By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Fourteen political parties including the two major parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are fielding over 120 candidates in a contest for various senatorial and state houses of assembly seats in the rescheduled by-elections holding in 10 states across the country today.
The battle by the PDP to gain more senatorial seats in the National Assembly to increase its strength from 43 senators against the APC’s 65 senators will play out in rhe by-elections.
Statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) show that only one Person With Disability (PWD) is in the senatorial race from Bayelsa West. Females candidates contesting for slots in the various legislative houses are 15 in number.
Of the six seats scheduled to be filled , the battle will be hotter in Bayelsa State where two slots-Bayelsa West and Bayelsa Central Senatorial Districts–are up for grabs. Both seats became vacant when Governor Douye Diri and his deputy vacated their seats in the senate, contested the governorship election and won.
Other states where senatorial contests will be keenly contested include Lagos, Cross River, Plateau, and Imo. In Lagos, a serial governorship candidate, who recently decamped to the PDP, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi is going up against a tested banker and former commissioner in the state, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru of the APC, in the contest for Lagos East Senatorial District. Ten other candidates from different political parties including three female contestants will give them a run for their money.
The immediate past Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Henry Seriake Dickson, who is flying the PDP flag will square up against Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi of the APC and 11 others for a chance to represent the people of Bayelsa West. The battle for supremacy in Bayelsa Central majorly features, Mr. Abel Ebi Femowei of the APC, Mr. Cleopas Moses Zuwochei of the PDP and 9 other contestants.
The contest for Imo North Senatorial District which has been trailed by many controversies will be Ifeanyi Araraume of the APC and Emmanuel Okewulonu of the PDP among others. The race for Plateau North Senatorial District is contested by tested politicians. They include, Nora Ladi Laduut of the APC and Mr. George Edward Daka of the PDP. The Cross River North Senatorial district contest features nine candidates including Mr. Joe Odey Agi of the APC and Mr. Stephen Adi Odey of the PDP.
The record for the highest number of participation by political parties in today’s by-elections to fill a seat in the state houses of assembly is for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara state, where 14 political parties are featuring the same number of candidates. This is followed by the contest for Bakori State Constituency in Katsina involving 13 political parties and the same number of candidates.
Eight political parties have entered the contest for Kosofe II State Constituency in Lagos State. Some of the prominent candidates are Sikiru Adekoya Alebiosu of the PDP, Wasiu Obafemi Saheed of the APC and Abjeh Mary Ngozi of the ADC. In Enugu State, there is a contest for Isi-Uzo State Constituency, even as Ibaji State Constituency in Kogi State is also up for grabs.
Other states where state houses of assembly elections are holding include Borno, for Ngazai State Constituency, Cross River State, for Obudu State Constituency and Bayo State Constituency in Borno State.