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Today’s polls: The shape of things to come

Posted by By Bolade Omonijo & Chioma Gabriel on 2007/04/14 | Views: 940 |

Today’s polls: The shape of things to come


THE die is finally cast. For the governorship candidates in all the 36 states of the federation and the political parties, there is no hiding place any longer. Today, the chips settle as eligible Nigerian voters go to the polls to elect 36 governors who will be in the saddle, in the absence of ugly disruptions, till 2011.

THE die is finally cast. For the governorship candidates in all the 36 states of the federation and the political parties, there is no hiding place any longer. Today, the chips settle as eligible Nigerian voters go to the polls to elect 36 governors who will be in the saddle, in the absence of ugly disruptions, till 2011.

Of the lot, only eight of the incumbent governors will be seeking re-election. These are the governors of Borno, Gombe, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Kano, Kwara and Kogi states. The rest would have served out their mandatory two terms on May 29, 2007. Their legacies or lack of them would be what each of them would eternally be remembered for.

For the past several months, the nation has been gripped by election fever with contestants and their loyalists criss-crossing all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria to try to get the electorate to cast their votes for them. Today is the D-Day. The hour has come for them to gauge how successful or otherwise their efforts had been.

By the end of this day, there will surely be celebration in the homes of some highly-placed persons. In contrast too, there will be tears and subdued silence in other homes. The scenarios represent what are to happen in the residences of the victors and the vanquished.

For the candidates, this is the biggest and most trying moment. This is the day when the governorship and state Houses of Assembly candidates will leave their homes well prepared for battle in the field. They will move from polling booths to collation centres in order to be sure that things proceed smoothly and that the processes are not compromised to their disadvantage.
In simpler language, they will all troop out to make sure that the results are not manipulated or that they are not out-rigged. Or that their agents are not out-smarted.

It is no less herculean for the 50 parties that will each aspire to dominate the polls or win at least a state House of Assembly seat. It is different strokes for different folks. Of course, there are contenders to the various thrones and pretenders who make the most noise but hardly back same up with action.

Prof. Maurice Iwu, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman had, interestingly, pledged the impartiality of his men and the preparedness of the commission to conduct perhaps the fairest and freest elections in Nigeria. “The promise I make to all Nigerians is that we’ll do everything within our reach to have credible elections where the man with the highest votes is declared the winner at the end of the day,” he had said.

The challenge for INEC is to ensure that its preference for electronic registration of voters is justified by the sound functioning of the machines at work all over the country today. And that the operators do not deliberately manipulate the machaines to achieve a pre-determined result.
The question to then ask is: if the ideal environment is provided, will the opposition be able to upstage the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in some of its perceived territories? Will PDP also be able to snatch victories in the enemies’ dens too? What is the hope of the new parties? Can they make any impact or are they in the race to make up the number?

Instructively, President Olusegun Obasanjo had said, Wednesday, at an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP that there was the need to leave a few states for the opposition parties “so that we can have true democracy.”

Without doubt, the shape of the things to come will begin to show from later today till tomorrow morning when results begin to trickle in from the various states and constituencies.

But how, indeed, will the elections play out? Who are the likely winners in the different states?

What factors will be at play? In terms of geo-political zones, will PDP make it another hundred per cent in the governorship race in North Central and South-South?

Let us now look at the shape of things to come.

SOUTH-EAST

With a total of 6,714,509 voters registered in the five South-East states (less than 7,446,842 from only Kano and Kaduna states), the battle in Igboland will be tough and somewhat dicey, owing to a number of factors.

But the same cannot be said of Anambra state with a voting population of 1,844,819 persons. Here, PDP’s Andy Ubah is favoured to win. Current deputy governor, Mrs. Virgy Etiaba would still give him some contest but her late entry into the race did not help her. It would have been a fiercer one if former governor, Dr. Chris Ngige of Action Congress (AC) and ANPP’s Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu had been on the ballot. It is Ubah’s day.

In ABIA, PDP has a slim edge to win, especially since the reconciliation between the camps of party scribe, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and governorship candidate, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu. But he will have his hands full from the challenge that will be posed by fellow journalist, Ikechi Emenike of the All Nigeria People’s Party

Theodore Orji of Governor Orji Kalu’s PPA would have been one of the serious contenders until INEC announced that it had disqualified him and then the news that he was not stopped afterall. And even late on Thursday, many were not sure if his name would be on the ballot, though his party had clarified that he was still a candidate.

And should that be the case, then the competition is certain to be keen because Governor Kalu is still a great force in Abia politics with the structure that he built over the years, and the highly-influential Reality Organisation founded by his mother.

Another contestant who cannot be waved aside easily is Labour Party’s Chief Chuku Wachuku who is the only serious flag bearer from the Ngwa-speaking area with a respectable population of Abia. Add Chief Uzodinma Okpara, son of former Premier of Eastern Nigeria, Dr. Michael Okpara and the APGA candidate to the list and it is understandable why not many gamblers are willing to bet their money on any particular person.

However, what Chief Ugochukwu has going for him is the resolve of the party at both the federal and state levels to keep Abia because to them, the reasoning is that “even if another party (apart from PPA) wins, the man (Kalu) is going to claim that he stopped PDP.” Yes, Ugochukwu may win but it will be a choking rivalry at the polls.

EBONYI

Chief Martin Elechi’s emergence as the PDP flag bearer jolted many in Ebonyi state. One, he was not among those being initially mentioned as likely successors to Dr. Sam Egwu. Two, some thought that he was, perhaps, too old to have agreed to join the fray.

But soon after he was confirmed and cleared by INEC as the ruling party’s man for the job, there has been a great swell of support for him from different quarters. APGA’s Anthony Oka, AC’s Dr. Obasi Akpa Obasi and Christopher Ogbonna Onu of ANPP will each strive to pull the rug from under his feet. But will they succeed? The governor’s widespread connection and structure in the state shall ensure victory for Chief Elechi.

ENUGU

It is in this state that a dark horse may emerge as governor. On the face of it, it will be a four-way fight between Barrister Sullivan Chime (PDP), Rev. Oscar Egwuonwu (DPP), Barrister Okey Ezea (Labour Party) and Arc. Fidel Ayogu of ANPP. Each person has his own appeal.

Chime has the Ebeano structure and the state government behind him. Egwuonwu is seen as the face of the anti-corruption crusader in Enugu. Ezea has the finances and the verve. Ayogu enjoys certain sentiments that could sway critical support for him.

It would have served either Ezea or Ayogu better if one of them stepped down for the other. That way, the beneficiary would have been sure of bloc votes from seven local government areas in the Nsukka cultural zone. But as things stand, the Labour candidate is sure to dominate the votes from his home Igbo-Eze South council while Ayogu will do the same in Igbo-Eze North. Then two of them would split votes from the other councils.

What will hit Chime most was not picking his running mate from Nsukka which has the largest voting population among the senatorial districts in the state. The party had a chance to redeem itself when it dropped the name of Sam Ejiofor who has been in EFCC net in Lagos. But it still unrepentantly settled for Sunday Onyebuchi from Nkanu. So, it has been most difficult to sell Chime’s candidacy to any Nsukka voter.

As for Egwuonwu, it serves him well that Enugu people see him as the person fighting corruption in the state, courtesy of his petition to the EFCC that brought the anti-corruption agency to the state. Beyond just writing the petition, he has been instrumental to keeping the matter on the front burner. Again, he is said to enjoy the support of leaders of the state, especially former governors, Chief C.C. Onoh and Chief Jim Nwobodo.

Enugu is ‘too close to call’ but do not be surprised to have Egwuonwu emerge at the end of the day. Until then, keep your fingers crossed.

In IMO, with the expulsion of Senator Ifeanyi Araaume by the PDP, Chief Martin Agbaso who has also been adopted by the Peoples Democratic Party is the man likely to receive the baton of power from Chief Achike Udenwa on May 29, 2007. However, be warned also that in politics, there is always the element of surprise.

SOUTH-SOUTH

In this volatile region with 9,060,868 voters, PDP had a total sweep in 1999 when it won all the six states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers. It repeated the same feat in 2003, thereby sending out clear messages that it was the party to beat.

Today, another democratic journey begins with the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections. But unlike in the last two general elections, the situation is different this time around. At the moment, there are no less than 50 parties as against the paltry three in 1999, thereby broadening the political space..

In Edo, it will be a tight battle between Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor of the Peoples Democratic Party and Action Congress’ Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Whereas Osunbor will rely on the support of leaders like Chief Tony Anenih and Samuel Ogbemudia, Oshiomhole enjoys large followership from the workers in the state. And though the two are seen as the front runners, there will be no ignoring the challenge posed by the other candidates.

A major shift was said to have happened in Bayelsa when the Ijaws reportedly backed DPP’s Senator John Kojo Brambaifa and asked other Ijaws in the race to back down for him. This move cannot be taken lightly knowing that the Ijaws are the most populous in the state. But with the state machinery and the federal might at his disposal, PDP’s Timipre Sylva, a non-Ijaw, enjoys huge support base capable of turning things in his favour. It will be interesting to see how the Ijaw politics plays out.

Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers may not produce results radically different from what bookmakers had long predicted and what had been the pattern. Thus, no soothsayer deserves no prize to foretell, for instance, that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan will win in Delta.

NORTH-WEST

With a voting population of 15,843,586 persons which is more than the figures for South East and South South geo-political zones combined, the North-West is the region with the highest appeal for next Saturday’s presidential polls. This is because each candidate will fancy to get a huge chunk of his or her votes from the zone.

Of all of them, the state with the biggest appeal will be Katsina, not necessarily because it has the highest number of votes (in fact, it is third behind Kano and Kaduna), but because two of the major contenders for the Aso Rock throne are from the state. Between Governor Umar Musa Yar’Adua and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the PDP and ANPP flag bearers respectively, it is a supremacy contest. Each would treasure to make a bold statement by winning his home state.


Yar’Adua has an advantage as the incumbent governor with superior structure going by his eight-year stint as the helmsman. But Buhari enjoys such committed following that could compensate for what he lacks — not having patronages to dispense.

In the 2003 elections, this was one zone in which the ANPP controlled more states than the PDP. The former produced governors in Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara; leaving only Kaduna and Katsina to the PDP.

But it will be unrealistic to expect the same kind of results in today’s polls because a lot of water had since passed under the bridge. Governors Saminu Turaki (Jigawa) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi) had since joined PDP while Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, governor of Sokoto is the acclaimed founder and presidential candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP.
Thus, in Sokoto, it will be a gritty show of strength between three parties: the ANPP which is presenting Abubakar Sarkin Yaki, DPP which has Muhammadu Dingyadi and PDP’s Aliyu Wamakko whose running mate is Muhktar Shehu Shagari.

With Amin Muhammed Dalhatu (AC), Senator Mohammed Ibrahim (ANPP) and PDP’s Sule Lamido, a former Foreign Minister, it is a tough duel that is hard to stick out one’s neck for, quite unlike the rivalries in Zamfara, Kaduna and Kano where no radical changes are expected or predicted.

NORTH-CENTRAL

In Plateau, although there are 12 governorship candidates, only two are strong contenders. The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate is Commodore Jonah Jang (Rtd) while Action Congress parades Pam Dung Gyang. Both men will slug it out with a view to determining who will be handed the task of restoring hope in a devastated state.

Working in favour of PDP in the race is the quality of its candidate. Commodore Jang who had attempted to rule the state in 1999 and 2003, is well regarded as a strong Christian. He is equally well known among his Berom people who as the single largest ethnic stock in the state have always argued that they deserve to occupy the number one seat.

However, the PDP lost some support in the state following the state of emergency imposed in 2005 and the consequent impeachment of Governor Joshua Dariye. AC’s Pam Gyang is not as well known but he has the backing of a strong platform. Though AC is favoured to win, nobody is ruling out the possibility of PDP crushing that dream, or any other party seen as the underdog causing a major upset. Other candidates include Mr. Victor Lar of ANPP, Samuel Galadima of DPP and John Wash Pam of APGA.

It is a straight fight between PDP’s Hon Gabriel Suswam, AC’s Shima Ayati and ANPP’s Senator Daniel Saror in BENUE. Factors on ground tend to suggest that the PDP may not have much problems picking the ticket. Working in PDP’s favour is the choice of Chief Stephen Lawani, a prominent Idoma as running mate to the governorship candidate and the solid support of the political elite of Idoma land for the PDP. The choice of Governor Akume as senatorial candidate is also working wonders in the state.

With that decision, the political establishment of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu has been broken to the detriment of the AC. But can any wise politician discountenance the capabilities of Ayu? Or can any sane politician in Benue not recognise the status of Senator Saror?

KWARA

The state is now fully in the grips of the Sarakis. Between father and son, the Sarakis dictate the pace. Dr. Bukola Saraki, the incumbent governor is PDP’s flag bearer while the AC has Senator Suleiman Ajadi, a tested politician. Contesting on the platform of the ANPP is Mr Bolaji Khaleel, a former commissioner in late Mohammed Lawal’s administration and Mr Gbenga Olawepo of the DPP. There are 13 other candidates making up the number.

Kogi

There are as many as 15 candidates in the race. However, only four are strong about their ambition. They are the incumbent, Governor Ibrahim Idris contesting on the platform of the PDP, ANPP’s Prince Abubakar Audu, AC’s Senator Mohammed Ohiare and Prof Yusuf Obaje of the DPP. Before the death of Senator A. T. Ahmed, an alliance between the West and Central districts was threatening to dethrone the Igalas, but the governor has since consolidated his hold on power and appears set for a second term.

Nasarawa

This is one state where the governor is exiting in an acrimonious setting. He is believed to have opted for Alhaji Akwe Doma, a former deputy governor of old plateau State in the Second Republic against the expectation that he was grooming his deputy, Mr Labaran Maku for the job. Until recently, Alhaji Akwe Doma was a leading member of the ANPP whose flag he bore at the polls in 2003.

Apart from the governor’s support, Akwe Doma picked the PDP ticket as a result of the inability of Chief Solomon Ewuga and Mr. Maku to close ranks. Now, Ewuga is the candidate of the ANPP and he is such a potent force that the state is polarised and violence has claimed many lives. It however appears that Akwe Doma stands a better chance of winning the race. He will not do so without a stiff fight.

In the power state of NIGER, the contest is strictly between the PDP’s Dr. Babangida Aliyu and AC’s Mohammed Isah Ladan. Resolution of the crisis in the state and reconciliation of political stalwarts who were up in arms against the party had helped raise the prospect of consolidation of PDP’s hold on power. Dr. Babangida Aliyu who until his selection as candidate was a federal permanent secretary is quite popular and acceptable to both former military President Ibrahim Babangida and the state governor, Alhai Abdulkadir Kure. Yet, Mohammed Isah Ladan of AC is sure to make some impact. If nothing else, the party is likely to pick some House of Assembly seats.

SOUTH-WEST

With 10,889,087 voters in the South-West, this is one zone where tough tasks lie ahead for some parties. It is another opportunity for the AC to make a bold move to pick some a state and an appreciable number of Houses of Assembly seats. It would be recalled that five of the states were taken over by the PDP in 2003. Both parties are set for a major showdown in a bid to remain relevant.

The importance of LAGOS in the commercial, industrial and financial calculations in the country as well as its population puts it in a special category. It is the only state where there are more non-indigenes than indigenes and where the state government generates more revenue than it receives from the federation account. This has made the state politically influential. The fact that it refused to bow to federal might in 2003 has added to that significance and raised the stakes. It has the largest contingent of contestants in the country with 22 men and women bidding to succeed Governor Bola Tinubu.

Four of the contenders stand out in terms of the strength of structures, popularity of candidates and depth of their pockets. They are Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) of the AC, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro of the PDP, Mr Jimi Agbaje of DPA and Mr Femi Pedro of Labour Party. All of them had earlier belonged to the Tinubu school of politics.

In Lagos, it is unwise to be definite on who will win between Fashola and Obanikoro. But that does not make other candidates less worthy of victory. Thus, there are fears that, given the number of candidates, that no clear winner would emerge on the first ballot. This has raised the need for an alliance between the forces.



Those who had earlier belonged to Tinubu tendency led by Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi of the ANPP are said to be regrouping to present a common front. It was not clear at press time how many of the parties involved in the talks would finally sign the agreement and whether that would be sufficient to stop the battle from moving to a second round.

The major candidates in OYO state are Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala of the PDP, Senator Ajibola Ajimobi of ANPP, Professor Taohed Adedoja of AC and Alhaji Bashir Apampa of Labour Party. Until last week when Governor Rashidi Ladoja showed he was in support of the Labour Party’s candidate, Comrade Apampa stood no chance, but, given the travails of the governor and the public sympathy for him, the direction the election would go is no longer clear.


The Ibadan political, traditional and business elite have announced their support for Senator Ajimobi while former Governor Lam Adesina is campaigning vigorously for Adedoja. The PDP has federal might and the political sagacity of Chief Lamidi Adedibu to fall on. The crystal ball remains unclear.

ONDO

Two major candidates have emerged: Governor Olusegun Agagu contesting on the platform of the PDP and Dr Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party. Others with some measure of support include Ademola Adegoroye of the AC, DPA’s Isaac Agbesua and AD’s Clement Bajowa. Mimiko is extremely popular with the grass roots. His campaign has shown that without government machinery, he stands a good chance of moving ahead of competition. But that is as far as permutation goes. PDP will not fold its arms and watch an incumbent governor and Baba’s man to be disgraced.

The contest in Ogun is between the incumbent, Governor Gbenga Daniel of the PDP, ANPP’s Senator Ibikunle Amosun and AC’s Dipo Dina. Had the opposition come together, it would have stood a good chance, but as things stand, the race is most likely to go to Governor Daniel.


EKITI is another state likely to produce interesting results. The indicators point in the direction of a swing from the PDP to AC. But the party at the centre is not known to lie down and wait for any challenger to take the fight to him. PDP’s Segun Oni emerged in controversial circumstances that forced out some of the other contestants. The events leading up to the declaration of a state of emergency in the state made the PDP lose much ground. But can it become an advantage to AC candidate, Dr Fayemi? .


OSUN

This state is too close to call. The main candidates are AC’s Rauf Aregbesola who literally raised the AD from the dead into relevance, and the incumbent Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the PDP. Both men have their areas of strengths and weaknesses. Oyinlola as an incumbent has state machinery working for him and has a loud support from his Odo Otin base, Ile-Ife and Ede, but Aregbesola has block votes from Ijesaland and Igbomina land.

NORTH-EAST

If there is any zone that could be described as no man’s land, it is the North East. Ordinarily, this would have been a fertile ground for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s AC since this is where he hails from. But things are no more what the Vice President expected, though the Supreme Court will decide next week if he will contest the April 21 presidency or not.
Indeed,

ADAMAWA being the home base of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is the state to watch in the zone. He has been involved in the politics of the state since 1989, was elected governor in January 1999 before President Olusegun Obasanjo picked him as running mate in the presidential race of that year. As the moving spirit behind the AC, his candidate, Ibrahim Bapetel is a leading contender.

Also considered a serious challenger despite the heat generated by the manner of his emergence as candidate of PDP is Admiral Murtala Nyarko. Between the duo, it is ‘no retreat, no surrender.’

In BAUCHI state, Governor Adamu Muazu is very popular, having led for eight years. He is a senatorial candidate and the main sponsor of Alhaji Mohammed Nadada Umar who was his SSG for eight years and a personal friend. However, he would meet a stiff and determined opposition spearheaded by Alhaji Isa Yuguda who was also a confidant of the governor. The race could go either way.

GOMBE

The main candidates are Governor Danjuma Goje of PDP and Col Musa Mohammed of AC. Interestingly, the opposition parties, including ANPP and DPP are united in this race. It is not out of place to expect the odds to favour Goje.

Yobe

This is the stronghold of Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim. He dictates the pace and is the major pillar behind the aspiration of Senator Mamman Alli whose major opponent, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri, formerly the Executive Secretary of PTDF. Ali is expected to win but it will not come on a platter of gold because there are other strong contenders with good support base.

The odds favour Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of the ANPP in BORNO who is known to be close to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Both the AC and the PDP have a large measure of support, too. But, Mohammed Kumalia of AC and PDP’s Kashim Imam have their eyes on the large pie and cannot be said to have caused upsets if any of them wins.

In TARABA, it is a toss up between Ahmed Yusuf of AC, PDP’s Danfulani Suntaru, ANPP’s Senator Abdulazeez Ibrahim and Senator Abdullahi Adamu of the DPP.



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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown