The build-up to the 2019 General Elections has been dramatic, to put it mildly.
More than ever before, individuals no longer have the sole ability to determine their political fate and future but rely on some few kingmakers often regarded as godfathers.
Since the return of democracy in1999, all the transitions in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 had seen the emergence of some godfathers who either dismantle those already calling the shots or fiercely competed with them.
Evidently, 2019 is not an exception, as brand-new shot-callers are emerging.
Let’s unveil three of the new powerful godfathers profiled by Daily Trust setting the agenda ahead of 2019.
After forcing his own political godfather, Obong Victor Attah into retirement, Senator Godswill Akpabio, fondly called ‘Uncommon Senator’ has been in charge of the political machinery of Akwa Ibom State since his early days as governor in 2007.
The 56-year-old lawyer was brought into the political scene of the oil-rich state in 2002 when Victor Attah, the then governor of the state appointed him as the Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources.
As the tenure of Attah was elapsing, Akpabio dribbled his way to emerge as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2006 and won the 2007 governorship election in the state. In 2011, he won his second term and completed his tenure in 2015. Singlehandedly, he brought in his successor at the Akwa Ibom State Government House in the person of Udom Gabriel Emmanuel in 2015. But despite their long journey in the slippery political pathway, something went wrong midway and they are no longer on the same page politically.
With the APC structure in his palms, Akpabio anointed Nsima Udo Ekere, the current MD/CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission as the governorship candidate of the party for next year’s election. If Ekere defeats Emmanuel then, Akpabio will consolidate his hold on the state.
However, if he fails, he would most likely join the league of Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Abiodun Amosun (Ogun) who would have joined the crop of emerging godfathers had they succeeded in clinching seats for their candidates in their states.
The claim that ex-Rivers State governor and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi is an emerging Godfather of the APC in Rivers State is not far-fetched.
His emergence came to the limelight in 2015 when he singlehandedly installed the MD of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, as the governorship flag-bearer of APC against the wishes of the likes of Senator Magnus Abe who was thought to be more qualified to fly the party’s flag in 2015.
The issue of who flies the party’s gubernatorial flag in 2015 would have caused a big crisis in the party, but Amaechi had his way as he succeeded in installing his preferred candidate.
When Peterside was defeated by Governor Wike in that election, Amaechi still confirmed his dominance, as he used his influence in the presidency to make Peterside MD of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Other APC members in the state who are loyal to him were compensated with juicy jobs in Federal Government parastatals and boards of federal government agencies. He also nominated and ensured that some of his party loyalists got both state and national assembly positions.
Amaechi’s clout also played out in May during the APC ward congresses, as he schemed out Senator Magnus Abe’s supporters from the congresses and eventually succeeded in installing the Flag Ojukaye Amachree-led state chapter of APC.
Amaechi also singlehandedly nominated and installed the party’s senatorial candidates in the three senatorial districts as well as the eight House of Reps slots in the state.
Prior to his election as Gombe State governor in 2011, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo was better-known as a technocrat. He was serving as Accountant General of the Federation when then-governor Danjuma Goje persuaded him to resign and contest for the office of the governor, which he eventually won.
Even though certain people allege that it was strictly a business affair between the two, some political observers in the state said being a novice in politics, Goje handpicked Dankwambo to succeed him under the intention that he (Goje) would continue to run the state by proxy from Abuja.
However, not long after he took over power, Dankwambo started distancing himself from Goje and allegedly orchestrated petitions that started Goje’s ordeal with the EFCC.