Markers of Feb. 23 Elections


As with every contest, penultimate Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections left in its trails many crucial markers worthy of dissection. Olawale Olaleye writes

It was typical that the presidential and national assembly elections would record some upsets at the end of the day. It is called upset because they happened in the least expected places and to the most implausible actors with frightening capacity rating.
From the South to the North of the country, many states recorded such upsets that would for a very long time shape the political anatomy of the country and also remain very crucial talking and reference points.

Although politically, nothing is ever considered static, until the current situation changes, perhaps with another election, the earth-shaking upsets recorded penultimate Saturday in the different states of the federation would remain some handy reference points in some intelligent political science classes in the foreseeable future.

Saraki: A Dynasty’s Test of Time

Bukola Saraki

As far as this election is concerned, the real talk of the town is the loss recorded by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose party, the PDP lost all the positions in Kwara State from the presidential poll to the National Assembly seats, with the governorship looking very likely to follow suit.

Presently, no one has been able to properly analyse what could have been responsible for such a colossal loss albeit in an election believed to have been grossly marred by irregularities. However, in the days ahead, some of these complicated explanations would begin to give way. But from preliminary observations, what appears to be going on in Kwara now is that the Saraki dynasty is going through a test of time as with every empire, details of which would come to the open with time. The truism of the saying that no empire lasts forever might have caught with the family, greatly assisted by an insatiable bitter member and beneficiary of the dynasty.

Loved and hated at the same by his people, curiously, for different reasons, those who revile the dynasty, appear to have something in common and as such, refused to see the good side. Those who love him, on the contrary, have first accepted the imperfections of the dynasty and would rather deal with the bright and promising side.

Human and fallible, what has just hit the Saraki dynasty could either be temporary or permanent, but this would be largely contingent on how the scion of the family, Bukola Saraki handles this all-time overwhelming challenge that threatens to extinct the family’s place in the annals of the body polity. But a majority of his people, indeed, many of his traducers believe that the intelligent, smart and futuristic Saraki would bounce back. History is replete with instances.

Exposing the South-west Fragile Walls
One of the most shocking performances in the recent elections was the result posted by the almighty South-west. With Ondo and Oyo won by the PDP, whilst marginally losing Ekiti, Ogun, Lagos and Osun to the APC, there is no debating the fact that the political strength cum relevance of the South-west is more mythical and practical.

Strategically, it is evident that the South-west is well positioned with enviable and vantage edge in the zone even as its history shows that it boasts immense political sophistication, when compared to its peers in other zones.
But whilst the latter day self-styled leaders of the zone had enjoyed the labour of their founding fathers, they have not been able to take this feat befittingly some strategic notch up.

When totaled and subtracted from those of the PDP, the votes that the dominant party in the zone, APC, polled did not suggest it was what it had always called itself, thus exposing its fragile and rather feeble political walls.
Although the South-west votes could be deemed sophisticated, when genuinely analysed since it is about the most cosmopolitan zone in the country, the political behavior of the people also showed that they do not have a politically recognised leadership and therefore swing in the direction they prefer based on their conviction. Those who claim leadership are no doubt self-styled impostors. Indeed, one of the most threatened states in the zone today is Lagos, where the self-styled leader, Bola Tinubu reigns supreme. To say that his inability to work with other allies in the zone through collegiate decision-making leadership is first the challenge he’s dealt with over the years.

Lagos though has so much money to keep the leadership alive and sustain the façade of its dominance for a while, the truth and reality of where it truly stands is always exposed each election year, with such poor showing, starting with the 2015 elections as example. And when the votes from the state were computed and subtracted after the February 23 elections, the miserable 130 votes is beneath the state and inconsistent with its supposed place in the body polity.

Pause for a moment and ponder what would have happened had the Igbo voted in areas where their population was deemed high? APC would no doubt have lost the election to the PDP in Lagos, even though many people believed the results of the elections in the state were greatly tampered with.
Now, with Kaduna, Katsina and Kano maintaining their place in the nation’s politics, the entire South, not just South-west, remains at the mercy of the north, having connived with an obviously smarter north to reduce the vote relevance and advantage of the South in some of their swing states, just to see Buhari emerge.

However this is considered, this election has further affirmed the place of the North West in particular in the political artery of the country and through conscious conspiracy, relegated the South-west and the entire south. This, for sake of posterity, was how the recent election exposed the fragile political walls of the South-west and the entire south in general.

Melaye: An Instructive Takeaway

Dino Melaye

Dramatic and controversial, the brilliant showing by the Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, Dino Melaye is instructive, beyond the mere celebration of an electoral victory.
Melaye was one of the major character features of the eighth senate, who entertained as well as challenged the senate, sometimes with his brilliant submission on issues of national importance or his frivolity while dueling with the opposition. He would also pass as one of the senators, who fought many battles that could have consumed the faint-hearted especially, given his association with Senate President Bukola Saraki.

From his many battles with the security agencies to the ones with his governor, Yahaya Bello, who even sponsored a recall process that failed against him, the lesson in the Melaye brand is that regardless of your inadequacies and challenges, do not leave your primary beat and political base untended.

Unlike Bello, who is presumed to be unpopular in the state even though he is governor, Melaye has been a good representative to his people, who also saw through his persecution and stayed the cause. Not only did the recall process fail, attempt to stop his re-election was also a grand failure.
His personal foibles regardless, the Melaye brand offers some instructive and positive lessons in how to manage one’s failings and keep the enemies guessing. As it is, Bello is the one to buckle up ahead of his day with the court of public opinion.

Akpabio: It’s an Uncommon Slump


Former Akwa Ibom State governor and outgoing Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio seemed to have ‘died’ by his own sword. Having come from a part of the country with peculiar nature of politics, Akpabio was one man, who failed to learn from his own success story.
He was a commissioner under former governor Victor Attah, whom the former governor dreaded to succeed him. But after the familiar horse-trading and particularly the intervention of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he made it through and the first thing he ensured on assuming office was to retire Attah, albeit politically.

However, unlike Attah, he succeeded in installing a successor despite all odds and rather than maintain his leadership of the state, he rebelled against his own creation, forgetting that history always comes handy at such a desperate time. He fell to the sword of his naïve political student, thus automatically crowning Governor Udom Emmanuel as the new leader in the state.
And if by next weekend, Emmanuel repeats his winning streak and puts the APC in its place, Akpabio might have to go and queue behind Attah in the retirement dungeon of Akwa Ibom State. His fate was as a result of arrogant miscalculation capped by his survival desperation. Indeed, it was an uncommon slump from the hill top.

Akume: A Simple Message from Benue

The people of Benue State were equally not left out in the events that marked the elections of two Saturdays ago. The elections witnessed the climaxing of the political rivalry between two allies-turned-foes – George Akume, former governor and outgoing senator and Samuel Ortom, incumbent governor and former minister.

Their rivalry arose from both the governance and politics of the state. Whilst the Akume gang hinged their opposition to the running of the government, which by the way was one of the things that pushed Ortom out of the APC, the governor pushed back with the politics of their leadership, which he always claimed was responsible for the unceasing killings of his people.

Thus, the two of them had hedged a bet ahead of the elections to settle their scores at once. For this first round, however, Ortom, with the help of other leaders in the state, retired Akume from the Senate and subtly further stamped his feet on the political soil of the state.
In the final analysis, it was a message from the people of Benue to Akume, for failing to stand up to be counted when it mattered the most but instead, chose to play the politics of the body count of his people in support of the federal government.

Amosun: Surviving the Minefield

IbIkunle Amosun

One of the governors that a majority of his enemies thought would be swept away by the whirlwind of the recent elections was the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun. His battle started during the primaries of the APC in October last year.
The outcome of the elections had forced him to choose a most difficult path, which was pitching tent with his choice candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, who eventually left the APC in the thick of the crisis that had since pitted some leaders of the party in the state against one another.

Interestingly, while Akinlade left the APC to join the APM (Allied People’s Movement), Amosun stayed back in the APC, held down the structure and went on to win his election penultimate Saturday, when many had thought he would be taught some thorough lessons.
But with the governorship election due next Saturday, the governor has since been everywhere campaigning with his candidate, even though his party has its candidate too, Dapo Abiodun. Whilst Amosun has won the first leg of his battle, the final and main one is next Saturday, which would afford the actors in the state to know their strengths.

Curiously, a quick analysis of the votes of the last elections showed that Amosun survived the minefield, not because other leaders in the state and party chose to work with him, but on the strength of his own capacity to mobilise and pull it off.
But with his suspension by the party at the weekend, tension has naturally risen in the state ahead of next week. This is even the more disturbing with the alleged mobilisation of forces from neighbouring states to fight Amosun, in what has come to confirm the fears of a desperate attempt to annex Ogun by people described as expansionists.

Uduaghan: It Was Never Going to Happen

Former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan’s aspiration to the senate was shattered during the February 23 elections. Uduaghan had left the PDP to join the APC in a predominantly PDP state, because he wanted the senate ticket on a platter, when there was an incumbent, James Manager.

But the interesting thing about Uduaghan’s ambition was that even in his household, it was a gospel truth that he could not pull off what he dared. If as a sitting governor, he could not make it happen, whatever stoked the confidence to retry as an ordinary citizen, who has been aloof from the power-centre in the state, was nothing but sheer deceit.
As predicted variously in the run-up to the elections, Uduaghan lost that election and further established the place of the PDP in the state. His ambition was never going to happen in the first place.

Ubah: A Personality Bigger Than Party

The Chairman of Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Ubah would go down in history as one individual, who scored big in the just concluded national assembly elections and his scores are in two parts.
First, Ubah ran on a relatively unknown party, Young Progressives Party (YPP) that was given no chance whatsoever and won. And two, despite running and winning from an unknown party, he also retired a sitting senator, Andy Uba and his brother, Chris, both of whom ran on the platform of the APC and the PDP respectively.

Ubah’s election is actually a major victory for democracy, because what this translates into is that if, and when Nigeria graduates to the point of embracing ‘independent candidacy’, there are many personalities that would be free from the bondage of political parties, run on the strength of their names and win elections, for as long as they are popular and the choices of their people.
Ubah, in spite of his many limitations, pulled this off, even though he has been around too for some time. And to think that he is quick to embracing new and unknown parties to pushing his ambition, he probably enjoys challenges, because it is challenging – financially and otherwise to travel that route.

Kalu: And the Bones Rose Again…

After many years of running round and pondering his options, a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu finally made it penultimate Saturday, when he defeated incumbent Senator Mao Ohabunwa in the battle for Abia North senatorial seat.
Kalu’s victory also comes with an interesting but evolving pattern in the state. With him now, there are two former governors of the state in the senate representing their districts. Theodore Orji was elected into Abia Central in 2015 and re-elected on February 23.
THISDAY had reported some weeks ago that the people of Abia had decided to be sending their former governors to the senate for effective representation, since it appears the fad in other parts of the country.

What this means is that by 2023, the incumbent governor, Okezie Ikpeazu could also find himself in the senate and by implications, it would be the first time that any state of the federation would have come-by such a feat. Above all, this is victory for Abia’s charter of equity, which dictates the current power rotation with a view to ensuring equity across all interests.

Okorocha: One Battle Down, One More to Go

His excesses notwithstanding, the outgoing Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, like his counterpart in Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun, fought a good fight in the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections.

Okorocha, who was elected senator for Imo West on the platform of the APC, has a choice governorship candidate, Uche Nwosu, in another party, Action Alliance (AA), is determined to deliver him next Saturday, a situation which makes the election in the state no less a do-or-die and it is putting it mildly.
However, that in spite of his persecution, he was able to win his senate seat even though there were allegations of manipulations, means he is a serious force to watch out for on Saturday. Although now suspended for alleged anti-party, pray next week’s election does not claim lives in Imo and other states that are apparent flashpoints.