As the 2019 general elections draw nearer and with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) releasing the electoral timeline, OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU takes a look at first term governors who may seek re-election next year.
Out of the 36 states of the federation, Governorship election would only hold in 29 states of Abia, Benue, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Nasarawa.
Others are Plateau, Niger, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ebonyi, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Kwara, Imo, Yobe and Enugu states.
This is a fall out of the nullification of elections in Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Bayelsa, Anambra and Kogi states, which now makes elections in those states to hold on different dates from the general elections dates.
However, of all the states where gubernatorial elections would hold in 2019, only 20 state governors are in position to make a return to their respective Government Houses, if they win their re-election bids in 2019 and these include: Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, who are first term governors, who would definitely be contesting for a second term in office come 2019.
Others in this category include, Darius Ishaku (Taraba), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Bindo Jubrilla (Adamawa), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Ifeanyi Ugwunyi (Enugu), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), and Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State.
For many of these state governors looking forward to making a return to office, very few of them have no fear about whether or not they would return, because they have actually delivered on their electioneering promises ahead of the 2015 elections and are relying on their performances to give them a second term. Many, however, who may have fallen short of the expectations of their people may bank on power of incumbency to make a return to office in 2019.
Ambode (Lagos State)
For the former Accountant General of Lagos State, his return to the Round House in Alausa, Ikeja, would end up being a walk in the park. Primate Emeritus and former Primate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde, described Ambode as “a successor to success.”
Although his start to governance was slow at the inception of his administration, making many to wonder whether the former governor of the state and National leader of the All progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, made an error in backing Ambode’s horse for the office in 2015; he has however proved his critics and the opposition wrong.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has warned that it would take over power from Ambode come 2019, but that would probably come as the 8th Wonder of the World, should it happen.
It is on record that since the advent of this democratic dispensation, Ambode is the only governor to have received kudos and not knocks from the opposition PDP, for his giant strides in infrastructural development of the state.
Lagosians believe that Ambode has surpassed the achievements of his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, in office in two and a half years of his administration. There is no area or section of Lagos life that the Ambode administration has not touched positively.
And based on his achievements so far, his return to office in 2019 is perceived to be a done deal, but then in politics, anything can happen.
Okowa (Delta State)
Okowa came to office on the platform of the PDP, taking over from Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan also of the PDP, and as a first term governor, it is a done deal that he would seek re-election in 2019.
As said elsewhere, it is his inalienable right to seek re-election, but whether he would make a return or not depends on the people of Delta State, where he holds sway, but definitely, the APC would surely give him a run for his money come 2019, as the opposition party in the Big Heart State is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to wrest power from Okowa and the PDP in 2019.
Understandably,Okowa is said to be having running battle with opposition figures in the state and he has perfected moves to divide their ranks so as to have an easy ride.
Whether the doctor-turned politician will make a return to office for a second term in office or not, only time will tell.
Lalong (Plateau State)
Plateau State Governor, Lalong is another governor angling to return to office in 2019, having emerged victorious in 201 against all odds, following the crisis that bedeviled the opposition PDP in the state over the choice of gubernatorial candidate for the party, which the former governor, Jonah Jang, was accused of foisting his preferred candidate on the party.
Former Governor Jang had against the unwritten zoning agreement among the three senatorial districts passed on the baton to his kinsman, after spending eight years in office.
The disaffection generated within and outside the party gave easy victory to Lalong in 2015. However, those indices that gave him victory in 2015 are no longer on ground, as there had been realignment of political forces on the Plateau ahead of the 2019 election.
Just as the APC has been making frantic efforts in the state to uphold its upper hand, the PDP has also been strategizing to reposition the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Plateau State APC chairman, Hon Latep Dabang has made bold to say that the ruling party is not under any threat whatsoever, adding that what the PDP is doing in the state is just playing to the gallery, saying that Lalong’s achievements in the past two and a half years are enough to convince Plateau voters.
el-Rufai (Kaduna State)
For the diminutive former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), there is no gainsaying the fact that he would attempt to return to office for a second term in 2019, although many have said that he has eyes on the presidency in case his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari does not run for a second term.
To many in the Liberal State, el-Rufai has done more than enough to earn him a return to the Ibrihim Kashim Government House, from his cost cutting measures, to his tax reforms and his open budget policy, not quite a few believe that the Kaduna helmsman is showing that governance and transparency can be chummy bedmates.
However, one major threat to his second term ambition is his recent tiff with labour in the state over his insistence to sack over 22,000 primary school teachers, who he claimed were not competent to be so called.
Although a truce seemed to have been reached over the matter, which some people ascribed to the coming election, how he manages the crisis ensuing from the furore created by his face off with the teachers and labour would largely play a role in the success or otherwise of his reelection bid.
Umahi (Ebonyi State)
Another governor elected on the platform of the PDP, but who has enjoyed tremendous support from the APC government at the centre, Umahi, has not hidden his support for president Buhari, despite being in the opposition. He is also angling for a return to power in 2019.
And with his rice revolution in Ebonyi, where jobs have been created in the production and packaging of Abakaliki Rice, his return aspirations may face little or no opposition, especially, against the backdrop that many see him as being only a PDP governor in name only. Some of his colleagues actually see him as an APC mole in their midst.
For his unalloyed support for Buhari, the APC may likely not give him too much fight and allow him free passage into office for a second tenure. However, as always in politics, man proposes, God disposes, but, he is one governor, who will definitely make a return bid for a second term in office come 2019.
Ortom rode to power in Benue State in 2015 on the back of the change mantra and he definitely would be seeking a return for another term in office. However, in recent weeks, there have been series of underground moves and realignment of forces ahead of the 2019 election in the state, with increased behind-the-scenes moves and high powered consultations among political stakeholders in the Food Basket of the Nation.
While the race has taken off even long before the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blew the whistle, major gladiators in the state have started deploying their arsenals ahead of the clash.
The youths and elders in the state have already lined up behind Ortom for him to remain in power till 2023, even as he has continued to enjoy subtle endorsements from various groups in the state, but the opposition PDP is getting ready to also give the incumbent the fight of his life.
From the opposition, there are no fewer than 12 aspirants who have indicated interest in taking over from Ortom, and from the look of things, the battle for Benue Government House promises to be a fierce one, but Ortom may at the end of the day weather through the storm and come out victorious.
The recent massacre of over 70 people by alleged Fulani herdsmen, many have said would play a critical role in Ortom’s return bid, as many Benue indigenes may vote for him in sympathy. This is because many people are already reading political undertones to the alleged herdsmen’s attacks in the state, as some see it as an attempt to rubbish Ortom ahead of 2019.
And with Ortom enjoying the confidence and support of the youths and elders of Benue, his second term ambition could be a done deal, sealed and delivered.
Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom State)
The successor to the Minority Leader in the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Emmanuel will surely want to continue with his good works in Akwa Ibom State, and the banker-turned-politician, despite his alleged difference with his godfather, may be making the expected return to office for a second term come 2019.
His experience in the banking industry, before his appointment as Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government and subsequent becoming the state governor may perhaps have come handy in his redefining governance in Akwa Ibom State.
But he may also have the APC to contend with in his bid to make a return to the Akwa Ibom Government House in 2019, but if the outcome of the recent local government election in the state, where the ruling PDP cleared all elected positions, then he return could as well be described as a done deal.
Ikpeazu (Abia State)
Perhaps, the people of Abia State have not had it so good since its inception and since the inception of the present democratic dispensation, as they are now having it under the administration of Ikpeazu, who was elected governor of the state in 2015, against all odds.
Even after his election, he still had many court battles to his credit before he finally overcame.
Apart from the massive infrastructural developments which Abia State has witnessed in the last two years, Ikpeazu has internationalised the products from the state.
It is to his credit that not only had the quality of ‘Made in Aba products’ have improved tremendously, but the local products have become exportable.
Many communities which had hitherto been in perpetual darkness are now enjoying electricity.
The setting up of Aba Urban Renewal to restore sanity in the commercial city and the Abia State Investment Promotion Agency to shore up the revenue drive of the state are also laudable moves of the governor.
And with all of these dividends of democracy delivered to the people of Abia, Ikpeazu could be coasting home to victory for a second term in office.
Tambuwal (Sokoto State)
For the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, there seemed to be no opposition to his second term bid, as he has done more than enough to earn him election for a second term.
In fact, many analysts believe the lawyer-turned politician should be playing at the federal level.
One of the policies of his administration, which had endeared him to the people of Sokoto State was criminalising refusal to send school age children to school.
To underscore his administration’s love for education, he employed 500 teachers to address the shortfall in manpower in the sector.
He also registered over 25,000 youths who are to benefit from skill acquisition programme of his administration.
These are apart from other laudable projects and policies of his administration aimed at taking Sokoto State to the next level.
Achieving a second term for Tambuwal could just be a piece of cake.
Ganduje (Kano State)
Despite falling out with his predecessor, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Ganduje, who was elected on the platform of the APC is another governor who would want to return to office in 2019 for a second tenure.
Apart from taking Kano State to a new level, his zero tolerance for religious intolerance has endeared him to the people of Kano State in the last two and a half years.
And baring any unforeseen political cataclysm, Ganduje may be heading to the Kano Government House for another term of four years come 2019.
Ayade (Cross River State)
Another opposition governor, Ayade, has made his mark in Cross River State to be given the opportunity to continue in office for another term.
Ayade is one governor who takes pride in prompt payment of the salary of the state workers, and has in fact set the mark in salary payment across the country.
In December last year, civil servants in the state received their December 2018 salary in the first week of that month.
But despite his strides s in governance, he would still have the APC, which is angling to send him packing in 2019 to contend with.
Wike (Rivers State)
Controversial Rivers State governor, Wike, would surely employ all the tricks in the book to ensure that he returns to the Rivers State Government House come 2019, if for nothing else, to spite his one-time political ally and former governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation.
The self acclaimed opposition strongman, who is credited for ensuring the emergence of Uche Second us as PDP National Chairman, will definitely leave no stone unturned to make sure he wins his reelection contest.
While many have credited him for delivering dividends of democracy to the people of Rivers State, many have given him knocks for the spate of killings in the state in recent times.
The 2019 gubernatorial election in Rivers State promises to be a tough battle, whichever way it is looked at.
Masari (Katsina State)
An APC governor, Masari, is also one of the governors who rode to power on the back of the change mantra.
Whether or not he wins, is another cup of tea entirely but one thing is certain, he will surely seek to contest for a second term come 2019.
And with the spare of defection from the opposition party in the state to the ruling APC, the expected challenge from the PDP may after all be a pipedream.
For other states like Bauchi, Jigawa, Taraba and Adamawa, the incumbent governors will surely seek re-election come 2019, after all, it is their inalienable right to so seek; just as it is the inalienable rights of the electorate to either give them a second mandate or deny them.
But the 2019 gubernatorial election, especially for the 19 governors seeking re-election for a second term promises to be very keenly contested and interesting.
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