The Road to 2019: Flashpoints to Watch (XXIV)


With results of the presidential and national assembly elections still coming in, the fate of the next round of the general election is dependent largely on the outcome, writes Olawale Olaleye

While the full results of the presidential and national assembly elections are still being awaited, jitters had already been sent down the spines of many states on what is about to happen in the upper week, when the governorship and states houses of assembly elections would hold, precisely on March 9.

The current discomfort in many of the states has not been made easy by some of the results, which had begun to give an idea of what might have happened and where.

Although ahead of yesterday’s elections, the major political parties did not halt their familiar recriminations, a majority of which centred on alleged plans to either rig or violate the peace accord, which sought to ensure the sportsmanship spirit at the end of the polls, it was not unexpected given what is at stake.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for instance, had accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of violating the peace pact especially that it was not comfortable with President Muhammadu Buhari’s shoot-on-sight order against prospective ballot box snatchers.

PDP also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of hoarding presidential results sheets in some areas – an allegation the commission did not even bother to respond, but rather concentrated on its assignment.

However, with 72.7 million Permanent Voter Cards in the hands of eligible Nigerian voters, in addition to the accredited 73,000 observers – local and foreign – it was not surprising that the turnout yesterday was massive across the country.

Whilst the exercise was largely peaceful in many parts of the country, pockets of violence in states like Lagos, Rivers, Bayelsa, Oyo and Anambra had automatically compelled a postponement of the elections in some of the affected states to dates that are yet to be announced by the commission.

This, notwithstanding, extrapolations in the states are still very much in top gear and in anticipation of the results of yesterday’s election especially, that the state elections are next on INEC’s schedule, all things being equal by March 9.

Thus, whilst the calculations in many of the states still remain the same except that wherever the final results of yesterday’s election swings could alter some of the dynamics, a few are still work-in-progress, whilst others battle some rather curious contradictions, that could make or mar them, ultimately.


Having a Last Laugh?

With a Court of Appeal ruling, which came soon after the rescheduling of the initial polls, Zamfara State chapter of the APC heaved a huge sigh of relief, as it was relisted for the elections after months of being retired to the trash bin of election history.

Although signs that this might eventually happen had given way last week, when the airwaves were permeated with reports that the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the federation, Abubakar Malami was reported as asking INEC to relist Zamfara, a request he not only declined as making but which INEC was also said to have turned down on the basis of subsisting court orders.

Finally, a different court gave the green light through a different ruling and Zanfara APC appears to be having a good last laugh by participating in yesterday’s election and hoping to do even well in the coming one.



What Happened to Uduaghan?

Two days before yesterday’s election, there was a report that an Abuja High Court had nullified the candidacy of a former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan as the senatorial candidate of the APC for Delta South, on account of a suit by AVM Terry Omatsola Okorodudu, challenging his choice.

But Uduaghan had quickly come out to dismiss the report of his nullification, saying there was no such thing. Truly, he participated in yesterday’s election, although exit poll reckoned it didn’t quite look good for him

However, with the performance of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, which delivered PDP’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar without equivocation, the next round of election might as well be predictable in the state. Okowa is seeking a second term in office and looks good to clinch it.



Still Complicated for APC

Whilst the PDP in Cross River is not confused about its governorship candidate in the state since Governor Ben Ayade has been nominated to return, the APC has been oscillating between Senator John Enoh and Minister of Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Usani.

In one breath, a certain court ruling would recognise Enoh and in another, a different ruling, often by a court of coordinate jurisdiction would affirm the choice of Usani. Before the postponed election, Enoh was the candidate. But as at last night, Usani was the man.

Naturally, while they both would have worked for the same candidate in the person of President Buhari in yesterday’s election, what is likely to happen in the next election is beyond the guess of anyone, at least, for now.



Little Shake-up in the Gateway State

The outcome of yesterday’s election is yet to fully assume shape hence extrapolations were still fluid while turning in this report. But all the candidates that matter in the state delivered not just their units to themselves, they also did for the presidential candidates of their choices, at least, for starters.

Unfortunately, Governor Ibikunle Amosun went into the election bereaved, having lost one of his aides, Niyi Adesanya, who had accident on the eve of the election and died immediately. But the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, survived.

Regardless, the governor proved to be his own man in his areas, even though he faced stiff competition from other contenders, who sought to displace him. But the eventual results would point the way forward for him and the state and that would be known later today.



A Battle Unending

Since the PDP message rally, which changed the tenor of projections ahead of yesterday’s election, the rivalry between the two main parties had escalated to the point that violence also resumed amongst supporters of the two parties.

A recent attack on the convoy of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, which claimed many lives, had indicated the possibilities of what to expect during yesterday’s elections. But, curiously, there were practically no reports of violence from the state.

However, in Kano, the outcome of yesterday’s elections would not be enough to settle the current scores between allies-turned-archrivals, even the March 9 elections would merely be an extension. This is so because the battle is now one of ego and supremacy and it does not usually end or go away except one party is fully decimated.



What Next for APC?

It is interesting to know that the Rivers APC has not finally given up on its chances in the last part of the elections despite the Supreme Court judgment, which seemed to have sealed its fate.

Some recent reports had stated that the party might be considering re-initiating a new legal process that would reconsider its interest the same way Zamfara made it at the end of the day.

But with the level of violence witnessed during yesterday’s elections in the state, it is clear that Rivers might remain what it is: a violence-freak oil rich state, whose respect for human lives is nil.

Well, whilst there is nothing wrong in APC trying its luck again for as long as it is within the ambit of the law the same way luck smiled on Zamfara, the resort violence should not just be a concern for all, but considered a scourge that must begin to receive serious attention. Even if APC did not eventually run on March 9, there is no likelihood that violence would not still trail the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.



Nothing is Certain Yet

Again, Lagos, with the turn of events in yesterday’s elections, has proven to be truly no man’s land. That the governorship candidate of the ruling party in the state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu lost his unit and the elections turned violent in areas with high Igbo population also meant that the political leadership in the state cannot afford to take anything for granted.

Although elections have been postponed in some parts of the state as a result of the violence that erupted, the dynamics of yesterday’s election is emboldening to the opposition and reassuring that indeed, in Lagos, anything in possible.

And with the way the non-indigenes were treated yesterday, the state is definitely preparing for a non-indigene governor in the foreseeable future. This is Lagos and nothing is definitely cast in stone.



Between O t’o ge and O t’un ya

The current battle for the soul of Kwara State is evidently not one predicated on altruism and decent political thinking otherwise it would not be that to lead the battle for the avowed change from the other side is a child of the political dynasty on this side, which they claim to detest.

Certainly, it is a movement hinged on hate, greed and desire to have the common patrimony in a different hand, not for collective good but the advancement of a political agenda other than the good of all.

Bukola Saraki is the leader of the PDP and by extension, the state. He leads from this side. On the other side, however, is his younger sister, Gbemisola, who fell out with his brother because she felt he stood in her way to becoming governor.

And how it has therefore become sensible to align behind the two, labeling one some funny names and clothing the other, who had hitherto benefited from the dynasty in borrowed garb belies logic.

Well, the fight is clearly between o t’oge, meaning enough is enough and o t’un ya, which translates, let’s continue with the journey. It is for this reason that the o t’o ge movement is likely to fail, because it is not genuine and mostly instigated by eternal forces with vested interests in the state.

Perhaps, o t’un ya now has a rare opportunity to rejig the dynasty and rearrange the current structure for the good of all, thus fully shutting the door of opportunism against the sponsors of o t’o ge.  


Challenging the Uncommon Transformer

The outcome of yesterday’s general election will tell of the political future of a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, who was believed to have abandoned the ship he labored to build for the uncertainty in the heat of poor political calculations.

Although his exit from the PDP shook the party across the region and had changed the thinking and political direction ahead of the elections, it also hardened the incumbent governor, Udom Emmanuel, who in the face of provocation kept his cool and held the forte till now.

How Akpabio wriggles out of this will determine the future of his political career and by extension, his political leadership and place in the state. This, indeed, is the real test of strength for him and the choices he made at a most crucial time.



Unmasking the Lies

Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s last week alarm that about 66 Fulani were killed on the eve of the rescheduled elections, a figure that has since increased, had raised serious national concerns especially, that it came from a sitting governor, who was supposed to know better.

But when the Police Commissioner in the state, Ahmad Abdulrahman came out to say that he warned the governor to stay away from quoting unverified figures especially when investigations were still ongoing but refused to heed his advice, it was almost certain that the governor might have done so with an ulterior motive more so if the timing must be considered a factor.

Leader of the Southern Kaduna People, Solomon Musa, also corroborated the police’s account, when he said the alarm raised by el-Rufai was more or less a script being acted. Sadly, the entire treatment of the matter had put el-Rufai in very bad light and truly confirmed there might have been more to it than meets the eye.

Well, el-Rufai reportedly delivered his polling unit, while some of his political rivals lost theirs, it is not certain if this would translate into total victory for him, even if it did, his disposition already carries with it an impossible leadership burden that his current demeanor cannot embrace.



Will This Work for Bindow?

Although the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar lost his polling unit with about 20 votes, projections still show that the totality of Adamawa votes might still go his way. But how this would help Governor Jubrilla Bindow on March 9 is yet to be seen.

Suffice it to say that about 11 other governorship candidates had reportedly stood down for him last week, but how much weight do they carry, both as individuals and as a bloc? Whichever way the presidential and national assembly elections go, it still does not guarantee his victory.

What will guarantee his election is his performance more so that he is running against PDP’s Ahmadu Umar Fintiri, another strong material that is certainly not a pushover in the politics of the state. But going forward, Bindow must fasten his seatbelt and be ready for a road rage.



A Tip of the Iceberg

Of all the South-east states, Enugu has been singled out for many reasons as impregnable. This is not only because the governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, can comfortably run on his stellar record, but more because he has provided leadership across all interests without preference for any.

Yesterday, results from Enugu showed that that Governor Ugwuanyi is truly in charge of the state and not just what was being said about him. That he delivered with such shattering precision settles every debate surrounding his leadership of the state.

That, however, was just the first leg of the test of his leadership; the second leg beckons on March 9. But it appears no one is worried. If he could deliver someone else with such force, he would labour less worrying about his election. Ugwuanyi is believed to typify the power of example, both in good governance and political maturity.

Situating the Presidential Run

This particular box in the guide to 2019 ends this Sunday. The presidential election, after an initial postponement, finally held yesterday and the results are being awaited alraedy.

A tight and tough race had been projected many weeks ago between Buhari and Atiku, with a majority of them clearly advancing an Atiku victory, although nothing appears to have changed much with the projection except that results are being awaited.

But regardless of whoever wins the race for the nation’s top job between these two northern Muslim Fulani brothers, the THISDAY guide to the 2019 election ceases to situate the presidential run from next week. Congratulations in advance to whoever wins the race whenever INEC announces the results.