In this report, BODE GBADEBO examines the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the forthcoming presidential election in the South-East against the suspicion that its governors in the zone are non-committal.
A sense of self preservation is apparently cautioning the South East governors against betraying their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the exception of Anambra and Imo states, at the Saturday, February 16 presidential election.
The reasons are not far-fetched and are enough or cogent to exonerate them of double-dealing given history and the need for self preservation in their respective domains or what one can call governorship areas.
Recall that Anambra and Imo states have governors elected on the platforms of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) respectively.
The story making the round is that the PDP governors of Abia, Ebonyi, and Enugu states have secretly entered into a pact with President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC to surrender their states to the party at the centre at the presidential election on February 16 on the premise that their re-election will be guaranteed.
Given its delicate nature, nobody was willing to confirm or deny the Buhari/South East PDP governors pact story. However, findings by LEADERSHIP show that even if such agreement was ever entered into in written or otherwise, the governors are not willing to allow APC win the presidential election in their domains for obvious reasons.
For Ebonyi state governor, Dave Umahi, his relationship with President Buhari is an open secret and the former has no apology about it. But the tie is being miscontrued to be a political one other than what it is, a mere offcial courtesy.
The same thing goes for the Abia and Enugu states’ governors, who hold Buhari in high esteem on the basis of the exalted office he occupies only as there is no political affinity at least in the open yet.
Credible sources in the three PDP-controlled states of the South-East confided in this reporter at different times, that the governors are only entangled in what looks like a double dealing in order to win their re-election come March 2, 2019.
“They are just playing along in order to avoid the 2003 scenario in the South-West when Obasanjo as the President cajoled AD governors of the South-West to impress on the Yorubas to vote for his second term re-election with the agreement that the governors will be re-elected on the platform of AD since they were not interested in decamping to the PDP.
“But the reverse was the case after Obasanjo had won the 2003 re-election, all the AD states were taken by force thereafter except Lagos state under Bola Tinubu. So, the PDP governors in the South-East are also wary of this possible plot since governorship election will take place two weeks after the presidential election,” a prominent PDP chieftain from the zone said.
It will be recalled that in 2003, Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors in the South-West played into the hands of the then President Obasanjo and the outcome is now history.
Sometime in 2018, a former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, narrated how he and four other governors of the South-west were allegedly ‘rigged’ out of power by Obasanjo in 2003.
The former governor, who spoke at a colloquium held in honour of journalist and writer, Kunle Ajibade, decried that former President Obasanjo used the police to rig him and others out of power in 2003.
Osoba governed Ogun State between 1999 and 2003 under the platform of the AD. He was however voted out of office in 2003 when Gbenga Daniel of the PDP) was declared winner of the governorship election.
Apart from Osoba, other governors of the South-west under the platform of the AD also failed to win their re-election bids. They included late Lam Adesina of Oyo State; Bisi Akande of Osun State; Adeniyi Adebayo of Ekiti State; and late Adebayo Adefarati of Ondo State.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the then governor of Lagos State and now national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was the only governor from AD, who survived what analysts described as the PDP ‘electoral tsunami’ in the South West.
However, PDP is apparently upbeat about its chances in the South-East at the forthcoming February 16 presidential poll as insiders in the PDP Presidential Campaign Council being led by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, hinted that the party is not losing sleep over the public romance of South-East PDP governors with President Buhari of the APC.
“There is nothing to worry about. It is a game of survival. When the PDP presidential campaign went to Ebonyi, the governror cleared the air about his relationship with Buhari, stressing that the relationship cannot be at the detriment of his party, the PDP. So there is nothing to worry about,” a senior aide to one of the campaign managers confided in LEADERSHIP.
Meanwhile, in the two non-PDP states of Anambra and Imo, the party will have different things to contend with and its possible victory is dependent on how it play its cards.
The crisis of confidence currently rocking the ruling APC in Imo state arising from the choice of the party’s governorship candidate could work in favour of the PDP both at the presidential and governorship election since the factions are not ready to sheathe their swords anytime before the elections.
While in Anambra state, the feud between PDP’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar’s running mate, Peter Obi – the immediate past governor of the state – and the current governor Willie Obiano is responsible for the state’s official support for Buhari.
Obiano’s position or support for Buhari is against the backdrop that his party, APGA, has a presidential candidate, a decision political analysts said was only taken to spite Obi.
“The stand taken by Anambra governor is inconsequential because at the end of the day the people of the state will make their choice for the best candidate, who offers them new opportunities for a better life,” the aide added.
A prominent APC member, who does not want his name in prints because, according to him, he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said neither the ruling APC nor President Buhari has any plan to truncate democracy in any part of the country.
“I don’t know what you are talking about but what I know for sure is that the South-East governors of the PDP are behind Buhari and you will see it on the election day, and there is no any plan to short-change them because our party and Mr. cannot be parties to violating democratic principles,” the APC chieftain said.
It is now left to be seen how all these will play out at the polls as gladiators and parties are confident of victory. Time shall definitely tell.
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