2023 Governorship/Assembly polls: APC, PDP, others to know fate today

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INEC to release candidates’ list

Uba Group

APC, PDP may not retain power in some states

Activities toward the 2023 general elections will enter another critical stage today as the Independent National Electoral Commission is scheduled to release the final list of governorship and House of Assembly candidates across the country.

This is in line with Section 94 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022.

However, the chances of the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party retaining power beyond 2023 in some of the states they govern have been fading due to internal crisis and allegations of imposition.

In the affected states, including Ogun, Sokoto, Delta, Plateau and Rivers, some aggrieved party members have expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of their party primaries.

In some cases, there was rift between some party leaders and the incumbents, like in Ogun State, while in some others, alleged imposition by the incumbent during the primary had been brewing disquiet among the members.

In previous elections, the stakes are often higher in a ruling party because the incumbency factor plays a huge role in elections and candidates of such parties are, oftentimes, almost assured of victory, relying on the party’s influence, coverage and funding to win elections.

In Ogun State, for example, there has been renewed rivalry between the governor, Dapo Abiodun, and his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun, both of the APC. This, according to some observers, could affect the governing party and favour the opposition in the election.

Not long ago, Amosun alleged that the election that brought in Abiodun in 2019 was rigged.

He however boasted that the governor would be removed from office, ostensibly in the coming election.

The governor in his response dismissed Amosun’s threat, saying he would not be distracted by anyone that has a problem with self-delusion and wants to play God.

Some of Amosun’s loyalists, led by the former governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement, Adekunle Akinlade, have left the APC for the PDP, although Amosun has since distanced himself from Akinlade’s move.

The PDP had conceded its deputy governorship ticket to Akinlade as part of their agreement before he defected.

In Oyo State, there are also fears that the defection of prominent politicians from the PDP may affect the re-election of Governor Seyi Makinde.

Some of the politicians that have left the party include Adebisi Olopoeyan; a former Majority Leader at the House of Representatives, Mulikat Adeola-Akande; Lekan Balogun and a member of House of Representatives from Ibarapa, Ajibola Muraina.

Also, the coalition which assisted Makinde to win in 2019 has been dismantled and some have dumped the party.

Makinde’s erstwhile deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, who was removed from office by the House of Assembly, has also left the PDP.

“CBN"

A former governorship aspirant, Hazeem Gbolarumi, had said that the party needed to woo the aggrieved politicians to boost its chances in the 2023 election.

There are also defections in the APC, as a former governorship candidate of the party and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, also dumped the party. The crisis within the party may also affect the chances of the party from winning the election.

It is however believed that the PDP has more to lose as aggrieved members could work against the party. The APC has Teslim Folarin as its candidate.

In Sokoto State, there is a brewing disaffection in the PDP over the emergence of the party’s governorship candidate, Sa’idu Umar, who was favoured by Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

PDP’s Tambuwal won his re-election with 511,660 votes in the keenly contested election in 2019, defeating the APC governorship candidate, Ahmad Aliyu, who scored 486,145 votes.

A party stalwart in the state, Yusuf Mohammed, said the outcome of the primary shattered the hopes of many party members, noting that it would be difficult for the party to retain the state.

In Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the running mate of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is in his second term. The run-up to the governorship primary and the outcome of the exercise in the state has caused some rift in the party given that Okowa and his political godfather, James Ibori, supported different candidates for the primary.

PDP’s Okowa won his re-election in 2019 with 925,274 votes defeating Great Ogboru of the APC who got 215,938 votes.

Okowa’s candidate, Sheriff Oborevwori, defeated Ibori’s choice, David Edevbie, even though the case is still in court.

The rift has yet to abate as aggrieved supporters recently protested at both the national and state offices of the PDP. They expressed fears that the party might not participate in the 2023 poll owing to the crisis and court case.

While the PDP struggles to put its house in order, the candidate of the APC in the election, Ovie Omo-Agege, who is the current Deputy Senate President, is said to be a strong contender in the election and is strategizing on winning the election.

In Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong of the APC is in his second term, but there are fears that the 2023 election may be a strong contest between the APC and the PDP. It was gathered that plans by the APC to retain power are being threatened by an internal party crisis.

APC’s Lalong won his re-election with 583,255 votes while his closest contender, Jeremiah Useni of the PDP won 548,366 votes.

After the party primaries which produced Nentawe Yilwatda, a former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner as the governorship candidate, the party has been battling some internal conflict.

Some of the governorship aspirants who lost out during the party primaries are accusing the governor of imposing the former REC on the party against the wishes of the people.

In Kwara State, there are insinuations that the protracted crisis in the state chapter of the APC may have some impact on the re-election bid of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

In the last two years, there has been a leadership tussle between the governor and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, over the control of the party.

It was learnt that some aspirants who were dissatisfied with the conduct of the primaries for various seats in the state have challenged the results in court. While some aggrieved members have defected to different parties, some others stayed in the party to challenge the outcome of the primary.

A former publicity secretary of the faction loyal to the minister, Abdulrauf Bello, who defected to the Social Democratic Party, said the crisis would affect Abdulrazaq’s re-election because many people had left the APC.
Bello said, “The APC crisis will affect the chances of the governor next year because his camp is being depleted every day. So, I don’t see him winning the election next year.”

But Oluwole Oke who belongs to the governor’s faction said although the crisis would affect the chances of the party, the governor would win the election.

Oke, a majority leader in the state Assembly in the Second Republic, added, “The APC crisis will definitely affect the chances of the party in next year’s election but it will not stop Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq from winning.

Unlike the 100 per cent recorded in the House of Assembly in the 2019 election, it may not be like that now.

“The last party primary conducted in various constituencies is still on because many aspirants who were not satisfied with the results have gone to court.”

In Rivers State, there is said to be some disaffection in the PDP after Governor Nyesom Wike’s preferred candidate, Siminialayi Fubara, emerged as the party’s candidate.

In 2019, PDP’s Wike won his re-election with 886,264 votes while his closest contender, Biokpombo Awara of the African Action Congress got 173,859 votes.

Apart from the allegations of imposition by the governor, Wike’s recent disposition towards some leaders of the party, including former governor Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, is causing a fresh crisis.

It was learnt that the governor was unhappy that Omehia, Opara and a former senator, Lee Maeba, visited Atiku without his permission, given the rift between him and Atiku.

Peeved at the development, the governor was said to have removed Omehia and Opara as leaders of the party in Ikwerre and Port Harcourt City LGAs respectively.

Conversely, the APC is also having its internal crisis, which has forced some members to dump the party. Some heavyweights, including Tonye Princewill, Ms Ibim Semenitari, Chris Finebone, Dawari George and Senator Magnus Abe, have dumped the party. Abe is now the governorship candidate of the SDP in the state.