States to watch as campaign for 2023 elections begins

NO fewer than 19 states are marked as possible major battlefields, as candidates flag off their campaigns on September 28 for the 2023 general election in the country. 

A breakdown of the figure indicates that the contest is likely to be tough and intense in four out of the six geopolitical zones across the country due to varying dynamics, among which is the calibre of the candidates, voting population, as well as a tested trajectory of voter behaviours. 

These factors are most evident in states like Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Borno, Katsina, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Benue, Plateau and Kaduna. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the list of 18 presidential candidates as part of the buildup to the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25 next year. 

The campaign train of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) comprises 325 members with Governor Udom Emmanuel as the director-general, while the campaign team of the All Progressives Congress (APC) consists of 442 members with President Muhammadu Buhari as chairman. 

Both Tinubu and APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, are co-deputy chairmen. With 48 hours to the takeoff of the campaigns, the stage is set for the parties and their candidates to take the battle to the territories of their opponents while making efforts to consolidate their foothold on their individual base. 

 

Lagos 

With Lagos State as the nation’s major political hotbed, the last few weeks witnessed a flash of what Nigerians should expect from the leading candidates and their foot soldiers in the coming weeks in the state. 

While a plethora of pressure groups have stepped up mobilisation for the APC presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu, it was reliably learnt that he has personally engaged in secret consultations with respected opinion leaders at the grassroots level in the six states making up the zone. 

The protracted crisis in Lagos PDP ebbed lately following the direct intervention of Atiku. 

He brokered peace between the warring camps expressing delight at the large turnout of the factions to receive him when he arrived for the reconciliatory talks and consultations with PDP stakeholders in Lagos PDP. 

Lagos State has a preponderance of the Igbo-speaking population and this might also be a factor.

 

Niger 

Niger is a veritable battle ground in the contest with former military leaders from the state through their foot soldiers calling the shots discreetly or otherwise, for the PDP. 

But, the ruling APC is depending on incumbent Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and his loyalists, as well as other political bigwigs in its fold to put their party in better stead ahead of the crucial poll. 


Ogun 

The campaign in Ogun State will be remarkable because of the pedigree and calibre of political gladiators already involved in the buildup to the election. 

Governor Abiodun, who is seeking a second term mandate, has strong backup given the calibre of stalwarts from the state in the campaign train of the APC. 

These include two of his predecessors: Gbenga Daniel and Ibikunle Amosun, as well as former Governor Olusegun Osoba. 

On the other hand, the open support former President Olusegun Obasanjo has demonstrated for LP candidate, Mr Peter Obi, may in a way up the ante in the politics of Ogun State ahead of the general election. 

The interest of the pan-Yoruba umbrella organisation, Afenifere in Obi’s quest to be next president also makes the contest for Ogun politics instructive. 

But more germane is the challenge coming from PDP to the dominance of Ogun politics in the last 12 years. 

The trouble-shooting mission initiated by Atiku recently is meant to redirect the compass such that PDP could bounce back in 2023, notwithstanding the opposition from a powerful force that had served as a rallying point.

 

Kogi 

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is an issue in the North-Central, nay the country, because of tilt towards youth mobilisation for political engagement. 

His foray in that regard came to the fore during his bid for APC presidential ticket. 

He is now the arrowhead of the party’s quest to rally the youths for APC ticket to complement the efforts of other party chieftains during the campaigns, including James Faleke, who is the secretary of the APC presidential campaign council. 

On the other hand, PDP parades former governors; ex-and serving members of the National Assembly, as well as former ministers. 

They have either as individuals or as a team contributed to the success of the PDP in past elections in Kogi. 

One of the spokespersons for the Atiku campaign organisation, Senator Dino Melaye, hails from Kogi. 

 

Kano 

For weeks, the Kano State political arena has been upbeat, with the main political titans involved in alignment and realignment of forces. 

Having collaborated with other juggernauts to secure the presidential ticket for Tinubu, outgoing Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganguje is poised to secure a seat in the Senate in the next dispensation. 

He is faced with stiff opposition from two of his predecessors: Ibrahim Shekarau, who is now with PDP, thus adding strength to Atiku’s campaign and Rabiu Kwankwaso. 

The collapse of an alliance between serving Senator Shekarau and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) presidential candidate, Kwankwaso has redefined the path of Kano politics with about five months to the general election. 

 

Kaduna

The APC will be relying on Governor Nasir El-Rufai to provide leadership to the party as he begins to wind down on his eight-year tenure of four years each. The success of the presidential candidate of the party has a direct relationship to his plan to determine his successor in Government House next year. 

Conversely, the PDP machinery will be counting on the ability of former Vice President Namadi Sambo to rally other bigwigs of the party for Atiku. 

Former Governor Ahmed Makarfi and other stalwarts who had shown capacity and savvy to consolidate their hold on their constituencies, will fight to return Kaduna fully to PDP in 2023, with the southern part of the state as another area of major battle which is mostly minority and Christian. 

 

Katsina 

As the chairman of the APC campaign council, President Buhari has the onerous responsibility of giving hope to the party in Katsina, his home state. 

He is to provide inspiration to Governor Aminu Bello Masari, whose eight-year tenure ends in May 2023. 

The defection of some APC chieftains in the state to PDP has bolstered the gusto of the leading opposition party in the state. 

The Atiku camp is also counting on the experience of some former top government functionaries of the state to wrest the state from APC. 

 

Adamawa 

Though it is the homestate of Atiku, the politics of Adamawa has been fluid due to the activities of a number of major gladiators. 

The PDP has a huge following, with Governor Ahmadu Fintiri at the commanding height. 

Atiku was on hand to receive hordes of APC members that defected from the APC recently. 

This is also the state of Babachir Lawal, arrow head of opposition to Muslim-Muslim ticket. 

The current secretary to the government of federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, and the first lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, also hail from the state. 

 

Zamfara 

The state has always been a focal point at pre-and post-election eras due to acrimonious politicking. 

Lack of compromise, especially within the ranks of APC chieftains, creates tension and apprehension to the point of the party knowing its fate before elections are conducted. 

The no-retreat, no-surrender mentality remains an albatross of the party, though the fate of PDP in presenting a governorship candidate for 2023 in Zamfara hangs in the balance as at September 20 when the final list of candidates was released by INEC.

 

Borno

There is huge expectation of the likely colour, form and shape that the campaign for the general election will take. 

This is because of the sentiments that surrounded the choice of running mate by presidential candidates for the general election. 

Governor Babagana Zulum is saddled with mobilising the campaign for the APC ticket, which has a former governor of the state, Senator Kashim Shettima, as Tinubu’s vice. 

Renowned diplomat, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, is another influential person that will give fillip, discreetly or otherwise, to APC campaign train. 

But, PDP is believed to have addressed issues that attended its conduct of governorship primary and braced up to getting a superior number of votes from the state known for a huge voting population. 

 

Sokoto 

With Governor Aminu Tambuwal as the PCO chairman, his mandate is clear: to ensure that PDP forms the next government in the country. 

And there has been a wave of defections to the PDP from APC, just as some PDP stalwarts have left for APC. 

His tactical approach to politicking lured the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Honourable Aminu Achida (APC) into PDP. 

 

Plateau 

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State equally holds a delicate position in the bid by APC to retain power after the 2023 general election. 

His job is well cut out for him as the director-general of the presidential campaign council, even as the dust is yet to settle for his decision to shoulder the task. 

This and many other issues now constitute the expected thrust of campaigns for the elections. Jonah Jang and Jerry Useni are among the arrowheads of PDP in Plateau. 

 

Benue 

Contentious issues prevalent across the NorthCentral zone especially will resonate during the campign by candidates and their parties. 

Those issues have marked the tenure of outgoing Governor Samuel Otom. 

With such eminent politicians like ex-president of the Senate, Senator David Mark, and PDP national chairman, Senator Ayu, as part of the fulcrum of the party, the campaign could turn out to be a clash of titans as the APC also parades former governors and a high calibre men of wits and substance.

 

Anambra 

The campaign and indeed the 2023 contest in Anambra is bound to be exciting, because of the role of certain personalities, coupled with the syndrome of war chest and ethno-religious issues. The state is the base of the LP candidate, Obi and having been the governor of the state for two terms should ordinarily confer him with an advantage over other challengers. 

However, Anambra is home to politicians and businessmen and other persons of huge means, whose support and assistance usually weigh heavily on elections. 

The candidates are spread across parties with little national spread and presence. 

 

Delta 

With its rich human and material resources, Delta is among the states with huge capacity to influence the political space. 

As PDP presidential running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is poised to fend off political offensive from the coalition of forces under APC. 

Leading the APC train is the deputy president of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo, among other titans. 

The state has an excess of 3.36 million voters as at August 1, 2022. 

 

Edo 

The campaign is an opportunity to discern the extent that Governor Godwin Obaseki and PDP South-South national vice chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, are able to rise above their supremacy tussle. 

A rapprochement between them could guarantee PDP grip on the Edo politics against a charged former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who is the deputy director general of the APC presidential campaign. 

 

Akwa Ibom 

The campaign will herald a new phase into the uncanny rivalry between outgoing Governor Udom Emmanuel and former Minister of the Niger Delta Affair, Senator Godswill Akpabio. 

The ice thawed in the relationship between the hitherto godson and godfathers over the control of Akwa Ibom politics. 

With Emmanuel as DG, PDP presidential campaign council and Akpabio in charge of that of APC for the South, a battle royale is imminent in Akwa Ibom. 

 

Rivers 

It has the largest voting population among the six states in the South-South. It has consistently delivered huge votes to PDP. 

However, the schism between outgoing Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP national leadership has split the Rivers chapter of the party. 

With some of his key loyalists and associates aligning with Atiku and PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, the Rivers governor may have been cut between the devil and the deep blue sea. 

He has an estranged predecessor in the opposition APC in the person of a former Minister of Transportation, Honourable Rotimi Amaechi, who has emerged as an adviser to the presidential campaign council of APC after his unsuccessful bid for the ticket of the party. 

 

Oyo 

Uncertainty reigns in Oyo State regarding whether Governor Seyi Makinde will come all-out to back the candidature of Atiku as the two divides of Wike and Ayu that were obvious during the recent South-West stakeholders meeting of the PDP held in Ibadan, persist. 

Though Makinde said at the Ibadan meeting that the agitation for Ayu to resign will not tamper with its support for Atiku’s ambition and the aspirations of the PDP, several supporters of the PDP in Oyo State are still looking at the body language of their leader, Makinde. 

A lot of misgivings trailed the emergence of Senator Teslim Folarin as governorship candidate of the party. However, the recent 422-member presidential campaign list of the APC has Folarin as the state coordinator for the Tinubu campaign in the state.

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