It’s fight-to-finish in Lagos, Bauchi, Kaduna, Gombe, Delta, Adamawa, Rivers, Kano, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto, Nasarawa | 11 governors in race for second term | INEC, Army warn personnel, police restrict movement for 18 hours
As Nigerians go to the polls again tomorrow for the governorship and state assembly elections in 28 states, this round of elections, just like the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, will throw up more surprises which would further question the nature of dominance of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Nigeria’s political space.
In tomorrow’s election, 837 governorship candidates will slug it out in the 28 states, while 10,240 others will battle for 993 State Assembly seats In 1,021 constituencies across the country.
Of the 28 states that are due to vote for governors, 17 serving governors are departing.
These are governors of Taraba, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Plateau and Niger States.
However, 11 others are standing for re-election, namely in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Zamfara, Gombe, Nasarawa, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa and Bauchi States.
This is an election cycle like no other in Nigeria’s history, with no fewer than 20 incumbent governors failing to deliver their parties during the presidential and National Assembly elections and seven incumbent governors losing their senatorial bids, unlike in 2019 when 20 former governors were elected into the Ninth National Assembly.
In tomorrow’s polls, it is fight to finish as most of the second term governors have employed every skill in politicking, including persuasion, wooing of the electorates with incentives and deploying all sorts of propaganda to demarket their major opponents.
Governors under the platform of the governing party are banking on the bandwagon effect the party’s victory at the presidential election may spring up, with the hope that voters in their states may consider identifying with the government at the centre.
But the opposition parties and their supporters are waiting passionately to prove a point that results of the February 25 polls were tinkered with as alleged before the presidential election tribunal.
LEADERSHIP Friday’s checks identified some states to watch out for in this nail-biting political saga which culminates in tomorrow’s election.
Rivers State will be one of the states to watch out for in the gubernatorial elections. The APC won the presidential election in the state because Governor Nyesom Wike wanted to prove a point to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
However, the dynamics have changed as Wike is campaigning seriously for the PDP governorship candidate. The PDP may face some hurdles in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) guber candidate, Magnus Abe, who is also a grassroots politician and a strong contender.
Some APC members may not pull any punches as they may want to repay the favour Wike did for them in the presidential election.
However the APC leader in the state and former minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who had been quiet during the presidential election, has been campaigning for Tonye Cole, the APC governorship candidate who has been vocal against Wike and PDP.
Also, the way the Obidient Movement will express their angst over alleged suppression of their votes during the presidential poll will be interesting to see.
All eyes will be on Lagos for the gubernatorial election and the reasons are not far-fetched. Some weeks ago, it would be seen as a walkover for the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo- Olu. However, the performance of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in Lagos has changed the dynamics. The APC lost the presidential election in what many political analysts described as the upset of the election.
The victory gave a fillip to hopes of the Labour Party guber candidate of the state, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who was an outsider in the race. It was seen as a straight fight between the PDP candidate, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, and Sanwo- Olu, who has ramped up his campaign since after the last election.
For now, it’s going to be a three-horse race between the APC, PDP, and LP. No doubt the president-elect Bola Tinubu will pull all stops to reclaim his title as the strong man of Lagos in the gubernatorial election.
During the presidential election, the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso, proved to the world that he was still the strong man of Kano politics by winning the state easily ahead of the ruling APC.
The question is, can Kwankwaso repeat the feat in the guber election? In the state, it is going to be a two-horse race as the PDP has been battling with internal squabbles.
Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed Muhammad Abacha’s appeal challenging the victory of Sadiq Aminu Wali as Kano governorship candidate of the PDP.
The Kano division of the Court of Appeal had, on February 10, 2023, sacked Mohammed Abacha as the PDP candidate in the state. Also, the court ordered that Sadiq Wali, who was earlier recognised by INEC, remained the valid governorship candidate.
If Abacha had remained the PDP candidate, the party would have made inroads in the gubernatorial election, but the division in the party may have marred PDP’s chances. For now, it’s going to be a straight fight between the APC and NNPP.
It’s going to be a tough call in Oyo state. The APC swept all the local governments in the presidential election, but some attribute the victory to a deal between the incumbent governor, Seyi Makinde, and Bola Tinubu.
Recall that Makinde was among the G5 governors who were opposed to the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar. However, some APC faithful in the state have denied any agreement between Tinubu and Makinde. According to them, Tinubu would still have swept Oyo with or without Makinde’s help.
The question remains, will Makinde survive the APC onslaught in the state or will he be swept away by the APC broom?
Sokoto is one of the states to look out for the gubernatorial election. In 2019, Aminu Tambuwal won the guber election with just 350 votes, the slimmest of margins in the history of gubernatorial elections in the country.
Also, the PDP won Sokoto with fewer than 4,000 votes in the presidential election three weeks ago. Most of the National Assembly elections in the state are still inconclusive.
In the state, it’s going to be a straight fight between the PDP and APC. Aliyu Wammako is regarded as the strong man of Sokoto politics and he will want to do everything possible to reclaim the state for APC. Tambuwal on the other hand is still fighting for his senatorial seat and doesn’t have a grip on the state.
Kaduna will be an interesting prospect in the gubernatorial elections. Though an APC state, the PDP won all the senatorial seats in the state and the presidential election.
In terms of performance, it would have been an easy ride for the APC candidate, Uba Sani. The incumbent governor, Nasir El- Rufai, is arguably the best governor the state has ever produced, but that may not count for Sani.
In Kaduna, it’s going to be a four-horse race. The APC, PDP, LP, and NNPC all have good chances in the election. The NNPP candidate, Suleiman Hunkuyi, is a grassroots politician and very popular in the state. The LP candidate, Jonathan Asake, was formerly the president of SOKAPU. The LP put up a strong performance in southern and central Kaduna in the presidential election. The PDP will be banking on its maintaining its success in the presidential election in the guber election. APC will hope to reap from the performance of El-Rufai since it is a local election.
The Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed, is a grassroots politician and popular with the citizens of the state but he is up against the former chief of Air Staff, Abubakar Sadique, who is the APC candidate.
Both parties were evenly matched in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is of the PDP, is campaigning vigorously for the APC candidate in the guber election. The gubernatorial election in the state will be dicey and can go either way.
Gombe will be an interesting one. Though an APC state, the PDP won the state in the presidential election. Also, due to the rift between Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and Senator Danjuma Goje, there were reports the latter was indifferent to the APC campaign in the state. He may also want to prove a point by working against the governor.
In the last three weeks the governor had stepped up his campaign, mending fences with the different interest groups in the state. It remains to be seen if that will be enough for him to retain his seat. But some close watchers believe that Governor Inuwa’s sterling performance in his first term may sway the sympathy and goodwill of the citizens in his favour as they throng the polling units to vote tomorrow.
All eyes will be on Adamawa for the gubernatorial election because a woman has a chance of making history.
The APC candidate, Aisha Binani, has a record of making history. She won her first election to the House of Representatives, won her first election to the Senate, and has a chance of making it a hat-trick of election victories in the gubernatorial election. She also won the APC guber primary defeating strong men like Nuhu Ribadu, Abdulrazak Namdas, and former governor, Jibrilla Bindow.
Recently, the LP party candidate in the state has stepped down for her. Also, the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, had to drop his deputy and pick a woman because of the fear of Binani.
The question remains, will she maintain her string of electoral victory and become the first female elected governor in Nigeria?
Interestingly, Binani enjoys the president’s support, but the first lady is said to have wanted her ‘brother’ Ribadu for the seat.
With the main opposition PDP in disarray in the state, the ruling APC is likely to win the state. Also Governor Dave Umahi’s heavy-handed dominance of the political space in the state saw the APC win two of the three senatorial districts even though LP won the presidential election. However, at the governorship level, the Labour Party isn’t as potent as there has been confusion over who is the authentic LP candidate in the state after the Supreme Court sacked Edward Nkwegu as the flag bearer.
Also the recent endorsement of APC candidate, Hon Francis Nwifuru, by former Senate president and PDP presidential aspirant, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, will serve as a boost to the ruling party.
PDP’s Ifeanyi Odii, and Bernard Odo of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) will have a tough task ahead.
Nasarawa is another exciting prospect. Although the state has the national chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, and some powerful politicians like Senator Al Makura, the party lost the presidential election in the state.
The SDP put on a good showing in the state by winning two senatorial seats. But the dynamics may change in the guber election. It is now turning out to be a two-horse race between the PDP and APC in the state.
The SDP and LP, which did well in the presidential election, will align with either APC or PDP in the guber election.
Like most South East states, Labour Party had a strong showing in Enugu during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
The political battle will largely be between the ruling PDP’s Peter Mbah and the LP’s Chijioke Edeoga. APGA also has a strong candidate in a former minister, Frank Nweke Jnr. Although Obi has campaigned for Edeoga, Mbah and Nweke have continued to enjoy support from members of the Obidient movement and other political stakeholders alike. For now, the governorship seat is up for grabs. The ruling PDP is wary that the people may want to kick out the dreaded Ebeano political force loyal to Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, but it will not go down without a fight.
The race would have been a straight two-horse contest between the PDP’s Hon Sherrif Oborewvori and APC’s Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, but with the threat of LP, the outcome has become somewhat unpredictable.
The two main parties have been wooing members of the Obident movement in hopes that they can help swing the votes in their favour. But Obi has campaigned for the LP candidate, Ken Pela, just as the party leadership in the state insists there is no alliance with any of the two traditional parties.
Governor Dapo Abiodun, the APC candidate, who is seeking a second term, will be up against some key leaders of his party, led by former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Amosun, Abiodun’s immediate predecessor, bent on stopping his return, has been campaigning for the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Biyi Otegbeye.
INEC, Army Warn Personnel, Police Restrict Movement Nationwide
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday gave a stern warning to its entire ad hoc staff to desist from any act that is capable of dragging the commission’s name in the mud during and after the governorship and state assembly elections.
This is even as the Nigerian Army has directed its formation and unit commanders to ensure troops remain professional and apolitical during the gubernatorial and legislative elections across the nation.
A statement signed by INEC’s resident commissioner, Prof Samuel Egwu, said the commission frowned at the conduct of some ad hoc staff who deliberately seek to undermine the credibility of election.
Egwu said, “The Commission in Benue State is deeply troubled by the widely shared perception that some persons appointed as ad hoc staff in positions such as Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs), Collation Officers (COs) and polling level staff (Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers) work at the behest of politicians with the aim of influencing outcome of elections.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 120 of the 2022 Electoral Act provides that officers on election duty who, without lawful excuse, commit acts or omit to act in breach of official duty for which they have sworn to an oath of neutrality will be prosecuted, and, if convicted, shall be imprisoned. This applies to all the ad hoc mentioned above.
“The term of imprisonment is three (3) years for collation officers and twelve months for presiding officers and other polling level staff.”
Prof Egwu maintained that the section equally applies to political parties and their party agents who conspire to make false declaration of results or publish any election results other than the one announced by the commission.
The resident commissioner commended the Nigeria Police Force for promptly completing investigations into alleged electoral offences committed by some persons during the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections in Benue State.
On his part, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, has directed formation and unit commanders of the Nigerian Army to ensure troops remain professional and apolitical during the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections across the nation.
The COAS gave the charge while addressing formation and unit commanders across the country ahead of tomorrow’s polls.
In a statement by the director Army public relations, Brig. Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, the Army chief commended the troops for their overall performance in the provision of security during the last polls.
He however admonished them to shun all forms of inducement, enticement or cajoling that could compromise the security of the polls.
He noted that a secure and safe atmosphere must be provided for the citizenry to exercise their civic responsibility of choosing their leaders.
Yahaya charged the troops to adhere strictly to the guidelines in the Code of Conduct for Operation Safe Conduct, as any contravention will attract dire consequences.
He urged the commanders to intensify efforts to provide security support for the elections and be ready to respond promptly to any emergency situation, while prioritising the protection of key national infrastructure.
The COAS equally reminded his commanders of the oath of allegiance they swore to defend the sovereignty of Nigeria.
He maintained that the Nigerian Army must be seen by all to stand in defence of Nigeria’s democracy.
The Nigerian Army has also updated its list of hotlines for monitoring and reporting of emergencies and acts capable of disrupting the coming elections.
It would be recalled that the NA had earlier released a set of contacts during the presidential and National Assembly elections as part of measures to support the Police in establishing a conducive environment for the successful conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections.
For his part, the inspector-general of police, IGP Usman Baba has reiterated the ban on use of escorts, aides and movement of very important personalities.
The IGP also ordered the restriction of all forms of vehicular movement on roads, waterways and other forms of transportation from 12 am to 6 pm on election day in all states where elections will be conducted with the exception of those on essential services such as INEC officials, electoral observers, accredited media and observers, ambulances responding to medical emergencies, firefighters, among others.
This directive excludes the Federal Capital Territory, where no election is being conducted.
Force PRO, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said “The IGP reiterates the ban on all security aides to VIPs and escorts from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election.
“State-established and owned security outfits/organizations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guard and security outfits are also barred from participating in election security management.”
Meanwhile, the IGP has urged all citizens to be law abiding during and after the elections even as he assures that all necessary security arrangements have been emplaced to ensure they exercise their franchise unhindered.
He also urges the general public to contact the Nigeria Police Force headquarters via the following numbers to request emergency security response: 08033440189 (DIG Operations), 08033027731 (AIG FEDOPS), and 08034040439 (CP Elections), as well as the ‘NPF Rescue Me App’ on Android and IOS, and via the NPF Rescue Me Emergency Toll-free line on 08031230631.