The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct senatorial by-elections in five districts tomorrow. These are Lagos East, Bayelsa Central and West, Plateau South and Cross River North. Emmanuel Oladesu, Simon Utebor, Kolade Adeyemi, Chris Njoku, Chris Oji and Nsa Gill examine the chances of the standard bearers.
The stage is set for the senatorial by-elections in five districts. The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are once again prepared to lock horns. Who wins?
The Lagos East senatorial seat became vacant, following the demise of Senator Bayo Osinowo.
Also, the House of Assembly seat in Kosofe Constituency 11 became vacant, following the death of Tunde Buraimoh. Both belonged to the APC.
For the senatorial race, APC candidate Tokunbo Abiru is the candidate to beat. His rival, Babatunde Gbadamosi of the PDP has not really engaged in issue-oriented campaigns.
Gbadamosi is a businessman. But, his party is divided.
The APC candidate for the House of Assembly by-election is a party man to the core. He is a former Assistant Secretary of the Lagos APC.
Abiru has intimidating credentials. He is a former Managing Director of Polaris Bank. He moved to the bank from the First Bank, where he was an Executive Director. Between 2011 and 2013, he served as Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State.
His party is formidable. APC has tentacles and structures across the five local governments constituting the district. Unlike the PDP candidate, Abiru held a district-wide consultations, obtaining the endorse the political class, monarchs, community leaders, youths, women groups, artisans and peasants.
His manifestos reflect his passion for quality representation, youth and women empowerment, sustenance of political dialogue, push for inclusion and compound solutions to unemployment and other welfarist challenges.
Besides, he has promised to work closely with progressives in the National Assembly to actuaries the dream of a special status for Lagos.
The election would be held in 602 voting points. They are Ihitte Uboma, (108) Ehime Mbano, (132) Isiala Mbano, (150); Obowo, (108) Okigwe, (117) and Onuimo (95).
Fourteen political parties are participating. The seat became vacant, following the death of Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu.
The contest involves three major contenders-Araraume of the APC; Okewulonu, candidate of the PDP and Onyirimba of the APGA.
The APC candidate, Araraume, is working hard to return to the Senate, which he vacated in 2007.
He was elected Senator at the start of the Fourth Republic, running on the PDP. He took office on 29 May 1999. He was re-elected in April 2003.
Araraume was declared winner of the All Progressives Party (APC) primary by a Federal High Court. The winner of that primary was Frank Ibezim who is the favoured candidate backed by the National n Council (NEC).
Ibezim had emerged after the APC primary, but uncomfortable with that, Ararume, approached the Federal High Court in Owerri, to seek redress. The court declared him the winner, ordering the INEC to remove Ibezim and insert his name in the list
However, Araraume is going to face rivals. He had a political face-off, not only with his kinsman, Ikedi Ohakim, but also with a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, during the last governorship election. The problem started when Okorocha had preferred his son in – law, Uche Nwosu, to succeed him. Okorocha had advised the former senator to go for the Senate, saying that it would afford him the opportunity to be elected the deputy Senate President. But, the Isibu born politician, preferred to become the governor, the battle he began during Ohakim’s administration, than to go to the Senate. Today, many supporters of the former governor and his son in law may not have forgiven the role he played in ensuring that successor bid was not successful.
Okorocha, a fortnight ago, openly urged members of his political structure, to campaign and cast their votes for Araraume.
Also, Araraume has the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, who is from that zone to contend with. Nwajiuba was said to have supported the foiled candidacy of Frank Ibezim, for the seat and his initial emergence, under the APC.
Araraume is a known fighter. He is determined. His political arsenal is going to ensure he goes back to the senate. However, the powers that be do not want him in the Senate. The fear is that if Araraume goes to the Senate, he is likely to be powerful and uncontrollable and the chances of Governor Hope Uzodimma getting a second term may be slim.
So, political pundits believe that if Araraume jumps the first huddle of defeating his opponents, he may lose out to Ibezim through the instrumentality of the court since the case is still pending in the Appeal Court.
Bayelsa Central and West:
The electorate from five of eight local government areas of Bayelsa State, will file out to cast their votes for those to represent them at the Senate.
The Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West seats became vacant following the inauguration of Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as governor and deputy governor respectively on February 14.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 13 political parties will be participating in the by-elections believed to be a straight fight between the candidates of the PDP and theAPC.
The four major contenders in the race are former Governor Seriake Dickson, former Deputy Governor Peremobowei Ebebi, former PDP chairman in the state, Moses Cleopas and an APC leader, Abel Ebifemowei, alias Osuwo 1.
While Dickson, the candidate of the PDP in Bayelsa West, is slugging it out with Ebebi of the APC, Cleopas and Ebifemowei will lock horns for Bayelsa Central.
It is believed that the by-elections will be a clash of the titans as all the candidates are popular.
It is also believed that the gladiators will learn their fate as to whom the caps fit to represent the districts in the red chamber.
Dickson’s rise to prominence was not attained by a sudden flight. He confronted the vicissitudes of life and came out better like the gold that has passed through the crucibles.
He is from a small rural village of Toru-Orua in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa. He was undettered by his background as he soldiered on from his early years.
Dickson attended Kolobiriowei Primary School, Toru-Orua from 1972 to 1978 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Toru-Ebeni in 1978 to 1983 where he got his West Africa School Certificate (WASC/GCE).
He joined the Nigeria Police Force after his secondary education because his family could not send him to higher institution. But, as someone who knew what lay ahead of him, he combined his police work with his university education.
Dickson enrolled at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, to study Law in 1988, earning his LL.B in 1992 and in 1993, he earned his Bachelor’s in Law from the Nigerian Law School.
Dickson’s foray into politics after about a decade of service in the Nigeria Police Force before he voluntarily resigned in 1994 as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police, has been eventful and intriguing.
Dickson began his political career as a member of the defunct Alliance for Democracy and was elected as the Bayelsa State Chairman of the party from 1998 to 2000.
The AD under his leadership in the state produced a senator representing Bayelsa West, a member of the House of Representatives representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency and three members of the state House of Assembly from Brass Local Government Area.
Dickson was in January 2006 appointed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice by Governor, Goodluck Jonathan. He served in the office for two years before he was elected to the National Assembly’s House of Representatives in 2007 and was appointed Chairman, House Committee on Justice and members of several committees.
Dickson later became the governor of Bayelsa State in 2012. The Independent National Electoral Commission reportedly said Dickson won over 90 per cent of the votes.
Shortly after taking over governorship duties, Dickson reportedly said he was painfully transiting to the executive arm of government. He indicated that he might return to the National Assembly someday.
On January 11, 2016, he was re-elected governor after a fiercely contested election. On February 14, 2020, Dickson officially handed over to Douye Diri as the governor of Bayelsa.
Today, Dickson, nicknamed Ofurumapepe (the great White Shark), because of his political sagacity and ability to weather political storm, is indeed one of the foremost political leaders in Bayelsa and in Ijaw nation.
Dickson’s ambition of going to the Senate after the end of his tenure as governor was planned.
To pave the way for himself, he worked for the success of then Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure (now deputy governor of Bayelsa) Lawrence Ewhudjakpo, to become Senator representing Bayelsa West.
The calculation was that towards the twilight of his administration, Ewhudjakpo would be brought in to run as deputy governor during which time, his seat would be vacant and he (Dickson) would conveniently replace him as the senator for the district.
As it appears, by virtue of providence, Dickson’s calculations have all fallen in place as Ewhudjakpo is currently the deputy governor of the state and he, the senatorial candidate of the PDP for Bayelsa West.
However, the issue of zoning which he has been playing like a broken record might be his albatross in the election. His major opponent, Ebebi, does not agree to the purported zoning arrangemnt in the district.
But if he (Dickson) is able to convince the stakeholders and people of the two LGAs that make up the Bayelsa West on the controversial zoning arrangement, his journey to the red chamber is fully assured and guaranteed.
Ebebi, a former Bayelsa State deputy governor and former Speaker of the House of Assembly, is a household name in the state. As far as Bayelsa politics is concerned, he is not a political Lilliput.
Ebebi has navigated the political turf of Bayelsa State since May 1999, and may well be one of the oldest, luckiest and richest politicians in the state.
The Aleibiri, Ekeremor-born politician was a beneficiary of three impeachment plots in the past.
He was made speaker following the impeachment of the first Speaker, Heineken Lokpobiri, in 2001, but lost the position to Boyelayefa Debekeme, following his return to the assembly in 2007.
When the House moved against Dekebeme in the build-up to the plot to oust former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Ebebi again became the beneficiary as he was made the speaker for the second time and was subsequently made the deputy governor to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, following the impeachment of Alamieyeseigha in 2005.
Ebebi later became the deputy to former Governor Timipre Sylva. But on the account of the internal bickering within the PDP, he was impeached in June 2010.
Since he won the ticket of the APC to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming senatorial poll in the district, political stakeholders believe that Ebebi is a major threat to Dickson clinching the senatorial seat.
The only obstacle that might work against Ebebi during the poll is zoning which some people, particularly loyalists of the PDP, claim that the Senate’s seat has been zoned to Sagbama, the local government area of ex-Governor Dickson.
But, some loyalists of the APC have dismissed the zoning arrangement, saying it was a PDP kangaroo arrangement and should not have bearing on the APC since the whole arrangement was allegedly contrived when the PDP had no opposition in the state.
Apart from the zoning conundrum, it is believed that APC is divided and factionalised. Hence, it is capable of affecting the fortunes of the party in the election.
Recently, the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa had in two separate judgments by Justice Jane Inyang disqualified Ebebi from contesting the election due to allegations of fraud and non-compliance with laid down procedures of the APC for conducting primary election.
Consequently the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) relying on the judgment with suit numbers FHC/YNC/CS/60/2020/ and FHC/YNC/CS/66/ 2020 struck the name of APC and its candidates from the list of those to contest.
Three days to the election that the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, removed the legal impediments that would have barred the party’s candidates in Bayelsa West and Central to contest Saturday’s senatorial bye-elections.
The court had overruled the objection of the defendant and stayed execution of the judgment until the substantive suit is held.
The three-man panel of Judges held that “Ebebi remains innocent of fraud. There was no finding by the trial court that he committed fraud.”
The court thereby granted the motion for stay for execution of judgment which effectively paved the way for Ebebi to contest Saturday’s election.
Now that Ebebi has been given the green card to participate in the by-election, the issues of voter education to the effect that he has been unbarred and that of INEC listing him and the APC on the ballot paper are a big puzzle to unravel.
Barring all those encumbrances, the APC candidate may stop the ambition of Seriake Dickson in the race to the Senate.
Ebifemowei was born in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, on December 6,1963. He is a cousin to Alamieyeseigha.
He was also the special adviser to Alamieyeseigha during his time in office. He is said to be a great philanthropist, who during the time he was in office, brought smiles to many people in Bayelsa State.
Before he delved into politics, he studied aviation electronics and missiles explosives at the Russian Military Academy. He also worked as a specialist on missiles assembly at the Ministry of Defence in the old Soviet Union.
He was said to have come back home on the invitation of his cousin, to join the governor’s cabinet as a special adviser on youth logistics and government house transport.
Political observers believe that he is poles ahead of his major opponent, Moses Cleopas, of the PDP, given his large heart, benevolent spirit and good manager of human and resources.
The APC chieftain, given his popularity, philanthropy, goodwill, good public relation, being a cousin of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and the popularity of the APC in the Bayelsa Central will spring a huge surprise that might consume the PDP.
The only obstacle that may stand his way in the by-election is the schism and factionalisation in the party. But if the party is able to ameliorate all the internal squabbles before the poll, Ebifemowei stands a great chance of winning the by-election.
Moses Cleopas, fondly called Total Chair, is the immediate past chairman of the PDP. Cleopas hails from Koluama community in constituency IV of Southern Ijaw Lpcal Govrtnment Area of Bayelsa State, a constituency regarded as the ‘Kano of Bayelsa State’ given the enormous vote it controls.
He has always believed that :it’s the party that decides, and when it does, its supremacy must always be obeyed and not questioned.”
In 2003, he was appointed as a member of the Southern Ijaw local Local Government transition committee. In 2005, he was appointed as Chairman Bassan Koluama Rural Development Authority. In 2012 in recognition of his outstanding service to his people he was again appointed as a member representing Southern Ijaw in the Bayelsa State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
As it is now, the PDP in the state appears more organised than its major opponent, the APC, whose leadership is battling internal wranglings hence political pundits believe that Cleopas has a brighter chance of winning the election.
He also has the backing of Governor Douye Diri and ex-Governor Seriake Dickson.
The only obstacle that might affect his chance is the perceptions of some persons that he does not relate very well with people.
In Cross River State, by-elections will hold for the Northern Senatorial seat and also for the Obudu State Constituency seat in the State House of Assembly.
The APC candidate is Chief Joe Agi (SAN), a legal practitioner, who has been in and out of politics and also seen as a veteran in the post-election cases. He has defended many clients successfully within the state and beyond.
He has twice contested for governor unsuccessfully; The last attempt being in 2015 when he lost the party ticket to Governor Ben Ayade of the PDP.
Agi joined the APC in 2020 and got the party’s ticket for the Senate. He had a stiff battle with the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. Zana Akpagu, who challenged his victory.
Agi is believed to have the financial muscles for the battle.
His advantage is the unresolved issue of who the actual candidate of the PDP is for the same election.
The PDP has two aspirants laying claim to the ticket and the case is in court. The two aspirants claiming candidacy of the party are members of the House of Representatives, Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe, representative Yala Ogoja Constituency and Dr. Steve Odey.
Steve Odey enjoins the backing of Governor Ben Ayade while Jerigbe is believed to have the support of many stakeholders including a former governor and other national assembly members of the state origin.
The two have been campaigning intensively and the more they campaign, the more the electorate are confused in the area.
Under normal circumstances, the ruling PDP will win the seat, which became vacant following the demise of Senator Rose Oko who was a PDP member. The current crisis in the PDP may give the APC a chance to get the seat, if they get their acts right in the polls.
This people of Plateau South Senatorial Zone will go to the poll to chose between Prof Nora Daduut (APC) and George Daika as replacement for late Senator Ignatius Longjan. Senator Longjan died last year, barely a year after became senator.
No doubt, the choice between Daduut and Daika is a hard choice to make in an election due to the fact that both candidates possessed credible credentials.
The PDP candidate, George Daika, is an astute politician who has been in politics since he was a teenager. The 53 year old Daika has been in politics for over 30. He has been a secretary of the defuct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in his local government Shendam between 1990 and 1992. At the return to Democratic dispensation in 1999, he was elected as member of the state house of assembly representing Shendam constituency. In his one term at the house of assembly, he was the speaker for two years. He was elevated from state legislator to federal legislator when he was elected to represent Quan Pan, Shendam, Mikang federal constituency at the house of representative in 2007-2011.
Daika is a graduate of Nasarawa State University where he earned a Bsc in Political Science. A devout Christian, he is happily married and the union is blissfully blessed with four children.
Professor Nora Ladi Daduut, the APC candidate is someone you can describe as an academician. A senior lecturer with the Language department in University of Jos.
The 67 year old university don was born to the family of Musa Shalong the in 1953, and by 1991, she has already bagged a doctorate decree.
Prof. Nora said: “I hate to see women and children growing without education or opportunities to excel in life” this made her to set up an NGO in 2004 called Society For Community Concern to help communities utilise their local potentials for self-development.
Political analysts has been finding it difficult to predict a winner from among the two strong candidate, only the voters already armed with their PVC are the ones statutorily placed to decide the fate of these candidates on Saturday.
Of course, there are ten candidates of ten various political parties contesting for the senatorial seat according to INEC, but the two major contenders are that of APC and PDP.
MacDonald Ejiofor Okwor (CIPM, MNSE) is the candidate of the APC in the Isi-Uzo State Constituency Bye-Election in Enugu State. He is an engineer and a former Project Manager with ASCON Oil Company Limited. He is also a grassroots community leader and philanthropist.
Mrs Amaka Ugwueze is his PDP counterpart. She is widow to the former occupant of the seat being contested (Chijioke Ugwueze). Not much is known about her until picked as a consensus candidate by PDP to replace her husband.