Governorship polls: Tight race in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Rivers, Sokoto, Kano, Kwara
No fewer than 10 states of the federation are set to witness intense politicking and very tight races in the elections coming up later this week.
The states include Lagos, Rivers, Oyo, Kwara, Ogun, Sokoto, Imo, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue and to some extent Kano.
The outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the different states have already given insights into the shape of things but even the losing parties in that contest are seeking to upturn the tide.
In Kwara State, where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Senate President Bukola Saraki, lost its grip of the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the federal elections, the party has rallied its members back and is set to give a good account of itself during the governorship elections.
Sources in the state said that Saraki, who has relocated home is set to make the governorship election a key battle of his life as he has started leading the last minute campaigns starting from last weekend.
It was gathered that the Senate President had taken time off to x-ray what really went amiss in the aftermath of his defeat and the loss of the PDP in the February 23 elections.
The Senate President is said to be working across board to reinvent the fortunes of the Saraki dynasty in Kwara, a dynasty whose reign had spanned some four decades. His struggles is coming against the triumphant APC team which made a clean sweep of the senatorial seats of the state in the February 23, election.
Just as the Senate President is battling for the revival of his political camp in Kwara, so will the governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, also be stepping up his battles in the state. In Imo, Governor Okorocha is engaged in two fronts; the struggle to retain his Imo West Senatorial seat, while at the same time battling to produce a successor in the name of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, on the ticket of Action Alliance(AA).
Okorocha appears to have his hands full in this contest as he is set to do battle with the candidate of the APC, Senator Hope Uzodinma, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APGA), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, as well as the candidate of the PDP, Hon Emeka Ihedioha.
Araraume, Ihedioha and Uzodinma are all veteran actors in the politics of Imo State and like Okorocha, they have been part of the victory dance on different occasions. Araraume was a two-time Senator, same for Uzodinma, a serving Senator, who first got into the chambers in 2011. Ihedioha has been a presiding officer of the House of Representatives, having held the Principal Officer position and later Deputy Speaker between 2011 and 2015.
He got into the House in 2003. So their knowledge of avenues for victory and defeat in the state would surely prove handy weapons, which the incumbent governor would strive hard to undo.
The outcome of the Presidential election in the state put the PDP ahead. But sources said that the governorship election would not be that straightforward. Imo has got a big PDP presence, but Okorocha has succeeded in getting reelected twice once on the ticket of APGA and another on APC ticket.
The contest in Imo would try out whether Okorocha’s magic could win his in-law the governorship ticket against all the odds.
In Ogun, Governor Ibikunle Amosu who was also suspended alongside Okorocha from the APC is also engaged in the battle of his life. Amosun had insisted on producing a successor like Okorocha and he came up against forces that have been insisting on the sanctity of zoning arrangement.
His candidate lost out in the governorship ticket of the APC and he promptly reached out to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), where his candidate, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade emerged the governorship candidate.
The move had pitched Amosun against the bigwigs in Ogun State and opened him to battles from two major fronts; the APC and PDP.
Going by the results of the federal elections held on February 23, the APC and the PDP stole the show. But the united front which made the APC victorious would no longer be there on March 9. Votes from Ogun West are likely to remain largely in favour of the APM, while the APC and the PDP are to slug it out in Ogun East and Central.
Just as Amosun will push to ensure victory for his candidate, the chieftains and party leaders who pulled resources together to ensure the emergence of Chief Dapo Abiodun on the APC ticket would also strive hard to ensure victory for their candidate. It promises to be a titanic battle in Ogun.
The battle for Oyo State is also no less titanic. The APC, which is featuring Adebayo Adelabu is slugging it out with Engr Seyi Makinde of the PDP. The PDP won the state for its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, leaving so much for the APC to ponder about. The development had actually pushed the APC into a frenzy, leading to the deal it sealed with former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala at the weekend.
Alao-Akala, a candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) dumped his governorship ticket to back Adelabu but a coalition of other parties including the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) are also said to be working out a coalition in favour of the PDP.
If the alliance works, the APC candidate would have a big battle securing votes in Ibadanland, which comprise most of the Oyo South and Oyo Central Senatorial District. The APC would then be left to fish for votes from Ogbomoso axis, Oyo and Oke-Ogun. Its hope is that the alliance with Alao-Akala would fetch it the big votes in the ancient town.
With Alao-Akala’s influence having waned in the recent years in the town and coupled with the growing influence of the PDP in the area following efforts of the former House of Representatives Leader, Mulikat Adeola-Akande, the scramble for the votes of Ogbomoso is certainly going to present some keen contests.
The same keen contests are expected in the four local governments in Oyo as well as Oke-Ogun axis.
In Lagos, the contest between the APC and the PDP promises to be tough and hot. The two parties ran neck-and-neck in the February 23 election, with less than 100,000 votes separating the two parties. Going by the larger than life image the APC projects of Lagos, it was a shocking result and the development had triggered some untoward ethnic rivalry in parts of the state.
The contest between APC’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu and PDP’s Jinmi Agbaje for Lagos would not only be keen but stiff. Agbaje is seeking the seat for the third time, having contested in 2007and 2015. He is seen as an urbane Lagosian, who is leading the Lagos State version of Oto ge! That’s a metaphor for an overdue leadership of the state political structure popularised in Kwara State just recently.
The APC in Lagos would be fighting the ghost of Governor Akinwumi Ambode, whose removal from the governorship contest has not gone down well with many voters in the state, besides the voters who are principally about the Oto ge slogan.
In Sokoto, the forces of the APC which won the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23 are seeking to extend its hold on the state and kick out Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. But the Governor is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to retain his seat. His erstwhile godfather, Senator Magatakarda Wamakko, has been Tambuwal’s main antagonist and it promises to be another titanic battle.
Governor Tambuwal at the weekend called for the intervention of the United States in ensuring a free and fair election in his state, an indication of his loss of confidence in the manner in which the Presidential elections went.
In his own right, Tambuwal is seen as a grassroots politician and his clash with Wamakko, another grassroots political warhorse would prove to be a battle royale.
In Kano, the battle for the governorship seat between the APC and the PDP would appear to have been settled going by the outcome of the February 23 elections, but sources in the state said that state elections have got a different character.
The sources said that there still remains some ointments in the political jar of the leader of the PDP in Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso. How that pans out would remain to be seen as the Election Day draws close.
In Rivers, the battle on paper appears a one way ticket but beneath the still waters lie some fast flowing rivers that could rival a jet. The APC has been denied the chance of producing a governorship candidate in Rivers, same for the Accord Party, which the APC appears to be working with. But the battle in Rivers appears to have pitched the Governor, Nyesom Wike against the Security forces, especially the Army, whose officers have engaged the governor in some war of words in recent days, especially following the outcome of the February 23 elections.
Whether the security forces would enable the election go on without incidents is of concern in Rivers, even as it appears that PDP is in a battle against itself.
In Benue State, the forces of APC led by Senator George Akume would slug it out with that of Governor Samuel Othom of the PDP. The PDP won the state narrowly in the Presidential contest and also won the three senatorial seats but the APC leaders are not giving up, having mounted a procession round Makurdi, the state capital last week. It promises to be interesting as the forces engage in the titanic battle on hand.
In Plateau, a similar battle is ahead as the APC seeks to deepen its hold on the state. The state has been long held by the PDP but in 2015, it fell into the hands of the APC. In the Presidential election, the PDP won narrowly but the leaders of both parties believe that the governorship election would provide the final nail on the coffin of the loser.
For Nasarawa State, the APC, for the first time made a clean sweep of the three senatorial seats during the February 23 election but the PDP showed it remains a force in the state going by the narrow margin of victory. The governorship contest provides the avenue for the parties to settle the tussle once and for all and the forces are said to be at it.