The Road to 2019: Flashpoints to Watch (VII)


With the ruling APC yet to put its house together following its contentious primary elections in many states and the opposition PDP still addressing the fallout of its pick as presidential running mate, the build-up to next year’s national elections cannot be less intriguing, though some three months away, writes Olawale Olaleye

In the week that just ended, it’s been different folks addressing different strokes. And if there are indications that next year’s general election holds impossible surprises, any discerning mind needs not ask further questions. Even raising the stakes at such incredible extent of expectations are the many predictions that are flying round about the elections.

Since its wobbly primary elections, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to struggle in a majority of states, because the national leadership of the party is believed to have been more partisan than neutral in conducting the primaries. From Ogun State to Zamfara, Imo, Niger, Ondo, Bauchi, Ijgawa, Kebbi, Rivers and many others, reports coming out of these states are not encouraging. Indeed, they should disturb as they are already.

From the PDP axis, whilst the party should by now be capitalizing on the successful outcome of its presidential convention despite the tension that gripped its members in the build up to it, the management of the outcome of such a huge success has been its undoing. What ordinarily should have further aided its rating appears its major problem.
The choice of Mr. Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State by the presidential candidate of the PDP and former vice-president of the country, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the issue the party has had to deal with in the last few days. Interestingly, this problem started to brew from Obi’s very own base: the South-east, thus, technically endangering the home zone advantage, at least, for now.

But generally, nearly all the parties have been uneasy in the last few days, including the fringe ones, as they all gear up for a major election, which in the reckoning of all, could be a make or mar for the country. But then, what has happened in what state in the week that just ended? Let’s take a short trip.


Too Much at Once
The impact of the outcome of the party primaries in Kaduna State has not been a good one, sadly on all counts. Although Governor Nasir el-Rufai eventually got his most desired result – denying Senator Shehu Sani a re-election – the last, of course, has not been heard of the political development in that state especially with the reported defection of Senator Sani to another party.

The other factor that is not likely to make this any easy for el-Rufai is that his rejection of Sani is believed to be in clear disobedience to the order and wish of President Buhari, an insubordination that may not go unpunished at the end of the day.

However, even more disturbing was the recent ethno-religious crisis, which also culminated in the kidnap and eventual killing of a traditional ruler in Southern Kaduna, Agom Adara, Maiwada Raphael Galadima. His killing, clearly, has increased the body counts in a crisis that reportedly started with mere misunderstanding between two people.
For now, this might be a little too much for the state and the government, and as the state approaches the demands of next elections, echoes of issues like this will definitely not be silenced.


Ibikunle Amosun

Between Facts and Fictions
The state of the party in Ogun State is generally believed to be one that has continued to give the presidency and others sleepless nights. This is also because of the relationship between Governor Ibikunle Amosun of the state and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although what is fast appearing a test of the relationship both men had maintained over many years is hanging between facts and fictions of what might have happened and what did not happen at all. Therefore, in addressing the illogic with logic, meticulously sifting between the facts and the fictions has become inevitable.

Whilst there are those who had condemned the governor’s disposition in the run-up to the primary, which they reckoned might have forced the opposition within to travel the route they took, such a position cannot however validate the impunity that transpired, others reckoned.

There is no debating the fact that a direct primary was conducted by Amosun for his candidates, whom he had chosen as consensus of the party and with the backing of other leaders in the state, nothing of such was believed to have held in the other camp which eventually produced Mr. Dapo Abiodun as a counter-force to Amosun’s candidate, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade.
There is now said to be a last minute intervention by the president. But how that would address the deep animosity amongst the contenders, more so at the late hour is yet to be seen. Ogun is definitely an interesting watch in 2019 as history might repeat itself, albeit differently.


Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Indisputably PDP!
Whatever Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is doing in Enugu State is clearly being done well. Apart from overseeing the affairs of state with great impressions and stellar performance that seem to dwarf those before him, he has also been able to manage party politics in such a manner that brings to the fore, his leadership prowess.

What has gone a step ahead to confirm a majority of these assertions is the everyday endorsement he appears to be getting from everywhere as the state counts down to next year’s election. While this is not in any way writing off the chances of the opposition, the APC that is fielding Senator Ayogu Eze to unseat a governor like Ugwuanyi might require more than being a ruling party.
However, with Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s alleged defection recently dismissed, PDP in Enugu cannot be safer, even when the issues that threw up the defection consideration of Ekweremadu are still very much alive.


A Subsisting Survival Battle
Ogun aside, another state that requires a full gaze of the observing public is Zamfara State, whose governor, Abdul-Aziz Yari is not taking chances in an attempt to undermine him in his state. In fact, unlike the quiet Ogun governor, Yari has publicly threatened fire and brimstone if the alleged manipulation of the primaries in his state were allowed to stay.
Although opposition senator, Kabiru Marafa, who appears to be enjoying support from an unusual quarter, which is up against the governor, recently shaded the governor for moving to remove the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, Yari is not oblivious of the repercussions of handling things mildly and is not taking chances.
Therefore, the survival battle in Zanfara State is far from being over and as it appears, the contenting forces are not giving up easily either. The battle ahead in Zamfara is not for the feeble-minded.

Putting the Past Behind
In Lagos, the dust appears to be settling. After the initial muscle-flexing from the contending forces, it appears calm has returned to the turf and everyone is ready to work together.
It is trite to state that after Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state had lost his re-election ticket to Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, there was an attempt to also impeach him, because according to the owners of Lagos, they could no longer trust the fact that he could play the spoiler and so, an impeachment plan was set in motion.
But there appears to have been a rethink over this. Even when the speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa tried to dismiss the impeachment rumour, he was not smart enough when he said the idea was not on the card “for now”.
Besides, Kebbi State Governor, Mohammed Bindow, an ally of the Lagos governor, recently came out to speak about the Lagos primary and the disposition of Ambode, moves political commentators thought was conceived to calm frayed nerves and also reassure the owners of the state.

Akwa Ibom

Udom Emmanuel

A Curious Meddlesomeness
Days ago, the police were reported to have invited the campaign coordinators of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State for allegedly attacking the opposition candidate in the state.
This move by the police, unfortunately, has elicited unsavoury reactions from the people, a majority of whom hold the view that the development might as well be a precursor to what to expect in the state in 2019, with the police clearly aligning.
Suffice it to say that Governor Emmanuel has since come out to allay fears of undue interference in the state, saying the state was at peace with itself. But analysts see it differently. There could be a plot to take over some strategic states, one of which is Akwa Ibom. How possible that might be is yet to be seen.


Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

A Sad Turn of Events
Kano has always been a state of interest in any political contest, because it is very critical to every win. With the kind of votes it readily churns out, no one can afford to ignore Kano.
Although the fight in the state has always been between Governor Abdulahi Ganduje and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, both of whom had sworn to settle the supremacy battle once and for all, the latest development however shows that Ganduje is currently up against himself.
With a trending allegation of bribery to the tune of $5 million, alleged to have been personally received by the governor and with video evidence, which the ‘up-loader’ was confident and willing to defend, the situation in Kano is fluid and the fate of Ganduje still unknown as impeachment dangles over his head.
This certainly is not a good one for Ganduje, one of the allies of President Muhamamdu Buhari, who is being entrusted with a lot of votes but now battling corruption allegation. The days ahead are surely not promising.


A Mixed Bag of Confusion
A recent Supreme Court ruling which threw out the congresses of the party that produced the current executive that midwifed the primary process, which in turn produced Mr. Tonye Cole as the governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers State, has thrown a huge spanner in the works for the APC.
It is bad enough that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi and and Senator Magnus Abe would have resolved their supremacy battle in the election of next year, the ruling has just taken their feud to a different level, which leaves the party in a state of confusion.
It is difficult to see a way out of the logjam it has found itself. Will it field candidates for the election or will it not seems to be the question on everyone’s lips. How things would play out here remains to be seen. So many factors lay ahead of the party in the state, the outcome of which does not seem good.

A Resort to Self-help
A poor management of the fallout of the Abia APC primary election is not looking good for the party with the nearly everyday protest and disapproval of what transpired during the primary.
While the PDP and its candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu are unperturbed about happening around them, the APC which is fielding Uche Ogah, is clearly not at ease as members now resort to self-help in advancing their cases of injustice. How far they can push this is what is still missing.

APC’s Loss, PDP’s Gain
Both the PDP and APC are running neck-and-neck in the state as the elections draw near. Although the elections are staggered, because the governorship election holds at a different time, what is at stake for both parties is so much that they cannot afford to take anything for granted as they count down.
What is being witnessed now is the defection of persons from both parties but as at the last count, the APC had reportedly lost more people to the PDP, a development that confirmed the fact that the PDP wasn’t taking anything for granted. Besides, Bayelsa looks comfortable for the PDP especially that it is the homestead of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Still Latching on Buhari’s Coattail
One state that has been consistently credited with poor showing in terms of performance is Katsina. Unfortunately, that is the state of President Muhammadu Buhari. Thus, Governor Aminu Masari of the state is believed to have continued to enjoy the privilege of being the governor of the president’s state to build a political clout and credibility that can win elections.
Curiously, Masari is often dismissed as one of the governors, who had given the APC a bad name with his poor showing in terms of performance. But he does not appear disturbed, because he could always ride on the coattail of the president to return to office.


A Storm in a Teacup
Still very safe in the hands of the PDP, what is going on in Kwara today is shaking the state a bit, following allegations that the governorship candidate of the party in the state, Rasaq Atunwa forged his NYSC certificate.
Atunwa has of course come out to deny any such thing, it is however important to not dismiss how much damage that could do to the party if found out it was true except of course the parties deny having any knowledge of such a crime.
The interesting thing is that Saraki is not perturbed, neither is his candidate. How the opposition can sufficiently take advantage of the situation is what many wait to see.


No Longer Safe for APC
Like many APC states, as the political equation in the country currently stands, Niger State may no longer be safe for the APC as some of its members are beginning to defect to the opposition PDP. It is also trite to say that this has a lot to do with the aftermath of the party primaries in the state.
The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, is believed to be one of those not happy with the leadership of the APC and like many of the North Central States, Niger too might be a hard sell for the APC in 2019 and therefore, no longer safe for the party.



Rochas Okorocha

Unending Tales of Woes
Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha is taking no prisoners in his rigid bid to install his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as his successor in office. But that might be long in coming with the reports that the national leadership of the party has recognised Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as the winner of the governorship primaries.
Like other angry governors, Okorocha is ready to fight this with the last drop of his blood and is one of those angling for the removal of the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.
It is public knowledge that Imo is the only South-east state in APC and with the state of things in the party in the state, it just might be on its way out of the grip of the party.