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2019: APC Plots Takeover Of South-east, South-south


The All Progressives Congress (APC) has launched a major move to take over the South-East and South-South zones in the 2019 general elections even as it continues to woo major political players in both zones into its fold.

The game plan of the ruling party is not only to ensure that its would-be candidates in both zones are returned during the elections, but most critically, to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari, who would be flying the APC flag in the presidential election, wins block votes in the two zones unlike in 2015, when he and the party performed poorly.

Buhari was only able to poll 616,838 votes in the 11 states that make up the two zones in 2015 against 7,181,631 votes polled by then President Goodluck Jonathan, who contested the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In the South-East with five states, the president polled 198,248 votes, while he was able to garner 418,590 votes in the six states of the South-South. In the South-East, the President polled 13,394 votes in Abia; 17,926 in Anambra; 19,518 in Ebonyi; 14,157 in Enugu and 133,253 in Imo, while in the South-South, he had 58,411 in Akwa Ibom; 5,194 in Bayelsa; 28,368 in Cross River; 48,910 in Delta; 208,469 in Edo and 69,238 in Rivers.

But, ahead of the 2019 presidential election, Buhari’s campaigners believe that the in-road so far made by the APC since 2015 in both zones will turn the table in the President’s favour this time.
They particularly said PDP was able to sweep the South-East and South- South in the last elections because its presidential candidate, Jonathan, hails from the area.

According to them, with the presidential candidates of the APC and PDP for the 2019 elections emerging from the North, the forthcoming presidential poll will definitely be different from that of 2015.
The Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, which shares this belief, had boasted that APC will win not only the 2019 presidential election, but by a landslide.

Director of Strategic Communications of the campaign organisation, Festus Keyamo (SAN), who gave a state-by-state analysis of how the President will win the election, cited the “significant gains Mr. President is making in several places where he lost in the past, notably in the South- South and South-East.”

His words: “Apart from having governors in Edo and Imo states, the exemplary work of the President in the South-East and South-South, especially in terms of infrastructural developments, like the Second Niger Bridge and a whole lot of road constructions, APC is on the rise in these states and this momentum will surely rub off on the electoral fortunes of the President.

This can be seen in the high level defections to the APC in the last three years in these states and more are coming. “The recent election in Anambra State is also a testimony to the rising profile of the party in the South- East. In 2015, the President scored 17,926 votes in Anambra.

The most recent governorship election saw APC come second with over 98,000 votes, defeating PDP in the process. This is a pattern we expect in the 2019 elections throughout the South-East and South- South as compared to the last elections.

The President can only amass more votes from these regions and not less than 2015.” Keyamo also told New Telegraph in an interview that with the current demographic mapping of votes in the country, it will be impossible for the President to lose re-election in 2019.

He said: “The strong-holds of the PDP, which have even been broken now by the APC, cannot match the voters’ strength in the areas where they, the PDP, are weak. That is why I said it is mathematically impossible for the PDP to win the presidency in 2019. “APC has made serious inroads in what used to be the strongholds of the PDP.

The areas that PDP was strong in 2015, the APC has made serious inroads into those areas, like the South- South and South-East; we should not run away from that fact because the results are just there for all of us to see.” Besides federal projects ongoing in the two zones, which the party hopes the people of the area will reward it with votes; APC’s optimism is buoyed more by its growing popularity in both zones as a result of former chieftains of the PDP, who have joined the party after the 2015 elections.
In Abia State, for instance, the party is bank ing on former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu to lead its campaign against the ruling PDP in the state.

The former governor will work with the likes of former deputy governor of the state, Chris Akomas; former Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu; Senators Chris Adighije and Nkechi Nwaogu; APC 2015 governorship aspirant in the state, Nyerere Anyim; former speakers of the state House of Assembly, Stanley Ohajuruka and Martins Azubuike; former PDP governorship aspirant, Dr. Uche Ogah and the member representing Isuikwuato/ Umunneochi Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejiocha, who defected to the APC at the weekend, among several others.

In Anambra that is currently under the control of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), there is likely not much at stake except the national and state Assembly polls as the state’s governorship contest was settled in November last year with APGA clinching the position through Willie Obiano despite the huge mobilisation by the APC and PDP.

Some analysts have opined that PDP and APGA had always had alliance when it comes to presidential election since 2011, but that may not play out in 2019 as the last governorship state left a sour tale between leaders of both parties.

The belief is that APGA may be more disposed to support APC this time though it is not clear if the party will field a presidential candidate. But, whichever way it pans out, APC has the likes of Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige; the senator representing Anambra South senatorial district, Dr. Andy Uba; Senator Uche Ekwunife; former APC National Auditor, Chief Gorge Moghalu and the party’s candidate in the November governorship election, Hon. Tony Nwoye to lead its campaign.

The party also has seasoned politicians to lead its campaign in Ebonyi State though Governor Dave Umahi is a known supporter of President Buhari despite the fact that he was elected on the platform of the PDP.

Among top APC members in the state are the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former Governor Martin Elechi; Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation and senator representing Ebonyi South, Sonni Ogbuorji; Amb. Alex Nwofe, Labour Party’s governorship candidate in 2015, Chief Edward Nkwegu, Senators Emmanuel Agboti, Chris Nwankwo and Anthony Agbo and former members of House of Representatives, Christopher Isu, Tobias Okwuru and Peter Ogeali. Others are the former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu; former Minister of State for Power and Steel, Chief Goddy Ogbaga; former Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Augustine Nwankwegu and the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Bernard Odoh, among others. The party also has political heavyweights in Enugu State in its fold and they are expected to give the ruling PDP in the state a run for its money. To lead the battle is a former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo.

He would be working with the likes of former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani; immediate past governor of the state, Sullivan Chime; former military administrator of Gombe State, Group Capt. Joe Oji (rtd); Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu; a onetime governorship aspirant in the state, Chief Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu; businessman, Emperor Baywood-Ibe and former Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh.

Imo, which is the only state under APC’s control in the zone, is likely to go to the party. The state delivered 133,253 votes out of the 198,248 votes Buhari had in the South-East in 2015 and with Governor Rochas and the APC still in charge of the state, the party is expected to win more votes in the state in 2019.

Besides, the party has seen former PDP chieftains in the state defecting to its fold. They include the senator representing Imo West senatorial district, Hope Uzodinma, which brought to two, its senators in the state.

In the South-South, Edo State is already in the firm grip of the APC and with the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who hails from the state teaming up with Governor Godwin Obaseki, it is unlikely that another party will take over the state.

For Akwa Ibom that has been a stronghold of the PDP since 1999, the recent defection of the immediate governor of the state and former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, to the APC, has not only altered the political calculation in the state, but will boost the chances of the ruling party in the oil-rich state.

Akpabio, a two-term governor of the state on the platform of the PDP and senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, moved to the ruling party with some of his loyalists, a move that has unsettled Governor Udom Emmanuel. The former governor is expected to work with his former allies, who later turned foes to deliver the state to the APC in 2019.

They include former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet; Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA), Umana Umana; Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and former deputy governor of the state, Nsima Ekere, and Senator John Udoedehe; Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang and a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, among others.

The 2019 electoral battle in another oil-rich South- South state – Rivers – will be another interesting one as the immediate governor of the state and current Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, rallies his loyalists against a formidable opposition led by Governor Nyesom Wike.

Amaechi, who was the Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, has been re-appointed for the forthcoming election. He would be banking on the in-road and electoral gain APC has made so far in the state after it delivered over 1.4 million votes to the PDP in the last presidential election.

Presently, the ruling party has two senators in the state against PDP’s one with pockets of federal and state legislative seats.

Another interesting political battle looms in Delta State, another oilrich South-South state. Like Rivers, the state delivered 1.2 million votes to the PDP in the 2015 presidential election, but with the likes of the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor; incumbent Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; the senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege; former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Ochei; former South-South Zonal Vice Chairman of PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh; former governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru and the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who is expected to dump the PDP for APC any moment from now, the ruling party is poised to battle the PDP for control of the state. In Bayelsa, home state of former President Jonathan, APC is banking on former Governor Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and a former Managing Director of the NDDC, Timi Alaibe to make a good showing.

Similarly, in Cross River State, the APC expects that the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uguru Usani and former Senate Leader, now Chairman of NDDC, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, to lead other party chieftains like Senators John Owan- Enoh, Florence Ita-Giwa and Bassey Otu to battle the PDP, led by Governor Ben Ayade. Ayade is a known supporter of the Buhari administration.

A former Military Administrator of Ogun State and APC chieftain in Akwa Ibom State, Captain Sam Ewang (rtd), who spoke on the plot, said APC will come out stronger in the South- South in the 2019 elections. “APC is positioned to win most of the states in South-South in 2019,” he said.

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