The Road to 2019: Flashpoints to Watch (II)


Last week’s analyses of some of the political dynamics in identified states have shifted slightly, writes Olawale Olaleye

The fact that it is already an election season, clearly guarantees the reality that events would not cease to assume different shapes and in their respective contexts. In practically all the states of the federation, things have continued to happen with regards to next year’s elections, thus gradually resting the place of the business of governance.

Although Osun State held a governorship election yesterday, two distinct months after the July 14 governorship poll in Ekiti State, being part of the build-up to next year’s general election, none has however significantly shifted the current standing of the 2019 elections as stakes continue to scale up.

But the jostle for placement from state to state as regards who gets what has continued with the familiar frenzy. The presidential contest too has continued to hot up, while the battle for supremacy in other instances is fast eating up the sanity of the fair play in such places. But, first, what has changed and in which state?



The Struggle Continues

The last seven days has seen the politics of Lagos assume a disturbing fury. Embattled Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has been to practically everywhere seeking the interventions of nearly everyone, who matters in the body polity. Whilst no one has the actual details of what went awry between him and his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, what a majority of the people could deduce from their differences is that it is no less an economic survival battle, thus indicating that the stakes are high.

Interestingly, Tinubu has refused to alter a word as far as the fate of Ambode is concerned, in spite of the interventions, including the president, Muhammadu Buhari. All he has been saying is that the governor should go and test his popularity at the primaries.

Apart from having held closed door meetings, coupled with reports on some of the interventions, he has not said anything outside of what he reportedly said at the stakeholders’ meeting at the party secretariat in the state some weeks ago, that party members would be allowed to decide who represents them at what level.  

Meanwhile, the much touted anointed candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has continued with his consultations and campaigns, whilst also in the PDP, Mr. Jimi Agbaje has openly declared his intention to run, clearly latching on the unsavoury development in the ruling APC.

Many have indeed expressed concerns about how this may end; the truth is that no one can say for sure that this is the fate that awaits the Lagos APC. Therefore, the struggle continues in the state of aquatic splendour as everyone awaits the resolve of the Governor’s Advisory Council this week.



Still an Uneasy Calm

Perhaps, the pressures from different quarters of the state have not changed much in the politics of the gateway state. Governor Ibikunle Amosun has not shifted grounds about his unity list, whilst those against his decision have yet to rest on their oars too.

Two developments are currently playing out in the state. One, the incumbent senator for Ogun Central, Lanre Tejuosho is hopeful that the interventions of some elders in the state would yield in his favour and might be able to return to the senate. The other scenario is about the governorship ticket, which is still being heavily contested mostly by aspirants from Ogun East, chief amongst whom are a former Commissioner for Commerce in the state, Bimbo Ashiru and the CEO of Heyden Oil and Gas Company, Mr. Dapo Abiodun.

Again, Amosun is adamant on this because according to him, it is only fair that someone from Ogun West emerges governor since it has produced none in the state’s over 40 years of creation. Whilst he has given a positive nod to indirect primary, he would not alter his unity list and so, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade remains the man to beat.

Besides, he is not worried about the opposition PDP in the state, because it does not think there is one in the state, even though there is a Ladi Adebutu, scion of a prominent business mogul in the state, who wants to be governor. Whichever way, Amosun still holds the ace in the state, misgivings regardless.



It’s the Reign of Confusion

A few days to party primaries across the country, the situation in Oyo State is yet to assume any definitive shape. For one, a leading governorship candidate of the party in the state and Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu has just landed in a very obnoxious NYSC certificate scandal, a development that has assumed a huge embarrassment for both the party in the state and government he represents at the centre especially, coming after the resignation of the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun over the same matter.

But Shittu had come out to set the record straight. According to a release by his media office and signed by Saheed Oladele, “The law establishing the NYSC was Decree 24 of 1973, and there have been three different amendments to it: in 1985, 1993, and 2011. As at the time when the minister was a legislator, the operational law was Decree 24 of 1973 and not the 1985 amendment and/or other amendments, which Premium Times and its co-travellers premised their judgment on. 

“It is important to note that the Decree did not anticipate that there could be a time when a young person, who graduates at an age below 30, would win an election in a democratic Nigeria. Suffice to note that the 1973 Decree had some obvious lacunae, which the 1985 amendment sought to deal with. It is this obvious lacuna in the 1973 Decree that possibly propelled the then candidate of the National Party of Nigeria, Mr. Bada, to challenge Chief Adebayo Shittu’s victory in 1979, on the ground that he did not observe the one-year NYSC scheme. 

“In his ruling, the then presiding judge at the High Court of Oyo State ruled that service as a legislator suffices as service to the Nation, in lieu of the NYSC. The ground for the position of the learned Judge was drawn from the constitution, which is the grundnorm in any democratic setting. On the basis of that, this issue is rex judicata – a settled case in law – unless a superior court decides otherwise.”

According to Shittu’s media office, “Another argument raised in some quarters is that Honourable Minister Adebayo Shittu was supposed to get an exemption letter, since he did not observe the NYSC one-year service. We consider this argument laughable, as we would have expected the Premium Times journalist to go the extra mile to retrieve the exemption letter of members of staff of security agencies before they were exempted from service through the 1985 amendment.”

Further compounding the political situation in the state is the recent pronouncement by Governor Abiola Ajimobi that he did not have a candidate of choice and that everyone interested in succeeding him should proceed to the primary and slug it out.

Whilst his position appears good and in the mode of democratic ethos, it is believed in certain political circles in the state that he has only taken such a position, because he has lost the grounds to grandstand on choice successor, given the many controversies that have dogged his reign this second term.

However, still in the race are former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala; Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu (despite his scandal); Dr. Owolabi Babalola; Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Mr. Joseph Tegbe, Dr. Olusola Ayandele; Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, Chief Adeniyi Akintola and Professor Adeolu Akande. These are all APC aspirants. But in the PDP, Seyi Makinde, who has been consistent over the years in the pursuit of his governorship bid, is the candidate to beat.


Now the Race Has Begun

It is no longer news that there is no-love-lost between the Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara. Although it is purely a matter of interest, Bauchi, however remains one state, where the gladiators had played down their differences significantly and with a degree of maturity.

All the while, the belief in the public domain was that efforts were being made at the highest level to resolve whatever differences that might be especially, when Dogara refused to go at the time defection was the in-thing. He kept his cool and maintained a high degree of decorum, whatever his plans were.

But days ago, he finally defected to the PDP by obtaining his nomination and interest forms on the crest of the party. This, of course, has drawn the line between him and the governor. It is also believed that Dogara might have eventually taken this route following certain assurances made possible by their extrapolations of the political standing in the state. Bauchi remains another state of high intrigues and power play.


Okorocha Goes All Out

Not totally alien to the Nigeria’s political history, what is currently going on in Imo State would pass for a classic case study in political science classes in the foreseeable future. Something close to this happened some years back in Yobe State, when a former governor of the state, Bukar Abba Ibrahim and his wife, Khadija went to the senate and the House of Representatives respectively after eight years as governor and first lady.

In fact, the wife was a commissioner in the state before going to the House at three different times. She is currently the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and already, she has joined the governorship race in the state.

Thus, in Imo, Okorocha who will be serving out his constitutional eight years next year has indicated interest in moving on to the senate. That aside, he is also bent on installing his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as his successor. In fact, rumour now has it that his wife might have indicated interest in the House of Representatives.

Of course, he is not having a field day. Some actors in the state have shown that they have the capacity to wrest the mantle of leadership in the state from him, save for President Muhammadu Buhari, who by fiat handed him back the party leadership. What is therefore going on in Imo State might be that the APC is over-reaching itself as opposition within and without has resolved to combine efforts to thwart his succession plan.

There is no doubting the fact that Okorocha is not done with his antics and repressive rule in the state. What is also certain is that since the forces against him are more than those for him, Imo would keep dishing out updates on the state of the state till next year’s election finally berths.


A State of Unending Drama

Kogi State’s politics is peculiar and its actors too are not the archetypical politicians. They are a special breed with special tendencies. From the governor to their senators, Kogi is one state you can hardly predict what it does next.

The current political equation in the state is still very fluid. Whilst the state is not immediately holding its governorship election as others, it would participate in other elections.

One of Governor Yahaya Bello’s arch rivals, Senator Dino Melaye, who is back in the PDP is being harangued and prevented from returning, at least, not on an automatic ticket in the PDP. Yet, one of the governor’s wives is also alleged to have procured forms for the same senatorial district as Dino, clearly heightening the stakes not just in the district but the state.

No doubt, Melaye has a major political survival battle to face in next year’s election; it is also not a fait accompli for the governor that he would displace Melaye. Events of the last few months had shown that the governor is not as popular as the impression being given in the media. That he was unable to recall Melaye the last time despite the amount of resources allegedly sunk into the project is a clear indication. Kogi would certainly be an interesting watch.


In the Attitude of Stark Obedience

It is unlikely that anything significant would change here. The political leadership of the state is one and organised. Although the leader, Senator Bukola Saraki hardly talks, he is evidently in firm control of things and his leadership is so organised that even where there are dissidents, they are contained in no time.

One of his political creations, Malam Bolaji Abdulahi, last week, declared his intention to run for the office of the governor. Apart from the fact that his declaration venue was filled with the new Oloye’s friends and allies, he has not shown anywhere either by default or design that Abdulahi’s declaration had his prodding.

Aside from him, the outgoing governor, Abdufatah Ahmed too has shown interest in the senate. He has bought his forms and submitted same. Again, nothing can be traced to the leader as Saraki is called. But when it is time to situate the issues, he comes out stealthily, addresses them and recoils back to his shell. Kwara is quite safe for the leader.


Ugwuanyi’s Emerging Threat

Until recently, not much was heard about Enugu State, where PDP’s governor, Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, holds sway. Apart from stories that the governor is not doing badly in terms of his performance sheet, there is also the belief that he is in charge and nothing could shake his place in the state.

Although it does not seem much has changed, the coming out of Senator Ayogu Eze to contest the governorship of the state on the platform of the APC may actually alter some of the subsisting equation. While Eze has name recognition and might bank on the federal support, it also goes without saying that Enugu remains markedly a PDP state.

It is true that the likes of former governor Sullivan Chime and former Senate President, Ken Nnamani had long joined the APC and their presence might boost the standing of the party in the state, much as the place of Eze cannot also be pushed back, Ugwuanyi appears very comfortable in the state. Yet, nothing can or should be ruled out.


A Looming Battle of Old Folks

The well-known animosity between the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe, took yet an interesting twist last week, when the minister disputed the senator’s membership of the APC, saying he did not recognise him as a member of the party in the state. Instead, the minister alleged there was unholy camaraderie between Abe and Governor Nyesom Wike of the state, a development that meant anti-party.

Not unexpectedly, Abe too has not been stifled by any of such development as he still goes about with his governorship project. Although he has subtly asked for truce, the impression that the situation between him and Amaechi had gone past reconciliation is the reason no one is even mooting the idea anymore.

But from the PDP axis, Wike recently denied moves to link him with any candidate as a likely presidential running mate. He has never hidden his desire to return to the state as governor and it is on that basis he appears very ready to take on the opposition.

Unfortunately, whatever chances that could have been conceded to the APC in the state appear to have been consumed in the internal rivalry in the party. Rivers always offers interesting watch each election. It does appear nothing has changed so far.

The Presidential Contest

An Update!

Battle for the nation’s number one job has remained as interesting as ever albeit still at the party level as primary is slated for the first week of October. There were however some interesting developments last week. President Muhamamdu Buhari’s media team fired at Senate President Bukola Saraki for allegedly saying outright ‘nonsense’ about the president in his campaigns.

Shehu Garba, one of Buhari’s media aides, in a statement requested of the public to ignore Saraki, because he did not know what he was saying. But Saraki’s team too, scoff at the presidential media office, saying it was simply unable to address issues, and was too afraid to debate them either.

It is therefore unlikely that the sparring would end anytime soon especially as the primaries inch closer. But whilst Saraki and Buhari sparred, other presidential hopefuls of the PDP like former Vice-President Atiku Abybakar, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Aminu Tambuwal continued with their campaigns across the country in quest for votes.

Indeed, Tambuwal was in some of the South-west states last week as part of his campaign schedule. There is no gainsaying that the PDP presidential primaries would be hotly contested, but how well they manage the fallout would tell of how far the party would go in next year’s election.