The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, is failing to push into the stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party in the South-South region of the country, investigations have shown.
According to some support groups in the zone, stakeholders who are supposed to rally support for the presidential candidate have failed to do so, so far.
THE WHISTLER learnt the development may lead to mass defection from the APC which has begun in Cross River State with the defection of the chairman of the Reconciliation Committee of the party, Pius Tawo.
Tawo, from Cross River Central, moved to the PDP on Tuesday with thousands of supporters and APC members, a development that has rattled the state chapter of the party.
Similar defection is being experienced in Akwa Ibom, Rivers , Bayelsa and Edo States, sending fears to support groups and supporters of the APC in the zone.
The South-South zone is regarded as the stronghold of the PDP since 1999. Apart from Edo State, states in the zone have always been won by candidates of the PDP.
Edo State is currently led by the PDP while Cross River State, on the other hand, is now being controlled APC following the defection of the governor, Ben Ayade,from the PDP.
The Tinubu campaign has been staging rallies and meeting traditional rulers to sell his the policies of his administration if he wins the 2023 election.
While he will be holding his rally on Thursday in Bayelsa, the former Lagos State governor a few days ago held a rally in Delta State where he made promises to deepen infrastructure in the state.
But that appears inadequate as several support groups and stakeholders who spoke to this website complained of lack of support from stakeholders in the zone to the Tinubu campaign.
According to Rowland Achonwa, Coordinator of The Patriots Roundtable for Niger Delta, one of the Tinubu support groups,said there is high apathy in the zone towards the campaign.
He explained that there is a deliberate sabotage of the Tinubu campaign in the zone, citing Rivers State as an example.
He said the presidential ambition of former transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, is not dead.
He said, “There is a lot of apathy in the South-South zone in the sense that leaders in our zone are not ready, they don’t want to support the presidential candidate. Leaders like Rotimi Amaechi are making the people believe that Tinubu is going to die and he will take over the ticket.
“If you come here (Rivers State) for instance, they are just quiet like that, only a few of us who are faithful to Bola Tinubu are making an effort without resources.
“You know Amaechi holds most of the resources here in terms of the political structure. There are other leaders who have influence like that across the zone. Some are still in government, others like Amaechi are no longer in government but are still very influential but they are not doing anything to support us and sell Tinubu.”
He pointed out that almost all states in the south-south states are being held by the PDP and “they control the structure. The structures are there but are being held by the governors.
“A governor holds the resources and stomach infrastructure. The people are swayed by that but we don’t have the resources, we are not receiving support from our leaders to sell our candidate.
“It’s a terrible situation because the support groups in our zone, in the six states that make up the zone are not functioning, none is working,” he lamented.
He however added that, “What needs to be done here is to identify the real supporters of Tinubu and try to mobilise them to reach the people because most of the political resources are being held by the governors.
“When you come to Rivers State, it is being held by Amaechi who appointed people into different parastatals. Those people are on ground financially and otherwise and those people also have their supporters and followers and they are not ready but are very lukewarm when it comes to Tinubu support in this zone.
“We have not been mobilised. I can tell you that some groups that are supporting Tinubu that I belong to, we have not been mobilised. We hope that we will be mobilised otherwise there won’t be a positive result,” he said.
Oche Ogar, Director of G18 in Cross River told our Correspondent that “all is not well in the APC because the leaders are operating at the top while those who are supposed to do the mobilisation are left without any direction.
“The presidential candidate and his team are in Abuja. If he thinks those he has chosen to represent him here and across this zone will do anything for him it’s a lie. Take Cross River State for instance, it has always been PDP.
“For the fact that the Governor defected to the APC does not mean APC will win here. There must be hard work convincing enough for people to vote for Tinubu.
“At the moment, that’s not happening because these people don’t care. We don’t have the resources to canvass and support him.
“That’s why the state is being hit with defection. You will see more in the coming days.
“We need support. If not, I don’t see any good story coming out from here” he said.