contested for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in Abia State. Wogu scored 33 votes to be third at the PDP governorship primary in Abia State. He was defeated by Okezie Ikpeazu, the aspirant supported by Governor Theodore Orji, who polled 487. Placing second was Uche Ogah who got 103 votes. Opponents of Ikpeazu, have, however, described the process as an extension of Governor Orji’s administration beyond 2015. Orji himself has picked a senatorial ticket to contest at the next election.
Maku’s dream of being the PDP flag bearer in Nasarawa State at the governorship election next February received a severe blow. He was defeated by Yusuf Agabi, a senator, who polled 214.
Also the dream of Ahmed Ibeto, deputy governor, Niger State, was cut short as he wanted to succeed Governor Babangida Aliyu in office. He was beaten by Umar Nasko, former chief of staff to Aliyu. Nasko scored 908 votes to clinch the party’s ticket, while Ibeto received 34 votes. Many people would apparently be surprised that the cordial working relationship hitherto enjoyed by Aliyu and Ibeto did not translate into positivity for the deputy governor. But observers said the relationship went sour after the deputy governor reportedly defied Aliyu’s body language not to join the governorship race.
Another deputy governor who lost the race for the PDP governorship ticket is Ignatius Longjam. He lost the ticket to Gyang Pwajok, a senator, who polled 492 votes, while Longja scored 163 votes. Fidelis Tapgun, former governor of Plateau’s effort to return was also dashed as he only voted for himself in the primaries.
Tapgun should not feel too badly. He has company in Christopher Alao-Akala, former governor Oyo State, whose ambition to stage a comeback was also dashed at the primaries stage. Alao-Akala’s nemesis was Teslim Folarin, a former Senate leader, who scored 167 to defeat his closest rival, Hazeem Gbolarunmi. Gbolarunmi, who was deputy to Alao-Akala, scored 12 votes, while Alao-Akala scored two votes.
Like Alao-Akala, former Governor Ikedi Ohakim failed in his effort to return to the government house of Imo State. He lost Emeka Ihedioha, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, at the primaries held at Owerri, the state capital. In the keenly contested election, Ihedioha scored 246 to beat Ifeanyi Araraume, former senator, who recorded 236 votes to be second, while Ohakim placed third with 213 votes and Chris Anyanwu, a senator, got 10 votes.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State must be beaming with satisfaction that his favoured aspirant, Udom Emmanuel and former secretary to the state government, won the PDP governorship ticket for the state. In the contest, there were 24 aspirants, but when it became a one-man show, 21 other aspirants walked out in protest. In any case, Emmanuel polled 1,201 votes and was declared winner by Bola Oyebowale, chairman of the election panel,
An observer who doesn’t want his name in print because of his support for another candidate, told Realnews that there was no election. He alleged that the primaries held at the Uyo International Stadium was fraught with irregularities and lack of transparency, which prompted many of the aspirants to walk out. The aggrieved aspirants said there was no proper accreditation and that those who were accredited were fakes. They, however, promised to lodge their protest at the party headquarters in Abuja. The protesting aspirants Nsima Ekere, former deputy governor; Assam E. Assam, SAN, former Nigerian ambassador to Russia and the Belarus; Larry Esin, an engineer; Bassey Dan-Abia, former commissioner for rural development and Ekpenyong Ntekim, former attorney-general and commissioner for justice.
Similarly to receive the PDP hierarchy attention in Abuja, is the primaries held in Enugu State. There were two parallel primaries in the state. One was reportedly won by Ayogu Eze, a serving senator, while the other was won by Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, a serving member of the House of Representatives. Ugwuanyi has the backing of Governor Sullivan Chime, while Eze had the support of Ike Ekweremadu, deputy Senate president, until the primaries itself.
Chime had been interested in the senatorial seat of Ekweremadu but an agreement was struck in which the governor decided to forgo his senatorial ambition in exchange for the serving senator’s support for Ugwuanyi.
On the information that the list approved by the National Working Committee had been changed by Ikeje Asogwa’s faction, Eze, chairman, Senate committee on Works, therefore, moved from Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to conduct separate primaries at Filbon Hotel, Enugu, with the original list of the delegates which was previously held in the state when Asogwa was not recognized as the PDP chairman in the state. Eze won with 530 votes out of 614 votes cast.
Nevertheless, Asogwa still produced the list which was used for the parallel primaries held at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium occupied by Governor Chime and his supporters, including two allies of Ekweremadu, who had wanted to contest but withdrew for Ugwuanyi on the prodding of the senator.
In any case, Eze and his group, including Samuel Onyishi, a transport mogul, said they would continue to fight for equitable and justice. Realnews learnt that the matter would be among those to be sorted out by the national headquarters of the party. Efforts to reach Eze to comment on the development has not yielded any fruit.
Perhaps, incumbent Governor Bala Ngilari of Adamawa State, would need some tutoring from the likes of Chime and co as he failed to pick the PDP ticket at the primaries held at the Old Parade Ground, Abuja. He was defeated by Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who defected from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the PDP.
Ngilari and five other aspirants were humbled by Ribadu who polled 688 votes. The governor got 26 votes. The National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP had moved the primaries to Abuja following accusation that Ngilari was tampering with the process.
Also failed to make his influence count was Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State. David Edebvie, his candidate, was defeated in the race won by Ifeanyi Okowa, chairman, Senate committee on Health. Okowa polled 406 votes to beat Edebvie, his closest rival, who scored 299 votes.
While congratulating Okowa, Uduaghan charged him to demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship by quickly extending a hand of fellowship to other contestants. He also called on the other aspirants to note that the exercise was a family contest where there was no winner no loser, urging them to join hands with Okowa in positioning the party for victory at the general elections. “I must also at this juncture commend the peaceful disposition displayed by all aspirants before and during the primaries. This is a testament to our peace and security agenda in the state,” he said.
Aminu Ibrahim Ringim, former chief of staff to Governor Sule Lamido, was the winner in Jigawa State. He won the contest between him and Abba Anas Adamu, who later requested to withdraw in absentia.
Shortly before the commencement of the exercise held at the party’s headquarters in Dutse, capital of the state, Aminu Kane, one of the aspirants, met the party leadership and formally announced his decision to step down for Ringim. In like manner, Adamu also decided to step down but his request was rejected because he did not come in person.
While rejecting the request, Kaulaha Aliyu, chairman electoral panel, ordered the 1,025 delegates to vote for any of the two aspirants. Ringim eventually won the poll with 1020 votes while Adamu had none and six votes were invalid.
Despite the direction that there should be no primaries in Ogun State, the state still went ahead to elect its candidate for the PDP. At the poll, Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, a PDP returnee, picked the ticket, by defeating Dimeji Bakole, a former speaker of the House of Representatives. In the poll, Isiaka got 705 votes, while Kayode Amusan, his closest rival, scored 151 votes.
In Kaduna State, Governor Ramalan Yero got the nod of the delegates to be the party flag bearer. Similarly, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo emerged as the candidate in Gombe State.
From all indications, there appear to be a lot more to be heard from the PDP primaries as disgruntled aspirants have been promising fire and brimstone to settle the score, but whether the party leadership will be quick enough to nip the matter in the bud so that it does not affect its electoral fortune is yet another question. But the way the party comes out of this will determine how far is able to travel in 2015 general election.
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