From John Oghojafor, South South Bureau Chief, The New Diplomat
Bayelsa State, once a traditional stronghold of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) which was won by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on November 16 has thrown open a seeming vulnerability of the PDP in the South South geo-political zone with the titanic APC machine fast-tracking its sprint to take more States in the Oil-rich zone.
Analysts maintain that as Governor Dickson steps down in February, marking the end of the road for PDP in Bayelsa State, an overwhelming atmosphere of apprehension has reportedly gripped the PDP in South South. The APC South South Zonal leadership had at a recent meeting unanimously named deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege as its leader. To those familiar with the political calculations, the move to saddle the deputy Senate President with this responsibility, is a loud political statement. It implies the APC is working ahead to organize itself in a “contest that might see it taking more states in the South South come 2023 if it maintains the current momentum.”
Prof Nik Nanos, an eminent political scholar, chair of the Board of Governors of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC’s in a bristling picture of voters rage across various global demographics , appears to have captured the political setting in the South South. In his recent book, The Age of Voter Rage, Nanos who offered a glimpse of how nettlesome voters radically alter political contests said “the newest wave of populist-style –politics is different from the past. It is high velocity, tinged by anger….” This was exactly the case in Bayelsa as the APC fuelled by mass anger, pummeled the PDP in the State governorship elections. APC’s David Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat PDP’s Douye Diri who polled 143, 172. To close observers, Bayelsans handed Governor Dickson a crushing defeat because the governor allegedly foundered all commitments on the altar of naked political opportunism and head-strong selfishness.
Building on this, the APC moved to consolidate the gains of the party in Bayelsa State through strategic reconciliation nationwide. To complement this, it was gathered that the South South caucus of the party similarly resolved to set up reconciliation committees to help resolve issues in some states in the zone. The New Diplomat’s checks reveal that it was in a bid to provide leadership that will help drive this process that the APC South South caucus unanimously named Omo-Agege, whose leadership comportment is believed to be capable of “creating a positive attraction for proper cohesion towards achieving unity and strength for the party in the zone.”
In its resolution read by the APC Vice chairman for South South, Chief Hilliard Eta, the party stated: “That the zonal caucus working committee shall set up reconciliation committees to complement the work of the national reconciliation committee for Rivers State, Edo State and Cross River State. That Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has been unanimously chosen as the political leader of the South South zone. That the leadership of the south south zone do, unequivocally, passed a vote of implicit confidence on the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole.”
This development has elicited reactions. Chairman Delta Central APC, Olorogun Barr. Adelabu Bodjor described the appointment of Omo-Agege as “a square peg in a square hole”. Delta State chairman of APC, Prophet Jones Ode Erue also spoke along this line. From Akwa Ibom, eminent elder-statesman, leader of APC in Akwa Ibom State, and former Petroleum Resources Minister, Chief Don Etiebet while acknowledging the leadership qualities of Omo-Agege, equally endorsed the choice of the deputy Senate President as leader of the South South APC caucus. From Cross River State came former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN. While from Bayelsa State, APC leader in the State, former governor of the State and current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, reportedly sent in words of solidarity as he was on official trip with President Muhammadu Buhari outside Nigeria. National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was said to have served as host of the meeting. Also from Delta State, came Chief Great Ogboru, among others.
But how far will the APC leadership go? South South zonal Chairman of APC, Chief Hilliard Eta, says he is optimistic that “given the robust leadership involved, the APC will move forward and win more States.”
In South South, the APC currently has the following Senatorial representation:
1. Akwa Ibom State: No Senatorial representation(NIL)
2. Bayelsa State: One Senatorial representation( ONE)
3. Cross River State: No Senatorial representation(NIL)
4. Delta State: One Senatorial representation(ONE)
5. Edo State: One Senatorial representation (ONE)
6. Rivers State: No Senatorial representation(NIL)
Observers say the Omo-Agege role is no mean task but political analysts aver that “there is strong optimism that APC on account of its increasing strength, will take over more States in the South South in 2023.” But a PDP stalwart from Akwa Ibom State, Obong Michael Afangide has a different story: “We are waiting for APC to come to Akwa Ibom State. The last me, they thought Akpabio will win Senatorial seat but unknown to them, it is the PDP structure built by our political father Obong Victor Attah which is being sustained by Udom Emmanuel that is in control of Akwa Ibom State. We challenge Godswill (Chief Akpabio) to come out and contest the Senatorial re-run with Senator Chris Ekpenyong. Yes, Obong Etiebet is our leader as Annang people. We listen to him. But not Godswill(Chief Akpabio).”
So far, the States with no APC elected Senatorial seats are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, and Rivers while Bayelsa, Delta and Edo have elected Senatorial representations.