Governorship Elections: How states will vote (Details)

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Breakdown of states occupied and yet to be occupied by political parties

On Saturday, March 9, the last phase of the 2019 general elections would be concluded with the conduct of 29 governorship and State House of Assembly elections. About 14,000 candidates will vie for 991 State House of Assembly seats. In the just concluded presidential election the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, won in 19 states, while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) triumphed in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). However, this result may not necessarily determine the outcome of the governorship contest as local issues come into play. Also, in the week following the February 23 poll, there have been intriguing realignments in some states where the presidential contest was very close. That raises the stakes in a couple of states, with the prospect of surprises and upsets likely to unfold. In this piece, Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor, Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor and Fanen Ihyongo examine the scenarios in the states that would be electing governors and project likely outcomes.

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States already occupied and yet to be occupied by political parties

NORTH EAST ZONE

ADAMAWA STATE

No state gives the APC leadership more headaches than Adamawa where it lost two senatorial seats contrary to the pre-election permutations. From the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections, it was obvious that the state identified with its son, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was the presidential candidate of the PDP.

The colour of the governorship race in the state reflects its assets and challenges including religion, ethnicity, security challenges, the political elites, money, gang-up by looters of public treasury in the past and good governance.

More than any state in the federation, the 28 governorship candidates are drawn from different religious groups and about four women are in the race too.

The list includes the incumbent, Governor Jibrilla Bindow; ex-Acting Governor Umaru Fintiri; a serial contender, Marcus Gundiri of SDP; Abdul-Azeez Nyako of African Democratic Congress (ADC), an Islamic cleric, Bappare Umaru of KOWA Party, who doubles as the Imam of Jamaatul Nasril Islam (JNI) Friday Mosque in Jimeta area of Yola town; a Christian cleric, Rev. Eric Theman, of Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD) among others.

The women aiming to lead Adamawa as governor are: Lami Musa of People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN); Na’ama Bulama of Progressive People Alliance (PPA); Rukayya Audu of Action People’s Party (APP) and Elizabeth Isa of Change Advocacy Party (CAP).

Going by performance, Governor Bindow’s achievements will make it an easy ride for APC. Unfortunately, some political leaders are angry with the governor, who is a minority, for not looting and sharing the state resources. But Bindow has upped the ante in Adamawa and his performance benchmark will create a hurdle for his successor.

The major parties competing for space in the state are APC, PDP and SDP. The gruesome killing of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), has affected the fortunes of SDP because he was alleged to be a major sponsor of the party’s candidate.

For Atiku, who has just lost the presidential race, he is also part of the governorship race in order to consolidate his base. His anointed candidate lost to Bindow at the APC primaries in 2015 and it took him fortunes to win Bindow to his side.

He was instrumental to the emergence of Boni Haruna as the governor from 1999-2007 but after a cold war with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, he lost the initiative to the ex-president who wielded incumbency influence to anoint Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako who was unceremoniously impeached due to his spat over the Boko Haram insurgency with the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

With a slim win of 410, 266 votes by PDP over APC’s 378, 078, the governorship contest is still open in Adamawa. President Buhari needs to pacify a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the younger brother of the First Lady, Dr. Modi who are leading the assault against the return of Bindow.

Verdict: Battleground

BAUCHI STATE

The state boasts of 20 governorship candidates. But the strong contenders are the APC candidate Governor Mohammed Abubakar; the PDP flagbearer, Senator Bala Mohammed, who was a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory;  a former Minister of Health, Professor Mohammed Ali Pate and Ambassador Shu’aibu Ahmed Adamu of the NNPP.

Although all the candidates signed a peace accord on December 21, 2018, the political atmosphere in the state is tense because its gubernatorial outlook is always unpredictable despite the fact that APC won last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections. Some members of the class which brought Governor Abubakar to power in 2015 have fallen out with him.  Pate of PRP is expected to spring a surprise if the results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections have not dampened the momentum he had gained in the past few months.

The intervention of President Buhari, especially his reconciliatory agenda among the stakeholders has, however, stabilized APC in the state. The fortification of the party through the defections of ex-Governor Isa Yuguda; a former National Chairman of PDP, Adamu Mu’azu, the immediate past Deputy National Chairman (North) of PDP, Senator Garba Babayo Gamawa and a Board of Trustees member, Alhaji Kaulaha Aliyu has created barriers for PDP.  This is the first time Yuguda and Mu’azu will find a common political ground and pursue the same goal.

Being a traditional stronghold of Buhari, the governor may benefit from his political goodwill. On the whole, the odds favour APC.

Verdict: APC

TARABA STATE

Some heavyweights are back to the governorship trenches against the incumbent state governor, Darius Ishaku (PDP). They include a former Acting governor of the state, Sani Danladi (APC), a former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Babangida Umar of the SDP, Adamu Danbako of APGA and Danjuma Umaru – National Rescue Movement (NRM), among others.

But it is a three-horse race between Governor Ishaku, Danladi, and Alhassan with religious, ethnic and insecurity as top considerations. The results of the presidential poll confirmed PDP as still the first choice with the opposition garnering 374, 743 as against APC’s 324, 906.

A former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus  Danjuma, will be a big influence because he has largely determined (or handpicked)  the governor of the state since 1999. Notwithstanding his cosmopolitan outlook, Danjuma does not joke with his ethnic and religious indulgences.

PDP may still have an edge because the APC candidate (Danladi) and Hajiya Alhassan of UDP might split Muslim votes.

Verdict: PDP

BORNO STATE

Despite the insurgency, Borno has about 41 governorship candidates, most of whom are paperweight politicians. The key actors in the battle for Government House in Maiduguri are a former Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Prof. Babagana Zulum (the APC governorship candidate) and a former state chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Alhaji Mohammed Alkali Imam.

The PDP appears virtually dead in the state and it lost its soul when a revered ex-Governor of old Borno State, Alhaji Mohammed Goni (1979-1983) defected to APC. Also, PDP’s abysmal performance at the Presidential and National Assembly elections has underlined its weakness.

Other factors that have secured the state firmly for APC are the performance of the outgoing governor Kashim Shettima; the decision of APC stakeholders to sink their differences over gubernatorial primaries;  the defection of  a former national chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to APC and the appreciation of the people of the state of Buhari  administration’s commitment to the war against the Boko Haram insurgency .

With the paltry 71, 7888 votes earned by PDP at the presidential election, only a miracle can make it win the governorship poll. The existence of two factions in the party, led by Alhaji Usman Baderi and Alhaji Zanna Gadama respectively, has cleared the coast for an easy APC victory.

Verdict: APC

YOBE STATE

Yobe not only has cultural affinity with Borno State, the pattern of politics in the two states is often similar. The political leaders share the same views and their voting trend has been alike in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Republics. The March 9 poll is thus likely to be a mere coronation of the APC candidate, Mai Mala Buni, who is the outgoing National Secretary of the party.

In spite of a change of PDP candidate, the emergence of Ambassador Umar Iliya Damagum as the new standard bearer of the opposition has not improved the fortunes of the party. The most vocal PDP member in the state, Buba Galadima, could not even deliver his polling unit during the presidential and National Assembly elections. APC received 750 votes to PDP’s two votes there. It is certainly a one-horse race in Yobe State.

Verdict: APC

GOMBE STATE

The clean sweep of the presidential and National Assembly elections by the APC showed that ex-Governor Danjuma Goje has bounced back as the godfather of politics in the state.

The defeat of incumbent Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo in the senatorial election will weigh heavily on the fortunes of the PDP. Saidu Ahmed Alkali of the ruling APC polled 152,551 votes against Dankwambo’s 88,016 votes to win the Gombe North District seat.

But the governorship poll will determine whether or not Dankwambo has finally lost relevance in the state. The governor had seized power in 2011 and virtually overshadowed Goje. The two leaders have a date with history on March 9.

While Goje is sticking to Inuwa Yahaya (an Hausa from Gombe Central) as APC governorship candidate, PDP and Dankwambo have opted for ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senator Bayero Nafada, who is a Fulani from Gombe North.

In 2015, Goje fielded the same Yahaya (his honest ex-Commissioner for Finance) as the governorship candidate of APC but he lost the battle because of intra-party crisis in which Nafada was the arrowhead of the revolt.

For the governorship race, ethnic colouration and the need for power shift might determine which of the APC or PDP will win the race to the Government House. In the past 16 years, Goje (from Gombe Central District) and Dankwambo (from Gombe North Senatorial District) have ruled the state and there is agitation to allow power to shift to another zone.

The PDP has a trust hurdle to cross following the breaking of a pledge by Dankwambo to concede the governorship ticket to Gombe South. The PDP on October 3, 2018 lost Sardauna Gombe, Alhaji Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna who defected from PDP to APC. Gwamna’s parting of ways with PDP has tightened the noose on PDP.

Verdict: APC

NORTH CENTRAL ZONE

BENUE STATE

Contrary to predictions, the race appears tighter in Benue State going by the tally of the presidential poll in which PDP garnered 356, 817 votes as against the APC’s  347, 668. With a difference of about 9, 149 votes the two leading governorship candidates, Governor Samuel Ortom (PDP) and Emmanuel Jime (APC) will have to work extra hard to win the March 9 poll.

Although the farmers-herders clashes of 2018 will influence the poll in Benue, the debate is also shifting to issues like performance, outstanding salary arrears and allowances, the management of bailout funds and London-Paris Club refunds, recent sack of some local government chairmen, among others.

For Ortom, who boasted that he has retired ex-Governor George Akume, he has a two-in-one governorship battle to wage. He is confronting Jime and Akume at the same time. If Ortom gets re-election ticket, he will go down in history as a pacesetter and a giant killer. Otherwise, if he goes to sleep with the slim margin of 9, 149 votes, it may prove fatal especially if Chief Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-East) and ex-Deputy Governor, Stephen Lawani, Mike Onoja, Usman Abubakar, and other Idoma leaders pull resources together.

The results of the senatorial election in Benue South showed that there could be an upset during the governorship poll if there is a realignment of forces. The results were Abba Moro of the PDP (85,162 votes);   Lawani of the APC (47,972 votes); Mike Onoja of SDP (29,901 votes) and Usman Abubakar of APDA (5,504 votes).

Since Ortom and Jime are Tiv, the vote deciders might be the Idoma. This is why Ortom is over relying on a former President of the Senate, David Mark, ex-Minister of Interior, Senator-elect Abba Moro and other Idoma leaders.

Buhari is not a candidate in this election, so attention will be firmly focused on local issues like the backlog of salaries owed by the state governorship. There are also questions as to the commitment of former governor Gabriel Suswam to the cause of re-electing Ortom. Given the complex interplay of local factors enumerated above, the race for the governor’s seat in Benue remains too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

KWARA STATE

The emergence of the “O To Ge” (Enough is Enough in Yoruba) revolution in Kwara State which led to the fall of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the PDP and all its candidates during the presidential and National Assembly elections, has dimmed the hope of the party currently ruling in Kwara State.

The new protest vote culture in the state was actually targeted at a change of power at the state level. The March 9 poll is expected to complete the revolution when Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (APC) and Abdulrazaq Atunwa of the PDP face the electorate. The state is in the mood to complete the coronation of the APC candidate.

What will compound the PDP’s woes is the decision of some loyalists of Saraki to vote against his candidate (Atunwa) because of the reckless manner in which he was imposed on them. There were better candidates than Atunwa but the Senate President insisted on having his way.

The factors that will interplay include the poor/ woeful performance of PDP and its governor;  dilapidated infrastructure in the state; non-payment of outstanding salaries of local government workers, lecturers of state-owned tertiary institutions and  street sweepers; the defection of bigwigs and members of Saraki dynasty from PDP to APC;  reneging on commitment to power shift to Kwara North; the neglect of Kwara South;  the division in Ilorin Emirate occasioned by the APC governorship candidature of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the challenge which the choice of PDP governorship candidate Atunwa has provoked.

Verdict: APC

NIGER STATE

Ahead voting in less than a week, no governor is more upbeat than Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, who is a son-in-law to a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. He has been over the moon because APC won the presidential and National Assembly polls in the state where President Buhari has large cult following.

Bello is about 90 percent sure of returning because he enjoys the confidence of the political kingmakers in the state. Apart from being from a wealthy family (which owns a minority stake in MTN and Amni International Petroleum Development Co., an oil exploration company with a 50% interest in the Okoro Setu oil field), the father of the governor, Col. Sani Bello (retired) is a member of the military elite dictating the pace in Niger State.

The governor will benefit from the goodwill of his father, the benevolence of his in-laws and adherence to the power rotation formula in the state, irrespective of whether a governor has performed or not

Coming as he does from Zone C, there is an unwritten agreement that any zone in power must complete its two terms in office.

Notwithstanding, the governor’s main challenger is Umar Nasko of the PDP, whom he defeated in 2015. The PDP candidate is also a son to Major General Muhammad Gado Nasko, who was the military governor of Sokoto State between 1978 and 1979.

Unlike in 2015, Nasko, who was a former Chief of Staff to ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu, does not have the war chest to confront the incumbent governor.

Barring seismic political changes, APC is likely to retain the state.

Verdict: APC

NASARAWA STATE

For the first time since 1999, gubernatorial power has been mutually ceded to Nasarawa South Senatorial District in the state by most of the political parties at the prompting of Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura who made the concession to beat the opposition to its game.

The governorship slot had rotated between Nasarawa West and Nasarawa South and any slip will be too costly for APC. Though Al-Makura has anointed Abdullahi Sule ( ex-Group Managing Director of  Dangote Sugar Refinery) as APC governorship candidate, the option is left for the people of Nasarawa North to accept him or go for either the PDP candidate, David Ombugadu or APGA candidate, ex-Minister Labaran Maku, who is fast becoming a serial governorship contestant.

Unless it is well managed, the voting pattern in the state may slide into the religious divide because the Muslims are queuing behind the APC candidate and the Christians are split over Ombugadu (PDP) and Maku (APGA). The religious tone might compound the ethnic cleavages in the state.

The private sector credentials of Sule give APC a comfortable edge. And with the victory of the APC during the National Assembly elections, things are adding up for

Verdict: APC

PLATEAU STATE

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has already cleared 21 governorship candidates in Plateau State and 279 candidates for the 24 seats in the State House of Assembly. Some of the candidates are Governor Simon Lalong (APC); Lt.-Gen. Jeremiah Useni (PDP); Mr. Godfrey Miri (SDP); Gen. John Temlong (ADP); Dr. Haruna Dabin, a former PDP chairman in the state, but now the candidate of PPC; Mr Timothy Parlong (APGA); Mr. Bitrus Musa (ADC); Alex Ladan (ANN) and Mr. John Bigwan (GPN) among others.

The political climate in Plateau is similar to its twin sister, Benue State but Lalong’s leadership qualities have reunited and restored peace to the state. The main issue for the February poll is how to curtail the security challenge in the state. The PDP’s antidote is the choice of the 75-year old Lt. Gen. Useni, who was a former Minister of FCT under the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

For Lalong, age is on his side and his generation will be more preferable than the septuagenarian Useni.

Another issue is religion which ex-Governor Jonah Jang has exploited in the past to sustain PDP. But the leading candidates Lalong and Useni are Christians – which takes the sting out of this factor.

The absence of imprisoned ex-Governor Joshua Dariye has created a setback for APC, but the governor has been able to accommodate his structure in the scheme of things. It would be a straight fight between Lalong and Useni, irrespective of what transpired in the state during the February 23 polls.

Verdict: Battleground

NORTH WEST ZONE

KANO STATE

Ordinarily with the allegation of millions of dollars bribery against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC, the contest ought to be over integrity between him and his PDP rival Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf.

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But the hostility of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso against President Buhari and his defection from APC to PDP have changed the political narrative in the state to the border line between loyalty and treachery. This is the second time Kano State will go through such experience.

During the 1983 general elections, the PRP picked the late Aliyu Sabo Bakin Zuwo, who had no formal education as its governorship candidate against the late Governor Abubakar Rimi of the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) who ran an “all graduate” State Executive Council. But Zuwo, rated as a semi-literate despite sponsoring more bills in the Senate in the Second Republic, defeated Rimi because of his undiluted loyalty to the leader of PRP, the late Mallam Aminu Kano.

Prior to the February 23 poll, the PDP was actually bubbling with much hope that it would win Kano State or give APC a good fight. The defeat of the party at the presidential and National Assembly elections has dimmed the chances of the opposition on March 9.

The demoralizing outcome of the first stage of the elections has left the party to scavenge to pick up the pieces. If PDP has any problem in the state, it has to do with the way it conducted its governorship primaries that led to the anointing of Yusuf by Kwankwaso. The imposition weakened and depleted the party.

The mass movement of ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his supporters from PDP to APC was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Others who have deserted PDP are Prof. Hafiz Abubakar, a former deputy governor to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority,  Aminu Dabo; the immediate past  National Treasurer of PDP, Bala Mohammed Gwagwarwa; Security Adviser to Kwankwaso, Gen. Danjuma Dambazzau (rtd); Senator Isa Zarewa; and Mu’azu Magaji Dan Sarauniya, who was a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on SURE-P.

APC may retain the state because of the Buhari factor: since 2003 he has never lost an electoral contest in the state. There is also the influx of new influential defectors, and the incumbency factor of Governor Ganduje who is more popular among the masses and Islamic clerics in Kano.

Verdict: APC

ZAMFARA STATE

With the court clearance, the scramble for governorship in Zamfara State is by the PDP candidate, Alhaji Bello Mohammed Matawale, the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Abdullahi Sani Shinkafi and the APC candidate who the court will have to determine. There are two candidates in APC namely, the popular Dauda Lawal (a former Executive Director of First Bank) and Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris.

It is hoped that the reconciliatory process initiated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will assist Zamfara APC to get its act together. Whatever it is, APC will surely win Zamfara governorship poll because PDP has a very weak candidate.

Verdict: APC

KATSINA STATE

For the return of Governor Aminu Bello Masari, Katsina State can be taken for granted by the APC because he will benefit from the tremendous goodwill of President Buhari.

The PDP is bound to be affected by the bandwagon effect of February 23, 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections in which it lost with a difference of  924, 077 votes. The APC political hurricane is ravaging Katsina.

Although ex-Governor Ibrahim Shema and the PDP governorship candidate, Garba Yakubu Lado, are trying to shake the APC, they cannot go far.

Verdict: APC

SOKOTO STATE

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is the last of the political titans, who defected from PDP to APC, whose fate is yet to be determined. Ex-VP Abubakar lost the presidency; Senate President, Bukola Saraki has fallen by the wayside, Rabiu Kwankwaso has lost the grip on Kano and Yakubu Dogara is no longer returning as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Sokoto State governor has a date with history on March 9 because the gubernatorial race will define his political future especially whether or not he will keep afloat or slide into oblivion. He has lost two battles before the governorship contest including the loss of the PDP presidential ticket and the victory of the APC at the presidential poll and the clearing of three senatorial seats in the state by the APC

His main challenger is actually not his erstwhile deputy, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu, but his estranged godfather, ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako. From the pulse during the campaign, Wammako’s political treasure is his closeness to the masses.

Beside his solid structure, some of those with Wammako are ex-ministers, lawmakers and APC leaders like Umar Nagwari Tambuwal, Muhammed Maigari Dingyadi, Yusuf Suleiman, Abubakar Shehu Wurno, Jibril Gada, among others. His main asset, however, is his closeness to the grassroots.

Tambuwal has the backing of some forces in the Caliphate, ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa, Mukhtar Shagari and a few other political leaders.

So far, the calculations are not looking rosy for Tambuwal whose performance had been very poor. He is a laggard compared to the records of Wammako and ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa.

Verdict: APC

KEBBI STATE

The sterling performance of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State in the last three and a half years and his ability to keep APC united, have made Kebbi a no-go area for PDP. He has brought his experience in the private sector to bear in managing the economy of the state. His focus on agriculture has led to massive employment and rice boom. With the backing of the respected ex-Governor of the state, Senator Adamu Aliero and Bagudu’s ability to win more souls into APC, especially ex-Governor Saidu Dakingari and his deputy, Ibrahim Aliyu, PDP is already stripped naked in Kebbi State.

Verdict: APC

KADUNA STATE

Despite the fact that the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections in Kaduna State was in favour of the APC in Kaduna State, it might be an uphill task for Governor Nasir el-Rufai who is seeking a second term ticket. He has a serious match in the candidate of the PDP, Mallam Isa Ashiru Kudan. Already, two candidates, Polycarp Gankon of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Ezekiel Habila of the Liberation Movement (LM), have withdrawn for Ashiru.

The colour of politics in the state will be determined by security challenge, performance, the prolonged Hausa-Fulani/Southern Kaduna cat and mouse relationship, religious factor (especially mutual suspicion by Muslims and Christians), the rising Shiite clan and its attendant grave security implications and distrust among political elite.

In the midst of these daunting factors, el-Rufai became audaciously adventurous by picking Hadiza Balarabe ( a fellow Muslim) as his running mate. Justifying the choice of Hadiza, the governor said: “Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a religious ticket but a competent and performance ticket.” He had also argued the even if he picked the Pope as his running mate, the people of Southern Kaduna, would not vote for him. It is a slippery decision which may redefine politics in the state.

But before the March 9 poll, el-Rufai has lost a leg of the tripod which can earn him votes. For wielding ethno-religious cards, APC could lose Kaduna South Senatorial District as it did on February 23 during the presidential and National Assembly polls.

A political experimenter, el-Rufai’s greatest asset is the enthronement of new governance modules which have reduced wastes in government. Apart from pruning the size of his cabinet, he has cut frivolous expenses and his performance is appreciable. But his garrulous, uncompromising and dictatorial leadership style at a point alienated him from the masses.

El-Rufai’s other battle is his fight with political elite in the state. He is a victim of his own attempt to uproot the status quo. There are no old politicians in Kaduna State who are with him.  Members of the old brigade who were with him in 2015 like Suleiman Hunkuyi, Isa Ashiru,  Yaro Makama, and Ambassador Sule Buba are now in PDP. These old hands have teamed up with ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo, a former National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and ex-Governor Ramalan Yero.

The governor has, however, bred a new generation of young politicians who are managing to warm their hearts into the people of the state. If he succeeds in displacing the old brigade from power next month, he would have created a political record in the state.

But for the Buhari factor, el-Rufai may fail in his second term bid. It is also important to note that the president is not on the ballot on March 9 and local issues would determine the outcome. The state is a flashpoint to watch.

Verdict: Battleground

JIGAWA STATE

About 19 candidates are jostling for the governorship seat in Jigawa State. Among them are the incumbent Governor Abubakar Badaru, recurring candidate of PDP, Aminu Ringim, Bashir Adamu (SDP), Sanusi Gumel (Peoples Democratic Movement), Abbas Mujaddad of ANN and others.

What is at stake in Jigawa State is a struggle for the soul of the state by ex- Governor Sule Lamido and Governor Badaru whose rice production revolution has empowered many citizens of the state. His problems arise from his alienation of the political elite and some royal fathers who are not enjoying as much largesse as they used to do in the past.

For Lamido, the loss of PDP to APC in 2015 was a disaster and he is determined to regain the control of the state. His Achilles Heel, however, is the imposition of Ringim as the party’s governorship candidate – a development which angered some PDP stalwarts.

The success of the APC at the National Assembly polls has deflated PDP in Jigawa such that the opposition is already threatening to boycott the governorship and State House of Assembly elections unless the State Commissioner of Police, Bala Senchi, is redeployed.

Verdict: APC

SOUTHEAST ZONE

ENUGU STATE

In Enugu State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is best positioned to win in this week’s governorship election. A PDP stronghold, the party won last week’s Presidential and all the National Assembly elections in the state.

Independent National Electoral Commission State Collation Officer, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, who is the Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, announced that the party won in the 17 local government areas of the state.

Out of the 421,014 valid votes in the state, PDP scored 355,553 votes against 54,423 votes polled by the All Progressives Congress in the state. 30,049 votes were declared invalid.

The party’s performance in the elections confirmed prediction that except something extra ordinary happens between now and Saturday, Governor Ugwuanyi will most likely to record a landslide victory in the governorship election. Besides flying the flag of the party that has remained most acceptable in the state, the governor’s performance in the last four years, which his admirers described as superlative, plus his friendly disposition with all, including politicians in the opposition, will boost his chances.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, Enugu has remained a PDP state. In 2015, for example, PDP garnered 553,003 out of the total 573,173 viable votes cast in that year’s presidential election, leaving the other 13 political parties that contested that election to share the remaining 20,170 votes.

Although APC in the state now boasts of having top political leaders like former Governor Sullivan Chime, former Senate President Ken Nnamani and an influential governorship candidate, in the person of Senator Ayogu Eze, it seems only practical to predict that the party, if it works even harder, may win some state constituencies in this Saturday’s state elections, unlike what happened last weekend when it lost all the elections in the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to PDP. If the party wins some State House of Assembly Elections, it will, in a way help to boost the strength of the party in Enugu State’s local politics in the next four years.

Verdict: PDP

ABIA STATE

Abia State has been another PDP stronghold since 1999. But as we reported earlier, under-performance or lack of quality dividends of democracy in the state has resulted to outcry from across the state for far reaching changes.

Although Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of PDP in last week’s presidential election, won the state, scoring 219,698 as against APC’s 85,058, it is predicted that in the governorship election, this feeling of poor performance will ultimately affect the way the people will vote in the forthcoming Governorship and State House of Assembly Election.

As we hinted in our earlier reports, most stakeholders in the state are furious to note that Abia, though an oil-producing state, is today one of the least developed in the country, physical infrastructure wise, a development that has resulted in aggressive agitation for change of leadership.

The feeling that the state needed socio-political change preceded 2015 elections. Then, majority of voters simply stayed away during Election Day. The records showed that the state recorded high level political apathy that year. Our investigation shows that this attitude has changed tremendously. In all the 17 local government areas of the state, campaigns have been comparatively more passionate and determined. It is being alleged that the renewed interest is a result of well-coordinated schemes to put Abia on a new path.

The result of this new disposition has started to manifest, at least considering the outcome of last week’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections. It could be said today that in addition to PDP, the support base of two other political parties; the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, now Senator-elect and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), led by Dr. Alex Otti, its governorship candidate, have become very significant.

As the state prepares for the governorship and State Assembly elections, even the ruling PDP cannot deny the evident pressure occasioned by the emerging strength of the opposition. The question in most observers’ lips is will PDP’s candidate, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu enjoy the same ease his PDP predecessors enjoyed in previous elections?

Before now, PDP flagbearers always took it for granted that they would be given the mandate. It seems so much has changed in Abia. Take what happened in Abia North Senatorial Zone for example in last weekend’s elections, where APC candidate defeated the incumbent PDP Senator with ease. If such a development is repeated during the governorship election, the incumbent governor, who is the PDP governorship candidate, may need to work harder to be reelected.

Our investigation shows that unlike presidential election, where the obvious popularity of Peter Obi in particular and the relative acceptability of Atiku in the state, favoured PDP, the governorship may be a direct assessment between the popularity and acceptability of the incumbent governor Ikpeazu and the leading figures in APGA and APC..

We gathered that APGA’s candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, enjoys high popularity in the state, same as APC’s governorship candidate, Uche Ogah. During the 2015 governorship election, both Otti and Ogah played very important roles. It would be recalled that Ogah and Governor Ikpeazu contested PDP primaries. The contest dragged to the post elect judicial battle, where, at a stage, the court ruled that Ogah was the rightful candidate of PDP who was actually given the mandate to govern. It took an appeal to overrule that judgment and allow Ikpeazu to assume the mandate. The mass jubilation amongst the youths across the state when Ogah was temporarily named the governor-elect four years ago gives credence to his popularity. As for Otti, who also flew the ticket of APGA, his wide acceptability in Abia is well known both by his supporters and his opponents.

These confirm the view that the forthcoming governorship election will be a hot contest. Insiders said Otti’s grassroots campaign ahead of this contest is even more effective than what he did in 2015. Yet, in 2015, majority of the insider observers still argue that he actually won the election, alleging that his victory was robbed by the PDP government. Sources said Otti and his party, APGA is even more positioned now to win the governorship in Abia.

Also, it is believed that APC can no longer be taken for granted in Abia today. It would be recalled that even in 2015, when the party did not have some political heavyweights it parades today, it came second in the state during the presidential election when it got 13,394 valid votes. So, the permutation today is that the governorship race will be a three-horse race. This is because aside the power of incumbency which Ikpeazu’s PDP will obviously enjoy, the governor would be contesting against APGA’s Otti and APC’s Ogah, two influential politicians whose parties have also improved significantly in Abia.

The issue therefore is to see how far Ikpeazu would be able to utilize his power of incumbency given that, unlike what has been happening in Abia, his party, the PDP, may not get any undue support from the Federal Government agencies to win the election. However, against great odds, we report that, PDP is likely to win the governorship election primarily because of the incumbency factor otherwise, APGA’s Otti stands a better chance, going by the level of love and support he enjoys across the length and breadth of the state.

Also, considering the victory it recorded in Orji Uzor Kalu’s Abia North Senatorial District, APC seems set to with many House of Assembly seats from the district and from Ohuhu area of Abia Central and some Abia South Senatorial area, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu area. This shows that even if PDP succeeds in winning the governorship, the next Abia State House of Assembly will no longer be an all PDP affair.

Verdict: PDP

IMO STATE

This week’s suspension of Governor Rochas Okorocha from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the results of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Imo State, have further shown that the power game between Okorocha and his estranged former political associates in APC in Imo is poised to shape how the people will vote in the state.

As the only Southeast state currently under the leadership of an All Progressives Congress-led government, one would have expected the ruling party, to win the governorship election with ease. But following the intricate power struggle amongst its leaders, there is the fear that except the current leaders of the party works harder, APC may even lose this governorship race.

Sources blamed this possibility on the sustained criticism of the leadership style of Governor Rochas Okorocha, a development that was worsened by the fallout of the governorship primaries’ disagreements which led to a major division between Okorocha and the leadership of the ruling party, APC, over the choice of the governorship candidate. While Okorocha had pushed for Uche Nwosu as the party’s candidate, the party finally chose Senator Hope Uzodinma with the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, as his running mate.

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For APC, the implication of this development is that going into the governorship race as a divided political family, may prove to be a major disadvantage. Until this week’s suspension of Okorocha, the outgoing governor has remained a member of the party, flying one of its three senatorial flags, notwithstanding the fact that he was already working against the governorship candidate of the party. Many observers, including APC’s governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, had cried out that this awkward situation may affect the party negatively. Ironically, the party did not do anything to the development until this week when it suspended the governor less than two weeks to the crucial election.

Besides the fact that Okorocha, as the incumbent governor, will now most likely give all his support to Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance (AA), it remains to be seen how APC leadership in the state would be able to manage this delicate situation before this week’s Saturday in order to retain the state without Okorocha.

Incidentally, the uncertainty is not limited to APC. The other leading party, the PDP, can no longer be described as being very strong in Imo as it was in 2015. However, PDP’s governorship candidate, former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, seems to enjoy the highest popularity ratio than any of the other candidates. For him, therefore, he stands a good chance of reaping from the APC power crisis, all things being equal.

More than what happened during the Presidential and NASS Elections, APC and PDP would have to fight hard to win the governorship election.

Notwithstanding the sentiment that Uche Nwosu, the candidate of Action Alliance, was foisted on the people by outgoing governor Okorocha, the youthful candidate is another important candidate to watch in this election. But insiders said many voters, meaning to get at Okorocha are likely to vote against him in the election. It remains however to see how far this likely reaction will affect his performance in the election. His campaign was probably the most financed and therefore very deep into the grassroots.

Verdict: Battleground

EBONYI STATE

Ebonyi State has remained a PDP state since 1999 and there is no definitive factor that suggests there would be a change in this year’s governorship election. During last week’s Presidential and NASS elections, the party won easily in the state as PDP garnered 258,573 votes while APC’s candidate got only 90,726 votes.

Before the presidential election, there were speculations that Governor Dave Umahi, who has some personal family relationship with APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari, may work against his party’s candidate, Atiku, in favour of Buhari. That did not happen, a confirmation that PDP in Ebonyi State remains united and strong.

It would be recalled that out of the 363,888 valid votes cast in the state in 2015, PDP, in collaboration with APGA, harvested a whopping 323,653 votes, leaving only 19,518 for APC, which came second.

Following the clarification mid last year that the argument over positions between old members and new members did not succeed in dividing the party in the state, it seems Governor Dave Umahi, will be contesting on a united platform with added advantage of incumbency factor.

Besides, investigation confirms that most of the people in Ebonyi are happy with the performance of Umahi, who one of them, Nkama Oka, described as “a true engineer, opening up the hinterlands.”

This apart, there is the feeling that PDP stands a great chance because APC in the state may not have improved so much as to expect any tangible difference in its 2015 performance. It would be recalled that although it came second in 2015, the party, led in the state by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, got only19, 518 votes.

Verdict: PDP

SOUTH-SOUTH ZONE

RIVERS STATE

Next Saturday’s governorship and State Assembly election in Rivers State is a walk in the park for the PDP as it will be contesting in a one sided election that will not be featuring its main rival, the APC. The opposition party has been kept out of the race by a Supreme Court judgement that confirmed INEC’s position that it failed to conduct acceptable primary election within the stipulated time.

To further smoothen the journey to re-election for Governor Nyesom Wike and his party, a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt and presided over by Justice E.A. Obile, has sacked the governorship candidate for Accord Party, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs. Briggs, observers say, has been seen as the only candidate remaining in the race that can put up some challenge, albeit minute, to the PDP.

He was sacked on the grounds that he was not the authentic candidate for the party. Dumo Lulu-Briggs was therefore replaced with Mr. Precious Baridoo, who was said to have won the governorship ticket of the party at the party’s primary elections. Justice Obile in his judgement said that as at the time of the party’s primaries, Lulu- Briggs was still a chieftain of the APC.

Rivers State, which started out in 1999 as a PDP state became a major APC state under the then governor Rotimi Amaechi who governed it for eight years. However, Amaechi’s erstwhile political godson, Nyesom Wike’s emergence as the state governor, on the ticket of PDP, not only returned the state to PDP but marked the beginning of an intriguing political rivalry that has held the breathe of Nigerians.

Largely because Amaechi, the current Minister of Transportation is also the Director-General of Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential re-election campaign, the expectation, until the court nailed APC in the state, was high that he ought to ensure APC’s victory during the general election. Both because of the high offices he currently occupies and the fact that it has become a personal battle between him and his former ally, Wike.

Ironically, the same pressure was on Wike to deliver Rivers to PDP. It would be recalled that Wike enjoyed unalloyed support of the former first family, the Jonathans, when he contested for the office of the governor of the state against the endorsement of Amaechi. The 2019 elections would have been an opportunity for Wike and Amaechi to test their political strength again, but the Supreme Court foiled that. As it stands, PDP is set to claim the state once again.

Verdict: PDP

DELTA STATE

True to many predictions, Delta State voted for the PDP and its candidates during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. But for Senator Omo-Agege and a handful of House of Representatives candidates who won for the APC, it would have been an all PDP affair. The state has remained a PDP state since 1999. Given that the party has continued to grow under the leadership of Governor Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, there is likelihood that it would still win this year’s governorship election.

It would be recalled that out of the 1,267,773 valid votes cast in the state during the 2015 presidential election, PDP got 1,211,405 votes, while APC got 48,910 votes. Looking at this figure, one would ordinarily write off any party contesting with the ruling party, PDP, in Delta. And last week, the party won in 23 local government areas out of 25 in the state in the presidential race.

Overall, the PDP polled 594,068 votes across the 25 local government, while All Progressives Congress scored 221,292 votes. PDP won the election in Aniocha South, Aniocha North, Oshimili South, Oshimili North, Ika South, Ika North-East, Burutu, Sapele, Ughelli South, Okpe, Warri South, Warri South West, Warri North and Udu. The other areas where the PDP also won are Ethiope West, Bomadi, Uvwie, Isoko North, Isoko South, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Burutu and Patani.

The APC, he said, won in Ethiope East and Ughelli North. Before now, so much happened in the politics of the state, especially within the opposition APC, that made observers believe the APC may spring surprises. But not even the defection of the former governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to APC last year, then considered a major plus for the party, could wrought much magic. Uduaghan lost his senatorial bid.

Also, the disagreement in the APC during the run-up to the primaries may still affect the performance of the party in the forthcoming election. It would be recalled that the faction led by Prophet Jones Erue and loyal to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Great Ogboru had openly opposed direct primaries while the other APC faction in the state loyal to Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Chief Hyacinth Enuha threw its weight behind the state and presidential direct primaries in the state.

It is also clear that apart from influential politicians like Okowa, Uduaghan, Great Ogboru, Omo-Agege and Otega Emerhor, the other top politicians that will influence the result of the election in the state include traditional political leaders in the state like former governor James Ibori and many big-wigs within his political family. Many of these, observers say, are sympathetic to the ruling PDP.

Verdict: PDP

CROSS RIVER STATE

In Cross River State, the PDP looks good to repeat its 2015 landslide victory in the state in spite of some improvement in the visibility of the opposition APC after the last general election. This, pundits said, is due to two major reasons. First, the APC is currently divided into two factions that even produced two governorship aspirants, namely Usani Usani Uguru (a serving Minister) and John Enoh.

The two factions have failed to reach a peaceful accord in spite of several efforts by party leaders like ex-Governor Clement Ebri and Chief Edem Duke, as well as the national leadership of the party. Instead, the party remained fictionalised and analysts insist this is hurting its chances at the ongoing general elections. This was obvious with the result of the Presidential and National Assembly polls. No doubt, the forthcoming election will be affected by this too.

Secondly, Governor Ben Ayade and his predecessor, Liyel Imoke, appear to still have their firm grips on the politics of the state. The harmonious relationship between the duo, in spite of insinuations that they have fallen apart, helped the ruling PDP to wax stronger after the last election. Across the state, the governor is also adjudged as having done well. So, PDP looks good to get the votes.

Had the crisis within the APC been resolved long enough before the guber polls, the party may have fared better than it will do now that it still remains divided. But even at that, it is doubtful if that would have helped it to upstage the ruling PDP. At best, the APC may again come a distant second in the state in the next election.

Verdict: PDP

AKWA IBOM STATE

The outcome of the contest between Buhari and Atiku has changed the permutations of many observers of the politics of the state. Not a few had thought the APC will put up a strong fight for votes in Akwa Ibom state largely on the strength of the defection of former Governor Godswill Akpabio from the PDP to the APC. But the result of the presidential election proved otherwise. To further prove many pundits wrong, Akpabio lost his re-election bid in the senatorial race.

Thus, the political narrative in the state has been changed as we go into the next election which is more local in context. The APC will be going into the election as the underdog while the PDP, having confirmed its strong hold on the politics of the state, will be enjoying rave review from observers. No doubt, Akpabio’s loss will also have a devastating effect on the morale of APC’s foot-soldiers across the state and this can affect the party’s performance at the polls.

The PDP looks good to claim this state in the governorship and State Assembly Elections, but it is still possible for the APC to put up a good fight in some parts of the state. The political division between Akpabio and Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel will still play out in Saturday’s elections. It is very likely that APC will clinch some seats, especially in Akpabio’s senatorial district of Akwa-Ibom Northwest.

Not minding Akpabio’s unexpected defeat, the APC will be relying on the former governor’s political machinery across the state, aided by the political influence of other APC chieftains like Umanah Umanah, Nsima Ekere (a former deputy governor), John Akpan Udoedehe, Don Etiebet, Ime Umana, Group Capt. Sam Ewang (Rtd), among others, to remedy its previous unpleasant outing.

According to very reliable political permutations, the APC will still contest for the votes of the people of Akwa-Ibom South Senatorial District pretty well. Both Governor Udom Emmanuel and Nsima Ekere, the APC candidate, hail from there. The people will obviously be divided in their choice.  Although Akon Eyakenyi of PDP polled 122,412 votes, to defeat Senator Nelson Effiong of APC who polled 44,053 votes in the senatorial race, pundits say the opposition party can still pull strings on Saturday.

It was also gathered that the desire of the people to take advantage of an opportunity for their zone to enjoy the governorship slot much longer, provided by the candidacy of Ekere, may somehow work in favour of the APC. “There are talks that voting Ekere may give Eket the chance to spend 12 years instead of eight years in office as governor. If this informs the people’s voting behavior on Election Day, PDP may be in trouble in Governor Emmanuel’s own backyard,” an analyst said.

For Governor Emmanuel and the PDP, pundits say their major strength lies in the power of incumbency and the ability to showcase the achievements of the current administration to the people of the state. Not a few have claimed the victory of the PDP in the state during the Presidential and National Assembly polls is informed by the people’s satisfaction with the current administration. This will surely work in favour of the party again next weekend.

Governor Emmanuel and his party say they have met the yearnings of the people. But the APC in the state insists that with N6.85 billion annual Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and N143. 6 billion from the Federation Account, not forgetting extra-statutory intervention funds like Ecological funds, Paris Club Loan refunds, etc., the current administration in the state has not done much to better the lot of the people.

Akwa Ibom has 31 local government areas. While Eket, where both Emmanuel and Ekere hail from, has 12 local government areas, Akpabio’s Ikot Ekpene boasts of 10 council areas. The remaining nine are found in Uyo District where former Governor Victor Attah and Umanah hail from. At the last count, there are 1,837, 767 registered voters in the three senatorial districts of the state.

The Northeastern Senatorial District is one place where both APC and PDP should slug it out. With Umanah supporting Ekere, and Uyo being the seat of government and Emmanuel having many of his people resident there. While Umanah’s popularity in Uyo will aid APC, PDP should benefit from the votes of government functionaries and their people.

Obong Bassey Albert Akpan of the PDP has emerged the winner of the 2019 Senatorial race with 147,731 votes to beat his opponent Bassey Etim of the APC, who scored 60,930.

All in all, the PDP appears the most favored to win the governorship seat and majority of the state assembly seats in the state on Saturday, while the APC may have to make do with a few assembly seats.

Verdict: PDP

SOUTHWEST ZONE

OGUN STATE

Though the APC won the presidential election in Ogun State with 281, 762 votes to PDP’s 194, 655 and also pocketed the three senatorial seats in the state, pundits insist it is not comfortable to say the ruling party will retain the governorship seat of the state easily.

Largely responsible for this is the internal crisis within the party that has seen Governor Ibikunle Amosun throwing his weight behind Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) as his preferred governorship candidate.

Aside the above, the contest on Saturday will certainly not be a straight forward one. Unlike in the past when the state’s unwritten political zoning agreement played a role in determining the emergence of the candidates of the leading parties, powerful political gladiators from all the four zones of the state are now locking horns in the contest that will determine who succeeds outgoing governor Amosun.

On the candidates’ list released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), oil magnate, Dapo Abiodun from Iperu in the Remo axis of Ogun East, is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Senator Buruji Kashamu, representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly is the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Also on the list of candidates released by INEC are, Egba-born former Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole as flag bearer of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and a two-time governorship candidate, Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, who now flies the ticket of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). Isiaka, who is from Yewa in Ogun West, was the candidate of the PDP in 2015. Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) is also in the race from Yewaland.

With the above scenario, the 2019 governorship in Ogun State is playing out as a war zone, as all the four zones in the state are now having at least one major candidate in the race. This is contrary to the desire of Governor Amosun and other notable political leaders in the state, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to restrict the race to a contest between candidates from the Yewa axis of the state.

The Ogun West Senatorial District is yet to produce a governor since 1976 when the state was created, and Amosun was determined to break the jinx. He campaigned vigorously for the ticket of the APC to be zoned to the area and he almost achieved that before the party’s NWC overruled his consensus arrangement and ordered a direct primary election which Dapo Abiodun, from Remoland, a zone in Ogun East Senatorial District, won.

The PDP from day one never zoned the governorship ticket to Ogun West. Both factions of the party in the state seem to have their eyes on producing a candidate from Ogun East too, as no serious contender emerged from Ogun West and Central all through the process leading to the primary elections of the Adebutu and Kashamu factions of the PDP.

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Like Abiodun, Kashamu is from Ogun East and currently represents the district at the National Assembly. But he is from Ijebuland, another zone in the area which has also been clamoring to be given a chance to produce the governor of the state, 36 years after the late Bisi Onabanjo, its only son to have been governor of the state, left office. His supporters say Abiodun from Remo cannot be governor just eight years after Gbenga Daniel, another Remo man, left office.

From Ogun Central, made up of the Egbas, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole is in the race. He is unperturbed by the fact that outgoing governor Amosun is from the same zone as himself. He says zoning should not rob the state of the best hands for the job. The congress that produced him took place in all the 20 Local Government Areas and 236 wards in the state, according to the Returning Officer for the primary election, Mr. Chamberlain Amadu.

Not to be left out, the Yewas of Ogun West, preferred by Amosun and other opinion leaders to have the seat, have Isiaka in the race, but on the platform of little known ADC, having failed to bag the ticket of any of the two leading political parties. Akinlade, the preferred candidate of Governor Amosun, had defected from the ruling APC to the APM, to keep the Yewa agenda alive.

Examining the voting populations of the various zones, analysts say if the people of the four autonomous clans decide to vote along tribal lines, the contest may not be decided on the first ballot. “And it is most likely the electorates will put tribal consideration on the front burner on Election Day, given the acrimonious and sectional campaign currently going on,” Joju Daini of Voters Right Agenda (VRA), told The Nation.

“Ogun East with nine local government areas lost the chance of having an edge over the other two zones following the emergence of candidates from the two zones in the area. So, its majority population will be shared by its two sons, Abiodun and Kashamu of APC and PDP respectively. They are however helped by the fact that they are candidates of the two leading political parties.

“Ogun Central with five local governments has only Dimeji Bankole in the race. But he will be contending with the popularity of both APC and PDP in his zone. While he is expected to enjoy the solidarity of his people, the unpopular nature of his party, the ADP in the state, will rob him of a landslide win in the Egbaland. No doubt, he will share the lot with the candidates of widely known APC and PDP.

“The same will be the fate of Isiaka in Ogun West. He will benefit immensely from the clamor of his people for the governorship but ADC as a party is the major challenge to his victory in the race. Chieftains of the ruling APC, which is quite strong in the area, has refused to endorse his candidacy contrary to expectations in the zone. Instead, Akinlade, Amosun’s preferred candidate, has joined the APM as its governorship candidate,” Daini analyzed.

But some pundits say this is convenient to say though the contest will be keen, the APC will win the election at the end of the day. They based their position on the weakened position of the PDP, the main opposition party and the inability of Governor Amosun and his political camp to openly canvass votes for Akinlade of the APM. “To add to this is the Osinbajo factor. Although based in Lagos, the Vice President hails from Ikenne-Remo in the Eastern Senatorial District of the state. It is expected that his kinsmen from Remoland and other parts of the state will because of him, support and vote for the APC candidates in the general election.

Fresh developments during the week also weakened the ADC and strengthened the APC ahead of weekend’s elections. A senatorial candidate of the ADC in the State, Deji Ashiru, and his supporters reportedly dumped the party to support the governorship candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun. Reports also indicated that the ADC Ogun Central Senatorial candidate, Titi Oseni Gomez, has moved into the Dapo Abiodun camp.

Reliable ADC sources told The Nation that the two senatorial candidates, who were defeated in the senatorial election by the APC, planned to work for Abiodun, as political parties and candidates forge alliances ahead of the March 9 governorship election. They probably believe Abiodun has a brighter chance to win the elections. While Ashiru had confirmed his defection, Gomez was yet to respond to enquiries sent to her as at press time.

Also, in spite of the unusual political ripples, APC evidently enjoys appreciable support across the state. The Federal Government’s attention to major roads in the state, including the Sagamu-Ikorodu road and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is also swaying support for the party across the state. Also, Buhari’s decision to immortalise the late Chief MKO Abiola, an indigene of Ogun, by declaring June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day, remains a political move well aimed.

It has endeared the party to the elites in the state and it is expected to help garner some votes across the state for APC. Similarly, numerous artisans and traders across the state who benefitted from the Tradermoni scheme are supporting the candidates of the ruling party just as many youths now enjoying under the N-Power employment scheme in the state, are poised to reward the APC. It is for these reasons that analysts concluded that though the election will be dramatic, the APC may still win.

Verdict: Battleground

LAGOS STATE

Although the APC in Lagos State retained its political hold on the state by winning all the three senate seats and garnering almost all the House of Representatives seats in the state, pundits say the party must be wary as the governorship election approach if it intends to stop the desire of the opposition PDP to invade the state politically. The result of the presidential contest in the state, to many, is a further confirmation that the PDP is waxing stronger in the state.

The APC got 580, 825 votes while the PDP garnered 448, 015 votes in the presidential contest and pundits say the PDP has greatly reduced the margin when compared to 2015 when it similarly trailed the ruling party in the presidential contest. Also, the obvious reduction in the number of votes recorded by APC in Lagos, from 792, 460 in 2015 to a 580, 825 last Saturday is a source of worry to supporters of the party in the state.

And considering the threat to “take over Lagos” by the opposition PDP, it is no longer very convenient to predict that APC will easily win the governorship election. Pundits are even of the opinion that unless the ruling party up its game before the next election in the state, the opposition PDP will perform better than it did in 2015 when it gave the ruling APC a good fight in all the elections. APC scored 811,994 to defeat the PDP which had 659,788 in the governorship race back then.

“APC must wake up and shake off this complacency with which they seem to be approaching this year’s general election. The PDP has again put up a good fight like it did in 2015. The APC must go all out to reconnect with the people of Lagos. APC is still the party to beat in Lagos but the party must take drastic political steps to ward off the threat constantly being posed by the opposition party,” an analyst warned.

Although the PDP and its candidates, encouraged by the outcome of the presidential election, are working hard to garner votes for the party, the personality of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the APC, still looms large across the state. He is one of the factors expected to work in favour of the APC next Saturday. Party sources said Tinubu has instructed that chieftains and members of the party in the state must go all out to win more votes for the APC.

Analysts have also warned that it will be foolhardy for the PDP to conclude that the people of the state will vote in the governorship and State Assembly elections the same way they voted in the presidential election. “All politics are local. Many Lagosians voted against Buhari and not the APC. Many of them will be voting for Jide Sanwoolu, the APC guber candidate. So the two contests should be approached differently,” an observer said.

To the party’s advantage is the fact that chieftains like Chief Mrs. Remi Adiukwu, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and its then state chairman, Moshood Salvador, are now in the APC. Many PDP bigwigs, including Chief Bode George, though still in the opposition party, are on a self-imposed political holidays, leaving the party without a known leader in the state.

The PDP has also lost many of the areas it garnered votes to the APC following the defection of almost all the state and federal lawmakers that won on its platform into the APC. Thus, erstwhile strongholds of the PDP like Oshodi-Isolo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ojo, Badagry and Amuwo-Odofin are now brimming with APC chieftains ready to get the votes for the ruling party.

Also, the APC ticket will benefit from the acceptance being enjoyed in the state by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The choice of Osinbajo has been a hit across the Southwest and this is expected to translate into votes on Election Day for the APC. In spite of the criticisms trailing some of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s policies and projects, observers say the APC government in the state has performed enough to keep the voters trusting its candidates.

However, as usual, the PDP is putting up a good fight in the state largely by targeting the votes of non-indigenes across the state. Jimi Agbaje, the party’s governorship flag-bearer, has also been promising non-indigenes better deals under a PDP administration in the state. During the week, the two parties intensified their mobilisation efforts across the state.

But the ruling APC still look good to sweep victory as usual. Analysts say the reality on ground does not support PDP’s quest for political control of the Southwest state in spite of its unexpected performance last week. All things being equal, the APC should get majority of the total votes cast in the governorship election and also win most of the assembly seats in the state.

Verdict: APC

OYO STATE

APC won the Presidential election in Oyo during the last presidential election when President Buhari squared up against former President Jonathan. APC scored 528, 620 while PDP got 303, 376. The state used to be the stronghold of the opposition PDP until recently. But before last weekend’s presidential election, majority of those chieftains who made the PDP thick in the state have jumped ship or gone into political oblivion, leaving the party in assumed limbo.

The likes of former governors Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala are no longer with the party. While Ladoja now leads the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the state, Alao-Akala is the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Both leaders have also lost some of their chieftains to the ruling APC in recent times, especially Alao-Akala, who joined the APC briefly after dumping the PDP.

Other erstwhile PDP top guns like former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin and former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Ayodele Adigun are now in the APC working for the success of its candidates. Observers of the politics of the state had said PDP in Oyo state was a ghost of its glorious past and cannot put up any serious challenge to the victory of the ruling APC in the general election.

After a serious threat to its peace by a disagreement between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Communications Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shitu, the APC in Oyo appeared to had repositioned itself to rout the opposition in all the elections. Buhari was expected to win the highest number of votes in the presidential election in Oyo state on the strength of the popularity of his party in the state.

But all the above permutations were put to nought by the shocking outcome of the presidential and national assembly elections in the state. The APC lost the state gallantly to the PDP in what many observers are still calling a surprise performance by the underrated opposition PDP. Even Governor Ajimobi, who had boasted that his party will trounced the opposition across the state, lost his senatorial bid.

Former Vice President of Nigeria and candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, won the Presidential election held across the 33 Local Government areas in Oyo state. The PDP candidate won in 18 Local Government areas while Buhari of the APC won in 15. The final result showed that Atiku Abubakar scored 366,640 to defeat Buhari who scored 365,229 votes.

While many are putting the shocking defeat at the feet of the intra party crises that saw the likes of Alao-Akala moving out after the primary election, others are quick to blame Governor Ajimobi for the defeat. They argued that by taking on powerful individuals and groups like the Olubadan of Ibadan and other elites within the capital city, the governor costed APC its expected support from the Ibadans, who are in the majority across the state.

To further add to APC’s problems, major opposition parties in the state are now holding alliance talks ahead of Saturday’s governorship election. Gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the state, Seyi Makinde, disclosed that opposition parties in the state are currently meeting and have agreed to make their ambitions secondary. He assured that the alliance will bring something good for the people of the state.

The PDP candidate, while confirming that opposition parties were ready to dislodge the APC, maintained that all the opposition parties have to come together for them to achieve the aim of unsitting the ruling party. He said, “We are working really hard to ensure that a workable coalition is able to come forward to challenge the APC in Oyo. “And I believe for the forthcoming election, we’re going to see a grand alliance in Oyo State,” he assured.

It was also confirmed that the ruling party too, recovering from its shocking defeat by the PDP in the presidential and national assembly races, is now seeking alliance with some other parties. The Nation learnt that a serious discussion is currently ongoing between Alao-Akala’s ADP and the APC in the state. This, however, is as the ADP is also in talks with PDP and other parties.

It was also gathered that the offer of alliances to ADP from the two leading parties, APC and PDP, became a source of disagreement among Alao-Akala’s supporters as the party sought to take a decision ahead of the governorship polls. Some of the allies of the former governor were of the opinion that any alignment with the APC amount to Alao Akala going back to his own vomit. They saw an alliance with the PDP as the best for ADP to teach Ajimobi and the APC a big lesson.

But many others felt the politically upright thing to do is to support an alignment with the APC. Those in this school of thought held that Alao-Akala and his supporters would benefit a lot more from joining the ruling party instead of the PDP because the APC is the party at the centre. Meanwhile, there are those who wanted Alao-Akala to shun all talks of alliance and go all the way to contest the governorship election because they felt he looked good to win the contest ahead of both APC and PDP.

However, with the Ogbomosho axis of the state firmly in the grip of Alao-Akala and his men, his latest decision to work with the APC during the gubernatorial and state assembly elections will have a major impact on the eventual outcome of the election. He gave indications that he may be returning to APC after meeting with the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The ADP governorship candidate visited Tinubu in the company of his wife, Oluwakemi Alao-Akala; his son, Olamiju and the Director General of his campaign, Wale Ohu, at Bourdillon on Thursday. The former governor had asked to be given time to make a formal statement on the meeting with the APC national leader. “It is true. Both of us have been meeting and we will continue to meet. I will call you in 24 hours to let you know the state of things,” he said.

On Friday, in a statement by the Director General, Akala Campaign Organization, Chief Wale Ohu, Alao-Akala said going by the results of the February 23 presidential and National Assembly election, not much can be achieved in isolation. “We have felt the pulse of the people whose support has brought us this far: it is important that we dance when they play the tunes.To this effect, the Oyo state ADP and the Akala Campaign Organisation hereby call on all our members, teeming supporters and well-wishers across the state to come on board in this move towards positioning our state for better national interest,” he said.

Coming on day when the former governor shunned the ongoing alliance meeting of opposition parties in the state on Friday, many observers have concluded that Alao-Akala’s new port of call is the APC, his former party. While governorship candidates of other parties attended the meeting at Sen. Rashidi Ladoja’s Bodija, Ibadan home, Akala, who was the brain behind the alliance, was absent. Similarly, a chieftain of the ADC in the state, Chief Michael Koleosho, has reportedly joined the APC team. Koleosho’s coming is expected to boost APC’s chances in his native Saki and other Oke-Ogun towns.

Meanwhile, The Nation gathered that alliance talks and meetings among the political parties are still ongoing across the state even as the national leaderships of both the APC and the PDP may have intervened into efforts to get other parties into their kitty. With all the going-on in the politics of the state ahead of next Saturday’s gubernatorial elections, the eventual outcome of the election in Oyo state still remains too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

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