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By Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano), Lami Sadiq (Jos), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Kabiru R. Anwar (Yola), Nurudeen Oyewole (Lagos), Jude Aguguo Owuamanam (Owerri), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Hassan Ibrahim (Lafia) & Iniabasi Umo
While the 2019 presidential battle will dominate the country’s political fort, governorship battles across states will provide interesting scenarios Nigerians will not want to miss.
In Kano, the battle for the seat of governor is largely between Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who is seeking for a second term, and his predecessor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, who is actually not vying for the seat but wants to uproot the incumbent and replace him with his son in-law, all in an effort to prove his domineering influence in Kano politics.
While Ganduje is the gubernatorial candidate for the ruling APC, Kwankwaso, on the other hand, has anointed his son in-law, Abba Yusuf as the flag-bearer of the PDP to challenge Ganduje in the 2019 general elections.
However, other PDP gubernatorial aspirants are challenging the primary election that produced Yusuf, and the issue is still hanging on the neck of the national leadership of the party. It was gathered that the PDP national leadership is working hard to convince other spirants to accept Yusuf, a Kwankwasiyya anointed candidate as PDP flag-bearer at a time the Senator Mas’ud El-Jibril Doguwa-led led faction of the party has produced Malam Sagir Takai as its candidate.
But despite the internal wrangling within the PDP, Daily Trust on Sunday observe that the governorship race in Kano is purely a battle between Ganduje and Kwankwaso. While the former is putting more efforts to return for a second term, the latter is out to fight him.
According to political analysts, Kwankwaso purposely joined the PDP to achieve two things: Get the presidential ticket of the party and win and at the same time hijack the party in Kano in order to dislodge Ganduje. And now that he has lost out in the race for the presidency, he is all out to win the second race in Kano by proxy, not minding the consequences, because that is the only way he would remain politically relevant beyond 2019.
But happenings in the state suggest that unless the PDP is able to address the rancour among its members in the state, Governor Ganduje would most likely have an easy ride in the race come 2019.
Although many of Ganduje’s supporters considered Kwankwaso’s defection from the APC as a huge relief to the governor and his political associates, analysts argue that the anticipated political rumble between the two gladiators would provide an interesting scenario to watch.
Governorship candidates that will shake the terrain in Adamawa State include that of the PDP and former acting governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri; the ADC candidate, Senator Abdulaziz Nyako and Emmanuel Bello of the SDP.
With the emergence of Adamawa Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla as the flag-bearer of the APC following an election that is still generating controversy, the political atmosphere remains uncertain as his opponents within the APC had already threatened to support one of the opposition parties should the APC national party fail to cancel the election.
Incumbency is the major factor that can help Jibrilla in the general elections.
Fintiri, the former acting governor nick-named ATM, is popular with civil servants for paying the controversial two months salaries of striking workers withheld by his predecessor due to a no-work-no-pay policy in 2014 and is expected to pull more crowd than the incumbent governor.
Senator Abdulaziz, the son of former Governor Murtala Nyako, is counting on the goodwill of his father who enjoys grassroots support in the state. A retired commander and serving senator, Abdulaziz, has expended the membership base of the ADC since his defection from the APC.
Emmanuel Bello, the SDP candidate, may be one of the candidates to beat if Christians decide to give him block votes, being the only Christian among the four contending parties.
The 2019 governorship election in Lagos State is no doubt shaping up to be a fierce contest between political gladiators, especially from the APC that already has Babajide Sanwo-Olu as its gubernatorial candidate and the main opposition party, the PDP that has Jimi Agbaje as its candidate.
If anything, the political manoeuvring and power-play that heralded the emergence of both candidates from their respective parties have thus prepared the ground for a possible fierce contest in the general elections.
For instance, Sanwo-Olu’s emergence as against the much-expected Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had created a gulf of sorts among party members.
Ambode had a running battle with his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (who incidentally is also Sanwo-Olu’s godfather), as well as party stalwarts. Although Ambode conceded defeat in a state-wide broadcast after the primary election, there are fears that some of his supporters who felt cheated might revolt during the general elections.
The Lagos State chapter of the PDP had largely operated without much rancour till the ticket was eventually given to Agbaje, instead of his main challenger, Deji Doherty.
Coupled with this is the perceived bad blood between the party’s leader in Lagos State and former PDP deputy chairman, South, Chief Olabode George and Agbaje.
Both personalities enjoyed a cozy relationship ahead of the 2015 governorship election, which Agbaje narrowly lost to Ambode. Their relationship became strained when Agbaje also aspired to become the party’s national chairman when George had thought it would be a smooth sail for him.
The battle for the 2019 governorship election in Nasarawa State would be the toughest contest in recent past because political permutations and interest, coupled with the struggle for power shift to the northern part of the state, would come together to make it very interesting.
All the major candidates come for the northern zone as 11 contestants from different political parties will slug it out for the single seat. However, the real contest will be between APC’s Abdullahi Adamu Sule, the anointed candidate of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and Labaran Maku of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Maku served as minister of information during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan
PDP’s candidate, Rep. Emmanuel David Ombugadu is also seen as a force to reckon with because of the political manoeuvring taking place in the state.
Critical stakeholders are doubting his capability to withstand the political might of the APC candidate; hence they are scheming to convince him leave the ticket for his former boss and runner-up in the contest, Solomon Ewuga.
Engr. Sule of the APC is a businessman and industrialist. The support he has from Al-Makura and the one he is expecting to get from Alhaji Aliko Dangote, makes him the candidate with enough resources to foot any financial challenge during the election.
But the crisis confronting the APC government in the state might affect its chances, coupled with grumbling by the organised labour over unpaid entitlements, especially at the local government level.
Labaran Maku vied for the seat in 2015 but lost to Al-Makura. He is believed to be a lone ranger as party leader and the only candidate from his party without the backing of anyone. He is said to be banking on his resources, friends outside the state and his former boss, ex-president Goodluck Jonathan. He is also counting on his ethnicity and religion.
But sources said this strategy may not work for him this time around because the PDP had already featured his kinsman, Ombugadu as its candidate. Ombugadu is a member of the House Representatives for Wamba/Akwanga Nasarawa Eggon constituency. He first won election under the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and later defected to the PDP. He is the youngest candidate among all the governorship contestants.
It was reliably gathered that there are silent moves by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to pick one of the heavyweights that lost out in the APC.
Akwa Ibom State
The 2019 governorship contest in Akwa Ibom State is what every politically minded person in the state will look out for. This is because it is the first time the PDP, which has been the ruling party in the state since 1999, will be fighting with all its might to retain its place in government.
In fact, unlike what happened in the past, the ranks of the PDP seem to deplete by the day with many more defectors to the APC. Senator Godswill Akpabio is now in the APC and many of his kinsmen, supporters and well-wishers believe that when it comes to politics in Akwa Ibom, he is always right, and he gets whatever he wants. The party is also depending on the use of federal might to win the polls if other options fail.
Already, the outcome of the gubernatorial, senatorial, House of Representatives and state House of Assembly primaries has foretold what is to come. At the APC gubernatorial primary, Mr Nsima Ekere, managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), emerged winner. He will contend with Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP.
The electorate are divided over who to cast their votes for as it is believed that the APC is not better than the PDP. Many are of the opinion that the PDP primaries were relatively peaceful while that of the APC were plagued with irregularities.
In Rivers, it promises to be a fight-to-finish between the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike and the Minister of Transportation Chibuike Amaechi. Governor Wike is seeking a re-election while Amaechi is sponsoring a candidate, Arch. Tonye Cole, who is the APC flag-bearer.
The two political gladiators are engaged in a fierce battle over who controls the soul of Rivers State. While Wike claims that Rivers belongs to the PDP, Amaechi thinks otherwise. Wike is relying on the numerous projects he has carried out in the state to speak for him in the forthcoming elections, but Amaechi seems not to see anything good in his administration. He has boasted time without number that the APC would win the 2019 elections.
But the crisis rocking the APC over who flies its governorship ticket may pose a setback to the party in 2019. The emergence of Tonye Cole does not go down well with some major stakeholders of the party, especially Senator Magnus Abe, who was produced as flag-bearer by a faction led by Peter Odike.
Although the present crisis in the party seems to give Wike an advantage ahead of the 2019 polls, both gladiators are set to test their political strength.
There is a twist in Oyo State as two political parties are waxing stronger because the popularity of the APC and PDP are dwindling by the day.
The fortunes of African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Action Democratic Party (ADP) are becoming visible.
However, the emergence of a 48-year-old former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chief Bayo Adelabu as the governorship candidate of the APC, coupled with the conflict resolution mechanism adopted by Governor Abiola Ajimobi after the governorship primary, may strengthen the party ahead of the general elections.
Many stalwarts of the PDP in the state have defected to the ADC, with the former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja. The ADC is now a new bride, and political observers believe it is formidable enough to dislodge the ruling party in the state.
However, the party is yet to decide on its gubernatorial candidate due to alleged moves by its leader to impose his favourite candidate on the 12 aspirants who have obtained governorship forms for the election.
The second bride is the ADP, which has a former governor of the state, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala as its governorship flag-bearer, and a member of the House of Representatives, Olatoye Temitope Sugar as senatorial candidate. The party is capable of slogging it out with other political parties in 2019.
Going by the calibre of personalities coming forward across the major political parties in the state, it is becoming interesting to know that the race to succeed the incumbent governor will shake the state in 2019.
All eyes will definitely be on Imo State over who occupies the Douglas House in 2019. It will also be interesting to know how the drama, intrigues and the tension that have pervaded the possible emergence of a governorship candidate for the party would play out.
There have been a lot of permutations and conjectures over what would be the fate of the APC in Imo after all the acrimonies that have greeted an internal matter as simple as choosing a candidate. Political watchers of Imo politics are of the opinion that the ruling party may lose the governorship seat if Governor Rochas Okorocha has his way.
Political lobbying and horse-trading is currently going on in Abuja over who will fly the party’s flag between Hope Uzodinma and Ugwumba Uche Nwosu in 2019.
However, it is not certain that Okorocha would have his son-in-law as successor.
What political analysts say is certain is that Uzodinma will not be the candidate in 2019, given the much-contested unwritten zoning agreement in the state. However, in politics, everything, they say, is possible.
Since the emergence of Senator Jeremiah Useni as the PDP candidate for the gubernatorial election in Plateau State, it has become obvious that the election would be one to watch out for. At 75, Senator Useni, a retired General, would face a younger Governor Simon Bako Lalong of the APC at the polls.
Although Alex Ladan of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Margret Inusa of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) have both been affirmed as governorship candidates of their parties, the tug of war would likely be between Lalong and Useni.
Useni, popularly referred to as one of the ‘Langtang generals’, served as military governor and minister in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was at a point regarded as the most powerful person next to the then military head of state, the late General Sani Abacha. He has had his eyes on Plateau’s seat of power since 2015 but opted for the Senate when the then Governor Jonah David Jang’s body language favoured the late Gyang Pwajok.
With age not by his side and a zoning arrangement threatening to revert the baton of power to the central zone after 2019, the old soldier is expected to pull out all tricks left on his sleeve.
Although with the resources and clout to match Lalong, many, however, accuse Useni of being docile in the Senate due to old age and illness. They say he may not muster the strength to defeat a younger and vibrant Lalong who already has the power of incumbency.
Lalong is one of the performing APC governors. He is one of the few who pay workers’ salaries promptly. He has succeeded in operating an inclusive government and revived ailing industries in the state. And being a lawyer and one-time legislator, the governor has strengthened the state’s judicial system.
He may be facing security challenges presently, which opposition parties could capitalise on, but taking Lalong for granted can be a costly mistake. The governor is best described as humble, which is why the opposition cast him aside as unchallenging. But his humility has proven to be his greatest strength, and it is what endears him to the people.