Newsboard Politics

BUHARI VS ATIKU: HOW STATES WILL VOTE (II)

In six days, Nigerians across the 36 states would be queuing up in their millions to decide the 2019 presidential contest. In this piece, Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor and Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, report on the chances of the parties – especially the biggest one – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – who given their spread have best chance of claiming the prize.
It is not a quantitative projection where percentage of likely votes would be assigned. Rather it is based on our analysis of traditional voting patterns, current trends, the issues driving the current campaigns as well as the critical personalities who determine which way zones and states may go. It bears repeating that our projections for the 2015 polls – reproduced on page 27 – were largely correct.

NIGERIANS go to the polls in less than a week to decide who of two septuagenarians would run the country for the next four years.The voters’ register published several weeks ago by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), shows that 84, 004, 084 million Nigerians are eligible to vote. Although, significantly less than that number are expected to make it to the polling booths because as at Friday, February 8, millions of permanent voters cards (PVCs) were yet to be collected across the country – forcing INEC to extend the collection deadline to Monday, February 11.

The zonal summary of registered voters is as follows:  12,841, 279 (South-South); 16, 292, 212 (South-West); 10, 057, 130 (South-East);

13,366,070 (North-Central); 20,158,100 (North-West); and 11, 289, 293 (North-East).

Irrespective of the benchmarks adopted, the battlegrounds remain the Northern axis with 44,813,463 votes and the South-West having 16,292,212 votes. Out of the nation’s 84,004,084 eligible voters, the North and the South-West control 61,105,675: whatever happens in these zones could be decisive.

Not surprisingly, the frontrunners – APC and PDP – have been trying to outwit each other from state to state. Last year witnessed a flurry of movements of key political figures across party lines. Some of these individuals are very influential and could have a say in determining the outcome, come February 16.

 

However, on-the-ground assessments by our correspondents in different states suggest that despite these defections and the nation’s security and economic challenges, we may not see radical changes in the electoral map.

 

The main contest is expected to pitch Muhammadu Buhari of the APC against long-standing aspirant, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has adopted Buhari as its candidate – citing the legal tussle between former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke and former minister Professor Jerry Gana for the party’s ticket. Atiku has equally been endorsed by some elders of known socio- political groups like Ohanaeze, Northern Elders Forum, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and Niger Delta association. Some other members of these bodies have repudiated the endorsement and have instead either adopted Buhari or other candidates. Commodore Dan Suleiman of the Middle Belt Forum, for instance, has kicked against the adoption of Atiku and reinterated the adoption of businessman Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim of the Peoples Trust Party.

Other notable candidates include former former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Professor Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress.

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), has voluntarily dropped out of the race, but INEC is refusing to accept her withdrawal, insisting her party’s name would still be on the ballot.

A lot of youths appear to be rooting for Sowore and Durotoye. They don’t want both Buhari and Atiku. Many of them know that their preferred candidates cannot win, but they don’t want the two grandees. Many of them in Lagos, Abuja and other cosmopolitan cities could cast their votes for these fringe candidates. The real loser here will be Atiku, as Buhari’s base – the grassroots – seems to be very solid.

In the Southeast, Moghalu may also get sizeable votes. Many voters in the region believe he is the best candidate in terms of articulation and capacity to solve the nation’s socio- economic problems. Again, Atiku will be the loser as the zone is traditional PDP territory.

In the Middle Belt or North Central, Atiku could also lose votes to Olawepo-Hashim if those backing the latter truly work for him. Any loss of votes to third party candidates depletes what should ordinarily go to the PDP’s candidate.

As the clock ticks away towards Election Day, these are our projections regarding likely outcomes in the presidential election from state to state, if the polls were held today.

 

NORTH EAST ZONE

 

BAUCHI STATE

Ordinarily, this is an electoral fortress for Buhari who garnered 931,598 votes in the state in 2015 compared with a paltry 86,085 votes received by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. But the coalition which brought Governor Mohammed Abubakar to power during the last poll collapsed – leading to a major crack in APC and the dwindling of the party’s fortunes.

Until Buhari and the APC pulled a fast one, the state was almost lost to the PDP going by massive defections from the ruling party to the opposition. Among those who left was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. Armed with an impressive war-chest, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, also revved up the PDP in the state with the choice of Baba Tella (a grassroots politician) as his running mate for the governorship race. The ex-minister, who is from Bauchi South Senatorial District like the governor might split the votes from the zone.Other factors in favour of the Bauchi PDP are Dogara (who commands the strong following among Christians and minorities in the state) and a former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Abdul Ningi.

However, in recent weeks, Buhari and APC have embarked on a salvage mission which is paying off for the party. Apart from wooing ex-Governor Isa Yuguda to the ruling party, the President has also courted aformer National Chairman of PDP, Adamu Mu’azu, the immediate past Deputy National Chairman (North) of PDP, Sen. Garba Babayo Gamawa and a Board of Trustees member, Alhaji Kaulaha Aliyu. The major heavyweights in Bauchi politics are back in APC to give more bite to the campaign of the party. This is the first time Yuguda and Mu’azu will join forces politically to campaign for the same candidate and party.  But the fate of APC depends on more reconciliation because some of its stalwarts like ex-Minister Yakubu Lame, Capt. Bala Jibrin and others might lead internal revolt and deliver protest votes against Governor Abubakar next month. A foretaste of wrangling within APC happened recently in Azare and Misau (Katagum Emirate) when

the governor’s campaign entourage was pelted with stones by angry citizens.Except for the Emir of Katagum, most of the Emirs in the state are reportedly unhappy with the governor although they usually pretend and tag along with him. Yet these royal fathers wield enormous political influence.Following realignment of forces in the state, the APC may still retain the grip. The APC and PDP have had impressive campaigns in the state with massive turnout of their supporters at their rallies.

However, we project that Buhari’s mass appeal would make the difference – leading to a very comfortable win for him.

Verdict: Buhari to win.

 

BORNO STATE

In spite of the insurgency, Borno is still a stronghold of the APC and Buhari. The people of the state have undiluted loyalty to the president and his commitment to the war against Boko Haram has strengthened their political bond with him. The humble and unifying disposition of Governor Kashim Shettima in governing the state have also left APC more united for a straightforward victory at the polls. Initially, there were fears that the imposition of a former Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Prof. Babagana Zulum as the APC governorship candidatemight create crisis, but the governor managed the stakeholders with maturity.The return of a former National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to APC, which he assisted to form, has been a game-changer which has left PDP in quandary.

The seemingly intractable crisis in opposition party in the state has affected its fortunes. Since the ill-fated governorship primaries of the party, it has broken into two factions led by Alhaji Usman Baderi and Alhaji Zanna Gadama respectively. The PDP is not only in bad shape to promote its governorship candidate, Mohammed Alkali Imam, it is yet to win the confidence of the masses of the war-torn state. The defection of the highly-respected ex-Governor of old Borno State, Alhaji Mohammed Goni (1979-1983) from PDP to APC has made the victory of APC a fait accompli.There are 2,315,956 votes available in the state and APC may win with a landslide. In 2015, of the 510,920 valid votes cast, Buhari received a massive 473,543 – leaving a paltry 25,640 for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Nothing has happened in the last four years to suggest a significant change in likely outcome. Buhari could score more votes in the state with the relative peace it now enjoys. Verdict: Buhari

 

YOBE STATE

A politically homogenous enclave, Yobe State has been traditionally progressive since 1999. It has always voted against PDP despite its political transformation from All Peoples Party (APP) to All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and APC.  The smooth transition of power laid down by the first civilian governor of the state, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim has helped in consolidating its progressive credentials.  The Kanuri-Fulani collaboration has made the state impregnable for the opposition. But the Kanuri have been governing the state since its creation.Although the PDP is rebranding itself with the emergence of Ambassador Umar Iliya Damagum as its consensus gubernatorial candidate, the party is still weak. Its weakness was fueled by the crisis of

confidence between ex-Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, who has been the sole gubernatorial flagbearer of the party since1999, and the current Senator representing Yobe South Senatorial Zone, Mohammed Hassan. They both emerged from parallel primaries.In 2015, APC received 446,265 votes as opposed to just 25,256 for the PDP. This pattern is set to repeated as Buhari’s appeal remains strong here.

Verdict: Buhari

 

TARABA STATE

This is one Northeastern state where analysts expect PDP to do well. Governor Darius Ishaku is still popular and former Minister of Defence, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma who is the governor’s political godfather, remains highly influential. He has not hidden his opposition to a second term bid by Buhari.The security problems which the state underwent in the last three years with ethnic undertone have not helped electoral chances of the APC. The defection of ex-Minister of Women Affairs, Aishatu Jummai Alhassan from APC to United Democratic Party (UDP) has made the latter to lose its soul. The internal wrangling within APC has not put it ingood stead for next month’s election. Still, the massive turnout for last Thursday’s APC presidential rally in Jalingo, the state capital, has become a talking point. While the PDP is still expected to prevail here, the ruling party would give it a close fight. In 2015, the difference between the parties was roughly 50,000 votes. PDP raked in 310,800, while APC managed 261, 326 votes. A re -enactment is likely.

Verdict: Atiku

 

GOMBE STATE

Initially, it was thought that the contest between APC and PDP in Gombe State would be a keen one. The outgoing Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo is trying to assert himself as the new kingmaker. Against all odds, he won re-election in 2015, a development which cast a little shadow on the political profile of his erstwhile godfather, ex-Minister Danjuma Goje, who is trying to regain control of the state.  Goje had in 2015 pitched his favourite ex-Commissioner for Finance, Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya as the governorship candidate of APC, but he lost the battle. Now, he is back in the trenches with Dankwambo.For the governorship race, ethnic colouration and the need for power shift might determine which between the APC or PDP  wins the race to the Government House. In the past 16 years, Goje and Dankwambo from Gombe Central Senatorial District have ruled the state and there is agitation to allow power to shift to another zone.While Goje is sticking to Inuwa Yahaya (an Hausa from Gombe Central), PDP and Dankwambo have opted for ex-Deputy Speaker of theHouse of Representatives, Senator Bayero Nafada, who is a Fulani from Gombe North.The PDP has a big hurdle to cross in this election . The hurdle is his alleged refusal to honour his pledge to give Gombe South a shot at the governorship race. The party on October 3 lost Sardauna Gombe, Alhaji Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna who defected from PDP to APC. Gwamna’s parting of ways with PDP has made the race keener.For the presidential poll, ethnic fault lines will be sole determinants. The ethnic groups in the state are Fulani (Northern part); Tangale (Southern part); Hausa, Tera, Waja, Bolewa, and Kanuri. Both Buhari and Atiku are of Fulani stock.

However, Buhari’s mesmerizing connection with the masses of the people would see him win the state handily again. In 2015, APC polled 361,245 votes as against 96,873 for PDP. Watchers of politics in the state expect a similar thing on Saturday.

Verdict: Buhari

 

ADAMAWA STATE

Adamawa has been a PDP state since 1999 until the APC’s 2015 bandwagon altered its political focus. The next poll in the state will draw more attention than elsewhere because the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar is from there; Buhari married from the state to make the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, equally a factor in the presidential race.

The likely factors in the state are religion, ethnicity, security challenges, the political elite, money, and good governance. If performance is anything to reckon with, Governor Jibrilla Umaru Bindow’s achievements will make it an easy ride for APC.

Unfortunately, some political leaders are angry with the governor, who is a minority, for not looting and sharing the state resources. But Bindow has upped the ante in the state and his performance benchmark will create a hurdle for his successor.

Four parties are competing for space in the state. They are APC, PDP, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) being led by Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, who is also the governorship candidate of the party. His father, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako was a former governor of the state. While Bindow is the governorship flag bearer of APC, ex-Acting Governor Umaru Fintiri is the candidate of the PDP and Marcus Gundiri has earned the ticket of SDP.

The gruesome killing of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), has affected the fortunes of SDP because he was alleged to be a major sponsor of the party’s candidate.

For Atiku, it has been topsy-turvy experience for him in the state. He was instrumental to the emergence of Boni Haruna as the governor from 1999-2007 but after a cold war with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, he lost the initiative to the ex-President who wielded incumbency influence to anoint Vice Admiral Nyako for the gubernatorial seat.

Although Atiku attempted to install a governorship candidate in 2015 under the banner of APC, he failed in his bid because Bindow defeated his preferred candidate twice at the primaries.

Having a president from a state can be a source of pride, but it will be a tough task for Atiku to prevail in his home state.  Buhari’s popularity was in evidence during the APC’s presidential campaign rally in Yola on Thursday. The government’s success in blunting the Boko Haram insurgency here is also a plus.

Buhari won here in 2015, garnering 374,701 votes as opposed to 251,664 for Jonathan. While it is tempting to cede the state to him, Atiku being on home turf is equally a powerful factor to consider. Expect a major electoral battle here. Adamawa may be too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

 

NORTH CENTRAL ZONE

 

KWARA STATE

In 2015, President Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the presidential election in Kwara State, polling 302,146 votes, while the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP polled 132, 602 votes. It was the first time the state voted against the presidential candidate of the PDP since 2003 , and the party lost to APC with almost 200, 000 votes.

 

Today, the state is a major focus point following the return of Senate President Bukola Saraki to the PDP. It is also attracting attention because the threat to the status quo in Kwara politics, as symbolized by Saraki dynasty, is real today more than ever before. The rate at which the APC’s ‘O To Ge’ (Yoruba for Enough is Enough) mantra caught fire like dry leaves in the harmattan, is reportedly a source of worry for the Senate President and his political family.

The emergence of the APC’s candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, from a noble family like the Saraki’s has changed the usual scenario where Saraki would confidently boast of the support of the royals and elites in the state. Today, the creme de la creme in Ilorin are sharply divided in their support for APC and PDP ahead of the general election on account of Abdulrazaq’s candidature.

The spate of violence in the past two weeks underscored the prevalent do-or-die politics in the state. While the ruling PDP does not want to relinquish its grip on power, the wind of change blowing from the direction of the APC has been like a tsunami. Analysts see the electoral map here as fluid with the three senatorial districts left open to be won either by PDP or APC.

Despite the power of incumbency and over reliance on money politics, it won’t be an easy ride for Saraki in Kwara Central District. In the last one month, the Senate President has retreated to fault lines for political survival and to retool his campaign machinery, but the people of Ilorin Emirate who dominate the district, are now sharply divided for and against him.

What will count against Saraki include the collapse of governance in the state in the last four years; poor state of infrastructure; non-payment of local government workers’ salaries; the conspiracy of the elites; sheer flaunting of affluence by political leaders in the state; the exodus of his loyalists and strategists to APC; the “O To Ge” (Enough is Enough) revolution; and the imposition of PDP governorship candidate, Razaq Atunwa, on the party.

In Kwara North, it is a battle royale between the PDP candidate, Hon. Zakari Mohammed (the incumbent member of the House of Representatives for Baruten/Kaiama Constituency) and the APC candidate, a pharmacist and erstwhile expert in DFID, Sadiq Umar. The two candidates are credible and tested professionals. But what will determine the direction of the district is the politics of power shift. The people of the district are unhappy with Saraki for denying them governorship slot in the past 20 years. The last time the district tasted gubernatorial power was between 1991 and 1993 when Senator Sha’aba Lafiagi was elected into office. Despite plans by Saraki dynasty to enter into a gentleman agreement with the district on power shift in 2023, they are unprepared to trust him.

Were it not for the last minute retrieval of the senatorial ticket from Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim by Saraki, Kwara South District would have been a walkover for APC. Even at that, Ibrahim faces likely electoral defeat because of the influence of his opponent, Lola Ashiru – an architect.

Factors that may swing electoral behavior this time include the looming protest votes from Offa and its environs over the recent bank robbery which claimed many lives; the spiral effect of losing Irepodun/ Ekiti/ Isin, Oke-Ero Federal Constituency to APC; and the neglect of the district in the scheme of things. The Ibolo, the Igbomina and the Ekiti in this district naturally detest the politics of the Sarakis.

All these factors in each district will be at play as voters choose between Atunwa and the APC governorship candidate Abdulrazaq, who is an oil magnate.

Against this backdrop, the relative strengths of the APC and PDP in the different senatorial districts is likely to impact the outcome of the February 16 contest. As things stand the race between Atiku and Buhari in Kwara is too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

 

KOGI STATE

It came to many as a surprise in 2015, when INEC declared Buhari of the APC as the winner of the presidential election conducted in the state. In an unexpected victory, he won by 60.3 % of the total votes. It was unexpected largely because Kogi at the time was governed by a PDP administration that appeared ready to be re-elected.

Buhari clinched victory by polling 264, 851 votes ahead of the then incumbent President Jonathan of the PDP, who polled 149, 987 votes. To complete the routing of the PDP in its hitherto stronghold, it was ascertained that Buhari and the then opposition APC, won in 15 local government areas while Jonathan managed to win in only six L.G.As.

But as the February 16 date of the next presidential contest draws nearer, it is uncertain if the APC under Governor Yahaya Bello can repeat the winning streak of the last general election in the state. Surprisingly, the PDP in the state appear to have woken up from its slumber, ready to chase Buhari’s men out of town if they are not careful.

In spite of their obvious love for Buhari, so many issues are making the ruling party unpopular with the people of the state. The governor’s inability to pay salaries and pensions remains an albatross. But Bello who is Ebirra remains very popular in his home Kogi Central Senatorial District.

But in the West senatorial zone there is a 50-50 battle shaping up. Senator Dino Melaye comes against his old sparring partner Senator Smart Adeyemi in an intriguing rematch. The zone also has James Faleke, the late Abubakar Audu’s running mate, who is running for reelection for a House of Representatives seat in Lagos State. That notwithstanding he keeps a keen eye on political developments back home.

In the East zone, the ghost of the late Governor Abubakar Audu is still haunting APC. Audu worked feverishly for the APC in the area because of his gubernatorial ambition. His son, Mohammed, who also has an eye on his father’s old office is also keen to see the APC do well in the zone.

He and his supporters are aware that APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and Bello are not the best of friends. However, the chairman is likely to order that direct primaries be held in the state – a situation that would put them in good stead to produce the next governorship candidate.

That said, it should be pointed out that Audu’s supporters may have issues with the incumbent governor but not with Buhari. This suggests that working for the president’s reelection might be something that unites the divided party temporarily. Thus making what would have been an easy pick-up for the PDP a much harder proposition.

Verdict: Battleground

 

BENUE STATE

At the onset of the 2015 presidential election, Benue State was one of the few remaining states through which the then President Jonathan and the PDP were hoping to defeat the APC and its presidential candidate, Buhari. Most pundits gave the state to PDP. Surprisingly, and unfortunately for the PDP, the people of the state opted to follow the APC.

In the result which was announced around midnight, the returning officer, Prof. Heward Mafuyai announced that Buhari polled 373, 961 votes to defeat Jonathan who got 303, 737 votes. The result of the presidential contest in Benue, which remains one of the shocks of the 2015 polls, was further highlighted when the APC went ahead to win the state governorship poll weeks later.

With Governor Samuel Ortom sworn in as governor, Benue, a traditional stronghold of the PDP that has never voted against the conservative party since 1999, joined the league of progressive states, and many expected the new status to last long considering the political heavyweights paraded by the new ruling party. But that soon turned out as wishful thinking as Senator George Akume, leader of the APC in the state and Ortom soon fell out.

And when Ortom, who had been having a running battle with the federal government over the handling of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in his state, eventually left the APC, he went to the PDP with a good number of heavyweights, thereby depleting the political strength of his former party while bolstering the PDP which still had former Governor Gabriel Suswam as leader.

Today, the two frontline political parties have huge tasks on their hands in their bid to take their campaign to the nooks and crannies of 23 local government areas in the state. The politics has largely been personality-based, but has also been coloured by economics, ethnicity and religion in the light of the herdsmen killings witnessed in the last two to three years.

With over 70 per cent of the people dependent on agriculture, the farmers-herders crises had affected and displaced thousands of peasants in the rural areas from the dominant ethnic groups especially the Tiv, the Idoma and the Igede. Ortom has capitalized on the farmers-herders crises as a weapon to secure his second term ticket. The anti-Fulani sentiments in the state have grown to the extent that President Buhari and APC are despised.

Ortom went a step further in the week to apologize to the people of the state for leading them to APC in 2015. The joining of forces by Ortom and ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam, who has an axe to grind for being put on trial for alleged corruption by the APC administration, has made the PDP more formidable. Not a few pundits are saying it will be hard for the APC to repeat its victory of 2015 with the duo working against it.

The scenario in the state is being monitored because the three senators from the state, who are leaders with massive support in the grassroots, are treading different political paths. They are Senator David Mark (Benue South) who is supporting the PDP; Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-East), now a senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Senator George Akume (Benue North-West) the leader of the APC in the state.

Of the three senators, only Akume has a herculean task at hand to sell APC to the people of the state who are angry over the consequences of farmers-herders crises. But he needs a victory for his party at the presidential election to keep alive hopes of retaining his senatorial seat for the fourth term since 2007 and installing his political associate, Emmanuel Jime, as the governor of the state. But as things stand, PDP looks more positioned to win the state.

Verdict: Atiku

 

PLATEAU STATE

In 2015, the APC could not tame the PDP on the Plateau as it lost the presidential election to the then ruling party. Jonathan of the PDP had polled 549, 615 votes to defeat Buhari and the APC that got 429, 140 votes. Not many people saw that coming as most pundits had given the state to the APC in all elections. Surprisingly, the APC bounced back to win the governorship seat a fortnight later.

Few days to the next presidential election, the political climate in Plateau State is as uncertain as it was in 2015, but Governor Simon Lalong’s leadership qualities have reunited and restored peace to the state. The main issue in Plateau for February poll is how to curtail the security challenge in the state. The people of the state are divided in their opinion as regard how well the APC administration has handled the menace of killer herdsmen across the country.

The PDP’s campaign in the state is being led by 75-year old Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni, who was a former Minister of FCT under the late Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha. He is the gubernatorial candidate of the opposition party and he has vowed to deliver the state to Atiku in the presidential election next weekend.

Another issue playing a key role is religion which ex-Governor Jonah Jang has exploited in the past to sustain PDP. Being a Christian-dominated state, Buhari’s candidacy is seen from the prism of Hausa-Fulani /Muslim sentiments. But that approach may no longer work for the PDP as neither Buhari nor Atiku is a Christian this time around.

The absence of imprisoned ex-Governor Joshua Dariye has created a setback for APC but the governor has been able to accommodate his structure in the scheme of things. To most observers, the presidential race might be neck and neck with PDP having a little edge.

Verdict: Battleground

 

NIGER STATE

In spite of the fact that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has a lot of political baggage that could make him lose his re-election bid, the goodwill of Buhari is his asset. The president is still adored in the state more than his PDP challenger, Atiku.

But the governor has not met the expectations of the masses of the state. Anywhere he goes, he is always greeted with the chant of “So daya” (one term) by the people. He had also suffered attacks in Bida and Erena in Shiroro Local Government Area.

The governor may, however, benefit from the goodwill of his father, Col. Sani Bello (a former Military Governor of the state); the benevolence of his in-laws having married the daughter of a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and allegiance to power rotation formula in the state irrespective of whether a governor has performed or not.

Most political and military leaders in Niger State, including ex-President Ibrahim Babangida find it difficult to oppose the second term bid of the governor because of the mutual respect they have for Col. Sani Bello and Abdulsalami, who is also the chairman of the National Peace Committee. Although Abdulsalami is apolitical, his son-in-law is benefitting from empathy for the ex-Head of State

Having come from Zone C, there is an unwritten agreement that any zone in power must complete its two terms in office.

The PDP at the onset had a smooth edge over APC in the state but its governorship candidate, Umar Nasko, is cash-strapped. He is looking forward to assistance from the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku and other leaders of PDP. But most of the party’s leaders, who invested in Nasko in 2015, are afraid of deploying their resources again to back him.

Despite the well-advertised opposition of Babangida to Buhari’s re-election bid, the incumbent’s lopsided win in 2015 is expected to be repeated come February 16. Four years ago, he received 657,678 votes – dwarfing the PDP’s 149,222 votes. Our investigations show that the president’s popularity is still holding steady.

A former PDP commissioner in the state said: “There is no doubt that Buhari will win Niger State. This has been his political terrain and voters in the state have not changed in following him.”

Verdict: Buhari

 

NASARAWA STATE

During the 2015 presidential election, the then President Jonathan of the PDP, surprisingly won the presidential election in Nasarawa State, defeating main challenger Buhari of the APC. It was a surprise because the state has always been a stronghold of Buhari’s even when he had no formidable political platform to contest on.

Jonathan polled 273, 460, while Buhari polled 236, 838 votes. But the APC went ahead to win the governorship election few days later. Since then, the APC had been kept on its toes by the opposition PDP and it is still not easy to predict the outcome of any electoral contest between the two political parties in the state. Not even the widespread opinion that Governor Tanko Al-Makura has done well in office had changed that status quo.

Al-Makura’s decision to stamp his feet and allow power to shift from Nasarawa South District to Nasarawa North District for fairness and equity has deflated the anticipated winning formula of the opposition. This has in turn shored up the popularity of the ruling party in the north where the PDP held sway before now. This is expected to impact in favor of President Buhari in the presidential election.

Between 1999 and 2019, the governorship slot had rotated between Nasarawa West and Nasarawa South and any slip will be too costly for APC. Though Al-Makura has anointed Abdullahi Sule (ex-Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery) as APC governorship candidate, the option is left for the people of Nasarawa North to accept him or go for either the PDP candidate, David Ombugadu or APGA candidate, ex-Minister Labaran Maku, who is fast becoming a serial governorship contestant.

With the choice of Sule, APC is in a good stead to retain its hold on the state. A die-hard supporter of President Buhari, ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu is keeping vigil in Nasarawa West and Al-Makura is seeking the senatorial ticket of Nasarawa South as part of steps to gate keep for Buhari in the district. The harmony within the rank and file of APC in the state notwithstanding, it is still uncertain if Buhari can floor Atiku in the state.

Verdict: Battleground

 

NORTH WEST ZONE

 

KANO STATE

If there is any state giving PDP a headache, it is Kano which has been a hard nut to crack. In the heat of the recent gale of defections, the opposition had toyed with the idea of taking over the state which has about 5,457,747 votes in its kitty.

The PDP has employed all sorts of political gimmicks but it suffered a big setback in the way it conducted the governorship primaries that led to the coronation of Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf, a son-in-law to ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. Following the loss of the APC presidential ticket by Kwankwaso, he left the party with his disenchanted supporters.

But that triggered a counter reaction: the mass movement of ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his supporters from PDP to APC. It was the last straw that broke the carmel’s back. Others who have deserted PDP are Prof. Hafiz Abubakar, a former Deputy Governor to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Aminu Dabo; the immediate past National Treasurer of PDP, Bala Mohammed Gwagwarwa; Security Adviser to Kwankwaso, Gen. Danjuma Dambazzau (rtd); Sen. Isa Zarewa; and Mu’azu Magaji Dan Sarauniya, who was a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on SURE-P.

But in an embarrassing turn of events, almost all of aforementioned who initially left APC with Kwakwaso, have since beat a retreat to the ruling party.

No doubt, APC has a robust edge over PDP in Kano because of Buhari’s factor, the influx of new influential defectors, and the incumbency influence of Governor Ganduje who is more popular among the masses and Islamic clerics.

Since 2003, Buhari has never lost in Kano State and this year’s poll will not be an exception. What remains to be seen if he can once again receive the 1,903,999 votes he got in 2015. PDP only managed 215,779 votes in that contest.

Kwankwaso is now on the opposing side but he will be fighting against the combined forces of Buhari, Ganduje, Shekarau and his erstwhile lieutenants. It is not looking good for the PDP and Atiku.

Verdict: Buhari

 

ZAMFARA STATE

The irreconcilable intra-party crisis in the APC in Zamfara State has left PDP waiting to be crowned as the next ruling party unless the court upholds the election of Mr. Dauda Lawal as the APC governorship candidate.

Governor Abdulaziz Yari and all the APC stakeholders threw decorum to the wind and the center did not hold again. Not even the intimidating presence of two ex-governors (Sen. Ahmed Sani Yerima and Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi) and the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan Ali could help find a solution to the division.

The fate of the APC lies with the court because INEC has been adamant on its position not to recognize the party’s candidate. The PDP candidate, Alhaji Bello Mohammed Matawale will have to slug it out with the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Abdullahi Sani Shinkafi.

While awaiting the court verdict, the focus of the APC may be the bigger picture of the presidential race between Buhari and Atiku. Since 1999, Zamfara has been a progressive enclave.

Judging by the voting pattern of 2015, APC will have the edge during the presidential poll. Four years ago Buhari received 612,202 votes to 144,833 for the PDP’s Jonathan.

Verdict: Buhari

 

KADUNA STATE

The political scenario in Kaduna State is complex in view of some dynamics in the last three and a half years.  The tense security situation in Southern Kaduna and Birnin Gwari axis has compounded the political permutations. The issues beclouding politics in the state are performance;  security challenge; the prolonged Hausa-Fulani/ Southern Kaduna cat and mouse relationship; religious factor especially mutual suspicion by Muslims and Christians; the rising Shiites clan and its attendant grave security implications; and distrust among political elites.

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has controversially trudged on since 2015, his greatest asset is the enthronement of new governance modules which have reduced waste in government. Apart from pruning the size of his cabinet, he has cut frivolous expenses and his performance is appreciable. But his garrulous, uncompromising and dictatorial leadership style at a point alienated him from the masses.

Except for the Buhari factor, El-Rufai may face an uphill task in securing a second term ticket. He is a victim of his own invention to uproot the status quo. There are no old politicians in Kaduna State who are with him.  Members of the old brigade who were with him in 2015 like Suleiman Hunkuyi, Isa Ashiru, Yaro Makama, and Ambassador Sule Buba are now in PDP against him. These old hands have teamed up with ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo, a former National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and ex-Governor Ramalan Yero.

The governor has, however, bred a new generation of young politicians who are managing to warm their hearts into the people of the state. If he succeeds in displacing the old brigade from power next month, he would have created a political record in the state.

So far, the APC may not get substantial votes in Kaduna South District, it has to work harder in Kaduna North and Kaduna Central which are largely populated by Muslims. As a strategist, he might depend on religious and ethnic fault lines to win or else he has to look for a new vocation.

For Buhari, whose natural homestead is Kaduna, he lost in the state during the presidential elections in 2003 and 2007. But in 2011, running on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), he polled 1,334,244 votes to defeat the PDP which received 1,190, 179. That keen contest was reversed four years later when he earned a historic victory with a wide margin in 2015. In that election, he recorded a massive 1,127,760 votes – leaving PDP with just 434,085 votes.

Buhari is likely to retain his grip on the state albeit with a lesser margin in February.

Verdict: Buhari

 

KATSINA STATE

Despite the formidable nature of PDP in Katsina State, APC would still emerge victorious because of the Buhari factor. The people of the state want power to continue to reside in their domain for the next four years. The party boasts of a majority in the House of Assembly, it also controls all available seats in the National Assembly. Of recent, the APC won by-elections conducted in the state.

Although ex-Governor Ibrahim Shema and the PDP governorship candidate, Garba Yakubu Lado, are pulling some strings, they are unlikely to erode Buhari’s grip on his home territory. Four years ago, he polled 1,345,441 votes here to PDP’s paltry 98,937. The landslide victory of 2015 is likely to be repeated on February 16.

Verdict: Buhari

 

KEBBI STATE

The sterling performance of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State in the last three and a half years has surpassed all permutations. He has brought his experience in the private sector to bear in managing the economy of the state. His focus on agriculture has led to massive employment and a rice boom. His ability to bring more supporters into APC, especially ex-Governor Saidu Dakingari and his deputy, Ibrahim Aliyu has sealed whatever hope was left for PDP.

The recent attacks on the late Emir of Gwandu by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the PDP over the 53 suit cases ferried into the country in 1984, have made things difficult for the main opposition party.

Buhari won handsomely here in 2015, receiving 567,883 votes to the PDP’s 100,972 votes. He remains hugely popular in the state and is expected to win comfortably.

Verdict: Buhari

 

SOKOTO STATE

The battle in Sokoto State is between Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and his estranged godfather, ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako – with each of them having stakeholders in the state split between them.

Besides his solid structure, some of those with Wammako are some ex-ministers, lawmakers and APC leaders including Umar Nagwari Tambuwal, Muhammed Maigari Dingyadi, Yusuf Suleiman, Abubakar Shehu Wurno, Jibril Gada, among others. His asset, however, is his closeness to the grassroots.

But what will decide the fate of Tambuwal is performance which is nothing to write home about. He has not been able to match the legacies of Wammako and ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa whose administrations built sustainable infrastructure.

Although Tambuwal enjoys the support of some forces in the Caliphate and the backing of Bafarawa, Mukhtar Shagari and a few other political leaders, he faces a crucial battle in his career. The omens are not too good for him. A few days ago he faced a major embarrassment with the defection of his Commissioner for Information, Bello Muhammad Goronyo, to APC.

The APC had an impressive campaign outing in the state recently and look set to repeat the comfortable victory of 2015. Back then, Buhari received 671, 926 votes compared to 152,199 votes for PDP. Nothing on the ground suggests that this pattern would change dramatically.

Verdict: Buhari

 

JIGAWA STATE

What is at stake in Jigawa State is a struggle for the soul of the state between ex- Governor Sule Lamido and Governor Abubakar Badaru whose rice production revolution has empowered many citizens. His problems are the alienated political elite and some royal fathers who are not enjoying as much largesse as they used to do in the past.

To Lamido, the loss of PDP to APC in 2015 was a disaster and he is determined to regain control of the state. His Achilles Heel, however, may turn out to be the imposition of Aminu Ringim as the party’s governorship candidate, a development which angered some PDP stalwarts.

The emergence of Bashir Adamu as the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is fast changing the equation in the state. For putting him and his sons on trial, Lamido is staking all his resources to stop APC and Buhari from winning the state.

Both APC and PDP attracted massive crowds when their presidential campaigns stopped over in the state capital, Dutse. However, for Atiku to win here, he would have to cover the margin of over 600,000 votes by which Buhari defeated Jonathan in 2015.

Back then APC polled 885,988 votes to the PDP’s 142,904 votes. That seems, at this point, an insurmountable objective.

Verdict: Buhari

 

SOUTHWEST ZONE

 

OGUN STATE

The presidential contest in Ogun state is already showing flashes of being an unusual one, but the result is most likely to be same as it was in 2015 when the APC defeated PDP by a hundred thousand votes. Buhari polled 308, 290 votes while former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP took 207, 950 out of 559, 613 total votes cast. According to formal results announced, Buhari won in 13 local governments while PDP won in 7 local government areas.

APC won Ijebu North-East, Odogboolu, Abeokuta North, Ado-Odo/Ota, Abeokuta South, Ewekoro, Obafemi-Owode, Ijebu-Ode, Odeda, Egbado South, Ifo, Egbado North and Ipokia local government areas, while PDP carried the day in Ikenne, Ijebu-North, Ijebu-East, Sagamu, Imeko-Afon, Remo-North and Ogun waterside. Going by the zones, while PDP cleared the entire Remo zone, the APC was the clear winner in Egba and Yewa zones while the Ijebu zone was shared by the two parties almost equally.

Save for a few changes expected to happen here and there, the outcome of the next presidential election in Ogun State may still remain close to what obtained in 2015. In spite of the support currently being enjoyed by Atiku and the PDP from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Buhari will still win the presidential election in Egbaland convincingly.

This is because Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who is also running on the APC ticket in the zone’s senatorial election, is well loved by his people. And in spite of the unusual political ripples within the APC in the state, the two factions, as well as Amosun’s adopted Allied Peoples Movement (APM), are all working hard for the victory of Buhari and the APC in the presidential election.

In the Yewa/Awori area of the state, the APC will win convincingly in all but Imeko-Afon, where Gboyega Isiaka, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) candidate hails from. Isiaka and his party, who are being supported in the race by Obasanjo, have announced their adoption of Atiku as their preferred presidential candidate. Isiaka has a firm grip on the politics of Imeko-Afon and will most likely deliver the local government for the PDP once again.

But in Ado-Odo/Ota, Egbado South, Egbado North and Ipokia local government areas, the APC will win majority of votes largely on the combined strength of Amosun, other APC chieftains like Speaker Suraj Adekunbi, Biyi Otegbeye, Tolu Odebiyi, as well as Adekunle Akinlade, the APM gubernatorial candidate, who is from Ipokia area of the zone. It is obvious that neither Isiaka, nor the PDP can withstand the political strength of this combination.

In Remo zone this time around, the PDP may not find it easy winning the way they did in 2015. Although the party still boasts of formidable chieftains in the area, the lingering face-off between Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon. Ladi Adebutu has done a lot of damage to its presence across Ogun East senatorial district so much so that many of its erstwhile foot-soldiers have dumped the party.

Aside that, the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Dapo Abiodun, two Remo sons from Ikenne-Remo and Iperu Remo respectively, in the race as APC’s vice presidential and governorship candidates, may alter the age-long voting pattern of the people of this zone that has voted PDP massively since 2003. Abiodun will be ably assisted by other APC chieftains like Post-Master General Bisi Adegbuyi from Ode-Remo, former Speaker Muyiwa Oladipupo in Sagamu, among others. As it is, it is most likely that the zone will be shared between the two parties at the presidential poll.

The two parties are likely to retain most of their strongholds in Ijebu zone as they share the votes and council areas in the area at the presidential election. Naturally, Buruji will deliver his native Ijebu North to the PDP and may easily add Ijebu East, but the APC will give him a good run for his money in Ijebu Waterside this time around considering the defection of most of his erstwhile supporters in the area into the ruling APC.

Similarly, the APC will not find it easy winning Ijebu-North East on February 16 on the strength of its declining popularity in the local government. The party lost popularity following the failure of its elected council chairmen, except Adeola Banjo (Lord Banjou), to live up to the expectation of the people. Banjo’s predecessor, who is now one of the people leading the APC’s campaign in the area, is specifically alleged to have done nothing for the people while in office. Sadly, Banjo, like numerous other former chieftains of the party in the area, left the APC for the APM few weeks back.

All in all, with the APC and APM in the state working towards the victory of President Buhari, and the two factions of the PDP unable to come together and galvanize their members towards the presidential election, the APC is looking good to win the presidential election in the state even with a wider margin that it posted in 2015.

Verdict: Buhari

 

LAGOS STATE

Not minding the threat to “take over Lagos” by the opposition PDP, it is convenient to predict that APC will win convincingly in Lagos State at the presidential poll. Pundits are even of the opinion that the opposition PDP will perform poorer than it did in 2015 when it gave the ruling APC a good fight in all the elections.

APC scored 792, 460 to defeat the PDP which had 632, 327 in the presidential race back then.

Although the PDP governorship candidate is working had to garner the votes for Atiku, the personality of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the APC, and the recent restructuring carried out within the party, will do the trick once again and Buhari will win more votes in Lagos. Also, unlike in 2015 when some fallouts of its party primaries caused serious frictions within its ranks, the APC is today more united that it was four years ago.

Also working against the PDP in Lagos State is the loss of majority of its prominent leaders to the APC. Chieftains like Chief Mrs. Remi Adiukwu, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and its then state chairman, Moshood Salvador, are now in the APC ready to work for Buhari’s re-election. Even Chief Bode George, though still in the PDP and openly supporting Atiku, is on a self-imposed political holiday, leaving the party without a known leader in the state.

The PDP has also lost many of the areas it garnered votes to the APC following the defection of almost all the state and federal lawmakers that won on its platform into the APC. Thus, erstwhile strongholds of the PDP like Oshodi-Isolo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ojo, Badagry and Amuwo-Odofin are now brimming with APC chieftains ready to get the votes for Buhari.

Also, the APC ticket will benefit from the acceptance being enjoyed in the state by Vice President Osibajo. The choice of Osinbajo has been a hit across the Southwest and this is expected to translate into votes on Election Day for the APC. In spite of the criticisms trailing some of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s policies and projects, observers say the APC government in the state have performed enough to keep the voters trusting its candidates.

However, the PDP is putting up a good fight in the state largely by targeting the votes of non-indigenes across the state. Notably, the vice presidential candidate of the party, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, has been to Alaba International Market, Ladipo Market, Trade Fair Complex and a number of other Igbo-dominated areas in the state to canvass for votes. Agbaje has also been promising non-indigenes better deals under a PDP administration in the state.

Although the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate in the state, Agbaje, are vowing to win the state for Atiku come February, the APC which has intensified its mobilization efforts across the state, looks good to sweep to victory as usual. Analysts say the reality on ground does not support PDP’s claims as the APC look set to run out what remains of the PDP at the next general elections.

VERDICT: Buhari

 

OYO STATE

APC won the presidential election in Oyo during the last presidential poll. APC scored 528, 620 while PDP got 303, 376. The state used to be the stronghold of the opposition PDP until recently. But today, majority of those chieftains who made the party tick in the state have jumped ship or gone into political oblivion, leaving the party in limbo.

The likes of former governors Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala are no longer with the party. While Ladoja now leads the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the state, Alao-Akala is the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Both leaders have also lost some of their chieftains to the ruling APC in recent times, especially Alao-Akala, who joined the APC briefly after dumping the PDP.

Other erstwhile PDP top guns like former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin and former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Ayodele Adigun are now in the APC working for the success of its presidential candidate. Observers of the politics of the state say PDP in Oyo State is today a ghost of its glorious past and cannot put up any serious challenge to the victory of President Buhari in February.

After an initial threat to its peace by a disagreement between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Communications Minister, Adebayo Shitu, the APC in Oyo appears to have repositioned itself to rout the opposition in all the elections. Buhari will win the highest number of votes in the coming presidential election in the state on the strength of the popularity of his party.

Although the PDP held a well-attended rally in Ibadan, the state capital in December, analysts insist Oyo State will go to APC while the PDP will clinch the first runner up position ahead of any other political party. In spite of their political differences, both Ajimobi and Shittu are vigorously working hard to make sure the state is won by Buhari in the presidential election.

Verdict: Buhari

 

ONDO STATE

In spite of the state not being under the control of the party, the then presidential candidate of the APC Buhari was declared winner of the presidential election in Ondo State. He polled 299, 889 votes to beat former President Jonathan of the PDP, who got 251, 368 votes, according to results declared by INEC.

The result came as a surprise to many pundits who had thought the PDP will ride on the popularity of the then Governor Olusegun Mimiko to clinch victory. Mimiko had just joined the PDP from the Labour Party at the time as part of efforts to strengthen the PDP in the Southwest zone and enhance the re-election of Jonathan. But the plot failed as Buhari won more votes for the APC.

Come February 16, Buhari and the APC would still win in Ondo State. This is not only because the state is still firmly in the political grip of the ruling party under Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, but largely because Atiku’s party, the PDP has little or no presence in the state as we speak. Political observers say the PDP which used to control the state until 2012, is struggling to stay alive even in Akure, the capital.

Following its loss at the last general election, the opposition party went into disarray with most of its chieftains dumping the party alongside former Governor Mimiko, who is now a senatorial aspirant of little-known Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). The gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2012, Temitayo Jegede seems to have left politics outrightly while Jimoh Ibrahim has been unheard of in the politics of the state since then.

Although they are disagreeing between themselves, the two rival groups in the APC led by Governor Akeredolu and Senator Ajayi Boroffice are working towards the same goal; delivering the votes for Buhari in February. Atiku’s campaign is not being felt in the state and the few PDP members that remain are ruing the exit of the likes of Olusola Oke and Senator Tayo Alasoadura from the party.

VERDICT: Buhari

 

OSUN STATE

After giving the impression that it was ready to take over the political leadership of Osun State during the last governorship election in the Southwest state, the opposition PDP appears to be fading away from the political firmament of the state so soon. The party in Osun shocked many people when it almost snatched the governorship seat of the state from the ruling APC last year in a keenly contested election.

Shortly before then, the party emerged winner in a senatorial bye election in the state ahead of the ruling APC, sending signals that it was back and better. Many had predicted the return of the party to take over the state politically back then. But few months after that impressive showing, the same cannot be said of the party that governed the state between 2003 and 2011.

Senator Ademola Adeleke, the candidate in the two said elections, is not as visible as he was in the politics of the state since losing in controversial manner to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the APC, amidst indications that the state chapter of the PDP is back to its crisis-ridden self. A sitting Senator, Adeleke surprisingly is not seeking re-election into the upper chamber, leaving the opposition without its star chieftains in the 2019 elections.

For its part, the APC appears to be repositioning itself for new electoral challenges ahead. Governor Oyetola, who took over from Rauf Aregbesola has embarked on a number of fence-mending missions that analysts say are yielding fruits. To add to this, the state managed to conduct crisis-free primary elections to elect its candidates. Consequently, Buhari looks poised to win the presidential election in the state.

To add to the good fortune of the ruling APC and compound the political troubles of the opposition PDP, Senator Iyiola Omisore, one of the erstwhile pillars of the opposition in the state and gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the last election, has pitched his tent with the APC to work for Buhari’s re-election.

However, the APC will surely not repeat the margin it achieved in the state in 2015. Back then it took 383,603 votes to the PDP’s 249,929. This is because in spite of its lackluster approach to the presidential contest, the PDP in Osun still enjoys good followership among the people, especially in Osun West senatorial district where Adeleke hails from. Many of the people there are still aggrieved that the APC allegedly stole the governorship victory from their son and may give protest votes to Atiku and the PDP.

Also, the crisis that trailed the emergence of Oyetola as the candidate of the APC last year led to some prominent APC chieftains dumping the party. Unless some of these people return to the party before the presidential election, some hitherto strongholds of the ruling party may be lost to the opposition. The likes of Peter ‘Power’ Babalola, and Moshood Adeoti must return to the APC for the party to repeat the 2015 feat.

Verdict: Buhari

 

EKITI STATE

In 2015, PDP won the presidential election in Ekiti State. Jonathan won all the 16 local government areas of the state, according to results of the presidential election announced by INEC. PDP also won all the National Assembly seats in the state. Jonathan polled 176,474 votes ahead of Buhari who got 120, 332 votes.

But many people have attributed the PDP’s surprise victory of 2015 largely to the widespread acceptability enjoyed by the then Governor Ayodele Fayose of the PDP and the federal might provided by the then Jonathan-led federal government. Today, the scenario is totally different. Kayode Fayemi of the APC is governor and the federal government is also under Buhari’s APC.

Can the PDP deliver the state for Atiku this time around? The answer may be an emphatic no especially with the PDP in the state now divided into two groups led by Fayose and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abiodun Olujimi respectively. To make matters worse, the two groups are at war over who should lead the partying the state while the APC is consolidating its grip on the politics of the state.

Governor Fayemi is reaching out to members and non- members of the ruling party to come aboard and be part of his new administration promising that he will not discriminate against those who worked against him. The APC has been reinvigorated by the gubernatorial victory and the party has been receiving decampees from the PDP in droves.

One thing is, however, clear, the presidential election in Ekiti State will be keenly contested as Fayose and Fayemi renew their political rivalry. They both have points to prove. While Fayose wants to prove he is still popular in the state, Fayemi must show that his victory last year wasn’t a fluke. But as it stands, the APC appears to have the advantage.

VERDICT: Buhari

 

SOUTHEAST ZONE

 

ANAMBRA STATE

Although Anambra State is currently governed by an All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government, a political party whose leader, Governor Willie Obiano currently supports APC presidential candidate, Buhari, we can report that the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is better positioned to win in the state during this week’s presidential election.

It would be recalled that since the death of APGA’s former Presidential candidate, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in 2011, the party had been aligning with the then ruling PDP in most of the presidential elections. So, though APGA has continuously governed the state, it has somehow remained largely a PDP state.

It would be recalled that when APGA aligned with PDP in 2015 election, Jonathan got 660,762 out of the 688,584 valid votes cast in the state. APC got 17,926 votes to come a distant second.

Today, the case is different and more complicated. One, APGA has, at least on paper, its presidential candidate, retired General John Ogbo, unlike in 2015 when it did not have any candidate.

So, even if one argues that the APGA’s candidate may only be on the INEC paper, it is not unlikely that some local voters, especially APGA enthusiasts, on seeing APGA’s logo, may vote for him instead of for PDP or APC. This may defeat the purpose of the current leadership of APGA in the state.

However, PDP evidently has a boost because the former governor of the state, Peter Obi, is its vice presidential candidate. It is a fact that in Anambra, Obi is well loved and has incredible grassroots support. This, added to the sentiment that ‘PDP has fielded our own son’ will go a long way in securing a chunk votes for PDP’s Atiku.

A major snag for PDP in the state, however, is that Governor Obiano, the estranged former political godson of Obi, is backing APC’s Buhari, a move his critics say is primarily to slight Obi. He is closely supported in this assignment by the senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, Senator Victor Umeh, also a former political ally of Obi. The governor and the former National Chairman of APGA are some of the forces that will battle Obi and PDP in this coming presidential election. How far they would go remains to be seen.

It is, however, believed that with APGA’s alliance in Anambra State, APC chieftains like Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment will be further empowered to win more votes for APC and Buhari in this week’s presidential election.

Besides the sentiment that “Obi is our son,” sources confirmed that the former governor enjoys much support from the people because of his achievements when he was governor. He is also known to be highly loved and supported by the Catholic and even Anglican faithful because of his unrivalled personal investment in the church while he was in power and ever since then.

Besides the Church, Obi, according to sources, will garner massive votes from youths, most of who benefitted immensely from his support during his tenure as governor, when they were still in secondary schools or in the universities.

Given these realities, it seems difficult to imagine that the Atiku/Obi ticket can lose in Anambra State, where Obi hails from, Obiano’s factor notwithstanding.

Verdict: Atiku

 

ENUGU STATE

In Enugu State Atiku is poised to win in this week’s presidential election, notwithstanding the recent progress made by the APC in the PDP stronghold.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, Enugu has remained a PDP state. In 2015, for example, PDP garnered 553,003 out of the total 573,173 viable votes cast in that year’s presidential election, leaving the other 13 political parties that contested that election to share the remaining 20,170 votes.

However, observers, who have monitored the progress so far made by APC in the state, said the margin may not be this wide in the forthcoming presidential election. This is because APC in the state now boasts of top political leaders like former Governor Sullivan Chime, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Senator Ayogu Eze, its governorship candidate.

One source said: ‘If not for the misunderstanding that trailed the party’s primaries, it would have by now emerged a stronger opposition to PDP in the state.’

It would be recalled that in 2015, when the party did not boast of some of these political leaders in its fold, it got 14,157 of the total 573,173 valid votes cast in that year’s presidential election, thus emerging second to PDP. There is no doubt that its presidential candidate will do much better than it did in 2015.

But it seems PDP’s candidate will still win convincingly in the state.

This prediction is based on the fact that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led PDP state government has visibly deepened the party’s firm hold on the politics of the state.

Another major factor that will work in favour of PDP’s candidate, Atiku in the state is the zonal struggles among the political leaders in the state. For example, the influence of Ugwuanyi’s strong ally, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who represents Enugu West Senatorial Zone, cannot be overemphasised. It is also instructive that Ugwuanyi hails from Enugu North Senatorial District, the same zone APC candidate, Senator Ayogu Eze, represented between 2007 and 2015. On the surface, some analysts predict a major battle here but given the awesome power of incumbency, informed insiders said Ugwuanyi’s PDP would get upper hand though APC, because of Ayogu Eze, would definitely get impressive votes in this zone.

This leaves Enugu East Senatorial District currently represented at the Red Chamber by Senator Gil Emeka Nnaji, as the most interesting battle ground in this presidential election. This is because of the influence of the numerous political heavyweights from this zone in both PDP and APC. For example, since PDP fielded former governor of the state and ebeano chief apostle, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, as its senatorial candidate, PDP supporters have great hopes to win massively in the zone. But the interesting thing here is the fact that if PDP believes Chimaroke Nnamani’s influence will surely secure the zone for its presidential candidate, Atiku, APC also have highly influential political leaders that hail from this zone, who are campaigning for Buhari. It is important to note that former Senate President Ken Nnamani and former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, to mention just a few, who are presently APC leaders, also hail from this zone and are poised to campaign for votes for APC’s Buhari.

In all, it seems certain that PDP, which has power of incumbency and age-long loyalty, has greater chances of winning in the state, not only because of the internal dynamics that still favours it but also because PDP’s Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, from the neighbouring Anambra State, also enjoys wide acceptability in the state.

Verdict: Atiku

 

ABIA STATE

Abia State has been another PDP stronghold since 1999. But as we reported earlier, reports of under-performance or near total lack of dividends of democracy there have resulted to outcry from across the state for far reaching change.

This feeling will ultimately affect the result of the forthcoming presidential election in the state. We gathered that most stakeholders are furious to note that Abia, though an oil-producing state, is today one of the least developed in the country, physical infrastructure wise, a development that has resulted in aggressive agitation for change of leadership. How that change will affect the result of this week’s presidential elections, promises to be intriguing.

The feeling that the state needed socio-political change preceded 2015 elections. Then, majority of voters simply stayed away during Election Day. The records showed that the state recorded high level political apathy that year.   Out of the 1,349,134 registered voters, only 401,049 cast their votes during the presidential election. Our investigation shows that this attitude has changed tremendously. In all the 17 local government areas of the state, campaigns have been comparatively more passionate and determined. It is being alleged that the renewed interest is a result of well-coordinated schemes to put Abia on a new path.

In addition to the ruling party, PDP, the support base of two other political parties are of special interest in this week’s presidential election. They are the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, who is also the party’s senatorial candidate for Abia North and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), led by Dr. Alex Otti, its governorship candidate.

But it would be recalled that PDP convincingly won the 2015 presidential election in the state by getting 368,303 of the total 391,045 valid votes. That year, APGA had officially endorsed PDP’s presidential candidate, former President Goodluck Jonathan, as its candidate. This is not the case today.

However, our investigation shows that notwithstanding the aggressive campaign to tackle the PDP in the governorship and other state elections, the party may still win the presidential election easily. This is because of the obvious popularity of Peter Obi in particular and the relative acceptability of Atiku in the state.

However, considering the possibility that APGA in the state, which has been having a running battle with the state PDP, may be convinced to support one of the two leading presidential candidates, APC’s President Buhari and PDP’s Atiku during the presidential election in Abia State, some informed observers said PDP could not, as at today be absolutely certain it would win in the state.

APC can no longer be taken for granted in Abia today. It would be recalled that even in 2015, when the party did not have some political heavyweights it parades today, it came second in the state during the presidential election when it got 13,394 valid votes. So, the permutation today is that if Otti-led APGA finally supports APC during the presidential polls, the table may turn against PDP. However, the same would be the case if Otti and his party forget the political bitterness against PDP in 2015 and support the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku. So, in all, the decision of APGA supporters is a factor that may affect the result of the presidential election in Abia though it is certainly not the most critical factor.

Verdict: Atiku

 

IMO STATE

Imo is the only Southeast state currently under the leadership of an All Progressives Congress-led government. But following the intricate power struggle amongst its leaders, there is the fear that APC may not take it for granted that it would win the presidential race in the state.

Sources blamed this possibility on the sustained criticism of the leadership style of Governor Rochas Okorocha, a development that was worsened by the fallout of the governorship primaries’ disagreements which led to a major division between Okorocha and the leadership of the ruling party, APC, over the choice of the governorship candidate. While Okorocha had pushed for Uche Nwosu as the party’s candidate, the party finally chooses Senator Hope Uzodinma with the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, as his running mate. For APC, the implication of this development is that going into the presidential race as a divided political family is a major disadvantage.

Incidentally, the uncertainty is not limited to APC. The other leading party, the PDP, can no longer be described as being very strong in Imo as it was in 2015. Although PDP’s strongman, former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, is one of the earliest Igbo political elites to publicly hail the choice of Peter Obi as PDP vice presidential candidate, and to pledge commitment to work for the victory of Atiku, it remains to be seen how popular and united PDP in the state is today.

Also, unlike in Abia, where some analysts believe APGA may be persuaded to support either APC or PDP candidate, the political rivalries in Imo may make such a possibility more difficult. As at today, it is not yet certain which of the two leading presidential candidates Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the APGA governorship candidate and his supporters will support. So, the two candidates, Buhari and Atiku may have to rely on the strength of their political parties and their individual popularities for victory.

Whatever may be the case, the picture will certainly not be a repeat of 2015 scenario, where, out of the 702,964 valid votes, PDP, with the cooperation of APGA, garnered 559,185 votes, leaving only 133,253 votes for APC which eventually took the governorship election.

This time, APC and PDP would have to fight hard to win the presidential election, but latest intrigues and inability of APC current leaders in the state to reconcile with Governor Okorocha, may neutralize incumbency factor, which would have worked in its favour. What may remain for APC in Imo in this week’s presidential election could be backstabbing, a move that would aid PDP’s victory in the state. Whatever is the case however, APC’s Buhari is certain to garner reasonable votes from Imo.

Verdict: Atiku

 

EBONYI STATE

Ebonyi State has remained a PDP state since 1999 and there is no definitive factor that suggests there would be a change in this year’s presidential election.

It would be recalled that out of the 363,888 valid votes cast in the state in 2015, PDP, in collaboration with APGA, harvested a whopping 323,653 votes, leaving only 19,518 for APC, which came second.

Since APGA has its presidential candidate for this year’s election, in the person of retired General John Ogbo, PDP may not get the support it got from the party in 2015.

However, even without the support of APGA as a political party, sources said most of the APGA grassroots members may vote for PDP in the presidential election.

Following the clarification mid last year that the argument over positions between old members and new members did not succeed in dividing the party in the state, it seems the major challenge the PDP candidate may have in Ebonyi would derive from the fear that Governor Dave Umahi, who led the Southeast governors to express reservations over the nomination of Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate, may not give the candidates the required support. This is even more, when it is a well-known fact that the PDP governor is a political admirer of President Buhari, the APC candidate. It is said that the relationship between Umahi’s family and Buhari dates back to the retired general’s days in military service.   Insiders confirmed that the relationship is still very robust.

This notwithstanding, there is the feeling that PDP still stands a great chance because APC in the state may not have improved so much as to expect any tangible difference in its 2015 performance. It would be recalled that although it came second in 2015, the party, led in the state by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, got only19, 518 votes. Besides, observers said since Umahi, the governorship candidate of PDP, cannot openly work against his party during the presidential election; his personal reverence for Buhari may not translate into significant votes.

Verdict: Atiku

 

 

SOUTH-SOUTH ZONE

 

BAYELSA STATE

Since 1999, Bayelsa has remained a PDP state. It produced the last president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and still boasts of PDP faithful at the grassroots.

Out of the 367,067 valid votes cast in the state in 2015, PDP got 361,209 votes, leaving only 5,194 votes for APC, which came second.

However, so much has happened in the state politically since then. For example, the competition during the January 9, 2016 governorship bye election, which followed the inconclusive substantive election held on December 5, 2015, confirmed the growing influence of APC in the state.

At the end of the hot contest however, the incumbent governor and the candidate of PDP, Seriake Dickson, emerged the winner. Dickson polled 134,998 votes to defeat Timipre Sylva, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress who scored 86,852 votes.

Also, the ruling PDP has been battling with some internal disagreements that have threatened its fortunes in this week’s presidential election. One of the issues that threatened the unity of the party in the state was the automatic return ticket ripples. Late last year for example, some concerned stakeholders of the party in the state had to call on the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, to intervene in the internal crisis rocking the party to protect its chances in the 2019 elections. One of the groups, Bayelsa State PDP Stakeholders Forum (BSPSF), particularly made the appeal in a statement signed by its Chairman, Chief George Amaibi, in Yenagoa.

This week, PDP’s candidate, Atiku, will depend on the leadership of Governor Dickson, and former President Goodluck Jonathan whose influence still looms high in this region.

The APC candidate, President Buhari, will depend on the diligence of the leader of the party in the state and former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, and of course on the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.

Verdict: Atiku

 

RIVERS STATE

In this week’s presidential election, Rivers is one of the states observers will take special interest in. This is because of the complexities that now define the politics of the oil-rich South-south state.

Rivers, which started out in 1999 as a PDP state, became a major APC state under the then governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who governed it for eight years. However, Amaechi’s erstwhile political son, Nyesom Wike’s emergence as the state governor, on the ticket of PDP, not only returned the state to PDP but marked the beginning of an intriguing political rivalry that has held the breathe of Nigerians.

Because Amaechi, the current Minister of Transportation, is also the Director-General of Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential Re-election Campaign, the expectation is high that he ought to ensure APC’s victory in the state during the presidential election. Both because of the high offices he currently occupies and the fact that it has become a personal battle between him and his former ally, it is certain that Amaechi will put in all he has to deliver Rivers to Buhari.

Ironically, the same pressure is on Wike to deliver Rivers to PDP. It would be recalled that Wike enjoyed unalloyed support of the former First Family, the Jonathans, when he contested for the office of the governor of the state against the endorsement of Amaechi. This presidential election seems another opportunity for Wike to not only prove that he is now the political leader of Rivers but also to pay back to PDP. However, some insiders alleged that though Wike is a strong PDP fanatic, he and Atiku are not really on the same page.

These two political leaders and other top politicians like Tonye Cole, Senator Magnus Abe both of APC and the Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Felix Obuah, will play major roles in influencing the result of the presidential election in the state either for Buhari or Atiku.

As it stands however, PDP still remains set to claim the state once again. It would be recalled that out of the 1,565,461 valid votes cast in the state in 2015 Presidential election, PDP garnered 1,487,075 votes while APC got 69,238 votes to come second. It remains to be seen if the figures can change significantly in the coming election even as Amaechi and Wike continue their ongoing epic political rivalry.

Verdict: Atiku

 

DELTA STATE

Delta has also remained a PDP state since 1999. Given that the party has continued to grow under the leadership of Governor Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, there is likelihood that it would still win this year’s presidential election.

It would be recalled that out of the 1,267,773 valid votes cast in the state during the 2015 presidential election, PDP got 1,211,405 votes, while APC got 48,910 votes. Looking at this figure, one would ordinarily write off any party contesting with the ruling party, PDP, in Delta.

But today, so much has happened in the politics of the state, especially within the opposition APC. For example, the defection of the former governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to APC last year is considered a major plus for the party.

But informed observers wonder if such gains are enough to defeat PDP leadership in the state and win votes for Buhari?

Also, the disagreement in the APC during the run-up to the primaries may still affect the performance of the party in the presidential election. It would be recalled that the faction led by Prophet Jones Erue and loyal to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Great Ogboru had openly opposed direct primaries while the other APC faction in the state loyal to Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Chief Hyacinth Enuha threw its weight behind the state and presidential direct primaries in the state.

It is also clear that apart from influential politicians like Okowa, Uduaghan, Great Ogboru, Omo-Agege and Otega Emerhor, the other top politicians that will influence the result of the presidential election in the state include traditional political leaders in the state like former governor James Ibori.

In all, PDP, which enjoys incumbency advantage, is still popular enough to win the presidential election in the state.

Verdict: Atiku

 

EDO STATE

President Muhammadu Buhari will easily garner the majority of votes in Edo state given the popularity of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress across the state. The APC’s political hold on the state, from the days of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who is now its National Chairman, supported by the rave reviews currently being enjoyed by Governor Godwin Obaseki, should work in the party’s favour.

Before the 2015 general elections, the PDP could boast of pockets of strongholds in the Southern Senatorial District of the state, but all that faded with the defeat of the party by APC that year. The death of PDP strongman and former political leader of the state, Chief Tony Anenih, late last year, may have completed the demystification of PDP in a state it controlled for nearly 12 years before Oshiomhole took over.

Explaining the misfortunes of PDP in the state, a source told The Nation during the week that “The only visible remnants of the opposition PDP in Edo today can only be seriously felt in Oredo Local Government Area.” The source added that Obaseki’s superlative performance, especially his interest in developing areas that hitherto felt neglected, has made APC further entrenched in Edo.

Apart from these, party chieftains and members of the APC in the state are under pressure to prove that the state belongs to the party that have given them the rare opportunity of producing its National Chairman twice. Former National Chairman of the party, John Oyegun, who was Oshiomhole’s predecessor, is also from Edo State. The two, aided by other leaders will ensure Buhari’s victory in Edo.

Verdict: Buhari

 

AKWA IBOM STATE

In the opinion of political pundits, Akwa Ibom State, the nation’s biggest oil producer, has made a right about turn politically, moving away from the PDP, which has ruled the state since 1999, to become an unmistakable APC enclave. A number of factors are responsible for the shift in political colouration in the oil-rich state.

Gale of Defections: In the last three and half years, the ruling PDP in the state has suffered unrelenting gale of defections. The state started out in 2015 with three PDP senators; now it has one, two of them having defected to the APC in the last one and a half years, the last senator to defect being Godswill Akpabio, former governor of the state and former Minority Leader in the Senate. Many house members, political leaders and ordinary rank and file members of the party have moved over to the APC. Last week, the entire serving local council members in Essien Udim Local Government Area decamped to the APC. Essien Udim is the home council area of Senator Akpabio.

The whole of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District is in lockdown for APC. Akpabio represents that district in the Senate.

The fortunes of the APC are on the rise equally in the other two senatorial districts of Uyo and Eket, where political heavyweights such as former Deputy Governor of the state, Lady Valerie Ebe (Eket) and Senator Eme Ekaette have moved over to the APC. The governorship candidate of the APC, Obong Nsima Ekere, is from Eket Senatorial District. And so also is the state governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel. The stage is thus set for a keen contest, a local derby of sorts, in the district. Pundits see a 50-50 split for the two parties in the district.

But the key drivers of support for APC in Uyo Senatorial Area are the mega political personages of Umana Okon Umana, Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority; Senator John James Udoedeghe, former Junior Minister for Abuja; Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs (Senate); Obong Rita Akpan, former Minister; Dr. Maurice Ebong; Otuekong Sonny Jackson Udoh and Efiok Akpan, a political stalwart in Ibesikpo Asutan.

The PDP is expected to offer a tough fight in Uyo Senatorial District with Senator Albert Bassey, the lone PDP Senator in the state, and Onofiok Luke, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, leading the charge.

However, APC is expected to win in the district.

A critical driving force in the battle for minds and hearts in the state is the performance of the incumbent governor. There is a general perception that the governor has not done well in terms of performance; that he has no enduring legacy; has not completed any significant project since he came into office; and has abandoned all ongoing projects he inherited from his predecessor. Though the governor has pushed back on this, claiming that he is successfully planting industries in the state, critics have dismissed his industrialization claims as laughable.

While the governor’s lackluster performance has alienated much of the population in the state, the unprecedented federal attention to the state since President Buhari came into office has endeared the state to the APC. For instance, the state enjoyed more than 60 key federal appointments under the Buhari presidency, making many leaders to say at political events that the state has never had it so good. In addition, the construction of Ibaka Deep Seaport was captured in the 2019 budget, while contracts for major federal highways in the state have been awarded by the Federal Government. These are vote-catching projects.

And there is an earnest longing of the state to return to the centre by voting APC. Many leaders of the state from Obong Ekere to Senator Akpabio and Umana have said at many campaign rallies that Akwa Ibom cannot afford to remain in opposition. Such cries resonate well with the people of the state.

Verdict: Buhari

 

CROSS RIVER STATE

In Cross River State, the PDP still looks good to repeat its 2015 landslide victory in the state in spite of some improvement in the visibility of the opposition APC after the last general election.

It would be recalled that out of the 450,514 valid votes cast in the state during the 2015 Presidential Election, PDP got 414,863 votes, while APC got only 28,368 votes.

Informed observers said the situation may not have changed significantly as APC candidate may still come a distant second in the state.

This, pundits said, is due to two major reasons. First, is the internal division that led to two factions that produced two governorship aspirants, namely Usani Usani Uguru (a serving Minister) and John Enoh.

So far, it seems the two factions have failed to reach a peaceful accord in spite of several efforts by party leaders like ex-Governor Clement Ebri and Chief Edem Duke, as well as the national leadership of the party. No doubt, this week’s presidential election will be affected by this development.

Secondly, Governor Ben Ayade and his predecessor, Liyel Imoke, appear to still have their firm grips on the politics of the state. The harmonious relationship between the duo, in spite of insinuations that they have fallen apart, helped the ruling PDP to wax stronger after the last election. Across the state, the governor is also adjudged as having done well. So, PDP looks good to get the votes to prevail on February 16.

VERDICT: Atiku

Source: TheNation

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