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The battle field states and the changing political configuration

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Adams Oshiomhole, APC national chairman and Uche Secondus,
PDP national chairman

As political parties are set to begin primary elections for different posts, a fresh wave of realignment hitting the polity across different states is redrawing the political maps, altering calculations and strengths of parties and gladiators. Kola Oyelere, Hendrix Oliomogbe, Adelowo Oladipo write on the emerging scenarios in Kano, Edo and Niger states.

Edo State

LIKE the all-conquering general who vanquished his opponents from battle to battle, it has been victory for the All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole ever since he stormed the Edo State political firmament in 2007. Though initially robbed of victory in the governorship election, he reclaimed his mandate from Senator Oserhemien Osunbor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2008 through the court.

For his adjudged good performance, Oshiomhole got an emphatic victory in the 2012 governorship election against his main challenger, General Charles Arhiavbere of the PDP. In the watershed election, the former Labour leader coasted home victoriously to a second term, winning in all the 18 local government areas of the state.

Edo State had, before now, been the turf of the triumvirate of deceased former Governor Samuel Ogbemudia; former PDP national chairman, Chief Anthony Anenih; and the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. The trio had bestridden the Edo political scene like a colossus and any ordinary Edo person who wanted relevance had to go through them. While Ogbemudia and Igbinedion, both Bini, hail from Edo South senatorial district, Anenih, an Esan man, is from Edo Central. Edo North where Oshiomhole, an Etsako man, hailed from had for long been voiceless and had to play the second fiddle. On his coming to the political space, however, Oshiomhole did not mince words as regards his desire to torpedo the existing order by retiring the godfathers.

Against all odds, he brought an unknown Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the chairman of his economic team and foisted him on the APC. Woe betided any party faithful who went against the wishes of the new godfather and these wishes were to come to fruition in November 2016, when Obaseki won election to succeed Oshiomhole.

What is, however, supposed to be a perfect arrangement has begun to be threatened, Sunday Tribune has gathered, with Obaseki’s leadership style said to already constitute a problem to his predecessor. APC members in the state have begun to accuse the Lagos-based businessman of being detached from party members, as they noted that the governor had been maintaining an aloofness that will not augur well for the party in the 2019 election.

Political observers in the state note that the support base that Oshiomhole meticulously built over the years might already be shaking with the perceived unwillingness of Obaseki to oil the political machinery bequeathed to him by the APC national chairman, with some even adding that the members were being poached already.

First to fire a salvo in anger was the former Senior Political Adviser to Oshiomhole, Mr. Charles Idahosa, who on June 4 this year, resolved to suspend his involvement in all political activities in the state. The decision, it was learnt, was as a result of the tug of war for the control of party structure in Uhumwonde Local Government Council. Notwithstanding persistent pleadings by Idahosa that the members should keep the faith despite the trials and tribulations, there has been an open revolt by the youths led by Comrade Tony Kabaka Adun, who made it clear that Edo youths would not support Obaseki’s reelection bid for casting them away after the governorship election in which their assistance helped to turn the tide against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The aggrieved youths lashed out at Obaseki, accusing him of using them to win the 2016 governorship election only to turn around and dump them.

Sen Kwankwaso

Kabaka said it was disheartening to note that Obaseki has forced some political heavyweights like former Senior Political Adviser to Oshiomhole, Mr Charles Idahosa, Mr. Gentleman Amegor, Rev. Mike Egharevba, Gen.  Charles Airiavbere, among others, to early retirement from partisan politics.

Though Idahosa has since made a U-turn and returned to the mainstream of the party, some hardliners in Edo South Senatorial district have gone the full throttle by dumping the party following what they alleged as the abandonment by Obaseki after they assisted him to emerge as governor of the state.

Even in Oshiomhole’s Etsako heartland, his supporters are said to be drifting. This was evidenced at Fugar and Oghomhere-Ekperi both in Etsako Central Local Government Area where the state PDP chairman, Chief Dan Orbih led his executive members to receive defectors.

Political observers note that while “Oshiomhole may choose to maintain what the ex-lawmaker Patrick “Igodomigodo” Obahiagbon described as “Olympian aloofness” by dismissing the defectors as the “nattering nabobs of negativism and hopeless hypochondriac of history” he might receive a shocker in 2019 if he doesn’t rush to run to quench the raging fire on the mountain.”

From Edo North to South, it has been tale of defections from the APC to the PDP on a daily basis, with party supporters leaving in droves. “While Oshiomhole is doing the talking in Abuja, unknown to him, the house he built in Edo is slowly crumbling, no thanks to Obaseki’s style,” a chieftain of the party who spoke on a condition of anonymity said.

In Edo South, popular business mogul, Chief Osamede Adun, the Ayobahan of Benin recently made a move to the opposition party. So also did Mrs. Lucy Omagbon, the erstwhile Edo State PDP Women Leader, who sojourned in the APC before “returning home” and a host of others.

In Edo Central, however, the home turf of Anenih and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, things seem quiet, as there has been no major defection of political heavyweights there. Sunday Tribune, however, gathered that the Esan people are deeply aggrieved, with their annoyance said to have something to do with the Edo political equation where the governor is Bini, his deputy, Comrade Phillip Shaibu is Etsako from Edo North.

political
Ibeto

Going by the unwritten agreement, Edo central is supposed to produce the party chairman and the Speaker of the House of Assembly. While the current speaker, Alhaji Kabiru Adjoto is from Akoko Edo Local Government area in Edo North, the Deputy Speaker, Victor Edoror, is from Esan Central Local Government area, Edo Central.

The new alliance across Kano

For anyone conversant with politics in Kano State, it is clear that its politics is one of the most sophisticated, unpredictable and capable of springing unexpected surprises at any giving time.

Already, the two major parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have emerged as the most active platforms for the coming surprises in the state, with fresh alliances being forged across the political platforms ahead of what observers have said would be an epic political battle.

For those who follow Kano politics, its history of surprises and thrilling plots have always been its major highlights dating back to decades. No one would have thought that the late Alhaji Bakin Zuwo could defeat a well-grounded politician like the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, neither would it have occured to anyone that a former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, could come from a less popular political party to defeat the then sitting governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. All these scenarios formed parts of the rich history of surprises that Kano politics has become known for, with sitting governors sent out of office in all the instances.

A similar scenario had played out in 2011, when the PDP governorship candidate, Kwankwaso, made his second return by trouncing the ruling ANPP in the state to continue the state’s rich tradition of political surprises. The surprise that would follow was the mass defection of the political machinery led by the governor to the opposition APC. The APC, which had become the ruling party in the state, was to later win all elections in the state in 2015, despite Shekarau having moved to the PDP, which was in control of the Federal Government.

When the APC pulled off what has become renown as an uncommon stunt by retaining its hold on power and solidifying its base in the state following the combination of efforts of former Governor Kwankwaso and his deputy, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, it soon raised the question on whether Kano politics had been rid of its surprises.

However, shortly after the ascension of Ganduje to power as deputy governor, who had been governor for eight years and made history as the first deputy governor to be trusted with power by his predecessor, it became clear that the surprise-springing aspect of Kano politics had only been redefined, as things fell apart between the two political jolly friends and they instantly became political enemies.

Though Kwankwaso, who is in control of a political group known as “Kwankwasiyya,” had won election into the Senate on the platform of the APC, his former ally, he had become a persona non grata to the party’s fold, as his former ally and now governor, who heads another political movement known as “Gundujiyya,” was at the head of the war against former governor.

Today, the two political groups have their tentacles spread across all the 44 local government council areas of the state and they both have their loyalists as members of state House of Assembly and the National Assembly.

In the executive, while Ganduje waged his war against his former boss, his own deputy, Professor Hafiz Abubakar was loyal to the “Kwankwasiyya” cause until his resignation recently.

A new wave was, however, to blow across the state with the defection of Kwankwaso and the Kano State deputy governor, Abubakar as well as members of the House of Assembly and National Assembly in the state to the PDP. It will be recalled that the Shekarau camp, which moved into the PDP following Kwankwaso and Ganduje’s alliance with the APC mega party pre-2015 election, has remained the largest stronghold in the PDP, with the movement of the “Kwankwasiyya” movement into the opposition fold said to have strengthened its hand. With this development, the foundation of a grand political realignment was laid, as two of the three most prominent political camps in the state, the “Gandujiyya,” the “Kwankwasiyya” and the camp of former Governor Shekarau have coalesced into what analysts see as a solid political mass that is capable of altering the political calculation in the state. According to analysts, the three personalities are the political tripod on which the politics of the state stands and most politicians in the state belong to one of the three platforms.

Already, the realignment of forces has begun to shake the political table in the state, with Kwankwaso and Shekarau publicly professing their commitment to reclaiming Kano, while the former had even boasted that he had the power to influence who would become the next governor of the state. Though many politicians loyal to the incumbent governor, including the Commissioner for Rural and Community Development, Alhaji Ilyasu Musa Kwankwaso, firing back at him, noting that “he has been reduced to a paper tiger politician,” analysts have maintained the coming presidential and governorship elections would be a clash of the titans in the state.

Abubakar

However, the combination of forces by Kwankwaso, Shekarau and Abubakar, among other key politicians, is said to be capable of springing surprises in the state, as the realignment of forces is said to be a marriage of heavyweights in the politics of Kano State.

Despite the unfolding political scenarios, however, observers noted that it would be difficult to write off the camp of the incumbent governor despite the grand alliance going on. For those in this school of thought, the fact that Governor Ganduje had chosen to pitch his tent with President Muhammadu Buhari, who enjoys a massive support in the state where he has never lost an election, might largely influence the outcome of the poll in his favour. For those in this school of thought, Ganduje might enjoy from the benevolence of Buhari’s popularity in Kano, which remained a political stronghold for the president, having polled close to two million votes in the state in the 2015 presidential election.

Another factor said to be capable of playing a huge role in the politics of the state are the various projects executed by Dr. Ganduje, including the various ongoing rehabilitation of numerous road networks, improved healthcare system and prompt payment of salary of workers.

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The political handshake ‘across the Niger’

As the wave of political realignment hits the country, with the defections of notable politicians from one party to the other ahead of the 2019 general election, the political mood in Niger State has begun to change from passive to active.

Though the defections have not been quite pronounced in the state, the recent resignation of the immediate past Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Hon.  Ahmed Musa Ibeto and the announcement that he was defecting from the APC to the PDP has set the tone for the 2019 election fever in the state.

The former envoy has since joined the governorship race for next year’s general election on the platform of the PDP through which he served as deputy governor in the state for eight years.

Apart from Ibeto, another significant defection that occurred in the state was that of a member of the State House of Assembly representing Tafa Constituency, Hon.  Dan Iya, who resigned his membership of the Niger State chapter of the APC and joined the opposition PDP.

Sunday Tribune has learnt that the political landscape in the state has become charged as a result of the interests that some politicians had begun to show towards the PDP in the state.

The reason behind the renewed interest in the opposition party, it was gathered, had to do with the fact that the APC has closed its shut the door for its governorship contest against anyone who might want to compete against the incumbent governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, a situation that has attracted scathing criticism from many political analysts in the state who see decision of the state chapter of the party as an imposition of candidate on the party.

Further checks revealed that as a result of the rumoured imposition of Governor Bello as the sole contestant on the platform of the APC in the 2019 general elections, many members of the party “are now APC members by name, but PDP members in action.”

An insider source within the party in the state said “many people that had left other parties for APC before the 2015 elections, hoping that the promises made by APC prior to the elections were realisable then have been leaving the party silently for fear of intimidation.”

According to the source who would not want his names in print, some APC members had even begun to work hard to ensure that “these crops of leaders in APC are defeated,” adding that some godfathers have lost their credibility  in the state, while some of them have either abandoned their followers when the going was becoming tough for them.

On the issue of political strongholds, the political map of Niger State is being redrawn by developments across the major political parties in the state, with new power configuration being drawn by the emergence of different key players on the political scene. For instance, while the incumbent governor is said to be strong and conspicuous in Niger North Senatorial District or Zone C of the state, the entrance of three strong governorship aspirants, namely Hon. Ibeto, Alhaji Umar Mohammed Nasko and Alhaji Muazu Anafi Sudan is said to already be altering the political calculations in the axis.

Apart from the three aspirants on the platform of the PDP possessing credentials and political antecedents that cannot wish away, the popularity of their platform in the zone is said to be capable of changing the game in the state.

In the two remaining senatorial zones, the two major parties share a somewhat similar level of popularity, with the incumbent party only edging out the PDP in the 2015 governorship race unexpectedly but already appearing to have been losing the appeal for which it was embraced by the state’s electorate less than four years ago.

The post The battle field states and the changing political configuration appeared first on Tribune.

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