Following the unexpected stellar performance of the Labour Party (LP) at the presidential and National Assembly elections held February 25, there are indications that some governors seeking reelection and those who have positioned their preferred successors are now in panic.
About 12 governors lost their states to opposition parties during the presidential election; about five of them senatorial candidates, who were unable to win their elections. Four of these governors are seeking second term in office, while one was vice presidential candidate.
The affected governors are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Ben Ayade (Cross River); Simon Lalong (Plateau); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Nasir el- Rufai (Kaduna); Mai Mala Bunu (Yobe); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Babajide Sanwu-Olu (Lagos) and Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa). Ugwuanyi, Lalong, Ortom, Ikpeazu and Ayade, were senatorial candidates but lost. Okowa was vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but failed to deliver his state to the party.
The four returning governors, who lost their states are Sanwu-Olu (Lagos), Makinde (Oyo), Bunu (Yobe) and Sule (Nasarawa). This weekend’s governorship election is another opportunity for them to redeem their image, that is if they would be able to deliver their choice candidates. The reality of what awaits them has dawn on them as they have intensified efforts to woo the electorate with mouth watering promises. Okowa has taken the campaign to religious leaders when he met with Isoko Church Leaders Council for support to his candidate Sheriff Oborevwori.
In Enugu, Ugwuanyi also reportedly met with the Catholic and Anglican leaders in Enugu North, which has the highest voter population in the state, and appealed for support for his candidate, Peter Mbah. PDP supporters are taking the campaign too far, engaging on campaign of calumny to demarket Labour Party (LP) candidate Chijioke Edeoga, whom they see as a threat to the party’s candidate. Makinde, last Friday, commissioned the 500,000 Litres Aviation Fuel Storage and Dispensing Facility located within the Ibadan Airport, Alakia, in Oyo State. This was seen a campaign strategy to appeal to the electorate to return him on Saturday as their governor.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured once again, that the results will be uploaded at the polling unit level. The commission also assured Nigerians that the challenges that dogged the presidential and National Assembly elections would not occur in this weekend’s state elections. Going by the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections last week, many of the governors are worried as the outcome of elections are now unpredictable. The Labour Party, against all odds, beat sitting governors as well as tested politicians, who hoped to join their former colleagues in the National Assembly.
Simply put, LP created upsets and it hopes to repeat a similar thing as Nigerians go to vote their governors and those who will represent them as the States House of Assembly on Saturday. Sunday Telegraph’s investigation indicate Governor Seyi Makinde (GSM) of Oyo State. Makinde, a prominent member of the G – 5 or Integrity Group as the aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were called is battling hard to keep his seat.
The state was won by the APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while the APC made serious incursions at the National Assembly seats. The Group headed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has others such as Governor Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Okezie Ikpeazu of Benue, Enugu and Abia States, respectively. Except Wike, who did not contest, others who vied for seats in the Senate either lost to the Labour Party opponents or to the Atiku Abubakar’s faction. They had vowed to work against the party’s standard flag bearer.
In Oyo State, the PDP did not win any seat in the National Assembly as it lost to the All Progressives Congress, which swept all the seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Also, Makinde has a formidable opponent in Senator Teslim Folarin, a former Leader of the Senate as they square it off on Saturday March 11. Besides, other parties have come together to form an alliance with a view to seeing that Makinde does not win a second term. Others in this category are the Governorship candidates of the PDP in Abia State, Enugu State, Taraba State as well as their APC counterparts in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi States.
For instance, the APC candidate and Deputy to Governor Umar Ganduje, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, has Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), to contend with in the race to succeed Ganduje. Kabir Yusuf is a veteran of Kano politics, irrespective of his young age. Yusuf served in the Cabinet of Musa Kwankwaso as Commissioner of Works, Housing and Transport between 2011 and 2015. In 2019, he contested on the platform of the PDP against Ganduje, who was seeking reelection. He forced the election to go into a run-off, before Ganduje eventually won. Abba Kabir Yusuf popularly known as Abba “Gida Gida” believes that if could hold Gawuna’s Boss to a second round as an incumbent, it would be walk in the park for him against the APC candidate in the Saturday poll.
Furthemore, Abba Kabir Yusuf is relying on the support of his Political Mentor, Kwankwaso, who in the just concluded Presidential Elections, showed that he is the Master of the Game as far as Kano Politics was concerned. Similarly, the NNPP Governorship Candidate, Abba is banking on the support of the Kwankwasiyya Movement to swing the contest in his favour. Others, who are now battling to beat the LP and other opposition parties are Sherrif Oborevwori of Delta State .The LP won with 341,866 votes against the PDP’s 161,600 and the APC’s 90,183 votes.
In the same vein, he won in Cross River State – a state that has an APC member, Ben Ayade, as the incumbent governor. However, Governor Babatunde Sanwo – Olu of Lagos State and his Kwara State counterpart of the APC are less endangered. The reason is that they still have their NASS members with them. This is even as their Senatorial and House of Representative Candidates are grassroots politicians, who will canvas for them. Similarly, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State appears safe as former Gover-nor Gbenga Daniel and Solomon Olamilekan (Yayi) are still with him and will work for him.
They still have the people with them as shown by the outcome of last week’s result. Also expected to cruise home is Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Sokoto State PDP candidate, Saidu Babandoma Sokoto, who is riding on the crest of Governor Aminu Tambuwal. Governor Mohammed Matawale of Zamfara too is safe. If the trend that played out in the March 25 presidential election repeats itself in this weekend’s governorship poll, many state governors may not be able to get second term or produce their successors.