With the presidential and national assembly elections done and dusted, all is now set for the gubernatorial election across some states of the country. The election promises to provide interesting results as parties go neck-to-neck in some states.
As the Election Day draws closer, The Whistler brings you an analysis of ten battleground states where the governorship contest would be fiercest. These are states where at least two political parties are billed to slug it out.
In Lagos, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP will slug it out in a contest where non-indigenes, especially the Igbo, may decide the winner. The battle is between Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and Jimi Agbaje of the PDP-a war horse who’s running for governorship for the third time.
If the February 23 presidential election result is any indication, the ruling APC would be given a run for its money. President Buhari polled 580,825 votes ahead of Atiku Abubakar who scored 448,015 votes, a difference of only 132,798 votes.
The opposition PDP had always done very well in elections in Lagos. In the 2015 guber election, Akinwunmi Ambode of the APC had polled a total of 811,994 votes to beat Agbaje, who had 659,788 votes- a margin of 152,206 votes. It will be recalled also that Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 had polled 792,460 votes to defeat Goodluck Jonathan who scored 632,327 in the presidential race.
While the APC is still a very strong and formidable party in the state going into the election, analysts believe the party may find the Ambode factor costly. The denial of the governor a second term may encourage protest votes against the party by his supporters. In that case, the PDP candidate may become a beneficiary.
Ogun State promises to present surprises as the state governor, now senator elect, Ibikunle Amosun had endorsed and is supporting a governorship candidate of another party. Amosun fell out with the leadership of the APC when his preferred candidate failed to get the party’s ticket. Instead, Dapo Abiodun, believed to be sponsored by a former governor of the state, Segun Osoba, won the APC ticket.
Amosun’s candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, moved to the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, to run as the party’s governorship candidate with the strong backing of Governor Amosun. Amosun has boasted his candidate would win the election.
Amosun has shown he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get victory for his candidate. He and his group embarrassed APC leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the party’s campaign rally in Abeokuta when they threw pebbles at them. Saturday’s election would be a test of strength between Amosun and the APC leadership.
But there is a third force in the state-the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, whose candidate, Buruji Kashamu, is believed to be very popular with the people. Kashamu came from nowhere and became a senator in 2015. He may be set to give another surprise this Saturday.
Another South West state to watch out is Oyo. The contest is between Adebayo Adelabu of the ruling APC and Seyi Makinde of the PDP. Adelabu is a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN while Makinde is a successful business man.
The loss of the state to the opposition PDP in the February 23 presidential election showed the ruling APC has become vulnerable in the state. In the election, Buhari got 365,229 votes while Atiku garnered 366,690 votes. The governorship election may produce a similar result unless the APC get its act together.
Perhaps, out of desperation, the APC last week formed an alliance with Alao Akala’s Action Democratic Party to save it from defeat. Akala announced he had dropped his governorship ambition to team up with the APC. The PDP too is wooing other parties to team up with it to defeat the APC at the polls. Already, three political parties – Social Democratic Party, Zenith Labour Party and African Democratic Congress have endorsed him.
With this development, the stage appears set either for an APC comeback or a PDP upset on Saturday.
Like Ogun State, Imo State also presents an interesting scenario. Governor Rochas Okorocha is not Hope Uzodinmma, the governorship candidate of the APC. Instead, he’s backing his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu who is running for governor on the platform of Action Alliance, AA.
This is a fall out of the party’s guber primaries which did not favour the governor’s son-in-law.
Aside the APC and the AA, the PDP is also in strong contention in the state where Emeka Ihedioha is the flagbearer. Ihedioha, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives is throwing his hat into the ring for the second time. There is also former governor, Ikedi Ohakim of Accord Party who is also eying Douglas House.
With these personalities in the race, it is fair to say Saturday’s election would be a contest among gladiators.
With the result of the presidential election in Akwa Ibom, one may be forced to conclude that PDP, the ruling political party in the state is likely to take the state governorship seat. Recall that The PDP candidate, Atiku, scored 397,831 votes while his APC challenger, Mr Buhari, got 175,429 votes. However, Buhari won in Godswill Akpobio’s local government area, Essien Udim and Mbo.
Akpabio is former governor of the state and a staunch ally of the president since he defected from the PDP last year. He is considered as one of the biggest APC figures in the South South region of the country which is reported to be the stronghold of the PDP.
The state governor, Udom Emmanuel is seeking a second term under the platform of the PDP and is also reputed to have performed creditably well. The recently established Ibom Air is a major plus for his government which may speak for him at the polls.
His APC challenger, Nsima Ekere, ex Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission is also a fine bred politician who has had a successful tenure at the NDDC. Ekere was the leader of the G22, a group of 22 PDP governorship aspirants for the 2015 governorship election but internal party decisions ensured Udom Emmanuel emerged as the governorship flagbearer of the party in 2015.
This was why Ekere left the PDP and joined hands with Umana Okon Umana in the APC in their quest to win the 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State from Akpabio’s PDP. But now the candidate of the APC, Ekere is positioned to wrest the state from the grip of the PDP. And with the backing of Akpabio, the man many view as the political leader in the state right now, Ekere may cause an upset this Saturday.
But the defeat suffered by Akpabio in the last senate election is seen by some supporters of the PDP as the fate that awaits Ekere on Saturday. The state is under the full control of the PDP who has the three senators-elect in its fold.
To be continued…