As Nigerians go to the polls again tomorrow for the governorship and state assembly elections in 28 states, this round of elections, just like the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, will throw up more surprises which would further question the nature of dominance of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Nigeria’s political space.
In tomorrow’s election, 837 governorship candidates will slug it out in the 28 states, while 10,240 others will battle for 993 State Assembly seats in 1,021 constituencies across the country.
Of the 28 states that are due to vote for governors, 17 serving governors are departing.
These are governors of Taraba, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Plateau and Niger States.
However, 11 others are standing for re-election, namely in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Zamfara, Gombe, Nasarawa, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa and Bauchi States.
This is an election cycle like no other in Nigeria’s history, with no fewer than 20 incumbent governors failing to deliver their parties during the presidential and National Assembly elections and seven incumbent governors losing their senatorial bids, unlike in 2019 when 20 former governors were elected into the Ninth National Assembly.
In tomorrow’s polls, it is fight to finish as most of the second term governors have employed every skill in politicking, including persuasion, wooing of the electorates with incentives and deploying all sorts of propaganda to demarket their major opponents.
Governors under the platform of the governing party are banking on the bandwagon effect the party’s victory at the presidential election may spring up, with the hope that voters in their states may consider identifying with the government at the centre.
But the opposition parties and their supporters are waiting passionately to prove a point that results of the February 25 polls were tinkered with as alleged before the presidential election tribunal.
Rivers State will be one of the states to watch out for in the gubernatorial elections. The APC won the presidential election in the state because Governor Nyesom Wike wanted to prove a point to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
However, the dynamics have changed as Wike is campaigning seriously for the PDP governorship candidate. The PDP may face some hurdles in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) guber candidate, Magnus Abe, who is also a grassroots politician and a strong contender.
However, the APC leader in the state and former minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who had been quiet during the presidential election, has been campaigning for Tonye Cole, the APC governorship candidate who has been vocal against Wike and PDP.
Also, the way the Obidient Movement will express their angst over alleged suppression of their votes during the presidential poll will be interesting to see.
All eyes will be on Lagos for the gubernatorial election and the reasons are not far-fetched. Some weeks ago, it would be seen as a walkover for the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo- Olu. However, the performance of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in Lagos has changed the dynamics. The APC lost the presidential election in what many political analysts described as the upset of the election.
The victory gave a fillip to hopes of the Labour Party guber candidate of the state, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who was an outsider in the race. It was seen as a straight fight between the PDP candidate, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, and Sanwo- Olu, who has ramped up his campaign since after the last election.
For now, it’s going to be a three-horse race between the APC, PDP, and LP. No doubt the president-elect Bola Tinubu will pull all stops to reclaim his title as the strong man of Lagos in the gubernatorial election.
During the presidential election, the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso, proved to the world that he was still the strong man of Kano politics by winning the state easily ahead of the ruling APC.
The question is, can Kwankwaso repeat the feat in the guber election? In the state, it is going to be a two-horse race as the PDP has been battling with internal squabbles.
It’s going to be a tough call in Oyo state. The APC swept all the local governments in the presidential election, but some attribute the victory to a deal between the incumbent governor, Seyi Makinde, and Bola Tinubu.
Recall that Makinde was among the G5 governors who were opposed to the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar. However, some APC faithful in the state have denied any agreement between Tinubu and Makinde. According to them, Tinubu would still have swept Oyo with or without Makinde’s help.
The question remains, will Makinde survive the APC onslaught in the state or will he be swept away by the APC broom?
Sokoto is one of the states to look out for the gubernatorial election. In 2019, Aminu Tambuwal won the guber election with just 350 votes, the slimmest of margins in the history of gubernatorial elections in the country.
Also, the PDP won Sokoto with fewer than 4,000 votes in the presidential election three weeks ago. Most of the National Assembly elections in the state are still inconclusive.
In the state, it’s going to be a straight fight between the PDP and APC. Aliyu Wammako is regarded as the strong man of Sokoto politics and he will want to do everything possible to reclaim the state for APC. Tambuwal on the other hand is still fighting for his senatorial seat and doesn’t have a grip on the state.
Kaduna will be an interesting prospect in the gubernatorial elections. Though an APC state, the PDP won all the senatorial seats in the state and the presidential election.
In terms of performance, it would have been an easy ride for the APC candidate, Uba Sani. The incumbent governor, Nasir El- Rufai, is arguably the best governor the state has ever produced, but that may not count for Sani.
In Kaduna, it’s going to be a four-horse race. The APC, PDP, LP, and NNPC all have good chances in the election. The NNPP candidate, Suleiman Hunkuyi, is a grassroots politician and very popular in the state. The LP candidate, Jonathan Asake, was formerly the president of SOKAPU. The LP put up a strong performance in southern and central Kaduna in the presidential election. The PDP will be banking on its maintaining its success in the presidential election in the guber election. APC will hope to reap from the performance of El-Rufai since it is a local election.
The Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed, is a grassroots politician and popular with the citizens of the state but he is up against the former chief of Air Staff, Abubakar Sadique, who is the APC candidate.
Both parties were evenly matched in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is of the PDP, is campaigning vigorously for the APC candidate in the guber election. The gubernatorial election in the state will be dicey and can go either way.
Gombe will be an interesting one. Though an APC state, the PDP won the state in the presidential election. Also, due to the rift between Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and Senator Danjuma Goje, there were reports the latter was indifferent to the APC campaign in the state. He may also want to prove a point by working against the governor.
In the last three weeks the governor had stepped up his campaign, mending fences with the different interest groups in the state. It remains to be seen if that will be enough for him to retain his seat. But some close watchers believe that Governor Inuwa’s sterling performance in his first term may sway the sympathy and goodwill of the citizens in his favour as they throng the polling units to vote tomorrow.
All eyes will be on Adamawa for the gubernatorial election because a woman has a chance of making history.
The APC candidate, Aisha Binani, has a record of making history. She won her first election to the House of Representatives, won her first election to the Senate, and has a chance of making it a hat-trick of election victories in the gubernatorial election. She also won the APC guber primary defeating strong men like Nuhu Ribadu, Abdulrazak Namdas, and former governor, Jibrilla Bindow.
Recently, the LP party candidate in the state has stepped down for her. Also, the incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, had to drop his deputy and pick a woman because of the fear of Binani.
Like most South East states, Labour Party had a strong showing in Enugu during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
The political battle will largely be between the ruling PDP’s Peter Mbah and the LP’s Chijioke Edeoga. APGA also has a strong candidate in a former minister, Frank Nweke Jnr. Although Obi has campaigned for Edeoga, Mbah and Nweke have continued to enjoy support from members of the Obidient movement and other political stakeholders alike. For now, the governorship seat is up for grabs. The ruling PDP is wary that the people may want to kick out the dreaded Ebeano political force loyal to Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, but it will not go down without a fight.
The race would have been a straight two-horse contest between the PDP’s Hon Sherrif Oborewvori and APC’s Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, but with the threat of LP, the outcome has become somewhat unpredictable.
The two main parties have been wooing members of the Obident movement in hopes that they can help swing the votes in their favour. But Obi has campaigned for the LP candidate, Ken Pela, just as the party leadership in the state insists there is no alliance with any of the two traditional parties.
Governor Dapo Abiodun, the APC candidate, who is seeking a second term, will be up against some key leaders of his party, led by former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Amosun, Abiodun’s immediate predecessor, bent on stopping his return, has been campaigning for the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Biyi Otegbeye.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday gave a stern warning to its entire ad hoc staff to desist from any act that is capable of dragging the commission’s name in the mud during and after the governorship and state assembly elections.