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APC’s uncommon failure to capture South-South

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[FILES] Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi

Although All Progressives Congress (APC) may have won the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections, with its majority standing in both chambers of the legislature, it will continue to smart from the consciousness that it lost out spectacularly in the South-South geopolitical region of the country while making modest inroads in the Southeast.

But the South-South appears to be the party’s biggest headache in terms of electoral fortunes, as it seemed a wholesale rejection of the party and what it stands for.

The huge oil wealth of the South-South states is the party’s biggest attraction and why it wanted the zone in its kitty so much. It targeted Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States. But it didn’t happen.

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What makes the party’s failure in the region even more galling is the sundry boasts by some of its old and new bigwig converts before the elections when they said the party would roll back Peoples Democratic Party’s dominant hold and eventually take it over.

Aligning the zone politically with the centre was one of the campaign slogans APC chieftains had advanced as reasons for desiring to wrest the zone from PDP. Aligning the zone with the centre was being proposed as having immediate and longterm political gains.

But opposition PDP always point to Edo State that has enjoyed four years of alignment with the centre as poor advertisement for such argument since the state has nothing progressive to show for its so-called alignment with Abuja.

Whatever gains it made with the contentious election of Godwin Onogheghase Obaseki, it invariably lost in the last presidential elections, as President Buhari did not only lose, only one senate seat went to APC in the state. In fact, Obaseki’s emergence as governor went through the crucible.

What such alignment has done is to produce another son of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, as APC’s national chairman instead, whose brand of politics has tended to fowl the waters for the party rather than make actual and envisaged gains for it.

Indeed, many hold Oshiomhle responsible as the party’s major debacle and why the party finds it hard to make any appreciable inroad into the South-South zone, noting that his politics is at variance with the aspirations and expectations of the zone.

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In the build up to the governorship elections two years ago, Oshiomhole had boasted that the party would throw out the governor of Delta State, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and replace him with APC’s governor for meddling in the politics of Edo State.

Oshiomhole had expressed his bitterness that Okowa allegedly pumped huge sums of money to back PDP’s flag bearer in the state, Osagie Ize-Iyamu. He, therefore, vowed to pay him back in his own coin when Okowa would seek a second term in office in 2019.

Either Oshiomhole forgot his earlier boast to deal with Okowa electorally or his boast was ineffectual as his party in Delta State came a distant second, thus burying APC’s hopes of getting the state.

Only in Delta Central did APC manage one senatorial seat, while PDP took two, although it is not certain who will occupy the seat within APC (Ovie Omo-Agege or O’tega Emerhor), as the matter is still doing the court round.

Akwa Ibom State was another epicentre, which the APC made so much noise about capturing in 2019. With the defection of the state’s former PDP governor and Minority Leader in the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, to APC with the promise to get the state to align with the centre, it was expected that there would be political fireworks in favour of the party.

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Akpabio, bolstered by the use of federal might, nearly turned the state into another Warsaw, Poland, where Hitler’s German army rolled to town with tanks. But Akpabio’s style of politics, akin to Oshiomhole’s, was rebuffed for its poor taste.

What is worse, he has no military background to foreground such martial rhetoric upon. In spite of the violence the military visited in parts of the state, Akwa Ibom State ended not seeing the war that Warsaw in Poland saw. Akpabio lost his bid for a second term in the senate, as PDP swept the three senatorial seats. However, Akpabio is in court to contest what he termed his stolen mandate.

In Bayelsa, APC managed to wrestle one senatorial seat from PDP, due largely to the alleged deployment of federal might, with Southern Ijaw witnessing near war situation during the elections. PDP retains two seats – Bayelsa Central and West, with APC taking Bayelsa East.

In Cross River State, the matter was straightforward, as the election showed that APC clearly has no stand whatsoever in the state. From governor to the three senatorial seats, it was PDP all the way.

In Rivers State, the rhetoric of war also resounded all through and nowhere else was federal might rapaciously deployed to the amazement of the entire world. APC’s failure in Rivers started since last year when the party failed to put its house in order to hold its primary election.

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The two gladiators in the party – Magnus Abe and Rotimi Amaechi – failed to see eye-to-eye and consequent litigations inevitably led to the party not being able to field any candidate for any of the available elective positions. But rather than lick his wounds, Amaechi would align with unknown political quantum, African Action Congress (AAC) party, and its candidate in last minute moves to redeem his fading political credentials before his masters in Abuja.

Part of finding redemption for Rivers’ lost souls was Wike’s dedication of his electoral victory to his slain compatriots who died for going out to exercise their franchise for their preferred party.

It was not only the governorship and senate that PDP showed dominance of the South-South states. The story is even more telling in the House of Representatives election. Out of the 50 House seats available in the region, 41 seats went to PDP while only nine went to APC.

Delta State produced nine PDP House members with APC getting only one; APC got five to PDP’s four Edo State. In Bayelsa State, PDP got three while APC produced two. In Akwa Ibom State, PDP got the available 10 and APC nothing. PDP got seven in Cross River State while APC produced one. And in Rivers State, PDP took all eight with APC scoring zero.

It would have been expected that with Oshiomhole as national chairman of APC, the South-South zone would be a walkover for the party. But that was not to be.

His pronouncement on the mode of primaries for the party set the alarm bells ringing as different states adopted either direct or indirect primary. It would later produce rancour that split the party into factions in some states, which led to parallel primaries in Rivers and Delta States.

Although there were no parallel primaries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, the party could not find a foothold in those two states where PDP is deeply entrenched. The party lost out.


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