by LEKAN ADEJUWON
As the second and final lap of the 2015 general election closes today, Nigerians across the states of the federation will go to the polls to elect candidates of their choice for the governorship posts and state Houses of Assembly.
Expectations are high that the two elections will add considerable value to the nation’s fledgling democracy going by the relative success recorded during the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Although other political parties are fielding candidates in today’s election, the contest is arguably between the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress APC. This is not to underscore the elements of surprises that may play out in the course of the hot contest. Unlike in the March 28, Presidential and National Assembly elections, at least, seven states will be on holidays today as election will not be held there.
They include Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Anambra, Bayelsa, Ondo and Kogi States. Election will also not be held at the Federal capital Territory, FCT. Many watchers of political events in the country have argued that the major upset that occurred during the March 28 presidential and National Assembly election where the 16 years unchallenged PDP monopoly of power at the centre was lost to the opposition, APC, will play a major factor in deciding the outcome of today’s election.
But like a Trojan warrior, the PDP has left no one in doubt that its head may be bloodied but would not bow even in the mist of looming band wagon effect the party’s defeat last month is already having on the polity. In a consolatory message to the party’s supporters, PDP national chairman, Dr. Adamu Muazu, during the week has said: “The key to winning the remaining election is heavy turnout and voting the PDP all the way.
There should be no tactical voting. Be consistent in your support for the party. What we experienced in the presidential election is merely a hiccup which we must cast out in the gubernatorial polls. The PDP currently controls 21 of the 36 states in the country.
They are Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Gombe, Benue, Plateau, Niger and Kogi. Others are Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Ekiti and Ondo However, a closer look at how the parties and their candidates will fare in some states today cannot be entirely divorced from the voting patterns recorded two weeks ago.
In Lagos State which appears to be the cynosure of all eyes, the state is expected to have one of the most keenly contested polls due to its status as the nation’s commercial hub and the calibre of the competitors involved. Mr Jimi Agbaje, running on the platform of the PDP is believed to be giving the APC candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode a good run, money for money. Ironically, the outcome of the March 28 election has recorded a close margin between the PDP and APC and so, book makers are tipping Lagos as one state with the possibility of recording a major upset.
However, the emergence of APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, on March 28 may have altered the political equation in Lagos State as Lagosians have suddenly risen to identify with the power at the center. Also, there were originally 15 governorship candidates in the state but only five are left as the other 10 stepped down for Ambode.
The aspirants are Adeshina Buruji of the Accord Party, Obadia Akinola of Independent Democrats, Ishola Aregbesola of Action Alliance and Babatunde Sarumi of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria. Others are Abiodun Oyegunle of the African People’s Alliance, Victor Adeniji of KOWA Party, Adeshina Olayokun of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Sesan Olatunde of the New Nigeria’s People Party, Sylvester Eze of the Citizens Popular Party and Pauline Ojochide of the Progressives People’s Alliance.
Though the contest is between APC and PDP, preelection rating has given the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun of the APC an edge above his closest rivals.
His major rival as at today is the PDP’s candidate, Mr. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka. Others, whose impact would not necessarily be felt, going by the outcome of the presidential election penultimate week, include SDP candidate, Sen. Akin Odunsi, LP; Sina Kawonise, Prince Paseda of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Professor Olufemi Bamgbose of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.. For the main opposition party, the PDP, the intrigues, which trailed the choice of Nasir are still being felt even as some leaders of the party are flexing muscles with the candidate..
Unless the unexpected happens today Governor Abiola Ajimobi may break the second term jinx in the Pace Setter’s State if the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly are anything to go by Many people are of the belief that this may have a bandwagon effect upon today’s governorship election in the state, even though politicians in Oyo State generally have the notion that it is an anathema for a sitting governor in the state to serve a second term in office.
Even though five major contestants are in the race for the governorship of Oyo State namely the incumbent Governor Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi of the APC; Senator Teslim Folarin of the PDP; Senator Rashidi Ladoja of Accord; Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao- Akala of Labour Party and Mr. Seyi Makinde of the SDP, it is generally believed here that Ajimobi holds the ace primarily in view of his performance in office and secondly as a result of the bandwagon effect of the Buhari victory at the federal level.
A fierce contest is expected between Nyeson Wike of the PDP and APC candidate, Dakuku Peterside, even as the PDP is still basking in the euphoria of its landslide victory in last week’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections. The PDP won the presidential election, holding the three senatorial seats as well as the 12 House of Representatives’ seats.
The PDP’s landslide victory came to the APC as a rude shock as the leaders of the party carried out series of protests in Port Harcourt last week to express their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the elections. Rivers State has always been a PDP state; it is then not going to be a surprise if the party carries the day.
Imo State is the only state in the South East controlled by the APC under the incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha, who is seeking a second term mandate. The state is one to watch in today’s election.
His closet rival and current Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, is running on the platform of the PDP. Although the odds are in favour of PDP going by last election result, Okorocha may spring a last minute surprise because of the Buhari factor and his record achievement in the past four years as the incumbent governor. The Ndigbo are likely to support their only son in an APC federal government.
In Sokoto State, the governorship contest is between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, of the APC and the former Nigerian Ambassador to Morocco, Senator Abdallah Wali, of the PDP. From the look of things, the voting pattern in the last Presidential election is not likely to be different as the APC did not concede any local government area to the PDP.
An interesting scenario is likely to play out in today’s election in Kwara State as the race to state Government House is expected to be a three-horse race between the ruling APC, the PDP and Labour Party (LP) out of the 16 parties that fielded candidates for the election. The governorship poll is expected to be the most keenly contested in the history of Kwara State.
The APC has the incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed as the flag bearer; Senator Simeon Sule Ajibola for the PDP while Dr. Mike Omotosho is flying the flag of the LP. Omotosho, who is the coordinator of Jonathan Actualisation Movement, one of the support groups for Jonathan’s re-election, dumped the PDP for the LP after losing the House of Representatives’ ticket during the party’s primary. The contest today is no doubt a recurring supremacy tussle between Saraki dynasty and the people of Kwara State.
However analysts have tipped the incumbent Governor Ahmed, Senator Bukola Saraki’s acolyte, as standing a better chance of emerging victorious.
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