2023 Exclusive: Battle For S-South: Obidients Threaten Oborevwori, Omo-Agege’s Chances In Delta

THERE is a great probability that the upshots of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections may affect the voting pattern in the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in some states of the South-South, on Saturday but the certainty is subject to changeable political dynamics.

Fight between Oborevwori, Omo-Agege, despite Obidients’ audacity in Delta
In Delta State, for instance, where the leading governorship candidates are Sheriff Oborevwori of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the exploit of the Labour Party, LP, in the polls in question, has made the underrated “Obidients” an important factor in the March 11 polls.
Mind you, Obidients are not members of the LP alone. They are groups of citizens, especially youths with permanent voter’s cards, PVCs, who believe that it is time to flush away the old brigade of politicians ruling the country and states, all these years, and install fresh hands. They are more in number than registered political party members, who make the loudest noise during elections.

Sherrif Oborevwori, speaker of Delta State House of Assembly and the standard-bearer of the ruling PDP, who is the candidate to beat on March 11, has anxiously lobbied the “Obidients” in the state for support, in the past few days.

APC’s Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the Deputy Senate President; Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; Chief Great Ogboru of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; Comrade Sunny Ofehe, of the Young Progressives Party, YPP, are also in pursuit of the “Obidients”, even though the LP has a governorship candidate in the person of Ken Pela.

The governorship candidates are not the only ones tracking the “Obidients.” The House of Assembly candidates are trailing the LP revolutionists to churches, markets, and every public places they know they are gathered in their areas, seeing what they did on February 25. The fear of the Obidients is now the commencement of political wisdom in Delta State.

Following reports that the LP was negotiating with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa ahead of Saturday’s polls, the state chairman, Tony Ezeagwu, during the week, disowned the claim, saying the party has its candidate, Ken Pela.”

LP not discussing with Okowa, others
“I want the general public to know that the LP in Delta State has no business with Governor Okowa, the PDP, or any other party in the state. As a party, we have not discussed anything of such with Okowa, we have not even held any meeting with him, and we do not intend to do so.”

Curiously, while Ezeagwu said LP had no business with PDP or any other party, a coalition of support groups for Peter Obi in the state, led by Mr. Ochuko Edafe, Monday, in Asaba, pitched tent with Omo-Agege, saying the Obidients in the state would vote him because he is the most credible candidate for governor.
Indeed, the LP shook the table in Delta on February 25 with PDP losing 18 out of the 25 local government areas in the state to the LP.

It lost two House of Representatives seats to the LP. Mr. Ngozi Okolie, who flew the party’s flag in Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency, defeated the Minority Leader of the House and candidate of the PDP, Ndudu Elumelu.
Former member of the House of Representatives, Evelyn Oboro, who flew the flag of the PDP in the Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie federal constituency bowed to LP’s Ben Etenabene.
APC, which is the main opposition party in the state, won the Delta South and Delta Central senatorial seats, threatening the chances of PDP, which only won the Delta North senatorial seat in the March 11 polls. However, PDP won six House of Representative seats in the state, APC- one, and LP – two.

Many think the upsets may affect the Governorship and House of Assembly elections with the LP candidate, Ken Pela, becoming a major beneficiary. Nevertheless, it does not appear so on the ground.

Saturday’s governorship battle is likely to be a different ball game between Oborevwori, who has the support of youths across the state because of his sociable nature, and Omo-Agege, propelled more by politicians, who lost out in the power game with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the main promoter of Oborevwori, and some citizens that feel disgruntled with PDP in the state.
Gbagi’s push
Despite contesting on the platform of SDP, Gbagi, a lawyer and former Minister of State, Education, is on a firm pedestal as one of the frontrunners. The combined factors of a respectable background and a broad-based vision of governance have had a tremendous impact on his penetration of demographic groups with the resultant swell of a support base for him across the 25 local government areas of Delta State.
It is to his credit that he had stayed the course since 2019 when he unveiled interest in occupying the plum position. The serial endorsements of the SDP candidate by Deltans is an approbation of Gbagi’s six-point agenda primed to usher in all-around development and progress, industrialisation, enhanced security, quality education, job creation and women and youth empowerment.
To a large extent, Gbagi’s presence in the race has promoted greater scrutiny of the moral character and antecedents of those seeking the governorship office. His disposition towards probity, transparency and frugality in resource management added to his unblemished record in public service provides a counterpoise to the alleged corrupt background and unexplained wealth allegedly associated with some of the top contestants. Gbagi, who sees himself as the biggest investor in Delta and said the era of the experiment was gone, Delta must be run by a wealth creator and someone with the experience and capacity to turn the fortunes of the state around.
Bayelsa PDP may outfox APC
Only the state House of Assembly elections will hold in Bayelsa State on Saturday. However, if the outcome of the February 25 elections in which PDP swept the three senate seats and four out of the five House of Representatives, except the Southern Ijaw federal constituency, which is still pending, is anything to go by, the opposition parties will undoubtedly face an uphill task.
Before the February 25 elections, APC occupied the senate position for Bayelsa East, Nembe-Brass, and Southern Ijaw federal constituencies in the National Assembly. However, PDP won seven House of Representatives seats, leaving the fate of APC hanging in the Southern- Ijaw federal constituency, where the exercise is in dispute.
The exceeding political space was hitherto an APC fortress. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and leader of the APC in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, is from the Nembe-Brass until it fell to the PDP.
Accordingly, the present crop of APC candidates from the area, Brigidi Biriyai (Nembe III) and Douglas Sampson-Awudulu, Omubo Timi Agala (Brass II) will on Saturday be subjected to the toughest battle of their political career to retain their seats, given the ruling party’s impressive outing in the area in the presidential and National Assembly polls.
For the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere of PDP (Brass III), and his return is sure because of his popularity among his constituents. In addition, Dr Daniel Charles (Brass1) is expected to ride on the recent PDP cruise to retain his seat while Ebi Ben Ololo of PDP (Nembe I) is also expected to profit from the success his party enjoyed during the just concluded presidential and National assembly polls.
Also, another ranking lawmaker and former Speaker, Monday -Bubou Edwin Obolo, of the PDP (Southern Ijaw II) is expected to retain his seat. Moreover, making a return bid under the PDP are Moses Marlon of PDP (Southern Ijaw IV), Igbediwe Macdonald (Southern Ijaw III), and Felix Bonny Ayah, (Southern Ijaw I). They are all incumbent members and popular among their constituents.
Yenagoa, the state capital, has proven to be a PDP stronghold over the years, and its candidates are relying on the party’s support base to retain their seats, while Kolokuma-Opokuma, the council area of Governor Douye Diri with two seats is more likely to go the way of the PDP.
Sagbama is another council where the ruling PDP has entrenched its dominance as witnessed during the last elections, retaining the senate seat. It may probably make a clean sweep of the three constituencies in the area.
Michael Ogbere of the PDP, who is the incumbent Deputy Speaker, is expected to retain his Ekeremor III seat while Hon Tare Porri of the same PDP (Ekeremor I) a former Ijaw youth activist is expected to ride on the PDP tsunami to retain his seat. In Ogbia, Hon Munalyefa Gibson of PDP representing constituency II is also making a return bid to the assembly.
Trial of Udom, PDP’s supremacy in A-Ibom
The governorship and House of Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom would once again be a test of the dominance of PDP in the state, as well as the grip the incumbent governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has on the state, known as the Land of Promise.
In addition, it will serve as an assessment of the claim by the supporters of both opposition parties, APC and YPP, that they are on the ground, and have what it takes to dislodge the PDP.
Since 1999 when the present democratic governance started, the PDP has been in control of Akwa Ibom State and has produced three governors that served for eight years each in office.
And in the 2023 election, the leading contenders for the number one seat in the state are Pastor Umo Eno of the PDP; Obong Akan Udofia of the APC; and Senator Bassey Akpan of the YPP.
As usual, analysts are arguing over the chances of the PDP to retain its status as the ruling party after the Saturday polls, given widespread speculation of a gang-up by the YPP and APC against the PDP
Though the governorship seat will be keenly contested, there are indications that the impressive outing of the PDP during the presidential election, where the party won 26 out of 31 local government areas of the state would play out again during Saturday polls.
Furthermore, there is the fear that the anger of the majority of the electorate from the various political parties over the manipulation of the presidential poll in favour of the APC would sway many voters against the APC during the governorship and state House of Assembly polls.
PDP supporters in Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) senatorial district dismissed the argument that the area is a stronghold of the APC, saying the people, irrespective of party affiliation, voted for Akpabio on February 25 for effective representation, and not the APC as a party.
The reality on the ground is that the PDP candidate in Essien Udim (Akpabio’s hometown), where there is fear of the unknown, Prince Akpabio, would face a tough battle with the APC candidate.
There is also the Ibiono Ibom state constituency where Godwin Ekpo, the current state lawmaker, will face a strong battle for his re-election for a second term because the local government area is the stamping ground of the governorship candidate of the YPP, Bassey Akpan.
On record, the PDP since 1999 has occupied the 26 state constituency seats, a trend attributed to the inability of opposition parties in the state to field competent and popular state Assembly candidates, as well as the party dominance in the state.
The majority of the Akwa Ibom electorate do not even know the state Assembly candidates fielded by the various opposition parties in the state for the Saturday poll, except for a few, like the former chair of Ikot Ekpene local government council, Mrs Gloria Useh, who is contesting for Ikot Ekpene state constituency seat against the PDP candidate, Jerry Otu.
Another is Usoro Akpanusoh, a former state lawmaker on the platform of the PDP, who recently defected to the YPP to seek a third term for the Esit Eket/ Ibeno constituency.
Wilkl Ayade’s APC maintain edge C-River?
The APC had an impressive outing during the National Assembly and Presidential elections in Cross River State.

The party won two of the three senatorial seats and five of the eight House of Representatives positions, leaving the PDP with two, and LP, one position.

Going by such performances by the three prominent parties in the state, the APC seems to have an edge and is likely to emerge victorious in the governorship and most House of Assembly positions.
The APC is fielding Prince Bassey Otu from the Southern senatorial district. By the political configuration in the state, the political leaders zoned the governorship position to the South in line with the senatorial rotation arrangement. Also, Otu is popular going by his populist programmes and empowerment initiatives when he was in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Senator Sandy Onor, the PDP flag bearer, is swimming against the tide concerning the zoning arrangement, having come from the Central district where former governor Liyel Imoke, who handed over to Senator Ben Ayade comes from. He is hoping to pull a surprise by working hard in the field, and also playing the ethnic card of Ejagham, one of the ethnic groups in the state, which he claims has never occupied the governorship position in the state.

The House of Assembly election will also be in the direction of the governorship election. The APC candidates in the southern district though new are quite popular. Notable among them is the serial contestant, Effiong Ekarika of Calabar South. He is of Akwa Ibom’s father and Efik mother but was born and bred in Calabar. He had gunned for the Assembly seat for Calabar South 11 several times, while Victor Ansa is gunning for Calabar South 1. The PDP candidates, Patrick Etim, and Ewa Ansa are greenhorns.

In Ogoja, where the PDP took the Senate seat, former council chair, Rita Agbo, is battling Engr Thomas Aruku for the Assembly seat. The position could go either way, as both of them are quite popular.

In Obudu, Governor Ayade’s home local government area, John Ukwu of the PDP has an uphill task of beating Sylvester Agabi, the candidate of the governor’s party APC.

In Obubra, Egbe Jabengo, the APC candidate, another serial aspirant to the House of Representatives, who went for the House of Assembly this time around, is quite trendy, and going by the outcome of the House of Representatives elections result, he is likely to carry the day against Frank Ovat, the incumbent.
The bitter pill in the election is the case where the APC fought against itself for Yala 2 state constituency and lost out as the Supreme Court barred the two female combatants for the position from contesting the March 18 election.

Mrs Victoria Otanya Odey engaged the incumbent, Regina Onyogho in a protracted legal battle and the Supreme Court stopped both of them from participating in the election. A case of the axiomatic dog eats dog.

Obaseki tackles Oshiomhole yet again in Edo

The governorship will not hold in Edo state on Saturday, but with the outcome of the February 25 elections in Edo state, where APC and LP swept the polls, the ruling PDP has been in a panic mode ahead of Saturday’s state house of assembly election.

There have been meetings upon meetings by the leadership of the party and top government officials trying to convince the people to vote for the ruling party on Saturday.

The governor, Godwin Obaseki, has been meeting with various interest groups to convince them to win the seats for his party.

Through his Chief of Staff, Osaigbovo Iyoha, he met with women leaders and associations, while he met with select civil society organizations, which he believes could sway voters.

His deputy, Philip Shaibu, held similar meetings in Edo North senatorial district where the APC holds sway to change the narratives because of the former governor and national chair of APC, now a senator–elect for the district, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

However, the APC is calling for an alliance with the LP to ensure the PDP does not win any of the assembly seats. Before and after he departed the APC for PDP, Governor Obaseki has been in a running battle with Oshiomhole over the state House of Assembly.

A video message by Adams Oshiomhole accused the governor of high-handedness, urging the LP to work with APC as the real choice of the people to trounce Obaseki and the PDP.

“The role of parliament is what distinguishes democracy from dictatorship, so we ask you to come and vote wisely so that we can return the state to what it was before Governor Obaseki took over in 2016.

“We want to renew the tradition of building roads with drainages and street lights, and sidewalks, schools with teachers and not rhetorics, teachers employed and properly paid. Not where directors and civil servants, who hope to become permanent secretaries, find their future frustrated by the importation of strangers into the civil service at the highest level.”

To the LP, Oshiomhole said: “The way Edo people voted, it showed that there are two parties that are in their hearts, which are the APC and LP. LP got one Senator, APC got two, and PDP got none, which reflects the mood of the people.”
“Available information confirms that, indeed, PDP wants to use violence but my appeal to you is that two wrongs do not make a right. We are preparing for an election; there will be an election, not war, so use your PVC to make statements that retaining Edo with the ruling party is the way to go, we have no business being in opposition.”

However, in a swift reaction, Obaseki alleged that Oshiomhole plots to impeach him in case he does not have his way on Saturday.

Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, said the statement by Oshiomhole exposes his insidious plan to oust Governor Obaseki through impeachment but expressed confidence that Edo people would rebuff Oshiomhole and his antics.

His words: “We are, however, confident that, as it happened in 2020 when Edo people stood with the governor, despite the bullying and intimidation by Oshiomhole and his paymasters, Edo people will again rise in defense of the governor at the polls on Saturday, March 11; vote massively for the Peoples Democratic Party and elect a House controlled by the PDP.”

“Obaseki has never placed his confidence in any man or godfather. He has placed his confidence in God and the people.

“Edo people can see the handwriting on the wall and we are certain that they will troop out en masse to vote for the candidates of the PDP in the election to sustain the developmental strides of the Governor Obaseki-led government,” he said.

In Rivers, Fubara enjoys smooth sail with Wike

With Governor Nyesom Wike having a huge hand in the presidential election win of Bola Tinubu, penultimate Saturday, in Rivers State, the APC would not enjoy the same fortune in the governorship and State House of Assembly polls.

By the constitutional requirement in Section 179 (2) of the Constitution, to be elected governor of Rivers State, a candidate must not only score the highest number of votes cast, he or she must have not less than 1/4 of 2/3 of local government areas across the state.
To measure the chances of the top contenders against these constitutional provisions, the ruling PDP governorship candidate, Siminaliayi Fubara, is most likely to take the day because of the overwhelming party structure his party platform holds above the opposition.

Running on the ruling party’s card with the full backing of incumbent Governor Wike, Fubara, immediate past Accountant- General of Rivers state, also enjoys robust funding and the widely acknowledged excellent stewardship of the Wike administration, all of which have boosted his campaigns immensely.
Fubara would face the fiercest of opposition from the APC candidate, billionaire investor, Tonye Cole, who also had robust campaigns with the full support of the former governor and immediate past Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers APC leader.

However, Fubara and Cole, have common weaknesses. Others see them as non-core party members imposed by their respective party leaders based on personal interests. They say Cole is a business associate of Amaechi, and Fubara, a confidant of Governor Wike.

The emergence of both Fubara and Cole as ‘imposed’ candidates visibly resulted in disaffection that divided their respective parties, resulting in splinter groups, which created other notable contenders, particularly for the APC.
Senator Magnus Abe left APC to become Social Democratic Party, SDP, candidate, while former House of Representatives member, Dawari George, became the Action Alliance, AA, gubernatorial candidate. There is also Dumo, a scion of the wealthy Lulu-Briggs business empire, who is contesting on the platform of the Accord Party. The race is going to be between these top contenders against Fubara.

For the state assembly, the PDP, which clinched all the senatorial seats and most of the Representatives seats on February 25, is certain to win with an overwhelming majority of the seats though with stiff opposition from the APC and SDP.