As the 2023 general polls inch closer, with precisely 59 days to go, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has taken advantage of the dwindling political fortunes of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South East and South South following his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi’s growing popularity in the zones.
Accordingly, Tinubu’s supporters are working assiduously to divide the votes of the people in the two geopolitical zones between the APC candidate and Labour Party.
In achieving this, LEADERSHIP learnt that the Tinubu camp and the APC support groups have adopted a rapid fire approach in pushing into the stronghold of the PDP and Labour Party in the South South and South East.
Our findings revealed that the APC support groups in the zones, including stakeholders, are utilising the party’s structure to rally support for Tinubu, capitalising on the fact that despite Obi’s popularity in the zones, the Labour party is deficit in terms of party structure.
Wary of the development, it was also learnt that Obi’s supporters, popularly known as ‘Obidients’, have been rattled out of the social media campaign and are now squaring up the Tinubu supporters wit for wit and strength for strength at the grassroots.
The idea, this paper gathered, is to ensure that Obi displaces the APC in the zones where the G5 governors’ factor, coupled with the influence of APC governors in Imo, Cross River and Ebonyi, is playing out favourably for the APC candidate.
“The Tinubu and APC supporters are banking on the hope that the game would eventually change, as different dynamics would be out to determine people’s interests, even though it is clear that Obi would be getting a substantial number of the votes from the zones,” a source within the Tinubu camp told our correspondent in confidence yesterday.
Two states in the South East, Imo and Ebonyi, are governed by the APC, while two others, Enugu and Abia which are PDP States are working with the G5 governor’s against the PDP.
This is even as Anambra, Obi’s home state, is run by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), whose governor, Prof Charles Soludo, recently engaged the Labour party in a credibility battle.
Recently, 2,000 South East businessmen were said to have supported the presidential bid of Tinubu with the sum of N1 billion.
Announcing the development, Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, had said, “I am happy to say our people are fully in support of our Presidential candidate who has come to share his vision and plan for Nigeria and South East today.
“To support this aspiration the sum of N1billion naira has been raised by 2000 business owners across the South East states.”
Also, the spokesman for the group, Emeka Mgbudem, said the members contributed N500,000 each because they believe in Tinubu after reading his Action Plan for Nigeria.
Responding, Tinubu had during a town hall meeting in Imo pledged to introduce technology in the clearing of goods at the ports that will render unnecessary checkpoints on the roads.
He also promised to run a government where all Nigerians are treated equally.
Besides, APC women in the South South and South East have promised to support Tinubu’s ambition to become the president of Nigeria come 2023.
Also, Governor Uzodimma, and president/founder of the Omaluegwuoku Progressive Initiative (OPI), Hon Ginika Tor, have been making frantic moves to garner support for the APC presidential candidate of the APC) in the South East.
Specifically, Uzodimma restated his resolve to mobilise the teeming population of Ndigbo across the country for Tinubu in the 2023 polls, while Hon Tor assured that Ndigbo would set aside tribal sentiments to support the APC standard bearer in the interest of Nigeria.
Also, Chimaroke Nnamani, a former governor of Enugu state, recently said he is supporting Tinubu because of south-East interest.
Nnamani, however, has been campaigning surreptitiously for Tinubi in order not incure the wrath of elders and youths of the zone who are fully behind Obi and the Labour party.
Recently, Igbo youths, under the auspices of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), had warned groups and individuals promoting the presidential ambition of Tinubu to steer clear of the zone.
President and publicity secretary of the group, Goodluck Ibem and Okay Nworu, respectively, in a statement, described, as unfortunate, how certain persons from Igbo land would allow themselves to be used to promote the ambition of “a man, who is outdated in all ramifications in the scheme of things, to be voted as a Nigeria’s president in 2023.”
Governors Are Supporting Labour Party Standard Bearer, Says Ohanaeze
But the apex Igbo social cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday declared that governors of the South Wwst and South-South zones are already offering the expected corporation to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
National publicity secretary of the body, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Enugu.
He, however, stated that because of the parties that the governors belong to, they are not expected to come out openly to support him.
Ogbonnia noted that governors of some of the states he visited in the zones came out and received him irrespective of party affiliations
He pointed out that the governors are in line with their earlier appeal to Igbos and Nigerians in general to support Obi in his desire to be president of Nigeria
“We earlier advised everybody to support Peter Obi and some of the governors are cooperating with him as some of them even received him when he went for campaign,” he stated .
He maintained that the governors are not averse to the candidate of Obi, saying they were already only entrenched in their political parties.
Ogbonnia disclosed that the governors are already giving Obi what Ohanaeze expected from them.
He insisted that there is no reason why Obi will not win the presidential election, adding that all the indices for victory are all in his favour .
The Ohanaeze spokesman noted that his acceptability to the international community, the youths and his ideas were among the indices in his favour.
Jonathan’s Supporters Mobilise For Asiwaju
In the South South and South East geopolitical zones, supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan have kicked off mobilisation at the grassroots for presidential candidate of the APC, Tinubu.
The Jonathan supporters under the aegis of Citizens Network for Peace and Development in Nigeria (CNPDN) had in November this year endorsed Tinubu for the 2023 presidency.
While launching the 2023 campaign in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, they had insisted that the South must produce the next president of the country.
Earlier this year, CNPDN had joined forces with other Southern Coalitions to convince Jonathan to run for office on the platform of the APC, even as they urged prominent Southern leaders to prevail on the former president to join the race.
But with Jonathan not taking part in the race, the coalition on Monday endorsed the APC candidate at a press conference.
National secretary of the Coalition, Francis Okereke Wainwei, said they unanimously resolved to support and vote for Tinubu in the forthcoming presidential election in 2023.
The Bayelsa State-born politician noted that leaders and members of the Coalition, have also aligned themselves with the position of the Northern Governors Forum of the APC and the Southern Governors’ Forum, who had declared for a Southern president in 2023.
According to him, the primary reason for supporting a Southern president in 2023 is to promote national unity, equity, fairness and justice.
Wainwei stated: “In the same vein, our position that the next President of this country should come from the South is driven by the same vision and principles,’ he told newsmen.
“We believe strongly that such will strengthen the unity and peace of the nation; it will give a better sense of belonging to the people of Southern Nigeria and foster a more viable peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.
“We were therefore surprised by the betrayal of the same cause by some of the Southern Governors, especially the South South Governors, except Nyesom Wike, who had earlier declared for a Southern President, to abandon the same and started pursuing their personal interests instead of the collective interest of the region.”
The Jonathan supporters also called on some South South governors to immediately resign for betraying their people by supporting another Northern candidate to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari after the North had ruled for eight years.
They noted that the call became necessary, as the people of the South South zone can no longer trust the governors with their common heritage since they have placed their personal interests above the collective interest of their people.
They stated: “Our call on them to resign is also premised on the fact that they recently received huge sums of money via the 13% derivation fund and squandered the same in pursuit of their personal interests at the expense of their people.
“We are also calling on the South South States’ Houses of Assembly to impeach the said governors if they fail to resign as requested.
“We shall mobilise our members across the South South States to force the said governors to resign or get impeached. We can’t allow such selfish governors to continue to govern us anymore. We must all place the collective interest of our people above our personal interests for our region to experience holistic and accelerated development.”
Calling on members of the Coalition to mobilise massively for Tinubu, Wainwei said, “In order to ensure that a Southern President is elected in 2023 , we hereby call on all our members and people of the South East and the South South zones to massively vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for President in 2023.
“Tinubu is the easiest means to elect a president from Southern extraction in 2023.He has nationwide acceptance and has the requisite political experience to navigate Nigeria to greatness as President of Nigeria.”
The coalition also implored its members in Rivers State to vote massively for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Siminalayi Fubara.
“We are also using this medium to call on our members and people of Rivers State to vote, PDP gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara as governor of Rivers State.
“We are supporting the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State because of the massive infrastructural development built by the current PDP government in the State,” it added.
The coalition made a cash donation of N1 million to support Tinubu’s campaign in the two geopolitical zones.
APC Members Must Coalesce Efforts For Tinubu, Others’ Victory – Adarabierin
Meanwhile, members of the APC in Ekiti State have been urged to coalesce efforts and work hard towards achieving victory for the party in the 2023 general election.
A chieftain APC in the state, Hon Ayodeji Adarabierin, who gave the charge said with the commitment and dedication of members, the party’s presidential candidate, Tinubu, and all APC candidates in the state will coast home to victory at the polls.
Adarabierin who posited that an election of such magnitude is not a tea party called on the party members home and abroad to synergize and work collectively in the interest and success of the party in the election.
The former APC House of Assembly aspirant for Ado constituency 1 spoke in Ado Ekiti, after a get to together and end of the year party he organised for members of his Asipa political family and children in the state constituency and beyond.
He said part of his agenda is to reach out to the children and the less privileged in the society “but this is to identify all the children and members of my immediate political family who stood by me during the APC House of Assembly primaries in Ado constituency 1”.
Speaking on the chances of APC in the forthcoming general elections, he said, “I wouldn’t want to overrate our candidates and underrate our opponents but we must work hard as a party to be victorious at the polls.
“We have a lot of work to do, that doesn’t undermine the fact that we are going to win the election, nothing. comes easy. I want to enjoin our political friends, fathers, leaders to tighten up their belts, work hard for us to have a resounding victory. The election is not a tea we must work like never before but the good we have done will speak for us.”
Describing Ekiti and the entire Southwest as the stronghold of APC and Asiwaju he said with hard work all National and State Assembly candidates of the party in the state would emerge winners in the contest.
Adarabierin who stated that there is no doubt that Tinubu will win Ekiti State said, “This state and the entire Southwest in particular is a stronghold of the APC and Asiwaju. Thank God we have a good governor in Mr Biodun Oyebanji who has started well and is doing well and we believe he will end well. Going by what he has been doing so far it will make APC victory easier.
“Also, the integrity of Tinubu speaks volumes of how he will win the election convincingly. He is a leader who knows his onus and has paid his dues politically even during the military. As a former Mobil staff, a two-term governor of Lagos state, former Senator there is no doubt he has the capacity and the experience to lead Nigeria and bail the country out of the myriad of challenges confronting it”.