March 2, 2019

Presidential/NASS Polls:  How the Mighty fell in S’South

Senator Godswill Akpabio

Akpabio, Uduaghan say polls rigged in their districts, demand cancellation
No result from Amaechi, Transport Minister’s Ikwerre LGA due to violence
Igbinedion loses; what worked against Patrick Obahiagbon, aka Igodomigodo
Senator Ndoma Egba, Bassey Otu, C’River Assembly Speaker crash out

By Emma Amaize, South-South Editor, Jimitota Onoyume, Asst News Editor, Gabriel Enogholase, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Emma Unah, Ike Uchechukwu, Harris-Okon Emmanuel, Chioma Onuegbu, Davies Iheamnachor, Emem Idio, Perez Brisibe, Ochuko Akuopha, Alemma Aliu-Ozioruva, Theresa Ugbobu and Sunday Chancel


LAST  Saturday’s Presidential/ National Assembly polls did not  happen in the six states of the South-South geo-political zone without the flattening of a number of political strongholds and reinforcement of old and new opinionated avatars.

The contest threw up many surprises that have signposted the March 9 governorship election in four of the states, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River. Governorship elections are not holding in Edo and Bayelsa states next Saturday.


Political Tsunami sweeps through A’Ibom

From Akwa-Ibom, the “Land of Promise”, where some politicians unproductively tried to drag the straightforward Resident Electoral Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the state, Barrister Mike Igini, in the mud, the immediate past Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio received a bloody nose from a former deputy governor, Dr. Chris Ekpeyong.

Ekpeyong polled 118, 215 votes to trounce Akpabio with 83,158 votes.   Cut-to-size in the electoral bout, Akpabio had since petitioned INEC, calling for cancellation of the polls over alleged manipulation in favour of the winner.



Senator Akpabio decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on August 8, 2018, in what pundits described as “uncommon” defection with a vow to deliver the state and the South-South geo-political zone to the central government controlled by the All Progressives Congress. Clearly, that is still a pipe dream as the PDP won big in the oil rich zone.

Senator Nelson Effiong, who represents Eket Senatorial district, also received a baptism of fire in the hands of another PDP candidate, Dr. Akon Eyakenyi, who defeated him. Eyakenyi, a former Minister for Housing, scored 122,412 votes to thump Senator Effiong, who polled 44,053 votes.

In addition, Etim Bassey Effiong of APC met a brick wall in his bid to dislodge Senator Bassey Albert Akpan of PDP for the Uyo Senatorial stool. With his victory, Senator Akpan would be the highest-ranking lawmaker from the state in the ninth Assembly. While Senator Akpan garnered 147,731 votes, Effiong recorded 60, 930 votes.

There were also major shockers in the House of Representatives as the PDP swept all the nine seats so far declared, with the Speaker, Hon. Onofiok Luke winning Etinan/Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency with aplomb.     The Speaker polled 44,833 votes while his opponent, Akpan Daniel Effiong, scored 15, 800 votes.

With 31,720 votes, former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Aniekan Umana, of PDP    beat the incumbent lawmaker, Emmanual Ekon, a two term APC candidate , who scored 3, 496 votes in the contest for Abak/ Etim Ekpo/Ika federal constituency seat.

Senator Victor Ndoma Egba

For Itu/Ibiono Federal Constituency, Archibong Henry of PDP won a second term mandate with total votes of 41459 votes as against 18,683 votes scored by Ikotidem Edem Sunday of APC.

The incumbent lawmaker for Uyo/Nsit Atai/Uruan/ Ibesikpo, Eyong Michael Okon maintained his position with 51, 712, while Ekpeyong Ekerete Udoh polled 10, 995 votes.

Honourable Idem Unyime Josiah took on Ukoette Samuel Emmanuel for Oruk Anam/ Ukanafun federal constituency and won with total votes of 57,443 to 17,190.

The PDP also recorded victory in Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Ibeno when Ifon Patrick Nathan took 61, 580 votes to beat Akpabio Alex Kufre of APC, who had 11, 268 votes.

Similarly, Ekong Nsikak, a PDP candidate polled 29, 849 to clinch Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara federal constituency seat, whereas Akpan Emmanuel Sunday of APC scored 22, 052 votes

The candidate of PDP, Emmanuel Ukpongudo equally won in Ikono/Ini federal constituency with total votes of 21, 622 as against 7,997 votes given by the electorate to Idiong Effiong Edidiong.

APC was also defeated in Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo as PDP’s candidate, Francis Charles Uduyok scored 31, 465, while Udoh Bernard Ambrose scored 11, 076 votes.

However, the election in Oron/Mbo/Urue Offong-Oruko/ Okobo/ Udung Uko    federal constituency was inconclusive, but the incumbent lawmaker Elder Nse Ekpeyong is expected to win as he was leading in the four local government area of the five councils in the constituency.

APC only won two local government areas in the Presidential contest, namely, Essien Udom and Mbo councils respectively. APC gubernatorial candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere although delivered his unit, could not win Ikot Abasi local government for the President and other NASS members.

Only Senator Akpabio, Engineer Ita Awak, Director of Air Worthiness, NCCA, Prince Effiong Abia, delivered their units, wards and local government areas to the President, but Akpabio himself fell short of being re-elected.

Others such as Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, could not contend with the political giants in his area, as he failed to deliver his unit, ward and local government for the president and other national assembly candidates.

In addition, Umana Umana, Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority, also failed to win in his area.

For the two major political parties, it was a battle between the make-believe federal might and the home front.    A fight for ego and self-pride. Akwa Ibom state has always voted PDP since 1999.

The party has a large following and spread with established grassroots structures, apart from Senator John Akpanudoedehe, who has been in the opposition; other bigwigs left the PDP to join the opposition because of irreconcilable differences. It was the expectation that with the number of moneybags congregating in APC, there was bound to be a paradigm shift in the political calculus of the state. Nevertheless, the first round of elections has shown that PDP has remained the opium of the people of the state.


Rivers bombshell…no result in Amaechi LGA

With the courts having barred the Rivers APC from presenting candidates for the National Assembly, NASS, and governorship Elections, the 2019 general elections kicked off February 23 without consequential upsets as PDP unsurprisingly held sway.

In the results as announced by Chief Collation Officer, Prof Eneffiong Essien, Tuesday, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP polled 473,971 of 666,585 total votes cast with closest, APC amassing 150,710 votes.

All NASS elections results so far declared have also gone to PDP as others stalemated arising from the widespread violence, which claimed lives, including an Army Lieutenant.

If there was any upset, it was the realization that the elections in Ikwerre Local Government Area,   the home base of Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, did not produce any result due to violence, as it happened in Okrika, Ahoada West, Emohua, Bonny and Akuku Toru local government areas.

The result indicated profound apathy to the election among the Rivers electorate, as only 666,585 of over 3,000,000 registered voters came out to cast their ballots in the exercise.

Tonye Cole, the delisted Rivers APC governorship candidate, however, believes the Rivers result sprang upset in favour of APC on the strength the trim total vote cast and opposition score compared to the 2015 results.

Cole said, “The greater victory if for the APC, the result of the just concluded presidential election is an indication of a new beginning and trajectory with respect to elections in Rivers. Gone are the days when politicians hijack electoral materials and allocate hundreds of thousands of votes to themselves.

“The 2019 results highlight the depth of rigging and manipulations in the 2015 elections that APC had complained about. Any desirous should compare the 2015 total vote cast of 1.58 million where APC got 69,000 votes and PDP got 1.48million votes to that of 2019 where total votes were mere 666, 000 with APC getting 150,000 and PDP getting 473, 971.

Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Rivers PDP agent at the collation blamed the low turnout of voters on “deliberate excessive militarization of the voting space to scare people away and deplete Rivers vote in an election PDP could have captured more than a million votes.”

“Imagine a locality with over half a million registered voters having less than 15,000 turning out. We know those who have no business in the elections did. The electoral officers have been making confessional statements. Nevertheless, it is a shame for us all in South- South.

“That the North which is under siege of insurgency did not record electoral violence. Rather those desperate to impress the President, knowing PDP would roundly beat them, brought in soldiers to scare voters away to reduce the margin of victory. If anything, PDP would have polled more than the 1.4 million votes it had in 2015.”

Cole had expressed high hope that the courts, in the remaining matters left to be determined, could bring APC into the coming governorship elections in Rivers. However when asked what the APC would do in the event that the courts refused to bulge and Rivers APC candidates remain delisted, the gubernatorial candidate said, “I would not answer that question now. We will cross the bridge when we get there.”

Okpara on the implications of the Presidential results to the governorship said, “With or without APC on the ballot, Rivers remain a PDP state. Soldiers should not meddle in politics, Governor Wike has no rival, he will win landslide, cleanly at that, come March 9. And there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”


How internal rumblings affected APC, PDP in Edo

The two major political parties in Edo State suffered some major upsets in Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, especially in Edo South Senatorial district where the governor and prominent leaders of the APC hail from.

The APC against expectations lost Ikpoba-Okha/Egor Federal constituency to PDP as the incumbent, Hon Johnson Agbonayinma, lost to a first timer and former lawmaker in the state House of Assembly, Jude Ise-Idehen.

On its part, the PDP lost Ovia federal constituency, occupied by the daughter of Esama of Benin, Ms Omosode Igbinedion to Mr. Dennis Idahosa, popularly called Denco.

If analysts tipped anybody to win in Edo South, it was Agbonayinma, going by the level of campaign he carried out in all the wards that make up his constituency. It remains a shocker that the two council areas, which boast of prominent leaders of the APC leaders like former deputy governor, Mr Lucky Imasuen, current Secretary to State Government, Osarodion Ogie, former Attorney General of the state, Henry Idahagbon, Gentleman Amegor, Crosby Eribo, among others lost the seat.

What played out was a case of internal sabotage as some members of the APC, who have not been happy with the leadership style of Governor Godwin Obaseki refused to mobilize support for the party.

The APC also lost in Oredo local government area and that made it possible for the incumbent member representing the federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Ogbeide Ihama, to break the jinx of being re-elected for a second term in the constituency since 1999.

In Ovia federal constituency where Omosede Igbinedion and the PDP lost, it was a case of David killing Goliath, as Idahosa is the underdog, considering the towering image of Chief Igbinedion, who was fully committed to ensure that his daughter returned to the house.

Apparently aware of the enormous financial and influential muscle of his opponent, Idahosa started his campaign much early and did not wait for support from the government and the party which came too little too late.

The loss of the three metropolitan local government councils in Edo South; Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha and Egor local government areas largely contributed to the PDP winning in Edo South Senatorial district, as the party could not shore up the gaps in the votes from the other local government areas of Ovia South-West, Ovia North-East, Orhiomwon   and Uhunmwonde, which the APC won. This is what affected Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, aka Igodomigodo for upturning the table against the eventual winner, Senator Matthew Urhoghide of PDP.

Edo Central is a traditional PDP area and expectedly won the two House of Representatives and the senatorial seats, while in Edo North Senatorial district, which is the home of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the APC won the three House of Representatives and the Senatorial Seat for the zone.


Bolt from the blue in Cross River

PDP cleared the three Senate positions in Cross River State as Dr. Sandy Onor, a lecturer in the University of Calabar, defeated former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba completely with a margin of over 20,000 votes. Senator Ndoma- Egba, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, making his fourth bid for the Senate for the Central Senatorial district of the state, left the position of Chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to contest the post.

Sandy Onor polled a total 80,126, to defeat Ndoma-Egba, who got a total 60,298 votes to stop him a record fourth term in the red chamber.  Other winners for the other Senate race include Senator Gershom Bassey of the PDP who scored 158, 862 votes to defeat his closest rival, Prince Otu of the APC, who polled 142,166 votes in the seven local government areas that form the district.

In the Northern Senatorial   district of the state, where incumbent Senator Rose Okoh,   also of the PDP,   beat   Wabily Nyiam of the APC with over 100,000 votes to return to the upper chamber.

Senator Rose scored 100,967 votes while her closest rival, Wabily Nyiam of APC got 36,129 votes.  PDP candidates won the three Senate positions in Cross River State.

The returning officer for the Central Senatorial District election, Prof. Eyong Ubana declared Onor winner of the election.  While    Senator Gershom Bassey of the PDP was declared winner by the returning officer the Southern   Senatorial District, Prof James Epoke as well as   Senator Rose Oko who   was declared winner by the returning officer for the Northern Senatorial District, Prof. James Okpuliya.

There are no names of APC candidates   in this report because only the party’s logo was on the ballot paper, as INEC heeded the Court of Appeal order to swap names of APC candidates for the National Assembly election that it had earlier published with new names. However, it was unable to do it before the election.

Major upsets include the failure of the former Senate Leader, Sen. Victor Ndoma Egba to make it the fourth time to the Red Chamber, losing to Prof. Sandy Onor a University Don, who contested under the platform of the PDP with about 20,000 votes

Most devastating of the upset was the failure of the current Cross River State House of Assembly, CRSHA Speaker, Hon John-Gaul  Lebo, aka “Solution Architect,”     who lost woefully to former Chief of Staff, Dr Alex Egbona, at Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency. Lebo contested under the PDP, but still lost notwithstanding that he is a close ally of the incumbent governor.

Political observers in the state are also amazed that in spite of being the godson to the political avatar himself, Liyel Imoke, the “Solution Architect” still lost to Dr Egbona who polled 29,432 votes to override his 26,971 votes.

Vanguard also learned that Senator Prince Bassey Otu also lost his bid to return to the Senate, as Senator Gershom Bassey defeated him with over 14,000 votes .Book writers in Cross River had predicted he would upset Gershom, but the opposite played out.

Another major surprise in Cross River state during the Presidential elections was the increase of votes in 2015 from 28,000 to 117,302 in 2019.

Many Cross-Riverians are of the opinion that if with 28,000 votes, the President could give Cross River sons and daughters the kind of appointments they have enjoyed, they would gain more with a larger mandate.


APC causes stir in Delta but PDP still in-charge

Prior to the February 23 Presidential/National Assembly election, Delta State had been a very tough glacier for any opposition party to cut. In 2015, the opposition APC in the state polled a total of 48,858 votes for President, Muhammadu Buhari, a far expanse from the ruling PDP’s 1,285,343 votes for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan under Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as governor of the state.

In 2019, APC bolstered by the defection of Uduaghan turned in the second highest votes for President Buhari in the whole of the South-South and South East, more than the required 25 per cent of votes to win the presidential election. The Delta APC polled 221,282 votes for Buhari as against the PDP’s 595,068 votes for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

However, Uduaghan, who lost to Senator James Manager in Delta South, has called for the cancellation. Delta APC may seem to have internal issues, which Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and other leaders of the party have been trying to solve, it did not stop them from uniting to poll such historic figure for Buhari

Speaking on the defeat of PDP in Delta Central, Director of Media and Publicity for the Evelyn Oboro Campaign Organization, Sunday Apah, alleged that the loss of the PDP was perpetrated by a chieftain of the party, Chief Ighoyota Amori, who lost in the senatorial primary to Oboro.

Apah asserted, “He took his bitterness to the polls by mobilizing his supporters to vote against the PDP candidate leading to the loss of the PDP in the area which has never happened in the history of Delta State.”

“In Mosogar, you would see that the APC senatorial candidate got over 5, 000 votes, which is very unusual and the PDP got less than 1, 000. The agents of the PDP at some units even had to void some PDP votes to deplete the figures, including in Jesse. It was only in Oghara, through the influence of Igbakpa that we got some votes, something that has never happened in the area since.

“Also, in Ughelli South, there was horse-trading over the SDP and the PDP, bargaining with the APC on the Senate and House of Representatives, so that the SDP can get something, especially in Olomu Ward I where the mother of the SDP candidate is from,” he said.

Amori, visibly enraged by the accusations, said, “You should be thanking Ethiope West for the votes that PDP got, I am not contesting election, go and check the units of those who are contesting elections and see the result.

“We had lost in Ethiope East and if not for the votes from Ethiope West, we would have lost the House of Representative seat, having lost in nearly all the wards in Ughelli North, Udu and Ughelli South despite the presence of the political appointees with big names,” Amori said.

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi kept hope alive for PDP in Delta North, which like Delta South is dominated by the ruling party. The battlefield in the crucial March 9 governorship election in the state will definitely be Delta Central.

No doubt, APC made inroad in Delta with the results that emanated from the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly polls. But if truth be told, the elections corroborate the claim that PDP is still the party to beat in the state.