By Aminu Wada
The upcoming gubernatorial elections in the Southeastern states of Nigeria have ignited a tumultuous atmosphere of anxiety and apprehension, particularly for incumbent governors aspiring to secure another term in office or maneuvering their chosen heirs into positions of power.
This anxiety stems from the recent unexpected success of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections. Against all odds, the party won twelve states, including Lagos, an All Progressives Congress (APC) stronghold, beating sitting governors and tested politicians hoping to join their former colleagues in the National Assembly.
The LP’s success was primarily driven by its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who joined the party just eight months before the election and propelled the “Obidient movement.” Before the presidential election, the LP was considered incapable of making inroads in some of the states it won. However, its performance in the election has left many governors worried about the unpredictable outcome of the upcoming gubernatorial election.
The LP’s success in the Southeastern state of Enugu has been particularly significant. In the presidential and National Assembly elections, it won seven out of the eight House of Representatives seats and one of the three Senate seats in the state. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, a candidate in the election, was roundly defeated by the LP candidate, Okey Ezea, in the contest for the highly coveted seat of the Enugu North senatorial district. The PDP-led government in the state has recently met with Catholic church leaders, appealing for support for its candidate, Peter Mbah.
Meanwhile, the LP candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, whom PDP supporters see as a threat to their candidate, is hoping to leverage Obi’s popularity to his advantage. A chieftain of the LP in the state, Hon Malachy Okey Onyechi, is confident that the party will come out on top in the gubernatorial election, just as it did in the presidential poll. Onyechi believes that Edeoga represents a fresh start for Enugu and will work to salvage the state from decay.
The LP has become a sought-after political party in Delta State, where the PDP vice presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, failed to deliver the state to the party. Okowa has since taken his campaign to religious leaders, seeking their support for his candidate, Sheriff Oborevwori. However, the LP in Delta has disassociated itself from rumors that it was negotiating with Okowa ahead of the March 11 governorship election in the state.
While a handful of Peter Obi’s devotees in Delta State have vowed to collaborate with the APC contender, Ovie Omo-Agege, in the imminent electoral race, a coalition of Obidients Movement in Delta Central has made it known that they are “obidient” to candidates and not party affiliations. They have affirmed their allegiance to Omo-Agege, asserting that he shares Obi’s attributes and ethics and is a down-to-earth individual who is willing to meet with them at any moment.
To wrap it up, the LP’s stunning victory in the presidential and National Assembly polls held on February 25 has triggered a wave of apprehension among several Southeastern state governors. Their concern stems from the likelihood that the LP may pose a significant threat to their aspirations in the forthcoming gubernatorial race, given its growing strength in the region.
The future holds intriguing possibilities for Nigeria’s political landscape, and only time will reveal whether the LP’s triumphs in the presidential polls will translate into similar gains in the gubernatorial contest; either way, interesting times lie ahead in Nigeria’s politics.
Aminu Wada writes for Eko Hot Blog. This media platform reserves all rights to this article.
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