By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Amid heightened politicking in Edo State ahead of the gubernatorial election in the state, governors of the five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled states in the South-south geopolitical zone met yesterday in Asaba to strategise on the election.
THISDAY learnt that the main agenda of the meeting was to fashion out a way of wresting power in the only state in the zone currently under the control of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the September 10 Edo State governorship election.
Other national issues of concern, particularly rising militancy in the region, were also discussed at the forum.
The meeting came just as the incumbent Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, is fighting hard to ensure that his choice of a successor, among the numerous governorship aspirants, is not upstaged at the polls.
The stance of Oshiomhole has since pitted him against his deputy and one of the APC aspirants, Mr. Pius E. Odubu, who was reportedly attacked recently by gunmen during his meet-the-delegates visit in Etsako West Local Government, the home area of the governor.
The incident, which left eight persons including at least two security agents wounded, was followed by the dramatic impeachment of the former Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, a development linked to rising tension in the state over Oshiomhole’s successor.
In attendance at yesterday’s meeting at Government House, Asaba, the Delta State capital, were the host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as well as Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Ben Ayade of Cross River and Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting held behind closed doors, Okowa stated that the forum was for the South-south PDP governors, saying that the governors brainstormed on several burning national issues, aside the state of the party, particularly in the South-south zone.
Okowa said: “We had a very useful meeting and it is the first time we have had this kind of meeting since we were sworn-in. We also discussed issues bordering on the PDP in Edo State, one of sister states. By the grace of God, we are putting our house in order to win the Edo (governorship) election.”
He admitted that the governorship election in Edo State was of importance to the five PDP governors, but said the forum was keeping its cards close to its chest on their strategy to win the state.
According to Okowa, “You know that they (Edo State) have an election in September and we are trying to map out strategies in order to strengthen the party in that state. We would not let the cat out of the bag now because we are putting things in shape at the moment.”
He further disclosed that the governors also discussed plans to make the forthcoming national convention in Port Harcourt peaceful and hitch-free.
“Our convention has been fixed for Port Harcourt on May 21, 2016 and we are already putting measures in place for that convention,” Okowa said.
“The chairman of the committee is Governor Wike and we call on our supporters and members of the party to desist from anything that would cause any form of crisis.
“We want to go as a united body to Port Harcourt because we stand by the decision to hold the convention in Port Harcourt. Plans have been put in place for a wonderful convention,” he added.
He urged PDP faithful and supporters to remain united and rally round the party’s leaders as they work hard to make the convention a resounding success.
On the security situation in the country, particularly the activities of rampaging Fulani herdsmen, the Delta State governor also revealed that the violent activities of Fulani nomads across the country was one of the major issues deliberated upon by the governors, noting that the five PDP governors resolved to seek audience with President Muhammadu Buhari on the subject.
Flanked by his counterparts, Okowa also condemned the attacks last week on Chevron and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) facilities by suspected militants.
He said plans were being made at the appropriate quarters to check the rising spate of pipeline vandalism in Delta State and the entire Niger Delta region.
“On the issue of security, we decided that there will be need for us in the South-south to have a meeting with Mr. President,” Okowa said, but also declined to divulge what their discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari would focus on, explaining that it would only be made public after they had met with the president.