The concluding part of the 2019 general elections will be held thisSaturday for the governorship, state assembly and FCT council elections. This is coming as Nigerians are coming to terms with the outcome of Saturday February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections in which the incumbent President and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) President Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected for second term.
This Saturday millions of Nigerians will troop out in their numbersto elect new governors, where the maximum eight years tenure of theincumbent governors are to end on May 29, 2019 or to reelect their governors that deserve to be reelected based on their performance. For the governors seeking reelection, the coming election is going to be a referendum on their performance in the past four years, much like Saturday, February 23, 2019 presidential election was supposed to be a referendum on President Buhari’s administration, but which the ruling APC skillfully turned to a referendum on the integrity of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
Therefore this Saturday will be a day of reckoning for state governors, especially those that have disappointed the people. It is also a day for rewarding state governors that have met the expectations of their people. It is time to also examine the chances of the incumbent governors seeking reelection on Saturday in the light of latest political development in the country.
Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello is one of the governors seeking reelection for second term under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The governor has been very effective in securing the state in a North Central zone that had been ravaged by herdsmen and farmers clashes that have resulted to loss of lives and properties. He has affectively managed herders/farmer disputes admirably in Niger State without enacting special laws, as was the case in Benue and Taraba states. He has made available grazing reserves for herders and integrated the Fulani in the development of the state. With Niger relatively at peace, the condition for the development of the state was thus created. He was therefore able to sustain Niger as the leading rice producing state in the country in line with the agricultural development programme of the administration. He has embarked on massive infrastructural development of the state and promoted development of the education sector. He has also embarked on provision of water in many parts of the state. With his first term performance, Sani Bello who delivered the state totally to APC in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, is most likely to be reelected with a landslide on Saturday.
While Sani Bello is expected to win with landslide, the same cannot be said of other governors seeking reelection in the North Central states. The governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong is seeking reelection under the APC platform, but his major challenger the governorship candidate of the PDP, General Jeremiah Useni (rtd) is a tough contender who could pose a real challenge if the governor did not handle effectiely the unnecessary ethnic and religious divisions that the PDP is using to poison the minds of the people against the APC governor.
In Benue State the performance of APC in the Presidential and National Assembly elections surprised many Nigerians given the demonization of the APC federal government over the handling of herders/farmers clashes in the state. That performance has bolstered expectation of APC gubernatorial candidate Emmanuel Jime, who must be very vigilant to be able to upstage the incumbent PDP governor, Ortom who markets himself as the protector of Benue people against alleged herders’ attacks. In Nasarawa and Kwara states, the outing going governors are of APC and PDP political platforms respectively. In Nasarawa the great work that Governor Al-Makura has done in the past eight years is likely to ensure that APC retains the state. Kwara State on the other hand is ripe and ready to be taken over by the APC if the result of Presidential and National Assembly elections is anything to go by.
In the South East, the PDP is likely to retain its dominance of the governorship seats of the states in the zone, including Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi. Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dave Umahi have improved infrastructure in their states, among other laudable programmes. People have acknowledged their fantastic performances. Their chances of reelection are very high. However in Imo State, the race is a close one between the APC, despite its intra-party challenges, and the PDP. It is going to be a battle between APC’s Hope Uzodinma and PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha.
In the North West, the APC is expected to win all the governorship seats in the zone handily, especially as this is the home zone of President Muhammadu Buhari who has cult followership in the zone. The people of this zone have also benefited from the Rice Revolution of the Buhari administration, which has empowered the farmers. This is coupled with infrastructure developments by the states and federal governments. However, there may be tough battles for the APC in Kano and Kaduna states in its bid to retain the governorship seats, as the opposition PDP is posing real challenge.
Some North East states are always safe for the APC. Since 1999, the PDP has never governed Borno, and Yobe states and the two states are safe for the APC on Saturday. APC is also expected to win Bauchi, Gombe, and Adamawa states. From all indications the PDP is likely to retain the governorship seat in Taraba State going by past records.
In the South West the three states where the elections for the governorship seats would be held are Lagos, Ogun and Oyo. If the Presidential and National Assembly results in the three states are taken into consideration it means that APC would need to work very hard to fight off the threats posed by the opposition parties especially the PDP, in Oyo State where the PDP candidate Seyi Makinde is posing a major threat to APC’s candidate Adebayo Adelabu. In Ogun State it is a two horse race between Governor Ibikunle Amosun endorsed Allied Peoples Movement (APM) candidate Adekunle Akinlade and the APC’s candidate, Dapo Abiodun. Lagos governorship race is between APC’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu and PDP’s Jimi Agbaje, who is not new to Lagos’ governorship tussles.
The South-South used to be the stronghold of the PDP, but the dynamics are fast changing. The APC is asserting itself in the zone and the Presidential and National Assembly results show that the gap between the two dominant parties in the zone are narrowing to APC’s advantage. Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers states’ governors are seeking reelection under the platform of the PDP and the performance of these governors are not salutary. The poor performances of the South-South governors is the reason why the governorship race in this zone is open for grabs, especially for the APC that has shown keen interest to take over the zone.
However no electoral postulation is certain in an electoral environment that is not transparent. We therefore urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agents and other stakeholders to ensure that Saturday’s elections are free, fair and transparent. It is hoped that INEC has learnt lessons from the challenges it encountered on February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections to avoid reoccurrence.