By John Chukwu
The governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, slated for Saturday, 9th March, are around the corner. The Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC – has expressed their readiness for the elections while stressing that polling units nationwide would be opened by 8am. Meanwhile, governorship candidates and their political parties across states are already dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s in preparation for victory at the polls. It is pertinent to take a periscopic look into hot-spot states that will be the cynosure of all eyes come Saturday.
The Wike and APC Tussle in Rivers State
The All Progressives Congress – APC – are not finding it rosy in their bid to win the governorship election in Rivers State. According to the final list of governorship candidates released by INEC, the party does not have a governorship candidate for the Saturday polls. It could be recalled that Justice J. K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt issued a restraining order on INEC from recognizing the factional candidates of the APC in the state. As it stands now, Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation and leader of the APC in Rivers State and South-South zone, has pitched tent with Awara Biokpomabo, the governorship candidate of African Action Congress – AAC. Following this development, Governor Nyemso Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party – PDP – who is contesting for a second term in office appears to stand a high chance of being re-elected.
The Yoruba-Igbo Voting Problem in Lagos State
During the, February 23, Presidential and Legislative elections in the Lagos State, there were pockets of electoral violence in different areas of the State coupled with the reports of thugs who were on rampage forcing Igbo voters to vote APC candidates. This singular act has spiraled into ethnic clashes, online feud and protests asking the Igbos to leave Lagos State. It is believed that Igbos are glued to voting candidates of the PDP and this is against the standing of Lagos State as an APC State. The struggle for the soul of the State is majorly between Babjide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and Jimi Agbaje of the PDP. Reports that the Lagos State chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo endorsed Sanwo-Olu filtered the air, a few days ago. A group of concerned citizens of Ndigbo in Lagos has described the endorsement as scam. However, the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria – TAN – led by their National Coordinator, Ifeanyi Ubah, on Monday, endorsed Sanwo-Olu and promised to mobilise Igbos and other Lagosians to vote for him. The PDP has never won governorship election in Lagos State. From all indications, Sanwo-Olu, who has the backing of Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of the State and National Leader of APC, stands a great chance of cruising to victory on Saturday.
The In-law Brouhaha in Imo State
Every ardent follower of Imo State politics cannot wait to see the outcome of the governorship election in the state. The political atmosphere in the State got heated up when Chief Rochas Okorocha, the governor of Imo State allegedly positioned his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, to succeed him as governor. Things fell apart when he (Uche Nwosu) could not win the ticket to contest under the APC. Hope Uzodinma, was declared flag bearer of the APC in the state by Adams Oshiomhole – APC’s National Chairman. Uche Nwosu is now contesting under Action Alliance – AA – and is openly supported by Chief Okorocha. Oshiomhole recently suspended Chief Okorocha for an alleged anti-party activities. The battle for the seat of the governor of the state will be a tough one as there are political heavy weights such as Chief Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume of the APGA, Hope Uzodinma of the APC and of course Uche Nwosu of the AA; eyeing the exalted position. From the prism of objective analysis and calculations, the race for the governorship seat is open. The candidates all have a chance of winning.
Ganduje’s Smooth Chance in Kano State
Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, the APC governor of Kano State, is contesting for a second term in office. He stands a high chance of winning again. This is based on the premise that the PDP governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf, who is supposed to be his main challenger suffered a monumental set back following the nullification of the primary election that led to his emergence by a Federal High Court in Kano, on Monday. The judge, Lewis Allagoa, ruled that the PDP did not conduct a governorship primary election in the state. However, it could be recalled that Ganduje was involved in a heavy corruption scandal when a video of him receiving wraps of Dollars was released by Daily Nigerian. Despite this, he is on course to win the governorship election again.
The Ogun State Hot Race
The governorship race in Ogun State will be too tight. This is because the state shares a similar situation with Imo State. The incumbent governor of the state and Senator-elect of Ogun Central senatorial district, Ibikunle Amosun, is not supporting the APC governorship candidate – Dapo Abiodun. However, he is supporting the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement – APM – Adekunle Akinlade; who failed to win the ticket of the APC in the state. Buruji Kashamu, the candidate of the PDP is also a heavy contender in the race. The battle for the governorship seat in Ogun State is very tight because the APC candidate, Abiodun, has a federal support, the APM candidate, Akinlade, has the backing of the incumbent governor while Kashamu of the PDP has great presence in the state. With the advantages the candidates have, we will be in for a surprise on Saturday. Just like Chief Rochas, Amosun was also suspended by the APC for alleged inter-party affairs.
APC Roars to Take Over Delta State
The governorship election in Delta State will be heavily contested as the APC are putting all measures in place to take over the State. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo visited the State on Monday and told Deltans of the need for them to have a direct connection with the federal government by voting APC candidates come Saturday. The incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, of the PDP, is out to get re-elected for another term in office. Chief Great Ogboru, of the APC, has already traversed the length and breadth of the State in order to gain the support to unseat the governor while Chief Brando Omu, of the All Grand Alliance Party – AGAP – is another serious contender for the governorship position. From all objective analysis, Senator Okowa stands a great chance of being re-elected.
Can Ortom be Ortomatically Re-elected in Benue State?
The struggle for the governorship seat in Benue State is majorly between the PDP and the APC. The incumbent governor of the State, Samuel Ortom, who defected from the APC to the PDP when he was not satisfied with federal government handling of the Fulani herdsmen killings in his State, is contesting for another four-year tenure. Emmanuel Jime, of the APC, who is seen as an agent of President Muhammadu Buhari is Ortom’s re-election headache. The APC are poised to take back Benue State. However, Ortom has the support of godfathers – former Senate President David Mark and former governor Gabriel Suswan – in the State. Ortom appears to have an upper hand of getting elected.
It’s a Straight Fight in Akwa Ibom State
Just like Benue State, the major contenders for the governorship seat are from the two big political parties – APC and PDP – in the country. Incumbent Governor Udom Emmanuel, of the PDP, and Nsima Ekere, of the APC. The State has been roped in political fight – accusations and counter-accusations – between Governor Emmanuel and the former governor and senator representing Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District, Godswill Akpabio, who defected from the PDP to the APC. Akpabio, who in the February 23 National Assembly election, lost to PDP’s Christopher Ekpenyong, is seriously supoorting Ekere. One clear thing is that Akwa Ibom State is a traditional PDP State. Ekere needs to stretch his political muscles harder, if he hopes to defeat Governor Emmanuel come Saturday.
It’s between el-Rufai and Ashiru in Kaduna State
Kaduna State, the capital of the North, out of the 36 candidates cleared by INEC, incumbent Governor Nasir el-Rufai, of the PDP, and Isa Ashiru, of the PDP, are the major contenders for the governorship race. Governor el-Rufai, who has been involved in several controversies lately stands a tough chance of being re-elected owing to the several security challenges the State has faced especially the people in the Christian dominated South of the State. While Ashiru hopes to get most of his votes from Southern Kaduna, el-Rufai hopes to get his from the Northern part of the State. Though the power of incumbency is bound to favour el-Rufai, only Saturday can tell the winner of the election in the State.
The Coast Seems Clear for Ishaku in Taraba State
In Taraba State, incumbent Governor Darius Ishaku, of the PDP, appears to be on the verge of an easy ride to getting re-elected for a second term in office following the disqualification of his major challenger, Mr Sani Danladi, of the APC, on Wednesday, by a Federal High court in the State capital, Jalingo. He was disqualified over improper declaration of age. Reports have it that there were discrepancies in the declaration of his age as contained in his SSCE and his statutory declaration of age in the year 2000. The APC Publicity Secretary in the State, Aaron Artimas, dismissed the judgment as mischievous and comical pointing out that it was only meant to demoralize the supporters of the APC. It could be recalled that Governor Darius Ishaku and Mr Danladi failed to show up at the peace accord signing ceremony for the election. Nevertheless, the governorship election in the State will be a tough one.
Will the O Te Ge (enough is enough) movement work against Atunwa in Kwara State?
The governorship election in Kwara State will be very interesting and tight. The race is majorly between the incumbent Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, of the APC, and the candidate of the PDP, Hon. Razak Atunwa. It was reported that no fewer than 35 political parties have already endorsed the candidacy of Governor Abdulrasaq while Emir of Lafiagi, Alhaji Haliru Kawu Sa’adu has declared his undying support to Atunwa. In the recently concluded Senatorial election, former governor of the State and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, lost his Kwara Central Senatorial seat to Ibrahim Oloriegbe. The O Te Ge slogan meant to extricate Kwarans from the hold of the Saraki political dynasty swept like wild fire in the State and was used to campaign against Saraki. Since Atunwa is Saraki’s anointed governorship candidate, only Saturday can tell if the O Te Ge movement will work against him.
Gburugburu is on course in Enugu State
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, popularly known in his State as Gburugburu, is contesting for a second term in office under the PDP. His main challenger is Ayogu Eze of the APC. Eze has been embattled lately following the ruling by a Federal High Court which affirmed George Opara as the governorship candidate of the party – APC. However, on Thursday, the court, in a judgment by a three-member panel led by Abdul Aboki set aside the judgment and restored Eze as the governorship candidate of the party. From the look of things, Governor Ugwuanyi has much ground in the state and appears to cruise to victory on Saturday.
The Zamfara-APC Political Drama
A series of court cases have frustrated the governorship struggle of the APC in Zamfara State. As it stands now, the factional governorship candidate, Senator Kabir Marafa, supported by outgoing Governor Abdul’aziz Yari and over 40 political parties, in the State, that have declared their support for him; is standing tall to win the governorship seat. His major challenger, Hon. Bello Mohammed Matawalle, is banking on rescuing the State from the high level of kidnapping and killings it has suffered so far. The question is can Matawalle capitalize on the APC political drama and the insecurity in the State to win on Saturday?