By Emmanuel Uffot
Despite failing to win the coveted office of the president in the February 23 presidential election, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP seems to have mustered the magic wand to resist the apparent onslaught of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to up their performance in the 2019 Governorship election as against its dismal performance in 2015 when the party could only control its stronghold states in the South-South and the South-East.
An outline of the governorship election outcome shows that the PDP really closed the gap winning a total of 13 states with Rivers State pending while APC won 15. Again, one striking aspect of the governorship election with regards to the PDP performance in the election shows that PDP won in states across the six-geo political zones while APC did not have a breakthrough in the PDP stronghold of South-South and South East. Similarly, PDP not only retained its stronghold states but displaced APC in their control states. For instance, APC won in Oyo, Bauchi, Adamawa and Imo while it also took Sokoto, and Benue where the previously APC governors had defected from APC to PDP shortly before the election.
For the records, in the just concluded governorship election, PDP won Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta states in the South South zone with the election in Rivers state which is yet to be concluded is expected to go to PDP . In the South East, the opposition PDP won Imo state which was in APC control through Rochas Okoroacha and retain Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia states while Anambra still remain in APGA control where election did not hold.
In the North Central zone, the PDP won Benue and Taraba states, it won Bauchi and Adamawa states in the North East, Sokoto in the North West and Oyo state in the South West thereby giving the party a national outlook in the spread.
Apart from these states were election held, election did not hold in Bayelsa which is also in control of PDP bringing to 15, states in PDP control currently including Rivers States which the final process of collation of the suspended result is scheduled to begin on April 2.
It is instructive to note that the PDP won in four out of the six states that election were declared inconclusive. The party outwitted APC in Bauchi and Adamawa that were in control by APC with the victory of Senator Bala Mohammed over incumbent governor Mohammed Abubakar in Bauchi and Ahmadu Fintiri defeating incumbent governor Jibrila Bindow of Adamawa while Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and his counterpart in Benue, Samuel Ortom both of whom defected to PDP from APC prior to the election put up stiff resilience to withstand the threat of APC to coast home to victory with the former winning by a record slim margin of 342 votes . The other two states, Kano and Plateau where supplementary election also took place on March 23 were retained by the APC incumbent governors- Solomon Lalong of Plateau and Umar Ganduje of Kano.
It is also significant to note that the PDP is also crossing the line and moving towards taking two more APC states if the recent court decisions on pre-election and post-election matters are anything to go by.
It could be recalled that, recently the Osun State Election Petitions Tribunal had nullified the election of governor Gboyega Oyetola and declared the PDP Candidate Senator Ademola Adeleke as the duly elected governor. In delivering the judgment, the Tribunal said that there was no need for the declaration of the election inconclusive when Adeleke was leading before the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Going by the public outrage and the circumstances that trailed the election that produced the APC governor and the ruling by the Tribunal which is in line with the thinking of many political analysts and followers of the Osun election, lawyers and politically informed Nigerians believe that based on the facts available which the Tribunal had relied upon in its verdict to upturn Oyetola victory in favour of the PDP Candidate, the upper courts will upheld the verdict that Senator Adeleke was the duly elected governor of Osun state.
Indeed, if the upper courts probably the Supreme Court where the case is expected to terminate as stipulated in the Electoral Act upheld the Tribunal verdict, the PDP will add Osun to its number of control states.
A similar scenario is also playing out in Zamfara state where the Appeal Court sitting in Sokoto on Monday nullify the primaries of the APC that produced Governor Yari. The Appeal Court in the ruling had set aside an earlier judgment delivered by the Zamfara High Court which allowed APC to field candidates in the 2019 elections.
The appeal was filed by Senator Kabiru Marafa, Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and 129 others that the primaries that produced governor Yari and the national and state assembly candidates in the elections was illegal and not the authentic one. It is note worthy that following the rancour that followed the primaries of APC in Zamfara state, the party could not meet the deadline by INEC which the respective political parties were expected to submit the list of the candidates for the election. Because of this development which replicated itself in Rivers State, INEC had insisted that APC has no candidate for the position of governor, national assembly and state assembly in the 2019 both in Zamfara and Rivers states and it would not field the party in the ballot paper for these positions. But shortly before the election, the APC through the incumbent governor petitioned the High Court in Zamfara where the party got a lifeline to participate in the election.
With the ruling, the election of the APC incumbent governor and both the elected state and national assembly members in the just concluded elections has become a nullity. According to lawyers, pending the outcome of the Supreme Court where the matter has been taken to by Zamfara APC, if the apex court upheld the Appeal Court ruling taking into precedence the Rivers State issue which is the same with Zamfara, PDP whose candidate scored the second highest votes after the APC candidate governor Yari, will eventually be declared governor elect and PDP will further swelled the number of its control states which could go as high as 17 should Osun and Zamafara goes to PDP through the court while APC will be left with 18 states.
However, as the PDP members are basking in the euphoria of their impressive performance in the governorship election, political pundits are already drawing postulations on how the PDP was able to contain the quest by the ruling party, the APC to take over some prized states especially in the Niger Delta and those of the governors that defected from APC to the opposition PDP.
Prominent among the states that APC were angling to take over and even scores with the incumbent governors were- Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Taraba, Sokoto and Benue.
In the case of Akwa Ibom state, which pre-election projection had listed as one of the volatile states to look out for. The reason was basically the war drums beaten by the immediate past governor Senator Godswill Akpabio. The senator who had defected to APC with an agenda of using it to scuttle the re-election of governor Udom Emmanuel was quoted saying that he put the governor in the position and he is going to unseat him. Not only that, he had also said pointedly that the election in the state will be a Warsaw. With the threat and the former governor relying on his perceived popularity and huge resources and war chest, the people of the state, The Value News gathered had to throw their whole support for the PDP and work with them to resist all attempts by the APC marshaled by senator Akpabio to scuttle the election and cause problem in the state . The outcome of the 2019 election has become like a nightmare to senator Akpabio who not only lost his re-election but the PDP trounced APC convincingly in all the elective positions with the governor winning in almost all the 31 local government areas in the state.
For Sokoto and Benue where the incumbent governors decamped from APC, the ruling party is alleged to have thrown their might to ensure it even scores with Tambuwal and Ortom for dumping APC. But the APC met the incumbent governors that were very popular in their states. That Tambuwal is so much loved by the people showed when even women protested the declaration of the result of Sokoto as inconclusive and insisted that the incumbent governor should be declared winner of the election. Infact the governor had complained how the government unleashed federal might on the people to ensure that his re-election fail. He attributed the slim result to the resilience of the people to resist the APC onslaught.
For Governor Ortom of Benue, what endeared him to the people of Benue is his stand on the killings by the Fulani herdsmen and the silent by President Muhammadu Buhari. Many citizens in the states prior to the conduct of the supplementary election were said to have swore that they would rather die to defend the mandate they have willingly given to governor Ortom.
Apart from Delta an oil rich state and Taraba which has been in the control of PDP since 2015, Rivers State case is even mindboggling given the power play between the incumbent governor Nyesom Nwike and the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi. The APC has never hidden its desire to have a breakthrough into Niger Delta and control at least two of the four oil rich states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa. Many indigenes of River State and prominent citizens of the Niger Delta region blamed the unprecedented violence that has been a regular occurrence in River State on Amaechi’s disposition to take on Wike his earlier political ally in supremacy power. They have in several forum called on the President to call the Minister to order. It should also be noted that the wide spread violence in Rivers State and the role of the military led to the suspension of the election process.
INEC has fixed resumption of collation of the election in Rivers for April 2 and the citizens are still apprehensive of what the outcome will be. But the governor and the PDP supporters say they cannot lose sleep over the issue as PDP victory is assured. Before the suspension of collation in Rivers State, Wike, the incumbent governor and PDP candidate was leading comfortably in 17 local governments in the state and they are waiting with anticipation to when INEC will declare Governor Wike winner of the March 9, 2019 Governorship election.
Uche Secondus, National Chairman of PDP stated after the declaration of Ahmadu Fintiri of PDP as governor elect of Adamawa state today, Bala Mohammed in Bauchi, Samuel Ortom in Benue and Aminu Tambuwal in the supplemetary election of March 23, is a testimony of the rejection of APC by Nigerians and a true indication that President Buhari is holding a ‘stolen’ mandate which the opposition hopes to recover at the election tribunal and upper courts if need arises.
A glance at the states controlled by respective parties. PDP- Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Oyo, Benue, Bauchi, Taraba, Sokoto and Adamawa. APC controlled states- Edo, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kwara, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Lagos, Ekiti, Kebbi, Jigawa, Yobe, Niger, Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Zamfara, Gombe and Plateau. APGA-Anambra
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