- APC set to retain Lagos, LP works to upset applecart
- It’s two-horse race in Oyo as Makinde fights for political survival
- Omo-Agege goes for broke in Delta
- Wike, Amaechi in final showdown
- LP stands tall in Kaduna
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, NMAYOWA SAMUEL AND BRIGHT JACOB
Saturday’s Governorship and House of Assembly elections in a few states will go to the wire, The Point can report.
This is because while the ruling parties would want to maintain the status quo, the opposition parties are bent on upsetting the applecart.
The major states that will have all eyes fixed on them include Lagos, the South Western state that prides itself as the Centre of Excellence and has been ruled since 1999 by the progressives. More than anything else, it is the state of the President–elect, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress.
APC VS LP IN LAGOS
In Lagos, it is going to be a straight fight between the incumbent, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the ruling APC and the new kid on the block, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party. The campaigns have been acrimonious verging on ethnic colouration and sometimes name calling.
The campaign assumed a caustic tone after the presidential election in which the Labour Party, riding on the popularity of its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, performed one of the most unexpected feats in the history of electoral contest in Lagos State since the return of civil rule. It not only won the state during the presidential election, it also picked four House of Representatives seats.
In doing that, it not only defeated the ruling party in the state, it also consigned the major national opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, to the third position.
Indeed, all eyes are now fixed on the LP to see if it would literally shave the Lion in its cage. At the same time, political observers are keen to see how the Tinubu political machinery will tame the rampaging ‘Obidient Movement’ in Lagos.
Speaking to The Point on the condition of anonymity, a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council dismissed the alliance talk between the PDP and the LP, saying it cannot work.
He declared that at best, Bode George, a chieftain of the PDP was promoting the alliance talk in the hope that it would benefit him.
Analysing the three front runners, the source said, “There will be talks of alliances here and there, and we all know that Chief Bode George has been talking to the Labour Party. In fact, the Labour Party governorship candidate was his candidate in PDP for deputy governor and he was the one that encouraged the guy to go to the Labour Party. Bode George is not PDP, is he? What position does he hold in PDP? None. Therefore, Bode George cannot speak for PDP. He’s doing his own negotiation with the Labour Party, maybe some people who are in the PDP will support that alliance.
“I also understand that Dr Bimbo Ogunkelu who is the chairman of the PDP Elders Council is also talking to the Labour Party people. He also doesn’t hold any official position in the party. So, I don’t know on what grounds there’ll be an alliance. There are discussions here and there but as far as I’m concerned, such an alliance will be a futile exercise. What sense does it make? If PDP goes into an alliance with the Labour Party, one of the governorship candidates has to step down for the other. Is Jandor going to step down for Rhodes-Vivour?”
“Is Rhodes-Vivour going to step down for Jandor when the Labour Party won the presidential election hands down in Lagos and also has four members of the House of Representatives? So you can understand there’s a deadlock there. I don’t understand the sense in any kind of discussion with the Labour Party,” he submitted.
In the absence of an alliance between the PDP and the LP, the APC will surely be victorious because of its vast and deeply entrenched network of support throughout the length and breadth of the state.
The source also noted that violence would likely tilt the polls.
He said, “Ballot snatching, election rigging, only God knows how we are going to curb that, because during the last election, certainly, INEC didn’t take care of business at all. We pray that it won’t be as bad as it was in the presidential. As for the chances of the three, I think the incumbent has an edge, he’ll win the election.
“It is good that they put Sanwo-Olu under pressure, I’m happy about it. I think if he wins this election, the APC will be more careful and they’ll be more responsive. If you judge the three of them, character, competence, capacity, in all the three categories, when you’re a liar, and trying to hide your identity, you appear to be a fraud. Who that cap fits, let him wear it.”
He argued that of the three candidates, Sanwo-Olu comes across as the best and he should get re-elected.
He added, “Capacity is about the ability to be able to hold the position of governor of Lagos State. This cameraman that’s not an accomplished cameraman certainly has no capacity, he has not done any administrative work in his life. His human management is zero. He came to the PDP, divided the PDP and he’s about to destroy the PDP. Nobody wants to work with him, he has more enemies than friends in the party. Therefore, you cannot be a successful governor, if you don’t have good human relationships. So, when we talk about capacity, neither Rhodes-Vivour nor Jandor come even close to Sanwo-Olu.
“The voters’ choice depends on who comes out to vote. If Lagosians come out to vote and they realise the things I’m saying. All of them can judge for themselves that experience, capacity, all those qualifications will work for Sanwo-Olu. I don’t know what voters are looking for but that’s what I think they should look for. If they look for those things, then Sanwo-Olu will certainly edge them out.”
IT’S TWO HORSE RACE IN OYO
In Oyo State, the election is a two-horse race between the candidates of the PDP, Seyi Makinde, and APC, Teslim Folarin. While Makinde has been striving to make his second term bid a reality, his top opponent, Folarin, has been making frantic efforts to scuttle the incumbent’s chances and take over the reins in the state.
As political activities climax, insiders have said that Makinde may defeat his major opponent because of his street credibility and the love he enjoys from the people. Feelers said Governor Makinde is not leaving any stone unturned in clinching the trophy at the poll.
Contrary to the predicament of three of the G-5 Governors, who contested but lost elections in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, including Okezie Ikpeazu of Abi State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Samuel Ortom of Benue State, insiders said Makinde would win “overwhelmingly.”
Already, market women who reportedly share the bulk of registered voters in the state, among other stakeholders, have thrown their weights behind Makinde’s candidature and endorsed him for a second term.
An insider told The Point: “Makinde will win overwhelmingly. He has been ensuring that loopholes are blocked ahead of Saturday’s governorship election and I don’t think that he will suffer the same fate as others in the G-5 group who lost their elections. He is doing whatever he could to garner support from other political parties. Makinde is loved in Oyo and he has the majority support of the real voters because the people love him. His opponent in the APC, Teslim Folarin, is not loved by the people when compared to Makinde.”
But, sources said the victory of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and those of the party’s National Assembly candidates might count in ensuring victory of Folarin.
Also, the major opposition party in Oyo is banking on what it termed ‘gale of defections and endorsements’ from political parties and notable chieftains from the ruling party.
While the candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the state, Michael Lana, has stepped down from the governorship race and endorsed Makinde, APC claimed that the entire structure of the party was supporting its candidate, Folarin.
In an interview with The Point, Yekeen Olaniyi, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Teslim Folarin, said the failures of Makinde in his first term would work against him in the poll. He added that the party was already in talks with PDP National Assembly candidates who lost the February 25 elections and that there was hope that they would abandon the PDP and work for Folarin.
Olaniyi said, “Teslim Folarin of the APC is winning the election with landslide victory. The factors are not far-fetched. After the February 25 presidential election, the gale of defections of members from the ruling PDP in favour of APC candidate cannot be underestimated. We have received so many gladiators from the People’s Democratic Party, we have received 90 per cent of membership of the SDP into our party and they have endorsed Folarin.
“We have many House of Representatives candidates from the platform of Accord Party that have joined us; the NNPP has collapsed their structure entirely and now with us; the former PDP aspirants have joined us, we received about eight PDP support groups into our party on Monday.
“To crown it all, we have the massive endorsement of the former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, he endorsed us publicly. The former Deputy Governors of Oyo State under Akala, led all the aggrieved PDP members to our party and they endorsed us. With this gale of endorsements, even from the ruling party, we are good to go. All the former Deputy Governors in Oyo State are fully with us. They are following Folarin everywhere. We have about four former Deputy Governors in Oyo State. Also, former Majority Leader, Akande and other political heavyweights have joined us.
“We are speaking with PDP National Assembly candidates who have lost out, we are speaking with them and they are speaking with us and majority of them are ready to work with us. PDP is under pressure as it is now. We have endorsements of Senators who just won election and other House of Representatives members-elect.”
He added, “Makinde didn’t work for Tinubu. There is no where he directed Oyo State people to vote Tinubu or the APC. When he was asked during the governorship debate who Oyo State people should vote for, he said they should vote for unity and equity. Whose middle name is unity and equity?”
MASSIVE FACE-OFF BETWEEN WIKE, AMAECHI, TWO OTHERS
In Rivers State, while it looks like a straight war between Governor Nyesom Wike and Rotimi Amaechi, it is actually a four-horse race now.
A political analyst, Ifeoma Ogbonna, said that the race was now between the APC, PDP and SDP with the LP entering the fray.
Ogbonna also said that the earlier “wrangling” in the LP notwithstanding, Obi’s popularity in the state and his exploits during the presidential election could help the party’s candidate, Beatrice Itubo, to spring a surprise or two and also be the dark horse of the gubernatorial contest.
Ogbonna said, “Before now, the Rivers State governorship contest was between Tonye Patrick Cole of the APC, Siminialayi Fubara of the PDP and maybe Magnus Abe of the Social Democratic Party. However, after the exploits of the Labour Party in the state during the presidential election, Beatrice Itubo’s Labour Party might have made nonsense of this permutation.
“And even if there were reports of internal wrangling in the LP after the party endorsed the candidate of the PDP, Itubo remains a serious threat to the PDP and APC in Rivers State. She could be the dark horse,” Ogbonna said.
She added, “As for the PDP candidate, I don’t know whether Wike can deliver the state for him. You know that some people are still displeased with the governor for the alleged role he played during the presidential election. But that aside, Fubara is really qualified and he can do a lot for the state if elected.
“Then, Cole of the APC is my sentimental favourite. You know he is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and he has touched the lives of people in many ways. Personally, I am rooting for him, but winning the election will not be a walk in the park.”
“As for Magnus Abe of the SDP, I think he has the name, but the platform he is contesting on may be his undoing. SDP is not very popular in Rivers State. However, Abe has the name, and don’t forget that he is the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the NASS,” Ogbonna noted.
OMO-AGEGE SQUARES OFF WITH OKOWA’S ANOINTED IN DELTA
The race in Delta State is very unpredictable. Ever since 1999, PDP has always ruled the state with landslide victories. But the recent presidential election made nonsense of the traditional “no rival” chant.
The Labour Party won the presidential election to the chagrin of the state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP. LP also caused another major upset when the candidate of the House of Reps defeated the Minority Leader in the House, Ndidi Elumelu.
The governorship candidate of the LP, Ken Pela, has the platform in terms of popularity, but he is not himself popular or very visible. That may be his undoing.
The APC parades the Senate Deputy President, Ovie Omo-Agege. He will face the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, who is the protégée of the governor.
But Oborevwori may not find things very smooth. His Urhobo stock of Delta Central Senatorial District are still largely angry over the way Olorogun David Edevbie was sidelined and worked against, allegedly by Governor Okowa, to ensure Oborevwori emerges. Edevbie was said to have the backing of James Ibori, the godfather of Delta politics.
Once Edevbie was pushed out, a pressure group, Delta United Group, surfaced and of late has declared support for Omo-Agege. For the first time since 1999, the PDP could only win one senatorial seat, Delta North. The remaining Delta South and Delta Central were won by the APC.
With the poor performance of the PDP in the just concluded presidential election, and with the visibility of Omo-Agege as well as the victory of President-elect, Bola Tinubu of the APC, the odds are in favour of APC to win the state for the first time in 24 years.
But whether the LP will spring yet another surprise, only time can tell.
LP STANDS TALL IN KADUNA
In Kaduna State, the Labour Party has declared that its candidate in the state is the person to beat. This is in spite of forces of both the ruling APC and PDP.
Spokesman of the LPPCC, Yunusa Tanko in a telephone conversation with The Point said their candidate, Jonathan Asake, stands tall and high above other candidates because two other candidates are from the same geographical area of the state and will join in splitting the votes.
“There are two candidates from the northern part of the state, Uba Sani of the APC and Isah Kudan of the PDP. Both of them are northerners and are fighting for the soul of Kaduna State from the North. North Central is cosmopolitan, we have Shiites, Christians and other Muslims, and that of course is where we have the majority of Labour Party faithful. The southern Kaduna is of course the battle ground, which of course we command. The block votes that will come from there are ours.
“The northern Kaduna votes will be shared between our candidate, Nasir El-Rufai’s protégé, Uba Sani and Kudan. The north central will now be the playing ground and we are hopeful that we will be able to scale through,” he said.
Tanko insisted that in spite of the presidential election result that showed PDP as winner of the state, the PDP candidate was capable of winning the northern part of the state “but the southern part is in total control of the Labour Party.”
“Of course, the PDP candidate is a force to reckon with, that’s why I said he has the ample opportunity of winning the northern part and the southern part belongs to us. Then the battle ground is the Kaduna central. The candidate of the Labour Party has been an agitator and supporter of the emancipation of the southern Kaduna people so it is now their own has actually come to fight for their cause and if they don’t fight for their own now, then we are left to be queried,” he added.
Corroborating, the Director-General of the Labour Party Kaduna State Governorship Campaign Council, Tsahiru Bako, said only God could stop the party’s governorship candidate, Jonathan Asake, from winning the March 18 governorship election in the state.
He said Asake was on a divine project, noting that the LP was not just a party but a movement whose time has come.
TIGHT RACE IN ADAMAWA
The race in Adamawa State, the home state of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is also being closely watched. The APC candidate has a chance to win and become Nigeria’s first elected female governor, according to some polls.
The governorship candidate of the APC, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani, has boasted that she will win the 2023 gubernatorial election in Adamawa State by all means.
“APC is prepared for anything, even if it means to steal the ballots or by persuasion; APC must wrest power in Adamawa State. No matter what and however it goes, God willing, APC is going to depose them of power during the 2023 governorship election.
“They’ve been there for four years, that’s why we’re battle ready to take over from them for the public to see what we can bring to the table. All of us, APC members, are prepared, the party is ready, just like me, the party’s candidate,” Binani said in a leaked video.
The governorship candidate of the LP in Adamawa State, Umar Mustapha Madawaki, has shelved his ambition and declared support for Binani.
Madawaki had announced that he was no longer in the race for the governorship seat in the state.
“I have decided to put my political ambition momentarily on hold and fully support the gubernatorial aspirations of distinguished Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“That is why I am calling on all my supporters and followers all over Adamawa State to come out and vote for Distinguished Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani as Governor of Adamawa state,” Madawaki had said.
Madawaki hinged his decision to pull out of the race on a frosty relationship between him and the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi.