A peep at Saturday’s election

Tomorrow Nigerians will decide who their next president will be and likely it is a two-horse race between incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Here is highlight from some on where the pendulum may swing. Compiled by Patrick Andrew.

Benue

There are major odds against President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC one of which is his perceived poor attitude towards the mass killings in the state believed to have been masterminded by herdsmen.

When the killings became unbearable coupled with the unpleasant body language of the president whom they believed was sympathetic to the marauding herdsmen, Benue youth asked the governor to adopt proactive measures to curb the incessant killings.

In fact, they blocked the governor from going for further meetings with the APC leaders and Ortom eventually bowed to pressure and joined the PDP.

There is also the influence of former Senate President, David Mark who is Idoma. Since the return to democracy in 1999, the Idoma and Igede people have stood firmly with the PDP and it is not likely to change. Add that to the power of incumbency of governor Ortom, then the picture becomes clearer. Besides, Atiku is married to a Benue daughter which to some extend will count for something.

However, former governor George Akume will not take things lying low. Since he left the PDP and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria and later the APC, Akume has worked very hard to give the party a strong foot hold.

But he has dogged fight before him. Many were disappointed when he maintained curious silence in the face of incessant killings, burning of houses and farmlands by herdsmen. He therefore lost the opportunity garner support and realigned the people behind the APC.

Kogi

Though Kogi state has been in the control of the APC since 2015, there seem to be an interesting mix of fortunes: defections and counter defections. The three senators are from PDP in the persons of Dino Melaye, Ahmed Ogembe and Atai Aidoko, while youthful Alhaji Yahaya Bello is of the APC.

Buhari may enjoy reasonable support from Kogi Central where the governor hails from, Bello’s poor handling workers’ issues, inadequate mastery of local politics and the fact that he was a beneficiary of a mandate he did support but tended to have mismanaged it will have some repercussion. 

Though the APC has worked assiduously to turn the tide in Kogi East it seems though that the PDP has remained strong and in fact very comfortable. There are a number of bigwig political figures including incumbent senator A,tai Aidoko, two former governors of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and Captain Idris Wada, who are doing everything possible to return the PDP.

Kogi West is made up of Okuns, Nupe, Koto, Kakanda, Bassa, Hausa and other minority tribes and boasts of 432,515 registered voters representing 26 percent of the voting population in the state.

Although the 2015 governorship elections in the state, Kogi West supported and voted for APC, it is unlikely the story will remain the same. Many in PDP voted for APC in 2015 because of James Faleke, who was Audu’s deputy. Now that Faleke is not in the equation, APC will have to rely on Senator Smart Adeyemi, Speaker Kolawole Matthew, the commissioner for finance, Asiru Idris and some others, largely untested politicians in the zone to attempt to win it.

True, the APC is leaving no stones unturned to achieve electoral victory tomorrow knowing that a win for Buhari will have positive on other candidates of the party, however, there are fundamental things that may hamper its whatever progress it could make. There are lots of misgivings about the APC government in the state: deliberate efforts to silence dissenting voices, disdain for workers’ welfare and Bello’s disregard for key political players.

PDP, on the other hand, have been bolstered by the return of its prominent leaders who left for APC in 2014-2015. From Kogi West alone, a former acting governor of the state, Asiwaju Clarence Olafemi, a former House of Representative member, Chief Sam Aro, former Kogi local government chairman, Barrister Shaba Ibrahim, former House of Assembly member, Commodore Folusho Daniel, former Yagba East local government chairman, Honourable Ganiyu Salawudeen and a host of others who dumped the party prior to 2015 general elections are back in PDP.

Lagos

Lagos is APC stronghold and like Kano has very high number voters. Besides, it is very important to the APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Asiwaju undoubtedly will stop at nothing to ensure the APC wins. But with what margin? No, not landslide because people are disenchanted with the prevalence of hunger, lack of cash and growing discomfiture with the economic policy of the APC led federal government.

Also, people from South-South and Southeast are likely to rally round the PDP because of vice presidential candidate Peter Obi.

Another factor could be the perceived mistreatment given the incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. The governor clearly performed but his decision against sharing state money to individuals on the directive of the national leader may in some ways influence some sort of protest votes against the APC. This though may not be enough to upturn APC’s predictable victory. This indeed is where the grassroots political structure of Asiwaju will come to play.

Analysts believe were the Igbo traders who dominate Alaba International market, those in Ojo, Orile Iganmu, Surulere, Amukoko and Okokomaiko to come in support of Obi, it is most unlikely that the APC will be smiling when results roll in Sunday.

It remains to be seen how large the number of votes the APC is likely to garner in Lagos state, which has about 5 million voters. The INEC had announced that over 5.5 million Permanent Voter Cards had been collected out of 6, 566,136 registered voters in the state.

The election would take place in 245 Registration Areas (Wards), 8,462 polling units, and 3,669 voting points across the 20 local government areas of the state.

Ondo

The Sunshine State which has always been a tough battleground for votes in the country will not be an exception tomorrow as the two most visible political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party are not leaving any stone unturned at wooing prospective voters to their sides.

However, the crisis rocking the APC in the state would no doubt be a deciding factor during the polls, particularly as it affects its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.

The crisis, brewed following the fallout of the party’s primary which produced the incumbent Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.

This development has led to the emergence of various factions within the party which may have adverse effect on the result of the presidential election in the state. In fact, the governor is being accused by party members of sponsoring candidates of AA against his party candidates.

With the stake to be hovering around 60 percent votes for Atiku and 40 percent for Buhari, the state chapter of PDP, has maintained that Atiku will come out victorious in the state, while the APC is also projecting that President Buhari is acceptable in the state.

Meanwhile, the tension in the state ahead of the election has been a bit calm, but not without pockets of violence at political rallies, with the security agencies assuring electorate of violence-free election across the state.

Enugu

The first time there exists an opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress. The party has the likes of former governor, Sullivan Chime, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Senator Ayogu Eze whose governorship candidature of the party is now a matter of litigation, former Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon, Eugene Odo, among others. A former governor of old Enugu state, dumped the party a fortnight ago and returned to the PDP.

Expectedly, the PDP will have an upper hand in the election. Despite the presence of APC, many factors will sway votes in favour of the ruling party in the State.

It is the home of the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu. The Senator is not new to political battles, having defeated Chime as a sitting governor. The former governor had lost in his effort to stop Ekweremadu’s return to the Senate in 2015. Despite misgivings from a section of the people in the area that he had ‘over-stayed’ in the senate. But the APC candidate, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, may not pose any serious threat Ekweremadu. He is also said to have attracted a lot of infrastructure to his zone, more than any other Senator has ever done in the State.

Will defections account for much?

Another factor is Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who is loved by the people. Ugwuanyi has not disappointed his people, having delivered both in terms of infrastructure and human empowerment.

President Buhari will garner more votes than he did in the State in 2015, but Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP will certainly win the State. Enugu is undoubtedly a PDP State and Peter Obi, the running mate to Atiku, being from neighbouring Anambra, is another driving force that will gift the PDP victory in the presidential election in the State.

Imo

Governor Rochas Okorocha has not made matters easy for the APC. Yes, he imposed his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, on the people against all persuasions to the contrary. Besides, his unending altercation with Osita Isinazu, Hope Uzodinma, and Ararume ensured that all efforts towards reconciliation proved abortive. In essence, though the APC is ruling in Imo state whatever status that could have conveyed on the party has amounted to naught.

Recall that the APC had won Imo by default following wrangling between Ararume and other members of the APGA which had the larger number of persons behind. In fact, it was that which edged out Emeka Ihedioha the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. The contest was tough but it will be tougher still going by the fact Emeka is in the field on the banner of the PDP, Nwosu on the AA ticket, Aarume APGA while Uzodinma flies APC flag.

The eventual winner may not necessarily win with overwhelming votes but any whose personality and credibility connects with the people would have an edge. That indeed is where tomorrow’s election comes into play. Between Buhari and Atiku the people are likely to follow the dictates of South-east which unfortunately does not favour Buhari.

Kaduna

In 2015, Kaduna people were not happy with Goodluck Jonathan’s style of leadership. Basically, the use of religion and ethnicity, the people were easily deceived to believe that the then opposition party, the All Progressive Congress led by Muhammadu Buhari was the best alternative leading to the massive votes the party enjoyed in Kaduna state.

However, Governor Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai style of leadership in the state, many believe, will affect President Buhari’s quest to enjoy popular support in the state. His recent outburst and threat of ‘’body bags’ that has generated heated controversy appears to be working against the president both locally and nationally.

However, governor Nasir el-Rufai’s style of administration may have hurt APC’s popularity and rating in the state. But then, he dogged and could surprise the PDP if those behind it go to sleep.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to tackle insecurity, poverty and other social vices that have become the order of the day will definitely work against his candidacy in the state.

Some also believe that Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, PDP gubernatorial candidate, Isa Mohammed Ashiru and other stakeholders that decamped to PDP in the state will seriously affect the chances of Buhari’s victory in the state.

The recent declaration of the former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ango Abdullahi, who is an indigene of the state that himself and other stakeholders were canvassing votes for Atiku Abubakar, describing Buhari’s tenure as total failure to the yearnings, aspirations and hope people had on him prior to the 2015 general elections is another factor counting against the incumbent president.

President Buhari presidential campaign to Ogun state where Buhari led team were stoned has further made most people in the state to have a rethink that the APC-led administration has nothing to offer as many people are of the in view of that Nigerians are going through difficult times.

There is a general opinion that with a free, fair, credible and peaceful election, the APC will lose to the PDP in Kaduna State. According to their views, President Buhari has exposed himself that he is not and can never be the Messiah the entire north and by extension, the country is looking for to overhaul and ensure the fortunes, blessings that the Almighty has endowed the country with.

Zamfara

APC has dominated the political atmosphere of this state since 1999 when the party was formerly known as APP and later to ANPP until they formed an alliance with other political parties and renamed the party to APC.

It is very obvious that the PDP has never formed any government in the state, as it has been all APC affairs since the country recovered democracy from the ‘khaki boys’ in 1999.

Political bigwigs and those who make things happen in the state are all in the APC fold and there is a general notion that the APC has entrenched itself at the grassroots which has been identified as the voting powers.

Based on this analysis, political pundits have concluded that president Muhammadu Buhari will defeat former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar on Saturday, the 16th of February.

When Buhari came into the state last Sunday, the crowd that trooped out to welcome him was unbelievable, as security operatives had challenges controlling them.

But the PDP are banking on the internal crisis that is currently rocking the state wing of the APC, believing that the aggrieved faction of the party in the state would give Atiku Abubakar and the PDP the upper hand against Buhari and his APC.

Akwa Ibom

It used to be PDP 100 percent. In fact, the PDP was a religion in Akwa Ibom until former governor Godswill Akpabio defected to the APC and suddenly the equation seems to have altered.

True, Akpabio has a clout having performed as governor. However, he defected suddenly without taken into consideration the yearnings of the people and thought perhaps with his influence and outspokenness whatever he said would be law. Not exactly so.

Firstly, Akpabio is Annang, a minority tribe and going by the delicate balance of tribal consideration in the state any political movement devoid the larger interests of the tribes could have telling repercussions.

In fact, Akpabio’s defection has done exact that. Through some sort of manipulation, Nsima Ekere, who is from Ikot Abasi and same senatorial district with the incumbent governor Udom Emmanuel, was thrown up as its governorship candidate. On the surface it seems okay, but not so in Akwa Ibom because such position is rotated among the three senatorial districts. Eket is currently in power, Ikot Ekpene had its turn through Akpabio and Uyo is waiting in the wings to grab its turn. Now were Nsima to win, it would mean that Uyo would wait until 2027 to think of taking its turn.

That indeed is where the APC may have got its strategies wrong. The larger implication is that a win for Buhari will necessary give vent to bandwagon effect hence Nsima becomes governor. Uyo will be at a disadvantage and several political equations would have to be altered.

Secondly, the Annang are wary of any political backlash unwise political realignment could cause and would rather let the status quo remains than for whatever individual interest tip the lip. Another factor worth considering the lack real grassroots politicians behind the APC: Ita Enang, Eseme Eyibo, are considered Abuja politicians devoid of grassroots followership.

Leave a Reply