Deputy Editor, DAPO FALADE, looks at the strength of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), vis-à-vis the recently concluded governorship election across the country (except in Rivers State which result has been put on hold by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for reasons bordering on widespread disruptions and violence).
The 2019 general election may have come and gone but its ripples are still reverberating across the country, especially as the exercise, particularly the governorship election, sprang up some surprises, producing results that have altered the balance of the political equations. The results of the governorship election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), indeed, revealed some surprises and upsets across the country.
To many political observers, the 2019 elections were the worst in the political history of the country: they were the most protracted, tasking and onerous, despite the fact that they were, unarguably, the most expensive. The electoral exercise, which was initially scheduled to wind up in three weeks has dragged on for six weeks and still counting.
The governorship poll, according to both local and independent observers, was far from being credible, free and fair in most of the states, even as the national electoral umpire announced the suspension of results in some states and went ahead with the conduct of supplementary elections in the affected states, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto. In the same vein, the collation of the result of the election has been put on hold indefinitely in Rivers State, due to widespread disruption and violence in the course of conducting the election on March 9.
73 political parties were registered for the elections, but the real political contest across the 29 states where the election held (there was no governorship election in Kogi, Ekiti, Edo, Bayelsa, Ondo and Osun states) was between the ruling APC and the main opposition party, PDP. On a personal level, the election was indeed intriguing as some politicians who were hitherto seen as undefeatable fell like a pack of cards at the battle front, while new political warlords emerged. Those who belonged to the former category and whose parties were defeated in their various states included godfathers like Senate President Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto) and George Akume (Benue).
Reeling out the results of the first ballot, held on March 9 in the South-West states, comprising Lagos, Oyo and Ogun States, it was no surprise when INEC announced that Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governorship candidate of the APC defeated his rival, Jimi Agbaje of the PDP, by a wide margin to emerge as the governor-elect of the state. The defeat, though expected, was shocking as the permutations before the election was that Agbaje, going by the near-upset he caused in the 2015 elections, would be able to give Sanwo-Olu a run for his money in the 2019 elections, but the PDP candidate was beaten with over 500, 000 votes.
The same scenario played out in Ogun State, though differently, as Prince Dapo Abiodun of the ruling APC in the state defeated, though with a narrow margin, Honourable Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) to emerge as the next helmsman of the state at the expiration of the two-term tenure of Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
However, the greatest upset in the South-West was the fall of power of incumbency in Oyo State where the ruling APC, under the administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, lost the governorship seat to the PDP. The APC candidate, Adebayo Adelabu, backed by the combination of the machineries of Governor Ajimobi, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, among several others, scandalously lost to his PDP’s counterpart, Seyi Makinde, with a margin of 157, 635 votes. While Makinde polled 515,621 votes, Adelabu came second with 357,982 votes.
As things stand now in the South-West, APC is firmly in control of four states, including Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo, while the fate of Osun State depends largely on the outcome of the ongoing legal tussle on the governorship election held in the state last October and which was won by the APC candidate, Gboyega Oyetola. On the hand, one of the states in the zone, Oyo, is securedly back in the hands of PDP.
The governorship election was held in the seven states in the North-West, including Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa and Zamfara. In Kano State, there was a near upset as Governor Abdullahi Ganduje fought tooth and nail to retain his seat for a second term tenure. After the initial upset in the first ballot where the PDP candidate, Abba Yusuf, was leading before the INEC stopped further announcement of the results, Ganduje eventually garnered 1, 033, 695 votes to defeat Yusuf who scored 1,024,713 votes in the supplementary election that was held penultimate Saturday.
The governorship supplementary election in the Pyramid State, even with Ganduje being declared the winner, remains a subject of controversy as it has been variously described a farce and brazen murder of democracy. Election observers, including the Situation Room, led by Clement Nwankwo and the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) Nigeria 2019, among others, submitted in their various reports that the supplementary election was characterised by voter harassment, vote buying, underage voting and violence. It was further said that political thugs unleashed mayhem on voters, observers and journalists, without being resisted or cautioned by the security agents who were around to monitor the election.
Indeed, many are of the view that, with the behemoth of evidence of electoral infractions available, if the result of the election is challenged in court, Governor Ganduje may not be able to complete his second term. However, how things pan out remains to be seen as observers alike are of the view the ruling APC would never allow PDP to take over the Kano State. The state has the highest number of voters across the country and APC would need to hold onto the state, even as it was asserted in some quarters that the party did all it could to win the governorship election as a way to dismiss the claim that the presidential election was rigged in the state for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Working in line with pre-election predictions, in Katsina State, incumbent Governor Aminu Masari of APC was able to retain his seat as he scored a total of 1, 178,868 votes in the first ballot to defeat the governorship candidate of PDP, Yakubu Lado, who scored 488,705 votes.
Contesting against all sorts of controversies, APC Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State garnered 1,044,710 votes to defeat Isah Asiru of the PDP who scored 814,168 votes. The governor therefore was able to retain the state for APC. Same scenario played out in Kebbi State where Governor Abubakar Bagudu of APC defeated Isa Galaudu of PDP with 571,092 votes.
The APC governorship candidate in Jigawa State, Mohammadu Badaru, also retained the state for his party as he garnered 8120,933 votes to defeat Aminu Ibrahim who polled 288, 356 votes. However APC was not that lucky in Sokoto State where its candidate, Ahmad Aliyu had been tipped to win the election. Aliyu lost out to incumbent Governor Aminu Tambuwal who eventually won with 341 votes in the supplementary election.
The scenario in Zamfara State is more intriguing: Though Mukhtar Shehu of APC defeated Bello Mutawalle of PDP in the governorship election, the fate of the APC governor-elect hangs in the balance as all the posts contested for in both the National Assembly, governorship and House of Assembly in the state remain a subject of litigation, up to the Supreme Court, as a Sokoto State Court of Appeal, last week nullified all elections contested for by the candidates of the party on the ground that the party failed to follow the rules and regulations regarding the conduct of party primary.
As things stand, APC remains in control of five states in the North-West while Sokoto is in the hand of the PDP, even as Nigerians wait for what becomes of Zamfara State. It remains to be seen if PDP and its candidate, Mutawalle, would be the eventual beneficiaries of the court intervention.
The South-South consists of six states, including Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom, but the governorship election was conducted in four, leaving out Edo and Bayelsa states. In Delta State, and true to pre-election predictions, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP won his election as he defeated Great Ogboru of the APC with 710,236 votes.
The same feat was repeated by the PDP in Cross Rivers State where its candidate, Governor Ben Ayade, defeated John Owan-Enoh of APC 250,323 votes to secure a second term tenure. Also in Akwa Ibom State, the influence and political capacity of former Governor Akpabio was demystified as the PDP candidate, Governor Udom Emmanuel, defeated the APC candidate, Nsima Ekere by 520,163 to 172,244 votes. Indeed, the PDP victory in Akwa Ibom State was a two-front loss for both APC and Akpabio whose dominance would surely considerably wane, if not pale into insignificance, after the swearing in of Governor Emmanuel on May 29.
In Rivers State, the stake was on the high side in favour of incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike. However the electoral process was suspended in the state after the March 9 election in the wake of widespread violence, reported undue military interferences and human rights abuses. The situation in the state became melodramatic as the court had restrained the APC from appearing on the ballot for both the February 23 and March 9 elections. However, as a means to stop Wike from securing a second term tenure, the APC leadership in the state threw its weight behind Biokpomabo Awara, the governorship of the African Action Congress (AAC), to become the major obstacle to a PDP victory in the state. Nevertheless, many observers are of the view that, all things being equal, Awara can never be a match for Governor Wike in Rivers politics.
As things are, the same scenario as we had it after the 2015 elections may play out where PDP was in control of five states namely, Delta, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Rivers, while APC would retain its hold on Edo, at least, until next year when the governorship election would be conducted in the state and Bayelsa State.
The governorship election was conducted in the six states that make up the North-East zone, including Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Taraba and Gombe. After the initial stalemate generated by an inconclusive election held on March 9, Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP was eventually declared the winner of the election in Adamawa State, following the supplementary election in the state penultimate Saturday. Fintiri’s victory was at the expense of incumbent Governor Jibrilla Bindo of APC.
As predicted, APC candidate, Mai Mala Buni defeated the candidate of PDP, Umar Damagun, to emerge the winner of the governorship election in Yobe State. APC also retained its hold on Borno State as its candidate, Babagana Zullum poled 1,175,445 votes to defeat Mohammed Imam of the PDP who scored 66,117, the lowest governorship election result so far in the state. The outcome of the election in the state was a surprise as Borno is a state constantly under the ravage of terrorist attacks.
In Bauchi State, after the initial order by the court restraining INEC from proceeding with the collation of the results, PDP governorship candidate, Bala Mohammed, against all predictions, defeated Governor Mohammed Abubakar of the APC as he was declared as the governor-elect of the state.
Darius Ishaku of the PDP garnered 520,433 votes to defeat the APC candidate, Sani Danladi who scored 362,735 in the Taraba State governorship election. On the other hand, Inuwa Yahaya of the APC defeated Usman Nafada of the PDP to emerge as the governor-elect of Gombe State.
Overall, out of the six states where the governorship election was conducted in the North-East, APC has three states, while PDP was also able to win three states.
The governorship election was conducted in four out of the five states that make up the South-East, a region which has predominantly been a PDP region. While there was no election in Anambra State, the election was held in Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo states.
In Abia, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP defeated Uche Ogah of the APC to retain his seat as the governor of the state for another four years. Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of the PDP in Enugu State also scored 449, 935 votes to defeat the APC candidate, Senator Ayogu Eze.
The PDP candidate in Ebonyi State, incumbent Governor David Umahi, defeated Sonni Ogbuoji of the APC, while former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, stunned pundits as he scored 273,404 votes to defeat Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance who scored 190,364 votes, even while the APC candidate in the governorship election in the state, Hope Uzodinma, came a distant fourth in the election.
As things stand, PDP has retained its hold on the South-East region, winning the four states where the election was held and so shall it remain until 2023 when there would be another round of election in the zone, with the exception of Anambra State where the election would hold next year.
In the North-Central, also known as the Middle Belt, as it was in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly election in Kwara State where Senator Saraki failed in his bid to return to the Senate, the Saraki Dynasty was further demystified as his party, PDP, lost all elective positions in the March 9 polls. The state APC governorship candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, swept the poll to beat his PDP counterpart, Abdulrazak Atunwa, with a margin of 216,792 votes.
The governorship election was held in four other states in the zone, including, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Plateau, while Kogi State is out of the show as its own election would come up in November. Incumbent Govenor Samuel Ortom retained his seat after defeating Emmanuel Jime in the supplementary election.
Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of the APC defeated Umar Nasko of the PDP to retain his seat in Niger State, while Abdullahi Sule of the APC defeated the governorship candidate of the PDP, David Ombugadu to win the governorship election in Nasarawa State. In the same vein, Simon Lalung of the APC defeated Jeremiah Useni of the PDP to retain his seat as the governor of Plateau State.
As things stand, the 2019 governorship election was held in 29 states across the country. While the result of the election is still pending in Rivers State, 28 others have so far been declared by INEC, with the ruling APC winning in 15 states, spread across four zones namely South-West, North-West, North-East and North-Central, while PDP is in control of 13 states in all the six geo-political zones.
With the outcome of the election, APC, as the ruling party, presently controls 20 states, while the main opposition party has its sphere of influence in 16 states. The outcome of the legal tussle in respect of the Zamfara debacle and the expected collation of the results in Rivers State would eventually determine which among the two major political parties has the largest number of states under its control.