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Abia, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom… battleground states of PDP governorship primaries

Abia, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom… battleground states of PDP governorship primaries
May 24
12:24 2022

Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vowed to win 25 states, up from the 13 states it presently controls. But first, the opposition party must conduct seamless, rancour-free primaries and produce formidable candidates to fly its flag in the 31 states where the governorship elections will be held in 2023. 

With the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms now over, the PDP has scheduled May 25 for governorship primaries.

Ahead of the eagerly anticipated exercise, TheCable highlights the contenders in four of the battleground states — Kaduna, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Enugu.

AKWA IBOM

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Akwa Ibom will witness one of the most heated PDP governorship primaries on Wednesday. Two leading contestants — Bassey Albert and Onofiok Luke — will contend with Umoh Eno, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s anointed candidate for the race.

Earlier this year, a picture surfaced online, showing Eno, the state’s commissioner of land and water resources, kneeling before the governor in a display of loyalty, stirring controversy among party members in the state.

Umoh Eno

Albert, senator representing Akwa Ibom north-east and a former commissioner of finance, is widely regarded as the strongest contender in the race.

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Bassey Albert

In March, Ephraim Inyangeyen, Emmanuel’s former chief of staff, had said there was an agreement in the party for the governor to hand over power to Albert in 2023 — an allegation Emmanuel denied.

On the other hand, Luke, the legislator representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal constituency and former speaker of Akwa Ibom house of assembly, has promised to “build our people” if elected governor.

Onofiok Luke

Speaking when he declared his governorship bid, Luke said “we have built roads and the infrastructure built has opened up our dear state and brought opportunities. It is now time to build our people”.

Other PDP governorship hopefuls are Akan Okon, a former commissioner for economic development; James Iniama, a renowned estate surveyor; and David Okpon, a businessman.

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Meanwhile, the PDP in the state is conducting its primaries despite a court injunction stopping the election.

Some party members said to be loyal to Albert, had filed a suit in a federal high court in Abuja, challenging the result of the PDP ad-hoc delegates election held on April 30.

According to the applicants, there were no ward congresses in the state and the delegates’ list is a “fraught”.

The PDP, however, filed an appeal, praying the court of appeal to vacate the order but the matter has yet to be heard.

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KADUNA

Four top contenders in Kaduna are blitzing to emerge as the governorship candidate of the PDP to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

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The four major hopefuls are Mukhtar Yero, former governor of the state; Isa Mohammed Ashiru, 2019 governorship candidate of PDP; Shehu Sani, ex-senator representing Kaduna central; and Sani Abbas.

Shehu Sani

Shehu Sani

Yero was Kaduna’s commissioner of finance between 2007 and 2010. He became deputy governor to Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and later governor in 2012 after Yakowa died in a helicopter crash.

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Mukhtar Yero

Yero and Ashiru are regarded as loyal members who have stuck with the PDP and are said to be major funders of the party in the state.

Isa Mohammed Ashiru

If loyalty is a factor in the contest, the other candidates have an edge over Sani, who recently joined the PDP from the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).

Other hopefuls in the race are Muhammad Sani Sidi, Haruna Sa’id and Sadik Baba Ahmed.

ABIA

The PDP in Abia is heading into its governorship primary with a split house, and according to political watchers, this could affect the party in the 2023 gubernatorial race.

Three major issues — zoning, Governor Okezie lkpeazu’s decision to anoint Uche Ikonne as his successor, and the controversial delegates’ lists — might work against the party if not resolved.

Uche Ikonne

Uche Ikonne

Last week, Enyinnaya Abaribe, the senate minority leader, and 10 other governorship hopefuls issued a statement rejecting the delegates’ list submitted to the party headquarters in Abuja.

Enyinnaya Abaribe

The hopefuls said no ward congress was held in the state to elect the three-man ad-hoc delegates, hence the list was manipulated.

“At the centre of the vexed issues is the obvious manipulation by a tiny segment of the state executive committee of the party to yield to plots at subverting the democratic process, which is geared towards achieving a predetermined goal of imposition at all levels,” the governorship hopefuls had said.

“We are therefore here in our party’s Abuja national headquarters to alert the party and the Nigerian public of this ugly development, which if not stopped could spell doom for the party ahead of the 2023 general election not only in Abia state but in the south-east as a whole.”

The aforementioned issues aside, the Abia governorship primary is expected to be fiercely contested.

The major contenders in the race are Enyinnaya Abaribe, senate minority leader; Ude Oko Chukwu, Abia deputy governor, and Emma Nwaka, former Abia state PDP chairman.

Others are Chima Anyaso, Ncheta Omerekpe, Samson Orji, and Enyinnaya Nwafor.

ENUGU

No fewer than 10 hopefuls are in the race to clinch the PDP governorship ticket in Enugu state.

Speculations are rife that Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, governor of Enugu, has anointed a candidate but has yet to make it official.

The uncertainty further heightened when Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president, entered the governorship race.

Ike Ekweremadu

There is a debate in the south-east state about orbiting the governorship ticket to Enugu east after the tenure of Ugwuanyi, who is from Enugu north.

But Ekweremadu, who has been in the senate since 2003, described the zoning arrangement as a “treachery of politics”, adding that there is no such arrangement in the state.

In March, amid the zoning debate, some traditional rulers endorsed the lawmaker’s governorship bid.

As the PDP braces to conduct its primaries on Wednesday, Enugu will be interesting to watch as party members insist on the zoning arrangement in the state.

Chijioke Edeoga, Bart Nnaji, Gil Nnaji, Everest Nnaji, Offor Chukwuegbo and Hillary Edeoga and Peter Mbah are some of the other hopefuls in the race.

INCUMBENTS SEEKING RE-ELECTION

Meanwhile, the governorship primaries in Bauchi, Adamawa and Oyo will be interesting to watch as Bala Mohammed, Ahmadu Fintiri and Seyi Makinde are seeking re-election.

Although Mohammed is one of the hopefuls seeking to win the PDP presidential ticket, he was said to have secretly bought the party’s governorship nomination form and was screened to contest.

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