Having won the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, March 28, the opposition All Progressives Congress complete its domination of Nigerian political landscape by winning governorship and states assembly elections held on Saturday, April 11 at the expense of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party
| By Olu Ojewale | Apr. 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
IT was a good outing for the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections held throughout the country on Saturday, April 11. Results released so far by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, have shown that the APC recorded an impressive performance in the elections, retaining all of its states and taking over a few others from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
This has in effect, put to an end to the dominance of the ruling party in the Nigerian body polity and has also rubbished the promise made by Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State on behalf of the PDP Governors Forum, that though the party lost the presidential election, it would retain its states and even capture more governorship seats from the opposition.
But from the election results released so far, the opposition APC has more gain than the PDP by capturing some states hitherto held by the ruling party. For instance, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP defeated General Muhammadu Buhari in presidential election in Plateau, Adamawa and Nasarawa states but the situation was reversed in the governorship and state Assembly elections as the APC candidates won in those states.
Besides, some of the traditional states of the ruling party in the North, such as Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Jigawa, and Zamfara states, where PDP governors are currently presiding also fell to the APC.
It was a big relief for some state governors who sought re-election for a second term at the gubernatorial and state legislative polls. Majority of those who contested on the platform of the APC were returned. Prominent among them was Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, who broke the re-election jinx in the state by his win on the platform of the APC. His APC counterparts Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Tanko Almakura of Nasarawa State and Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar of Zamfara State were also voted back into office. Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State reclaimed his governorship seat on the platform of the PDP by beating Inuwa Yahaya of the APC. Dankwambo’s counterpart, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State was not that lucky as he lost his second tenure bid to Nasir El-Rufai of the APC.
Candidates of the PDP who emerged as new governors are Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu; Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State; Nyesom Wike, Rivers State and Ben Ayade of Cross River State. For the APC the new governors-elect are Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Kano State, Jibrilla Bindo of Adamawa State; Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State, Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, Sokoto State, Amunu Masari Katsina State and El-Rufai Kaduna State.
Emmanuel scored 996,071 votes to defeat Umana Umana, former secretary to the governor of Akwa Ibom State and the APC, who polled 89,865 votes. Apart from power of incumbency used by Akpabio to help Emmanuel, his protégé, to win election, it is common knowledge in the state that Umana has more political weight than the new governor-elect.
In Enugu State Ugwuanyi who zoomed to victory by polling 482,227 votes as against 43,839 votes polled by Okey Ezea of the APC. According to analysts, one of the things that favoured Ugwuanyi is the fact that he also has the backing of Governor Sullivan Chime, who also zoned the governorship to Enugu North Senatorial zone.
One of the shocking results of the elections was that of Bindo who defeated Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Adamawa State. although, Ribadu is a popular person in the state, but he obviously made a wrong political calculation having abandoned the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which made him its presidential candidate in the 2011 elections, for the PDP. The ACN was one of the three major parties that dissolved to form the APC in 2013.
One of the biggest winners in the APC is Ganduje, currently deputy governor of Kano State, who polled 1,546,434 votes as against 509,726 recorded by Salihu Tokai, his opponent in the election. Ganduje is one of the rare deputy governors to succeed their principals in office. His election is seen as a big endorsement for the Rabiu Kwankwaso government to continue with its work.
Continuity was the major issue that possibly prompted Lagos residents to vote for Ambode too. As candidate of the ruling APC in Lagos State, Ambode, a little known candidate of the ruling party won the keenly contested election by scoring 811,994 votes defeat Jimi Agbaje of the PDP who polled 659,788 votes.
In Benue State, Samuel Ortom of the APC was the winner in a state, which was, apparently tired of the antics of the ruling party. Governor Gabriel Suswan’s government was not only owing workers’ salaries, his alleged heavy-handedness did not go unnoticed when he insisted that Barnabas Gemade, serving senator and former national chairman of the PDP, should relinquish the party ticket for him to contest the Benue North-Senatorial seat. Gemade did and the elder statesman contested on the platform of the APC and defeated the governor. The change did not stop there, it also showed in the election of Ortom, who secured his victory with 387,753 votes as against 296,189 recorded by Terhemen Tarzoor, his PDP opponent.
Even his defection from the PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, could not save Labaran Maku, former minister of Information from the electoral defeat he suffered from Al-Makura. The Nasarawa State governor won polling 309,746, to defeat Maku, candidate of the APGA, who came second with178,983, while the third position went to Yusuf Agabi of the PDP who scored 119,782.
In any case the election of Simon Lalong of Plateau State and candidate of the APC has been regarded as a sort of protest in the state. Lalong polled a total of 564,913 to defeat Senator Gyang Pwajok, his PDP counterpart, who scored 520,627 votes. According to analysts, there had been clamouring for a candidate from the Southern part of the state to vie for the governorship and that the APC only answered the call by fielding Lalong. Elizabeth Salami, a journalist, who resides in Jos, capital of Plateau State, said the state was only responding to change started in Lagos. “Lagos State started the change and we just have to follow suit by effecting change here,” Salami said.
So far, the governorship election in Imo State has been declared inconclusive by the INEC. Ibidabo Obe, a professor of science and coalition officer in the state, who made the declaration on Sunday evening, said the difference between Governor Rochas Okorocha, APC candidate, highest scorer, and Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, was 79,979 in the declared booths in the 27 local councils. Results showed that Okorocha had the highest number of votes in 20 out of 27 local councils while Ihedioha won seven councils, but there was violence in some booths and electoral malpractices in 24 council areas, leading to cancellation of polling booths in many councils. He did not announce a date for rerun of polls to conclude the process.
However, the PDP, APGA and other parties had rejected the outcome, calling for cancellation of the entire exercise. According to election result released so far, the APC polled 385,671; PDP 306,142. Margin of win: 79,529; cancelled votes: 144,715.
Although some of the elections were almost marred by violence, some of losers have been magnanimous to congratulate their opponents. Ribadu, Yero and Agbaje have since conceded defeat and congratulated their opponents on their electoral victory. Agbaje in a tweet, wrote: “I just called Akinwunmi Ambode to congratulate him on his victory. I wish him well and pray he will be successful in guiding this state.”