Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 Guber: All Eyes On The Niger Delta: Cross River and Edo States

6 February 2012


Cross River State

Cross River State is arguably one of the most peaceful states in the country. Political violence in the state is very minimal and it prides itself as the tourism hub in Nigeria.

However, analysts believe that the events leading to the guber polls in April if not checked, could herald political turbulence in the state.

A political analyst, Fidelis Odey said: “There is a political arrangement in the state that three persons will govern the state in the next 24 years. Almost 13 years out of the 24 years have elapsed.

Donald Duke has expended his eight years. Liyel Imoke is bent on doing same. The last beneficiary of this arrangement will be the current leader of the Nigerian Senate, Victor Ndoma-Egba. This arrangement might suffer a setback with the soured chummy relationship between the three kingmakers in the state.”

The PDP, on Monday January 23, 2012, elected its candidate for the Saturday, February 25, rescheduled governorship election. Imoke who is amongst the governors recently sacked by the Supreme Court, contested against the immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Mali and former state chairman of the party,  Chief Soni Abang. Imoke emerged as the flag- bearer of the party, beating Abang with more than 98 per cent of the total vote cast.There are strong indications that Duke may have dumped his bosom friend-Imoke ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Observers are worried that Imoke might run into troubled waters if the current power tussle between him and Duke is not resolved.

Supporters of both Duke and Imoke believe that the coast will be clear for Imoke if the two leaders shelve their swords.

Though there is no other formidable opposition force in the state except the triangular force of Duke, Imoke and Ndoma- Egba, anything could still alter Imoke’s political chances before the polls.

Edo State

The political history of Edo State is as intriguing as politics in Nigeria. Since the creation of the state in 1991, Edo South Senatorial District has held sway in the corridors of power except on two occasions when Professor Monday Osunbor and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole were elected governor.

Edo Central and North Senatorial districts appear to be waking up from their slumber. Over the years, politics of ethnicity, particularly between the Binis and the Ishanstook a new dimension. Although political leaders tend to play this down, the handwritings on the wall are very clear.

Prior to November 2008, Edo State was regarded as PDP state with political heavyweights like Tony Anenih, Samuel Ogbemudia, and OsawaruIgbinedion holding sway. Sadly, that jinx was broken when the former labour leader, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole flooded Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor at the tribunal. Since then, the PDP family in the state has refused to go to sleep as plans have been perfected on ways to oust the incumbent governor. While these plans are ongoing, Oshiomhole appears to be unperturbed and has declared his intentions to seek a second term in office.

In recent years, the PDP in the state has been engulfed in a series of internal crisis which saw the mass decampment of its members to the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

The PDP crisis in the state began during the short-lived regime of Osunbor. The regime pitched tent with the two-time governor of old Bendel State, Ogbemudia against Anenih.

At the peak of the crisis in 2008, two parallel state executive bodies emerged. While one party was loyal to  Osunbor, the other’s loyalty to Anenih was never in doubt. In a reconciliatory move brokered by some big wigs in the state, all the feuding parties were reconciled and a single state executive body finally emerged.

It will be recalled that out of the over eight hundred thousand registered voters in the state, about 60per cent comes from Edo South while Edo Central and North are left with the other 40per cent. Pundits believe that the PDP could seize this opportunity and present a formidable candidate from Edo South to run against the incumbent governor who hails from Edo North. If this happens, analysts believe the PDP may wrest power from ACN. But the fear among watchers of Edo politics is that such a permutation may deepen politics of ethnicity that has pervaded the state since its creation in 1991.

Commenting on the development, the zonal secretary of PDP in the South-South, Chief Joe Edionwele, opined that a candidate from Edo South will be most suitable to run against the governor.

“In politics, you consider certain indices. You look at the population size. As at today, Edo South Senatorial District has the highest population size. In fact, 60% of the entire state population comes from the south. Edo Central and North make up the other 40%. When you consider these indices, it informs your choices. But if we have the best from the other two senatorial districts that can face Oshiomhole head-on, we do not have any qualms with that,” Edionwele said.

Not deterred by the gathering storm against his re-election bid, Oshiomhole has reiterated that his transformation of the state will speak for him.

He said. “The election will be won and lost on the basis of issues. The report card of PDP between 1999 and 2008 and ACN report card to July when the election will take place will speak for us. Then the second level is to look at the character, who is Oshiomhole and then the people will look at whoever will be their candidate. They will look at his pedigree, his accomplishments.”

The PDP has fixed February 25 for its guber primary election in the state. ‘Mr Fix It’, as Anenih is fondly called has vowed that the PDP will recapture the state. Oshiomhole on the other hand is bent on consoli

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