Those Who will be Governors

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Gov.-Ugwuanyi-of-Enugu
Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

As Nigerians go to the polls on Saturday, March 9, some of the incumbent governors are not likely to return, and whether the band wagon effect of the presidential election is going to rob on some candidates of being elected will also show  

By Olu Ojewale

AS scheduled, the governorship and state House of Assembly elections slated for Saturday, March 9, will hold across the country. In the elections, 29 new state governors are expected to emerge, while new members of the state assembly are also to be elected in all 36 states of the federation. Even, then more than 30 political parties across the country are in the contest, but the two major parties, namely All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are going to produce most of the governors based on their visibility, acceptance and party machineries.

Interestingly, of the 29 candidates seeking to be elected governors, 19 of them are already governors seeking for a second term in office, while 10 new governors are expected to emerge in other states.

From all indications, not all the 19 governors seeking for a second term are likely to be returned into office. For instance, if the performance of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the Presidential and National Assembly is anything to go by, then one would say that the re-election bid of Simon Lalong of Plateau State looks unsure. Lalong is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

On Saturday, he has 20 other candidates to contend with. Prominent among them is Jeremiah Useni, a retired lieutenant general and the candidate of the PDP; the party which won the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. According to the Presidential election result released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the PDP won 11 out of the 17 local government areas in the state while the APC won six in the election. The PDP scored a total of 548,665 votes while the APC scored a total of 468,555 votes, with the difference being 80,110.

If that performance of the PDP is used as a barometer of what is likely to happen in the Governorship election, then, Lalong can just as well kiss his re-election prospect goodbye.

Another reason why Lalong may lose election is that he could not find solution to the herdsmen attacks which have divided the state along ethnic and religious lines.

Similarly, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State is the candidate of the PDP in the state, who is seeking for a second term. But the problem with Ikpeazu is not that he belongs to a wrong party. The stumbling block for him is performance in the first term. The governor was said to have performed below average, which may make his re-election difficult.

Udom Emmanuel
Udom Emmanuel

Besides, there are two formidable popular candidates that want his position. One is Alex Otti, the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Uche Ogah, representing the APC.

Otti, a former managing director of Diamond Bank Plc, was a candidate in the last election, which he lost to Ikpeazu. Analysts say if Ogah is not in the race, his chances of winning the contest would be brighter.

So, if Otti and Ogah are able to split the votes, it would be in favour of the incumbent governor.

Another governor whose re-election remains dicey is Aminu Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto State. In the state, there are 30 candidates of different political parties jostling for the governorship seat.

Nevertheless, the real contest is going to be between Aliyu Wamakko, an estranged godfather and a former governor of the state and Tambuwal, an estranged godson and incumbent governor.

Incidentally, Wamakko was formerly under the PDP, now in the APC, while Tambuwal, formerly of the PDP, then APC and now back to the PDP. Tambuwal was elected to office in 2015 on the platform of the APC, before he dumped the party last year and returned to the PDP.

But in the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, the APC won all the federal seats considerably in the state, including the presidency, thereby threatening the governor’s chances of being re-elected. In fact, President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC also defeated former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, his main rival in the election. Reports said that Buhari polled 490,333 votes against Abubakar’s 361,604.

With such results, Wamakko seems to have an edge over his former godson to return to the Government House.

Another testing ground for the ruling APC is Benue State. In July 2018, Governor Samuel Ortom governor with his supporters defected to the PDP over incessant attacks of herdsmen on farmers in the state. But some prominent politicians such as George Akume, a former governor of the state, remain in the APC. The division reflected in how the state voted in the presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 23.

Wike
Wike

Contesting against Ortom is Emmanuel Jime, a former member of the House of Representatives and former managing director, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, and the candidate of the APC.

In the Presidential and National Assembly polls, the PDP polled 355,355 against the APC’s 347,668. The PDP candidate also won in 13 out of the 23 local governments of the state while the APC won 10, but an upset is likely. This is because of alleged more than 12 months unpaid salaries by the Samuel Ortom administration.

Even then, the margin of victory for any of the candidates is going to be very narrow.

A similar battle royale is not ruled out in Kaduna State, where Governor Nasir el-Rufai seems to have alienated some of those who helped him into office in 2015, who are now in opposition.

According to analyst, a lot of factors will determine the choice of the eventual winner in state governorship election. Although there are 36 candidates for the election, the race is actually between el-Rufai, the candidate of the APC and Isa Ashiru, the candidate of the PDP.

Ashiru, a former member of the House of Representatives defeated Suleiman Hunkuyi, the lawmaker representing Kaduna North Senatorial District, and Mohammed Sidi, a former director-general, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to clinch the party ticket.

The governor and the former lawmaker are now to go head-to-head at the polls on Saturday.

According to analysts, since the return to democratic rule in 1999, elections in Kaduna State have been slanted along geographical and religious lines.

The bulk of votes in the Christian-dominated south have consistently been for the PDP while that of the north, populated by Muslims, are usually reserved for the APC in the case of 2015 and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, before then.

With such calculation, Ashiru is expected to win in local governments such as Zango-Kataf, Kagarko, Kajuru, Jema’a, Chikun, Sanga and Kachia. The PDP candidate in the Presidential election won in all of the local governments.

For el-Rufai, he is expected to get bloc votes from Igabi, Zaria, Kaduna North, Giwa, Birnin-Gwari, Kubau, Soba, Sabon-Gari, Kudan, Ikara and Makarfi local governments.

This is not to say that the two candidates will not have votes in their opponents’ areas because all the two regions are dotted with small communities of Christians and Muslims.

In any case, the governor will rely heavily on some projects his government has done in the past four years such as road construction, renovation, school renovation and others. “That is why we are asking the people of Kaduna State to give us another mandate. We have worked tirelessly to make the state a better place. We need the support of the people to continue in this direction,” el-Rufai said at one of his campaigns.

The PDP, on the other hand, can only campaign based on promises and support of political heavyweights such as Hunkuyi, Shehu Sani, a senator, and Danjuma La’ah who once campaigned for el-Rufai and now working for the PDP candidate. Also working for the emergence of Ashiru are Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor; former Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Ramalam Yero, the immediate past former governor; Buba Galadima, a former national secretary of the CPC; and Andrew Yakubu, a former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

Nasir el-Rufai
el-Rufai

Besides, a lot of Christians are not happy with el-Rufai for picking a Muslim as his running mate. When asked why he chose Hadiza Balarabe, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate, the governor replied saying the Government House “was not a place for worship but where people work,” adding: “Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a religious ticket but a competent and performance ticket.” On the other hand, Ashiru has Sunday Marshal Katung, a Christian, as his running mate.

The Kaduna State governor is also known for a number of controversies including the sack of 22,000 teachers in 2018 and in 2017, the sack of 4776 district and village heads as well as their staff, now pruned to only 77 districts and 1,429 villages.

There are also series of kidnappings and violent attacks in various parts of the state blamed on religion and ethnicity. And for the attack on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, popularly known as Shiites, members of the sect said they will not vote for either Buhari or el-Rufai in 2019. The decision is based on the refusal of the federal government to Ibrahim el-Zakyzacky, their leader and his wife who have in custody since December 2015.

But whether all these are going to translate to victory for the PDP candidate is a matter of conjecture.

That notwithstanding, the PDP is expected to do well in Imo State, where Governor Rochas Okorocha of the APC is not seeking a re-election. Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law whom he supports to succeed him in office failed to clinch the party ticket. Consequently, Nwosu moved to the Action Alliance, AA, to realise his ambition.

So in the state where there are 65 candidates, Hope Uzodinma, a senator, got the APC ticket, while Emeka Ihedioha, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, won the PDP ticket. Also in the race are Ikedi Ohakim, a former governor, who is candidate of the Accord Party, AP, and Ifeanyi Araraume, a candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

But the real contest is going to be between Ihedioha and Uzodinma. In the last Presidential election, the PDP candidate got 334, 923 votes while the APC scored 140,463 votes. And with not too impressive performance of Okorocha, analysts say the state will return to voting for its traditional PDP.

“Imo needs a candidate with a pedigree and governance worldview, a candidate that believes in something… Of the big five, only Ihedioha with his penchant for due process and the rule of law fits the bill. His legislative background imbues him with the discipline needed to do the job. But most importantly, of the big five, Ihedioha is the only one without the albatross of corruption allegations,” Ikechukwu Amaechi, the managing director/editor-in-chief, TheNiche on Sunday newspaper, wrote recently.

Aminu Tambuwal
Tambuwal

The ruling APC is in the same tumult like Imo in Ogun State. Just like in Imo State, Governor Ibikunle Amosu had pencilled down a successor in Adekunle Akinlade. But when the governor failed to swing the primary election in favour of Akinlade, he advised his protégé to move to Allied Peoples Movement, APM.

But if the February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections will serve as the measure of acceptance in Ogun State, then Dapo Abiodun, the APC governorship candidate  may likely to win the March 9, polls in the state. He will be profiting from the win of the president who polled 281,762 votes as against 194,655 votes for Abubakar.

But then, Amosun is a factor in the governorship election. He is campaigning for Akinlade, whereas he campaigned for Buhari in the presidential poll.

In any case, the governor’s struggle to enthrone a successor has been seen by many political watchers of the Ogun State as struggle between Amosun on one hand and Bola Tinubu and Segun Osoba, former governors of Lagos and Ogun State, as well as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the other.

The struggle manifested from the support Amosun received from Tinubu and Osoba in his emergence as governor in 2011 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, when as a consensus candidate of the party, he ended the reign of the PDP in the state after his unsuccessful bid with the defunct All Nigeria’s Peoples Party, ANPP.

But along the line, he fell out with the duo over appointments into his cabinet ahead of the 2015 elections, which prompted Tinubu and Osoba to work against his re-election bid in 2015.

That apparently set the stage for the current bickering over Akinlade, whom the governor prefers as his successor. But Dapo Abiodun, a serving member of the House of Representatives for Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constituency, is believed to enjoy the support of the vice-president and other national leaders of the APC.

Another reason for resisting Amosun’s choice of Akinlade is the purported violation of observing an code of allowing power to oscillate between the Ijebu-Remo on one side and Egba-Egbado axis on the other. For trying to install Akinlade, Amosun is seen as trying to impose someone from his geographical zone as the state governor. Akinlade is from Yelwa, the Egbado area.

In all the confusion in the ruling APC, Buruji Kashamu, the PDP candidate, who hails from the Ijebu-Remo zone, stands to gain from the fallout.

The PDP candidate is believed to have a chance because he has successfully weathered the storm which assailed him from within his party.

Besides, he is from the same Ijebu-Remo zone as the APC candidate. The Ijebu-Remo zone has nine of the 20 local governments in the state with a very high voting population.

Ihedioha
Ihedioha

Observers say if the APC votes are split between Akinlade and Abiodun, then a careful mopping up of the residue possibly give Kashamu victory.

If left to the performance of President Buhari in the last election and Governor Isiaka Ajimobi’s failure to win an election to the Senate, the APC governorship candidate may find it cumbersome to win in Oyo State.

Besides, on Tuesday, March 5, opposition parties in the state presented a coalition of five parties to run against Adebayo Adelabu, the APC candidate who is fondly called Penkelemesi. The parties in the coalition include African Democratic Congress, ADC, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Zenith Labour Party, ZLP, Social Democratic Party, SDP, and the New Progressive Movement, NPM.

The coalition adopted Seyi Makinde, the PDP candidate, for the governorship poll while retaining their separate structures for the House of Assembly elections.

Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor, who is also the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland and a chieftain of ZLP, made the public presentation of the joint candidate during a press conference which at the NUJ Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan.

In a speech delivered by Olufemi Lanlehin, the ADC governorship candidate, he said the parties decided on the move as a workable solution to what it described as “unpalatable situation where Oyo State has been remotely controlled in the last eight years.”

Consequently, he said: “We have firmly resolved to present one candidate in the person of Engineer Oluseyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party for the office of governor at the elections holding on 9th March, 2019.”

Giving a short remark before raising Makinde’s hand, Ladoja said: “It is my pleasure to present to you the agreed candidate for the election coming up on Saturday, March 9, and who Insha Allah, will become governor-elect on that day, and will be subsequently sworn in on May 29, as governor of Oyo State.

“He is my son. I present to you Engineer Seyi Makinde.”

In his acceptance speech, Makinde, who expressed happiness at the coalition, said that the people of the state had rejected Ajimobi as a senator and that there is another opportunity “to reject Bayo Adelabu who is going to be the third term of Ajimobi.”

Besides, with the election of the PDP “we want Oyo State money to stay in Oyo State and that is what voting for PDP will do for the people of this state,” Makinde said.

In the same vein, members of the Unity Forum, which broke away from the APC in Oyo State, have agreed to work for Adelabu in the Saturday election.

In a statement by Fatai Ibikunle, the coordinator, the group said it “bowed to pressure from the national leadership of the APC and resolved to team up with their former party to ensure victory for Chief Adebayo Adelabu in this Saturday gubernatorial election in the state.”

But whether support from various groups is strong enough to win the election is another keg of fish.

In Lagos State, the fight is going to a straight one between Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and Jimi Agbaje of the PDP. Both candidates are courting the support of the large Igbo community in the state, whose votes may decide the swing of the election result.

In any case, the result of the governorship election is going to test the loyalty of Lagos electorate if they are still willing to continue to support the candidate of Tinubu, who is regarded as the godfather of the South West politics in Nigeria. The former state governor and the national leader of the APC has been solely responsible for selecting governors for the state since he himself left office in 2007. But with the kind of revolution witnessed against Bukola Saraki, the Senate president, who lost his bid for re-election into the Senate, Tinubu may also lose his support base.

Nevertheless, if the electorate vote along the line of the Presidential and the National Assembly elections Sanwo-Olu is likely to win, with a thin margin.

Be that as it may, Badaru Abubakar, Abubakar Bello Mohammed Abubakar, all APC governors in Jigawa, Niger and Bauchi states are most likely to be re-elected as governors. Similarly, Udom Emmanuel, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Nyesom Wike, the PDP governors in Akwa-Ibom, Enugu and Rivers states are also likely to return to office.

The re-election of these governors seems assured based on their performance index, acceptance of their respective political parties and lack of strong opposition that may upset any of them.

Nevertheless, Usman Muhammed, an associate professor, Centre for African Studies, in an interview, said the beauty of democracy is to allow the electorate to make their choices. It is hoped that Nigerians’ choices on Saturday, March 9, will be allowed to count after all.

– Mar. 8, 2019 @ 14:05 GMT |

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