The exit of Abubakar Atiku from the ruling All Pogressives Party (APC) has diminished the numerical strenght of the party needing its chieftains to go to the drawing board to recruit more persons of electoral relevance and fill the vacuum.
Though President Muhammadu Buhari had “mocked” John Oyegun, the APC National Chairman on the resignation of Abubakar from the party, he is more worried by the exit than Oyegun because he is the one who needs more political heavy weights now to help in swaying the electorate to vote again for the swan song “change” he is representing.
In far away Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire where he attended the 5th European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit, he turned a prospective bridegroom to woo a bride to boost his wobbly matrimonial home.
Buhari, who was accompanied on the trip by APC leader, Bola Tinubu, and governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi states, among others, declared “First, I want to apologise for keeping you for too long sitting. This is because I insisted on the governors attending this meeting.
Not done, he dropped a bombshell “This is why I came along with them so that when we are going to meet you, when you are going to meet the rest of Nigerians, if you tell them that their governors were in the company of the president, I think that will be another vote for me in the future. I’m very pleased that they were able to turn up.”
By this statement, the President inferred that he would seek a second term in the office. And this has nailed the coffin of rumours that he would not seek another due to his ill-health.
The president again was quoted to have said that “he had to wait for the two governors to accompany him to the meeting because of their electoral value.”
He realises the important role governors as leaders of their political parties at the state level could play in ‘delivering’ a candidate of their choice. So, he hopes to bank on their support particularly the two governors who escorted him to Cote D’Ivoire.
However, Buhari’s affirmation on the electoral value of the two governors may not be in doubt. Under electoral process of Nigeria, a state governor has an edge over any other person because he controls all the government apparati. Yet, he forgot that Emmanuel is a PDP man except he wants the governor to commit anti-party activities and net his party’s disciplinary action.
It appeared the President failed to realise how a difficult it would be for a governor to pack all the votes of his state for him withouta hoot from the opposition party in the forthcoming presidential elections. For example, Akwa Ibom State had population census figure of 4,625,100 as at 2011 while Bauchi State had 5,515,300 same year. By projections, these figures have risen beyond the official figures. Udom Emmanuel is a PDP governor while Mohammed Abubakar is an APC governor. While Emmanuel retired as an executive director of Zenith Bank Plc, Abubakar left as a one-time Commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These are strong factors that can assist in directing the electoral compass to the fortune of any political office seeker.
While Buhari thinks electoral value applies to the position one is holding, some political scientists differ from such standpoint. Empirically, the scientists view from the welfarist and altruistic service. In other words, the person with electoral value must have the capacity and passion to provide welfare package, enduring empwerment scheme and social amenities to his community sacrificially. In this confine, the said politician or public office holder could garner votes from his community or state as a mark of acceptability.
Frankly, political analysts argue that in free and fair elections in the state, Emmanuel can not win majority of votes. “Among most retired primary school teachers, local government staff and civil servants even the the working class, he is unpopular. Among the political class, he would find it difficult to garner their votes. Even among his political appointees, he is being endured for not playing ball with them,” the analysts posited.
Apart from this, Emmanuel has two political bridges to cross in the forthcoming governorship race. One is Godswill Akpabio’s factor; another is Nsima Ekere’s factor. It is rumoured that Akpabio still holds PDP structure in the state while Nsima Ekere said to be aspiring for governorship position on the platform of APC holds the security apparatus. The party structure and security architecture are important platforms he needs to grab power again.
Political pundits reason that there is a scare in Udom’s camp due to his inability to control the party’s ace. His followers are scared that it may not be possible for their master to secure ticket for a second term bid due to some acts of malfeasance committed against his political shepherd-Senator Godswill Akpabio and some of his political disciples- Emmanuel Enoidem and Paul Ekpo, among others.
An anonymous informant told StraightNews that after the exit of Godswill Akpabio from office, Governor Emmanuel was alleged to have invited some security agents in the Anti-Corruption Unit in Akwa Ibom Police Command under the guise that they were operatives of Economic Finance and Corrupt Commission (EFCC) to extract heavy sums of money said to be extorted from the treasury of Akwa Ibom government.
The source said the operatives terrorized the “culprits” and squeezed from them huge sums for fear of being dragged before EFCC, a situation that has helped to whittle down their financial influence.
This, no doubt, was a calculated attempt and a ploy to drain them of quantum of money purportedly to have been amassed while in office. This, it was assumed, would unnerve them to flexing their financial muscle over challenging him (the governor) during the PDP governorship nomination slated for June 2018.
Already, Akpabio is said to be backing Uche Secondus for the position of PDP National Chairman and his success during the December 9 PDP National Convention in Abuja would be a political capital for the ‘victims’ to exact a pound of flesh from their ‘victor’.
Before now, some groups and persons in the state had endorsed the governor for a second term in office. For example, Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District led by Senator Akpabio, Eket Senatorial District, Eket Senatorial District Youth Forum, Fathers of Faith and Akwa Ibom women, among others.
However, it is predicted that if Udom fails to pick the governorship ticket, he may remain in PDP to give surreptious support to APC in compensation for a ministerial slot.
Political analysts are of the opinion that the political drama of 1983 in which Dr. Clement Isong of Home Front lost governorship ticket under National Party of Nigeria (NPN) to Senator Donald Etiebet of Lagos Front, may be re-enacted.
According to them, Clement Isong, Udom’s kinsman having lost the governorship bid to Lagos Front for a second term in the office committed anti-party activity by tacitly supporting the late Udoakagha J. Esuene of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) who eventually lost to Etiebet.
Though the two dramatis personae go about their business as all is well, it is predicted that Emmanuel is charge of Home Front while Akpabio controls the Abuja Front. The two elephants will slug out soon in an effort aimed at producing another occupant of Hiltop Mansion, Uyo- Akwa Ibom seat of power. Yet, Udom and Akpabio’s camps would dismiss the existence of these blocs as ruse.
Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is said to be a co-aspirant for the coveted seat in the state. He has awarded many contracts for roads and infrastrucrures in the state. He is said to control the security apparatus of the state. An unnamed source hinted that through his connection with Inspector-General of Police and Director-General of State Security Service, Akwa Ibom government reluctantly released Uyo Sports Stadium for the flag-off ceremony of APC local government elections.
Political bookmakers describe politics as a dynamic item changing daily and one has to work assiduously to overcome seeming hurdles. As such, Emmanuel is resting but daily testing new strategies to achieve his mission to avoid being thrown out as a political minion. The bookmakers agree that Udom Emmanuel may clinch ticket for second term in office.