The just-concluded South-South geopolitical zone general elections were a duel of political godfathers vs their political offspring, as the voters exercised their constitutional right to decide their leaders.
After the February 25 Presidential/National Assembly elections and the March 18 Governorship/House of Assembly elections, the combatants settled scores in unique ways.
Ayade outwits Duke, Imoke
Governor Ben Ayade, a godson, confronted two godfathers, Senator Liyel Imoke and Mr. Donald Duke, both past governors of Cross-River state, and kept them fascinated while he installed the governor-elect, Senator Bassey Otu.
Duke stayed away when Senator Imoke supported Ayade for governor in 2015. When he and Imoke disagreed.
Duke supported his then-deputy, Water Eneji, to succeed him when Imoke became governor in 2007. It failed.
Duke did not interact with Imoke. Once Imoke left government, Ayade, whom he crowned, sought to befriend Duke and keep him away. Unfortunately, they couldn’t work together, hence the firm failed.
In 2021, Ayade joined the APC due to the three’s animosity.
Duke continually assaulting Ayade throughout the 2023 election campaign, forcing Ayade to write him an email message threatening to “reveal” Duke.
Their fight became viral.
Ayade campaigned to restore the governorship to the southern senatorial district. As he is a personal friend of Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike, Duke favored Senator Sandy Onor, who had spent eight years in each of the three senatorial districts.
Imoke endorsed his longtime southern district friend, Senator Gershom Bassey.
Wike supported Onor’s PDP primary victory.
Duke and Imoke became even more rivals.
Duke, who eventually became the chair of the PDP Governorship Campaign Committee, campaigned with Onor everywhere while Imoke and Gershom stayed away.
Duke and Onor lost all their polling units, wards, local government, and state in the election.
In an interview, Gershom Bassey, who portrayed Imoke, praised the defeat by saying the state’s people had chosen equity, justice, and fair play.
Ayade and the APC supported Senator Bassey Otu, who is popular in the south. He swept the governorship.
When APC won the National Assembly, House of Assembly, and gubernatorial elections in the state, the godfathers’ conflict turned a PDP state into an APC state.
Okowa baffles Ibori
Delta state governor Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s disagreement with his leader and former governor, Chief James Ibori, over the PDP governorship standard-bearer for the 2023 elections sparked a backlash against him.
Following the fierce confrontation, Okowa and his soldiers defeated Ibori, the leader of the famed Ibori PDP political family, of which the governor is a member, and delivered the party’s candidate, Rt. Governor-elect Sheriff Oborevwori.
Saturday Vanguard has it on good authority that Okowa and his predecessor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who joined forces to stop the APC governorship candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who Ibori finally pitched tent with, were planning a soft landing for him while he ponders how to rise above the degradation.
Wike mocks Amaechi
Since 2015, two competing forces—one led by incumbent governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP and the other by his predecessor and archrival, Rt. Rotimi Amaechi controlled Rivers state politics.
Following three election rounds, Wike dominated Amaechi.
Wike informed the former Minister of Transportation, “2015, you were super governor, we defeated you, in 2019, you were super minister, we beat you, today, you are super nobody, and we beat you. How about again? ”
In the 2015 and 2019 elections, Amaechi fought Wike in all aspects, however in the current election, the PDP defeated the APC in all 23 local government areas.
Wike was Amaechi’s Chief of Staff when he was governor, but they’re now political rivals.
Udom stuns Akpabio
Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom state, faced tremendous resistance to appointing Pastor Umo Eno as his successor before the 2023 general elections.
Curiously, his opponents were primarily within his own political party, the PDP, notably a gubernatorial aspirant’s lawsuits against his successor and the party.
Akan Okon, Udom’s former cabinet member, challenged the PDP primaries that elected Eno.
Before the vote, Mr. Okon lost all legal actions to prevent Eno from being a standard-bearer, including the WAEC and birth certificate fabrication allegations.
He battled Akwa Ibom Northeast (Uyo) senator Bassey Akpan, who refused to withdraw his gubernatorial bid to endorse Eno. Akpan and his allies joined YPP.
A few weeks before the March 18 gubernatorial election, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Udom’s predecessor, and Senator Akpan planned an alliance to prevent Governor Emmanuel from naming his successor.
Akpabio succeeded Obong Victor Attah, who subsequently regretted his choice.
Udom and Akpabio also disagreed with Attah and have taken distinct political courses.
The strategy failed when Akpan refused to stand aside for Akpabio’s godson, APC gubernatorial candidate Obong Akanimo Udofia, who finished third in the poll.
Several unhappy PDP gubernatorial candidates united to support the party before the campaigns.
Barr Onofiok Luke, former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and current member of Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal district, and Senator Effiong Bob, both Eno’s tribesmen of Nsit Ubium local government area, were among them.
Unlike past administrations, Governor Udom had the support of elders and most party stakeholders across the state to create his successor, as well as religious leaders under the “Fathers of Faith” banner who heavily mobilized their people to vote for Eno.