The clock is ticking. 2019 is fast approaching. Activities in Nigerian politics are gathering momentum. Nigerians will go to the polls, new political office holders will emerge and some will be retained. Before the main polls, there are some top political figures who will definitely have lots of influence on who and who will emerge as victors. In this article, we will highlight on some key politics gladiators in the south-south geopolitical zone of Nigeria who are likely to be very influential before and during the electioneering process. The south-south region has always been a home of the PDP and these political big wigs will strive to ensure that they maintain status quo.
Akwa Ibom state: Senator Godswill Akpabio
He was relatively unknown in Nigerian Politics prior to his emergence as the Governor in 2007. After taking over the mantle, Akpabio took time to build change thimgs in the political structure of Akwa Ibom. He spent much of his first term in building his political platform which was mostly composed of young, vibrant and upcoming politicians. Some of them were his aides. He gave out several political appointments to them, thereby becoming a “godfather” to many. His superlative performance in office endeared him to many Akwa ibomites and he grew in influence. He was very generous. He doled out money at will. Akpabio has since become the Political leader, chief strategist and king maker in Akwa Ibom state. He has many “political boys” who are still very loyal to him. Akpabio is the Man of the people. He is loved by kiths and kins. Infact, he is worshipped by many. He still influences key decisions in the state despite vacating office. The sitting Governor is his protege, Akpabio single handedly introduced him to the fore front of Akwa Ibom politics and used his influence to get him the governorship seat. He is very loyal to the senate minority leader. In Nigerian politics, Akwa Ibom state is one of the strongest PDP states and if there is any one to give direction to where the state is supporting come 2019, then it will surely be Senator Akpabio.
Bayelsa State: Dr. Goodluck Jonathan & Governor Sierake Dickson
It will definitely be a ding-dong affair in Bayelsa state. There is an ongoing cold feud between the former president and the Sitting Governor over the structure of PDP in the state. Before now, the relationship between the two was very smooth, but friction set in during the last Governorship election in the state.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is the immediate past President of the country, the national Leader of the PDP and a highly respected person in Nigerian politics. Lately, his influence in his State has wanned. Many analysts also have the believe that he may not have the required financial muscle to regain the structure of the PDP from Governor Dickson due to his recent struggles with the EFCC.
On the other hand, Governor Seriake Dickson, a former house of representative member is swelling in influence. Many of his loyalists see him as a master strategist and coordinator. Bayelsa is a PDP state and there are no signs that that will change anytime soon. These two will surely be influential during the 2019 elections.
Cross River State: Liyel Imoke
He is calm, intelligent and strategic. Liyel Imoke is one of the founding members of PDP in Cross river state where he also served as Governor for two terms. He is a sage with a high intellectual political faculty. In Nigerian politics, Cross River state is a home of PDP and there is every evidence that it will remain like that come 2019. The sitting Governor, Ben Ayade and Imoke have very good rapport and Ayade has already been endorsed by the PDP for a second term berth. The influence of Senator Imoke will surely be needed for this to come to fruition.
Delta State: James Ibori & Governor Okowa
In Nigerian politics, a lot of people are still bewildered as to why Iboro is still very influential in Delta state, even after confessing to have defrauded Delta state. He just concluded his jail term. The truth of the matter is that Ibori’s past goodness, magnanimity and politics onus are still working for him. He is by far the most influential politician in Delta state. All the big boys in Delta state politics today were his “political boys”. He created a core political platform where many of the ruling class today emerged from. They are still very loyal to him. He opinionated the installation of his successor, the immediate past Delta state Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan who is his Cousin as the Governor. Again, in 2015, from the confines of Prison in London, Ibori was consulted and one of his Boys – Ifeanyi Okowa was installed as the Governor of Delta. Ibori’s influence was glaring when he returned home from prison last year. Delta state was agog for him! Since then, many political bigwigs have trooped in to show their solidarity to him. The stage and direction has already been set in Delta state. The sitting Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has publicized his intension to run for a second term, a bid which will surely get the nod of Ibori. On the whole, these two will certainly be the ones to detect the direction in which Delta state will go in 2019.
Edo State: Adams Oshiomhole
Adams Oshiomhole has risen from just a labour leader to become a strong man in the ruling All progressive Congress. Edo state is the only non-PDP state in the south-south geopolitical zone of the country. This can be attributed to Oshimhole’s pragmatic approach in politics. His influence in politics is waxing stronger not only in Edo state but also in Nigerian politics. He will definitely have huge impact in Edo state come 2019.
Rivers State: Gov. Nyesom Wike & Rotimi Amaechi
As at 2015, Rivers state was one of the strongest holds in PDP. Results of the presidential polls shows that Rivers state gave the highest vote to President Jonathan. In fact no one heard about any other party in Rivers.
The beats of the drums will definitely change come 2019. Amaechi, a serving Minister, a strong man in Nigerian politics and the immediate past Governor of the state is now winning and dinning with the APC. He played a good role in President Buhari’s success at the polls. Amaechi commands good followership and this would come to bear in 2019. He is oiling his political machinery and will unleash it soonest.
Governor Nyesom Wike, is a strong party man. He is in control of PDP structure in Rivers state. If there is any of the incumbent Governors that can single handedly win the reelection, it is Governor Wike. He demonstrated this during the re-run elections. He floored the APC and will likely do same come 2019. The stakes are high on his camp.
The two political war Lords have been at loggerheads for some time now and come 2019, it will surely take a different dimension.