The governors of Niger, Rivers and Taraba as well as other incumbent governors from both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday secured their return tickets to seek re-election in the 2019 general election as both parties held their governorship primaries across the country.
In Niger State, members of the APC yesterday trooped out enmasse to affirm Governor Abubakar Sani Bello as the party’s standard bearer for 2019 gubernatorial election, while the flag bearer of PDP in 2015, Umar Nasko, again clinched the ticket after he defeated four others.
Party members from the 274 wards of the state trooped out in large numbers as early as 8am in the designated centres to participate in the direct primary option adopted by the state for the emergence of APC candidates for all elective offices in the state.
The retuning officer for Kontagora Central Ward, Alhaji Lawal Abdullahi Madsngen, after the exercise, disclosed that out of the 1,354 accredited members, the 1198 that turned up for voting unanimously affirmed Governor Sani-Bello for 2019 gubernatorial election.
In the PDP, Umar Nasko clinched the ticket with 1, 972 votes of 2,809, setting up a repetition of the 2015 contest with the incumbent in the 2019 governorship election.
He defeated four other contestants including the former ambassador to South Africa who resigned and defected to PDP recently to contest him, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, who polled 516 votes, Hannaford Sudan – 157 votes, Aminu Baka – 110 votes, and Umar Ahmad Dogon – 24 votes.
In Rivers State, PDP delegates yesterday affirmed the candidature of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to fly the party’s ticket in the 2019 general election.
In Taraba State, Governor Darius Ishaku emerged the governorship candidate of the PDP, as delegates across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state gathered at the Jolly Nyame Stadium to unanimously vote for the Governor who contested the ticket unopposed.
Ishaku scored 1,928 votes out of the 2000 voters accredited for the exercise.
In Kaduna State, a total 2,427 APC delegates voted for Governor Nasir el-Rufai -Rufai who was unopposed as the APC candidate for 2019 governorship poll.
In Katsina State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari polled 5,562 votes to emerge the flagbearer of the APC for the 2019 gubernatorial election.
The governor defeated his two opponents, Alhaji Abubakar Sama’ila Isa Funtua and Alhaji Garba Sani Dankani who scored 8 and 1 votes respectively.
The returning officer and leader of the team sent from the National Headquarters of the APC to conduct the indirect primary election, Dr Isa Adamu said that the total number of delegates expected was 5959, out of which 5627 were accredited.
He described the exercise as very peaceful, commending the conduct of the delegates.
In Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi emerged the PDP flag bearer for the 2019 governorship election.
Although Ugwuanyi was the sole aspirant for the primary and was elected unopposed in the primary that took place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, delegates from the 17 local governments voted during the exercise.
In Ebony State, Governor David Umahi emerged the governorship flag bearer of the PDP at the primary election held at the Pa Ngele Orunta Township Stadium, Abakaliki.
In Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade was affirmed by PDP delegates from the 18 local government areas of state as the party’s governorship flag bearer.
Ayade who emerged unopposed after the delegates cast their votes at the U.J Esuene Stadium thanked the delegates for finding him worthy to seek re-election and promised not to betray the confidence reposed in him.
Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, emerged unopposed as the APC governorship candidate in the state.
The governor was named the party’s candidate by Professor Monday Osunbor who led APC governorship primary election committee from Abuja after 3,818 delegates from the 21 local government areas of the state affirmed Bagudu as the party’s candidate at the Haliru Abdu township stadium in Birnin Kebbi.
In Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, emerged the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP, promising that his second tenure would be better.
Chairman of the PDP gubernatorial primary elections in the state, Mrs Uzo Nwandu, declared Okowa winner of the primary held in Asaba.
She stated that out of the 3, 278 accredited delegates from different local government areas of the state, 26 invalid votes were counted, while 3, 252 votes went to Governor Okowa.
Governor Okowa was the only member of the PDP who picked the gubernatorial form.
In Gombe State, journalists were denied access to the venue of the APC gubernatorial primary.
When journalists arrived at Gombe International Hotel, venue of the Congress at about 3:30pm, they were stopped by armed policemen who ordered them to go back.
APC Postpones Primary In Ogun, C’River
Meanwhile, the Ogun State chapter of the APC yesterday indefinitely postponed its governorship primary election earlier scheduled to hold across the state’s 236 wards, thereby causing confusion amongst members of the party.
This was contained in short statement issued yesterday afternoon in Abeokuta, the state capital, by the APC state chairman, Chief Derin Adebiyi.
Though no official reason was adduced for the postponement, LEADERSHIP gathered that the postponement may not be unconnected with security situation as well as late arrival of members of the 8-man gubernatorial primary election committee chaired by Alhaji Muhammad Indabawa, assigned for Ogun State.
There was confusion among APC faithful who gathered for poll following the conflicting reports as to whether the exercise would be held or not.
Also, the Cross River State governorship primary earlier scheduled to hold yesterday was postponed to today due to late arrival of materials.
The national vice chairman of the party in the South South Zone, Ntufam Hilliard Etta, disclosed this while addressing journalists yesterday at the party secretariat in Calabar.
Etta denied rumour making the rounds that he was frustrating the process by allowing some persons to hijack materials.
Also, a statement by APC acting national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena indicated that the party also rescheduled governorship primaries in Zamfara, Bauchi and Abia states to today.
Ambode Fights Back As Lagos Primary Holds Today
Meanwhile, Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday broke silence on the APC primary election causing apprehension in the state, saying his opponent in the APC primary billed to hold in the state today, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is not medically and morally fit and does not have the competence to govern a state like Lagos.
Ambode, who addressed a world press conference in Lagos, said, ”This aspirant has been arrested and detained for months in the United States (US) for spending America fake dollars in a night club.
“The records are there in the Gbagada General Hospital. This is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before. We do not want to go too far”.
The governor, who vowed to fight on for the ticket of the party, urged the party leadership to have a re-think about Sanwo-Olu or risk losing the state to the opposition party.
He said, “Now the truth is this, the aspirant that is being put up to compete against us is not a fit and proper person. This is the truth. Party leaders and party members have been misled to understand that he is a better candidate than me.
“So I appeal to all our leaders, they should have a rethink. This is not about me, it is about the greatest opportunities that APC stand to change the progress of Nigeria to a better place.’’
Ambode raised the alarm about a planned security breach in the state, saying ‘security reports available to the state government indicate that there is an ongoing recruitment and arming of political thugs to disrupt the tranquil atmosphere of Lagos State, in the guise of holding primary elections to cause panic or wreak havoc that will affect the progressive strides, which Lagosians are known for.
“Consequently, the State Government will do all within its powers in collaboration with relevant security agencies to protect our citizens and insulate them from any condition that may breed insecurity or the breakdown of law and order in the state throughout the primaries, campaign and election periods”, he added.
Explosion Rocks Rivers
Meanwhile, there was tension in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday, following explosions that occurred at the state secretariat of the APC and the venue of the party’s gubernatorial primaries.
The third explosion occurred under the Kaduna Street flyover, very close to the state secretariat of the PDP and the Corpus Christi Catholic Cathedral, all located along Aba Road, Port Harcourt.
This is as the Prince Peter Odike-led faction of the APC held direct primaries in the 319 wards in the state, against the directive of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, which adopted indirect mode for primaries in Rivers State.
The three explosions, suspected to be dynamite, occurred within a four-hour interval, prompting the deployment of more policemen to the APC secretariat located near Garrison Junction, along Aba Road, and at the venue of the gubernatorial primaries, at Igboukwu Field, D/Line Port Harcourt.
LEADERSHIP observed that journalists and APC members were at the party secretariat for accreditation when the explosion occurred, forcing them to scamper for safety. The Igboukwu Field was still being arranged for the exercise when the explosion occurred.
One of the governorship aspirants, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, has called on the NWC of the party to postpone the gubernatorial primary because of anomalies in the process.
Lulu-Briggs accused the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of hijacking the party structures in the state in favour of his favoured aspirant, Architect Tonye Cole, while shutting others out of the exercise.