The die is cast and there is no hiding place anymore. On Saturday, the main and fringe contenders for the Nigerian presidency will file to the polls. It has been a campaign season, filled with undulating curves, bends and edges. The issues have been varied and far between. The candidates have crisscrossed the land with their varietie of theor of messages. Their messages have been dotted with lamentations (about insecurity and other vices), corruption war, hope, promised consolidation, renewed growth and other promissory notes have been on offer. With 91 political parties and 72 candidates on offer, the presidential election promises some interesting twists.
Nevertheless, the race has been narrowed down to a two-horse race thereabout; incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC); and key challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are seen as the front runners, with pockets of challenges coming from new faces: Kingsley Moghalu, Young Progressives Party (YPP), Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress (AAC) and Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, People’s Trust (PT). Who wins and who kisses the canvas on Election Day? We provide for you the state of the candidates in the states and at the zonal levels.
With Nigeria having scaled the 2015 elections, which exploited its fault lines to the hilt, a number of political observers believed that it would take a while before the citizens are faced with another nerve-racking election as that of 2015. But here we are in 2019. Just four years after, Nigerians are here faced with another testy election that has kept the country divided, almost as sharply as it were in 2015. Though there are 72 presidential candidates contesting Saturday’s election, the poll has been categorised largely as a two-horse race. There appears the consensus that a third party would only make some impacts in certain areas; surely not as widespread as you expect the two dominant parties that are nearly equally matched.
But the two-horse race categorisation was not a natural divide. There were attempts at pulling off a form of Third Force. The Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) attempted a united front, intended to produce a formidable candidate. It ended up teaming up with one of the emerging parties, the African Democratic Congress (ADC). The National Intervention Movement (NIM), another group that toyed with the Third Force option later registered the People’s Trust (PT), with which it is contesting the February 16 election. The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), which brought together the main opposition PDP also midwife a coalition, which has, however, remained a loose option, though it appears to still nurse a common agenda for the presidential race. Thus comfortably, we can safely conclude that the leading forces in Saturday’s election remain APC and PDP. Our checks around the country have confirmed that, even though some of the other parties would slice a bit of the ballots in some sections of the country, their spread cannot sufficiently shake the leading positions of APC and PDP.
Our findings revealed that the two main contenders have their support base evenly spread across the country. While President Buhari is set to win big in 13 states of the federation, his challenger, Atiku, is set to record big margins in 14 states. Nine states are classified as battleground states and they cut across the six geopolitical zones.
At the level of geopolitical zones, Buhari is expected to take the lead in the North-West and South-West, while the spoils are to be shared in the North-East and North-Central. Whereas, the president is expected to perform better in the South-East and the South-South states, reports gathered indicated he is still dogged with the jinx that have dotted all his previous elections in states like Edo, Rivers and Bayelsa.
While Buhari is poised to win big in Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina and Jigawa, in the North-West, the wins are projected to be smaller than those recorded in 2015. In each of the states mentioned, the PDP candidate is projected to score between 35 per cent of the votes in Kebbi and Jigawa, while scoring 40 per cent in Zamfara and Kano. The Atiku impact in the North-West is said to have been influenced by direct campaigns of the Kwakwansiyya Movement of former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, as well as the old allies of the candidate spread in the states. Sokoto and Kaduna states are projected as battleground states in the North-West.
In Katsina, the president’s home, a Buhari victory of 60 per cent is projected, owing to the growing influence of the traditional loyalists of the Yar’Adua family as well as the influence of former Governor Ibrahim Shema. Somehow, that clan appeared to have increased in size during the recent bye-elections, which APC managed to win.
In the South-West states, President Buhari will see his lead in 2015 deeply cut by the PDP candidate. Whereas Buhari is projected to win states like Lagos, Ogun and Osun, the margin has been put at 51/49 per cent in his favour. The battleground states in the zone include Oyo and Ekiti, while Atiku is projected to win Ondo, following the resurgence and unity among PDP in recent months. By and large, Buhari is projected to win the zone but with a tighter margin than seen in 2015.
In the South-South, Akwa-Ibom and Cross Rivers states present some battlegrounds. It is however projected that Atiku will take the zone at 70/30 approximately. The states of Edo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa, which have always voted PDP in presidential elections, are set to retain that status. The movement of bigwigs like former Akwa-Ibom governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as well as the movement of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), Senator John Ewa Enoh and the Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uhuru Usani, would fetch Buhari the numbers he has never ever scored in the South-South, but PDP is projected to win with 70 per cent.
In the South-East, the scenario is close to that of the South-South. A late rally by vice presidential candidate of PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, in the states of Abia, Anambra and Enugu, appears to have shaped things better for the party in the zone. The endorsement of the party by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo as well as the Southern/ Middle Belt and Northern leaders has upscaled PDP figures in the zone. What the adoption has done is to rein in those who were sitting on the fence of the Atiku/Obi ticket initially, opinion leaders in the zone said.
Despite the influence of former Abia State governor, Chief Orji Kalu and the younger brother of a former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, Sir Mac Wabara, who are campaigning for APC in the Northern and Southern Senatorial Districts, investigations revealed that Buhari might, this time, score 20 per cent in the state, with PDP coasting home here. In Ebonyi, the impact of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonaya Onu and his supporters would fetch the president some votes. It was however projected that their efforts would only lead to a marginal increase in the figures.
The North-East is presenting some interesting figures going by analyses from the field. Whereas, Atiku Abubakar is projected to win Adamawa State, the figures stand at 55 per cent, while President Buhari would garner some 45 per cent votes there. The mixture of power brokers around the president, including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, an indigene of Adamawa; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Boss Mustapha, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, Ibrahim Magu and former SGF, Babachir Lawal, as well as Governor Jubrilla Bindow, all striving to drop votes in the Buhari pot would pave the way for a big challenge in the home state of the PDP candidate. President Buhari is projected to win Bauchi (65 per cent), Yobe (70 per cent) and Borno (70 per cent). Atiku Abubakar is projected to win Adamawa (55 per cent) and Taraba (65 per cent), while Gombe will retain the battleground status.
In the North-Central, Buhari is regarded with some contrasting fortunes in relation to the 2015 scenario. Benue and Kogi are projected as battleground states with Benue turning out 51 per cent for Atiku and Kogi returning a similar margin for Buhari. The president is however projected to lose Kwara with Atiku scoring 55 per cent. Buhari is projected to take Niger at 60 per cent, while Nasarawa (55 per cent) for Buhari and Plateau (55 per cent) for Atiku complete the numbers.
Here are some further scenarios as per the states.
In Kaduna especially, it will be difficult for APC and its presidential candidate winning the election. Predictably, it is going to be a tough battle for Governor Nasir el-Rufai to get the mass of the people of the state to vote for the APC presidential candidate and the reason is not far-fetched. The governor will have to contend with the thousands of the supporters and faithful of the Shiite leader, Malam El Zakzaky, who has been in detention for years now, while his followers are still being persecuted by the government, both in the state and at the centre. Expectedly, these Islamic faithful would seek to cast their votes not for their persecutors, and the alternative being the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Similarly, majority of teachers in the state who were sacked from the employ of the state government by Governor el-Rufai as well as Christians from Southern Kaduna cannot be said to be favourably disposed to the APC administration in the state. Consequently, this set of voters in the state may seek to draw their own pound of flesh from the ruling party by voting for Atiku and PDP on Saturday.
The Pyramid State has always been a winning ground for President Buhari. This came to the fore in the 2015 elections where he garnered about 1.9 million votes. But in the previous elections, there was a united front for the president while the same cannot be said of the coming election. In fact, the presidential election is going to be a two-prong political war and test of might between a former governor of the state, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and his successor, Umar Ganduje, on one side and between Kwankwaso and another former governor in the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who is contesting the senatorial election, also on Saturday, from the same senatorial district as Kwankwaso and on the platform of APC.
With the massive crowd that attended the presidential rallies of the two main political parties, it would be safer to say the contest on Saturday is going to be a bumper-to-bumper.
Lagos State has, since the inception of the current democratic experience, been a stronghold of APC. Every strata of Lagos politics has always been APC from councillorship to federal elections; the party has been winning all elections, from bottom to top, in the state since 1999 and it does not appear that anything would change on Saturday to alter the political calculations in the state. However, the internal schism in Lagos APC and the style of campaign of PDP’s governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, may swing some votes in favour of the main opposition party in the state. PDP’s albatross may be come from the fact that the party’s candidates for the National Assembly election are unknown faces and this would work in favour of APC and its presidential candidate.
The contest in Oyo State, otherwise known as the political capital of the South-West, would be a straight battle between the two dominant parties namely, APC and PDP. It is too close to call in the state as their candidates at all levels are popular. While the outcome of the presidential election would not be easy to predict, the pervading anti-Buhari sentiments in the state and the endorsement of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, by the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, may be the undoing of the APC presidential candidate in the election.
Though, the state is currently under the administration of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of APC, but the state seems to be divided between the two political parties, PDP and APC. The effect and outcome of the last parallel primaries of APC in the state seems to be haunting the party in the state, causing division within the various groups in Ondo and most of the groups working at cross purposes, though, all the groups have been claiming to be working towards the re-election of President Buhari.
PDP in the state looks to have found its rhythms after the loss of the state to APC in the 2016 governorship election and the exit of a sformer governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, who dumped the party. Ahead of the presidential election, PDP has embarked on aggressive campaigns and look set to win the state for Atiku.
The six local government areas from this district used to be the home of APC and were largely responsible for the victory of Akeredolu in the 2016 governorship election. APC won all the six local government in the election, but the area seems to be divided ahead of the 2019 general election.
The four Akoko local government areas are divided among PDP, APC and the less popular Action Alliance (AA). The emergence of AA which came to existence after some APC aspirants who lost in the party primaries chose AA as a platform to achieve their aspirations. Many of the aspirants were offered automatic tickets by AA and they were said to be purportedly sponsored by Akeredolu, though the governor has denied this at various fora. This has reduced the strength of APC in the area.
Also the candidate of PDP for the Senate, Mr Joseph Alonge, contributed to the fortune of the party in Akokoland. Many of the electorate in the area believed that the area had not been adequately represented since the advent of democracy in 1999 and they are all clamouring for a fresh blood that could provide quality representation for the people. The candidate has been making wave in the area and this could be an added advantage for the PDP presidential candidate.
The Owo/Ose axis of the senatorial district, where the state governor hails from, appears set for an APC victory owing to the governor’s influence and popularity in the area.
PDP is grounded in the Ondo Central Senatorial District before the emergence of Mimiko, who changed the narrative with his new Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). It is however being projected that Mimiko’s entry might not hurt PDP as such as he is said to be at home with Atiku and PDP.
Another factor that might work for PDP is the influence of the gubernatorial candidate of the party in the 2016 governorship election, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, who hails from Akure. Apart from this, the PDP candidate for the House of Representatives, Dayo Omolafe, is seen as a grass-roots mobiliser.
The state chairman of APC, Ade Adetimehin, who hails from Idanre in Idanre Local Government Area, is believed to be doing all he could to deliver for his party, but the influence of the former Commissioner of Information in the state, Kayode Akinmade, who is also contesting for House of Representatives for Idanre/ Ifedore federal consistency could swing it for the PDP. Akinmade was adopted as a consensus candidate of PDP long before the party primaries.
The strength of PDP lies in this senatorial district, especially the coastal area of the state which included Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ese Odo and Irele local government areas. The four local government areas are known to be the home of political bigwigs in the state. However, one of the local government areas from the district, Odigbo, which is predominantly populated by non- Ondo state indigenes, is believed to be rooting for APC. The party has a history of winning in the area.
The election can go to either of the two parties in Ile Oluji/ Oke Igbo Local Government Area. Many were of the opinion that the area had been short-changed in the scheme of things, while some political analysts believed the area will be ready to deliver for the PDP presidential candidate as the area will be presenting a senatorial candidate for the first time.
Unlike the massive vote haul that the president used to catch in this state, the ground appears to be shrinking. Our investigations revealed that the APC candidate may not get the number of votes as usual. A member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, representing Lere/Bula under APC, Muhammad Aminu Tukur, who said that because he (Buhari) is supporting the re-election of the state governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubabakar, the people of the state will definitely not give him the kind of support he has been enjoying from the state because, according to him, the state indigenes were disenchanted by the poor performance of the APC-led administration in the state.
Aminu Tukur said: “Buhari cannot decide the fate of the people of Bauchi State. If he had 90 per cent supporters in 2015, this time around, he has less than 50 per cent. By raising the hands of Governor Mohammed Abubabakar, he (Buhari) has defeated himself. Even the president himself, will definitely not find it easy in Bauchi State this time around. I am one of those that will not vote for him again.”
He also accused the state government of failing to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of the state because, according to him, there is no N50 million project in any local government area of the state.
Another political factor that may work against APC but in favour of the opposition PDP in the state is the coalition formed and led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, which is meant to break down the number of votes that may go the way of APC. The coalition is determined to reduce the strength of the ruling APC in the state by ensuring that the president did not get the number of votes he used to get in the state and probably unseat the governor.
While addressing journalists at the NUJ Press Centre, recently, Yakubu Dogara declared that Bauchi State has retrogressed in the last three years under the leadership of the governor, lamenting that, as at the present, the state has 1.3 million out-of-school children, while the health sector has deteriorated.
The speaker further lamented that Bauchi State, under the leadership of Governor Abubakar, has not witnessed significant development, when compared with neighbouring states like Gombe, Plateau, Jigawa and others, alleging that money that was coming into the coffers of the state was being diverted.
As it is now, the situation is a 50-50 permutation for the two major parties, APC and PDP if the crowd that witnessed the campaigns of the two political parties in the state is anything to go by. The outcome of this Saturday presidential and National Assembly election will definitely foretell what is going to happen on March 2 during the gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections.
Barring the possibility of violence in some flashpoints that may erupt during or after Saturday’s presidential election, the much-awaited battle is mainly a two-horse race between President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar. Presidential candidates of other political parties are hardly heard or seen in the state.
Delta State stands as what can be regarded as a PDP state, having been in power, without break, since 1999. It appears that efforts made in the past by the opposition parties, have not yielded enough fruits to upstage the ruling party from power. Nevertheless, whether PDP will have a free ride this time remains a conjecture for political pundits to think over.
While PDP could have it smooth as regards the governorship and House of Assembly elections, the same might not be applicable where the presidential poll is concerned as the party is no longer in power at the centre. Previous presidential polls had always gone the way of PDP massively. The state is projected a PDP state but the question is, ‘Can President Buhari score the much-needed 25 per cent of the votes here?’
APC in the state is still suffering polarization, beginning from the ward and state executive congress held in the state, last May. That notwithstanding, the likes of immediate past governor of the state, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, who defected from the ruling party last year, may spring some surprises. Some observers have however said that the former governor carries no enough weight to capsize the PDP boat in the state as only a few loyalists of little or no electoral value had joined him in his new political party, APC. This is in spite of his claim to playing the forerunner role.
Buhari can, however, boast of a handful of loyalists from the three senatorial districts that make up the oil-rich state. In Delta North, the likes of Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, defector and former South-South PDP vice chairman, Chief Cairo Ojougoh, aggrieved former Delta Speaker, Victor Ochei and a host of others could shore up some votes for the APC candidate if the perennial peace-meeting brokered by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and initiated by Uduaghan will hold some water.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, incumbent and Delta Central senatorial candidate of APC, has remained a no-push over, having mastered, as it were, the antics of the ruling PDP as a chieftain of the party for over 12 years. His political sagacity and machinations, when it comes to matching strength-with-strength political foes during electioneering, are unequalled and legendary and would be deployed during the Saturday poll.
Although enjoying no recognition let alone some support from APC national chairman, Adama Oshiomhole, over the controversial outcome of the APC primaries, Chief Otega Emerhor, head of the acclaimed Delta APC mainstream party, is frantically garnering supports for the APC presidential candidate. Just last Saturday, he inaugurated 4,000 door-to-door vote canvassers for the re-election of President Buhari with 10 branded cars for the purpose of getting 400, 000 votes on Saturday for the president.
At the inauguration in Asaba, the Delta State capital, last Saturday, conspicuously absent at the event were Dr Uduaghan, Omo-Agege, Chief Ovie Ogboru and Ochei, among others. It was gathered that they were not invited to the event, while Ochei was on the campaign trail of President Buhari. While it may look like the two factions, which seem to have temporarily buried the hatchet ahead of the crucial elections, are working at cross purposes, the fact remains that to achieve a good outing at the polls, and though believed to enjoy heavy federal support via the various security apparatuses, they seem to have a common goal. However, pundits are of the opinion that the hide-and-seek scenario of the two APC factions may give room for betrayals in favour of the PDP candidate, especially when money and promises of political appointments are put into consideration.
Delta South looks a wet ground for President Buhari as the Itsekiri appear to be in support of his second term. Some Itsekiri leaders and elders recently dissociated themselves from the endorsement of Atiku by some regional pressure groups such as the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), coordinated by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark. With Uduaghan’s political tent pitched with APC, Itsekiri, Isoko and a good chunk of aggrieved Ijaw of Burutu and Bomadi extractions, Delta Central looks good for Buhari and other APC candidates.
PDP currently relies on threats and warnings against electoral malpractices at the polls. “Defend your votes” has become a recurring campaign slogan of PDP at its campaign rallies. The palpable fear is that with APC at the centre and the power at the disposal of Oshiomhole, who was said to have vowed to uproot PDP from Delta in the manner they did in Ekiti, anything can happen.
PDP’s Atiku appears to enjoy massive support in the state and that is expected to turn to votes. Notwithstanding allegations of planned manipulation in some quarters, the grass-roots strength, goodwill enjoyed by Governor Okowa, Buhari’s perceived underperformance and his suspected aversion for the Niger Delta as well as the acclaimed political sagacity of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, and other stakeholders in Delta North, there are indications that the state will give Atiku the just-needed victory on Saturday.
In Osun, the camps of President Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are not leaving anything to chance. Findings by the Nigerian Tribune indicate that scramble for the votes of 1, 260, 748 eligible voters, who collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) has become more fierce with electioneering assuming a frenetic trend in each of the 30 local government areas in the state.
There is the feeling that the state is presenting a battleground status as the general belief is that whoever will win the state cannot score a wide margin. Whereas the state has been under the control of APC for more than eight years now, the mass appeal of the PDP candidate is a matter for concern. He is an in-law of the state and has always leveraged on the contact of his first wife, Titi, to gain Osun’s support.
It is believed that the social investment policy of President Buhari’s administration, among which is N-Power and Trader Moni may influence some voters. However, there are some political stalwarts in both APC and PDP whose influence and reach can shore up the chances of the presidential candidates in their constituencies and senatorial districts. For instance in Osun East Senatorial District, the immediate past governor of the state, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, would use his influence to get more votes for Buhari in that axis. The same thing goes for the former deputy governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who hails from Ile-Ife, which also constitutes part of Osun East Senatorial District.
The last July governorship election in the state would also be re-enacted in the state, though in a different form. Both the APC and the PDP candidates in the election, Gboyega Oyetola and Adeleke, respectively, scored 255, 000 votes, with the eventual winner, Oyetola, having just a 300-vote lead above his major challenger in the election. Undoubtedly, the two candidates would want to deliver to their respective parties on Saturday.
But the same cannot be said about Omisore who was then the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He scored 128,000 votes in the election, but the majority of his votes came from civil servants, pensioners, retirees and the elite in the state who were not happy with the APC administration in the state, but were also not favourably disposed to casting their votes for Adeleke because of the certificate scandal that rocked his candidacy for the election. Now, that Omisore has moved to APC, it remains to be seen if he can deliver his 128,000 votes to Buhari in Saturday’s election.
In the same election, the former Secretary to the Osun State Government, Adeoti, contested as the governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), in protest against his treatment and alleged marginalisation in the APC primary. He was able to gather about 50, 000 votes in the election. Though, not yet formally back in the APC fold, it is most likely that he would want to deliver his votes for the APC presidential candidate on Saturday.
In the same vein, Fatai Akinbade, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the Osun State governorship election, scored 7,80o votes. Undoubtedly, Akinbade, an influential member of PDP in the state before the 2018 election, would seek to work and deliver for the PDP presidential candidate, rather than Buhari, at the poll on Saturday. The action and stand of the three politicians would have a direct bearing on the outcome of the election.
For PDP, its senatorial candidate for Osun East Senatorial District, Prince Francis Fadahunsi, would definitely spare no efforts to explore his acceptability to boost the chance of Atiku in the Ife/Ijesa zone. Already, he had stepped up his campaign in the communities located within the axis for his senatorial ambition and the election of the party’s presidential candidate.
In Osun West Senatorial District, the incumbent Senator Ademola Adeleke has been utilising the political dynasty of the Adelekes to drum support for Atiku Abubakar. But the former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Honourable Adejare Bello, a former PDP chieftain, is creating a balance in that axis.
Meanwhile, the former governor of Osun State and the erstwhile interim national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, who hails from Ila-Orangun, would utilise his political influence in Osun Central Senatorial District to get more votes for Buhari. In the same vein, former national secretary of PDP and also a former governor in the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, is also on the field to garner votes for Atiku and PDP in the state.
In Ogun State, the presidential contest is between the candidates of APC, President Buhari and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of PDP. The winner of the election in the state is unpredictable, based on some certain factors, as each of the candidates has strong forces behind them.
The state is a must-win for Buhari, considering the fact that it is the home state of his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and also the state is currently being administered by the ruling APC. In the same vein, Atiku has the backing of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku has equally been adopted by some political parties in the state, including the African Democratic Congress (ADC). It is equally important to note that Deputy Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council (PDP PCC) and former governor of the state, Chief Gbenga Daniel, is a force to reckon with as far as Ogun politics is concerned.
Aside Daniel, the governorship candidate of PDP, Senator Buruji Kashamu and Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu are equally going to ensure that the senatorial district will ensure the victory of PDP, while Osinbajo and the governorship candidate of APC, Prince Dapo Abiodun, will do the needful as well.
The governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, an ally of Buhari and a strong advocate of the president’s re-election, is working round the clock to deliver the state for Buhari. Amosun, who is from Ogun Central Senatorial District and who is also the APC senatorial candidate, will influence voters’ direction as well.
However, the event that took place at the APC presidential campaign in Abeokuta, on Monday, was a dark blot of the chances of the party in the state. The stoning of the party’s bigwigs at the campaign rally was an indication of the fact that all is not well with the party in the state. Ogun thus present a tight outlook, which some observers might discuss as a too-close-to-call. However, it was projected that Buhari might just coast home with a slim margin.
Political gladiators and their various parties in the state are putting finishing touches to campaign activities to outwit one another at the poll with the three major parties in the race for the presidential election. The ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, General John Gbor, PDP and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and APC, with incumbent President Buhari are the main contenders in the state,
Though other political parties are contesting the Saturday’s election, indications have shown that in terms of general strength, only two political parties, APC and PDP, have all it takes to withstand the pressure of the contest.
In 2015, President Buhari and the likes of Senator Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, the 2019 PDP candidate, Senate President Dr. Bokula Saraki, Tom Ikimi, Ogbonaya Onu, Dr Chris Ngige, among others, through a merger arrangement, led a united and solid APC to win the election despite the power of incumbency.
However, many residents and observers in the state believe that the election, on Saturday, is going to be a straight fight between Buhari’s APC and his counterpart, Atiku, of PDP, going by the popularity of the two candidates. It is however believed that the presence of a ‘home boy’ Peter Obi would drive home the Atiku/Obi ticket in the state.
PDP also parades in the state an array of stalwarts who are seen as tested and electable politicians. Some of these include the senatorial candidate of the party for Anambra South, Chief Chris Ubah, Senator Uche Ekwunife of the Anambra Central, the state Director, Atiku/Obi Campaign Council, Dr Harry Nsaid, among others.
Another factor that could work in favour of the Atiku/Obi ticket was the endorsement, two weeks ago, of that ticket by Igbo leaders under the Ohanaeze Ndigbo platform. The leaders of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, led by Chief John Nnia Nwodo, premised their endorsement of Atiku on his promise to restructure Nigeria, an expectation that doing that would give birth to equal right.
Though Governor Willie Obiano had opposed the endorsement, Atiku is projected to win in the state based on his popularity and that of his running mate, a former governor of the state, who is seen to have laid the foundation for the state’s good fortunes.
In 2015, despite parading the likes of Senator Chris Ngige, APC got 13,394 votes in the state while the then President Goodluck Jonathan took home 368,803 votes. Now that Anambra has the vice presidential slot, APC might just be restricted to its fortunes in 2015.
The two leading presidential candidates, Buhari and Atiku, recently visited Plateau State and, based on the mammoth crowd that thronged the venues of their respective rallies, the two are good to go on Saturday. Since the beginning of this present political dispensation, no political party has been able to defeat PDP in an election, especially in presidential election, in Plateau State; though APC made an impressive impact in the 2015 presidential election, PDP still won with reasonable margin.
However, the victory of APC in the 2015 gubernatorial election occasioned by protest votes by PDP members against alleged imposition of a gubernatorial candidate on the party has been a boost for APC and also an opportunity to make inroad into a state considered as predominantly PDP. The governor, Mr Simon Bako Lalong, has been making concerted efforts to entrench APC in the state.
Though PDP is now an opposition party on the Plateau, but the party still remains a force to reckon with. Majority of those who played anti-party against the party in 2015 have now reconciled, with just a fragment moving to APC. The party still parades seasoned politicians such as a former governor, Senator Jonah Jang, former deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu, its gubernatorial candidate, Senator Jeremiah Useini and four serving members of House of Representatives, among others.
APC, on the other hand, has been able to woo quite a number of notable politicians in the state to its fold. Recently, some frontline members of PDP defected to the party. These included a former deputy governor, Ambassador Ignatius Langjan, Senator Victor Lar, Senator Sati Gogwim, among others who recently joined the party to reinforce APC ahead of the election.
Based on the prevailing political situation in the state, factors that would determine the presidential election on the Plateau are quite different from the gubernatorial election. Apart from the religions and personalities of the political gladiators, the age-long attack in some parts of the state would determine who will get the nod of the people between Buhari and Atiku.
Plateau North Senatorial District comprises Jos North, Jos South, Jos East, Bassa, Riyom and Barakin-Ladi. Apart from being considered as the stronghold of PDP, the zone has been under heavy attacks by people suspected to be Fulani herdsmen and has the largest internal displaced persons (IDPs) in the state. The general impression was that the Federal Government has not done enough to address the situation which has displaced quite a lot of people. As a result of this, the people are livid, believing they are being neglected This is especially of the people from Barakin-Ladi, Riyom, Jos South and Bassa local government areas who have been under the siege of herdsmen for a very long time.
In addition, Senator Jonah Jang who is a PDP stalwart is highly revered in these council areas, especially in the Berom-speaking local government areas including Bassa. The only local government which APC may have a considerable number of vote is Jos North where there is a large presence of Hausas.
Though Governor Lalong, of recent, has been making efforts to assuage the feelings of the people by setting out a plan to return all the IDPs to their ancestral home, but this gesture might not make much impact considering the stance of the people towards APC, especially its presidential candidate.
In Plateau Central Senatorial zone, it is going to be a ding-dong affair. The zone could be described as an open field for grab because of the hi-tech politics. The local government areas in the zone are Mangu, Bokkos, Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam, Nigerian Tribune learnt that the political gladiators are on the field, trying to justify their relevance in the politics of the zone.
PDP has the like of the former deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, Alaxander Molwus, Honourable Timothy Golu, and former Comptroller General of Immigration Paradang who is the senatorial candidate of PDP in the zone, Honourable Emmanuel Goar and host of others. On the other hand, APC parades Honourable Letep Dabang, who is the state chairman of APC, Hezekiah Dimka and Deputy Governor Sonny Tyoden, while the ‘head boy’ of Plateau politics Senator Joshua Dariye who could have made impact for APC in the zone, is out of circulation.
Apart from the efforts of the personalities, religious sentiment may come to play in this zone, irrespective of political parties. The sentiment of killings is also being shared by the people of the zone and they are in sympathy with the people in the northern zone. The general assumption is that President Buhari has not done much to address the ugly incidents.
In the Southern Senatorial District which comprises Langtang North, Langtang South, Shendam, Qua’Pan, Mikang and Wase local government areas, the question on the lips of many is, Would Governor Lalong along with Mrs Pauline Tallen, Ambassador Ignatius Tallen, Senator Victor Lar, the Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr Solomon Dalung and others who are political bigwigs of APC be able to deliver the zone for President Buhari?
Those who are watching the trend of political event in the zone and the entire state posited that the president may have upper hand in Wase, Qua’Pan and partially in Shendam where the governor comes from, but he may not have his way in Langtang North, Langtang South and Mikang. In these three local government areas, the images of the PDP gubernatorial candidate Senator Jeremiah Useni and Honourable Beni Lar loom large. So, the three council areas are predominantly PDP areas. The chunk of votes in this zone may go for the PDP presidential candidate.
From all indications, the pattern of vote in the presidential election will be quite different from the gubernatorial election. The sentiment against President Buhari over the years in the state has refused to simmer despite the efforts of the likes of the governor to sell the president’s candidature to the people of Plateau State.
To most observers, there are only two powerful parties in the state and they are PDP and APC. For now however, Borno State remains an APC-dominated state. Supporters of PDP have largely been quiet since they lost the former governor, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif to APC. The case of PDP has been made more difficult because there are two factions battling for supremacy.
With what happened during the visit of President Buhari to the state, it is going to be very difficult for Atiku, to create an upset in the state. Isa Bulama, a PDP grassroots mobiliser, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune said that with the northern and central zones controlled by the Kanuris, it is difficult for anyone to forecast a PDP win. He agreed that President Buhari has a better chance and that equally in the southern zone even as Senator Ali Ndume is still holding sway trying to return to the Senate.
He said: “Governor Kashim Shettima is not going to find it easy in the central zone. I can assure you that our man, Abba Aji, will give him a big fight and with the protest votes we envisaged, the PDP will surprise many of its critics in the central zone. They can only win if they involve in big time-rigging. But as long as the election is free and fair we will take charge.”
APC, the leading opposition in Kwara state, unlike its previous attempts, is determined to cause an upset in the political landscape of Kwara State in the coming general elections. PDP, which is the ruling party, is made up of members of the Saraki political dynasty, founded by the late Dr Olusola Saraki, the structure that is said to have been in political control of the state for more than 40 years.
As it stands now, the two leading political parties in Kwara State have two main leaders. The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, who is the scion of the Saraki political dynasty, leads PDP, while the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, from Kwara South Senatorial District, leads the opposition APC in the state. In fact, the election will be a testy period for the Saraki hegemony on Kwara politics as his opponents are shouting ‘O to ge’, even as his loyalists are insisting on ‘O tun ya’.
The opposition party is said to be relying on what some analysts call federal might to overwhelm PDP in the state. However, the ruling PDP is relying on power of incumbency and long-term relationship of the Saraki political dynasty with the people and traditional rulers in the state, spanning more than 40 years, to coast home to victory in the general election. PDP in the state recently sealed a deal with Kwara North stakeholders, assuring the people of Kwara North that their zone will produce the governor of the state come 2023. This move, described by political pundits as a deft political calculation against the chances of APC, particularly in the zone, is believed to be an unmatchable stroke for the opposition party in the state, especially among the PDP supporters.
Another factor that will influence the outcome of presidential result between Atiku and Buhari in Kwara State is the perceived low performance of the incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, especially among the APC supporters. They say that the governor has to complete his ongoing projects without leaving them for the incoming government, to get their conviction and support.
The two leading political parties have their tentacles spread among the less known political parties in the state. However, investigations revealed that the ruling PDP enjoys the support of the CUPP in the state. In the view of political pundits, the two leading presidential candidates in Saturday’s presidential election have 50-50 chances in the state.
Since 2003, when the then All Peoples Party (APP) which later metamorphosed into the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and also joined the coalition that is now APC, lost control of the leadership of Gombe State, PDP, the former ruling party, which is now the main opposition, has remained in power in the state.
Just before the 2015 general election, a crack occurred in the PDP fold which led to the defection of some of the stalwarts of the party, led by the immediate past governor, Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje to APC due to what was described as some irreconcilable political issues with the present governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo. But against all odds, the governor won his re-election and has remained resolute in tPDP ever since.
PDP looks set to do well here, though some pundits are projecting a battleground for Gombe. Though some notable politicians in the state recently dumped PDP and pitched their tents with APC during the presidential campaign of the party in Gombe recently, it is not certain if that will in any way negatively affect the chances of PDP, considering the fact that there is a silent leadership war within APC itself.
Another factor in favour of PDP is the emergence of Senator Bayero Usman Nafada as the gubernatorial candidate of the party in the state. He is considered as one of the most popular political figures in the state having served at all levels of political offices before becoming a senator. He was the pioneer Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly and one-time Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives who is seen as a grass-roots political mobiliser. The fact that he is a Fulani appears an added political advantage to PDP in the state.
The APC gubernatorial candidate, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, was the same candidate that was defeated in 2015 by the incumbent governor With all the scenarios, it is expected that the fortunes of PDP at the presidential level have really shored up to the extent that it could take the state with a narrow 51 per cent.
When Edo people join the rest of Nigerians to cast their ballot papers on Saturday, three key issues will be at the corner of their minds; the parlous state of the nation’s economy, hunger and President Buhari’s score card in the state. The crisis that erupted after the controversial primaries of the ruling party will also be fresh in the mind.
The election, no doubt, is a straight tussle between incumbent President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar. Edo State is the home state of Adams Oshiomhole, the ruling APC National chairman, his immediate predecessor, Chief John Odigie Oyegun and other political heavyweights.
PDP is, however, not slowing down in the state. The Director General of the Edo State Atiku Campaign Organisation, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, insisted that the party intended to close-mark APC bumper to bumper before, during and after the election.
Though the state is governed by APC, the structure in the state is evenly shared. PDP controls two of the three senatorial seats, while APC won the Senate seat for Edo North. The presidential election in the state has in the past been beyond the reach of the APC candidate. The party lost the presidential election, even when Oshiomhole was governor in 2015.
PDP appears set to retain its hold on the state, going by the preparations ahead of this election. The state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, has been a mobiliser whose dexterity has kept the party together all along. The party is also fielding Abubakar Momoh, an engineer, as the senatorial candidate for Edo North against incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena. It appears a straight battle for the presidential and the senatorial election as well. By and large, it appears Atiku will take the state with a 60 per cent margin.
The cause of APC is not helped in Etsako Federal Constituency where two incumbent House of Representatives members from Edo North, Mr. Johnson Oghuma and Peter Akpatason, are both are enmeshed in legal tussle over the outcome of the party’s primaries.
Edo Central, the home turf of the deceased former chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, is a traditional stronghold of PDP. With the support of the former Minister of Works, Mike Onolemhemen and others, PDP will likely coast home to victory there.
For Edo South, which is the most populous, Governor Godwin Obaseki may have to strive hard to make a mark in Benin City, but the large-scale poverty and the poor scorecard of the Federal Government in the state will count for something here.
The performance of the PDP Edo South Senatorial Candidate, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, will most likely influence the outcome of the election. With over 350 projects spread across the district, Urhoghide, who is now fondly called “Executive Senator”, will surely make his popularity count for Atiku’s victory.
While President Buhari appears set for a marginal nationwide victory in the election as pundits put the likely result at 51/49 per cent in his favour, the people on the street who have been affected by unemployment, hunger, job losses, escalating dollar rate and who are full of disdain for the style of governance by the incumbent, may sway some votes in favour of the PDP candidate, Atiku, who anchored his campaign on the promise to revamp the economy and bring back the country on the path of prosperity.
- With reports from Dapo Falade, Ibadan; Isaac Shobayo, Jos; Biola Azeez, Ilorin; Hakeem Gbadamosi, Akure; Ishola Michael, Bauchi, Gombe; Ebenezer Adurokiya, Warri; Oluwole Ige, Osogbo; Oluyinka Olukoya, Abeokuta; Micahel Ovat, Awka and Biodun Kayode, Maiduguri.