By Emmanuel Uffot
Just like in 2015 General Election, the just concluded 2019 general elections have further deepened the existing gulf in Nigeria as a divided nation. The outcome of the elections revealed the voting pattern which had divided the country between North and the South. Unlike in the famous aborted June 12, 1993 election and 1999 elections when late MKO Abiola and Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired Army General, got votes spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, the same could not be said of the election.
The Presidential and the Governorship elections shows that while the North, specifically the North East, North West and sections of the North Central and the South West voted for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the South South and South East have stood firmly with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
For instance, while the APC consolidated in its strongholds of Katsina, Yobe, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Borno, Jigawa and Lagos, the PDP dusted the ruling party’s federal might to win the South South and South East states of Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu where elections were conducted while that of Rivers State was suspended because of alleged widespread violence. These was believed to have been instigated by the ruling party as part of the plot to capture or disrupt elections in the priced states in the Niger Delta states like Akwa Ibom, Delta and River States. Whereas the plot may have succeeded in Rivers State with the election process suspended, Udom Emmanuel was able to coordinate the PDP and the people according to party sources to withstand the onslaught and federal might of the APC despite pockets of violence aimed at disrupting the election in the state.
Another key issue that played out in this year’s governorship and states Assembly election was the apparent liberation of ”vassal states” from the claws of godfathers of the state politics. Prominent among the states that fall into this category was Kwara state which for over 40 years has been under Saraki dynasty. Olusola Saraki then known as father of Kwara politics enthroned his son Bukola Saraki, now Senate President as two term Governor, then senator and also put her daughter as senator but was only stopped by Bukola, then outgoing governor of the state from foisting his sister as his successor.
In the Governorship and House of Assembly election, APC not only won all the House of Assembly seats in the state but its candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq won as the state governor. He polled 331,156 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Rasaq Atunwa. The result was a confirmation of what happened during the February 23, 2019, the Presidential and National assembly election which had shown the resolve of the people to liberate themselves from the Saraki dynasty.
Similarly, the people of Oyo state just like in Kwara state,the people have rejected the APC for PDP. Since the dawn of this democratic dispensation, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu who like the Saraki’s has in the past 2 decades controlled the politics and structures not only in Lagos but the entire South West geo-political region.
Political watchers believe that the PDP inroad into Oyo state, whose candidate Seyi Makinde, defeated the ruling party ,APC, candidate with the sitting/outgoing governor Abiola Ajimobi losing in his area, signals the waning powers of Tinubu in the South West.
The case of Akwa Ibom is not entirely different considering the decimation of the political fortune of an hitherto political heavy weight in the state, in person of senator Gosdwill Akpabio. Akpabio came into limelight when former Governor Victor Attah appointed him Commissioner, a position he used as a springboard to become a two term governor controlling enormous political structures in the state.
He had convinced the incumbent governor Udom to resign from his exalted position as Executive Director of Zenith Bank, to become governor of Akwa Ibom state. Three years into the tenure of the governor the relationship turned sour as the senator accused him of maginalising his senatorial district in infrastructural development. He had particularly accused the governor of abandoning the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road and the 3-star Hotel in Ikot Ekpene which he started but could not complete.
His animosity with the governor came to a climax when he decamped from PDP even when he was the Senate Minority leader vowing to make sure he unseat Governor Udom. But in the just concluded election, senator Akpabio not only lost his senate re-election bid but his new adopted party APC failed woefully in both the presidential, National Assembly, governorship and House of Assembly elections. Political observers see this development as the complete annihiliation of Akpabio’s political structures in the state and the emergence of the Governor as the new political leader.
Another state that witnessed a political summersault of the ruling party losing was Kano state. Unlike in the Presidential election whereby Kano became one of the deciding states for President Muhammadu Buhari victory with over one million votes for the APC, the governor Abdullahi Ganduje, who was seeking re-election,lost to the PDP candidate Abba Kabiru Yusuf alleged SON in-law of Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of the state and Senator, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The poor showing of the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar in Kano during the presidential election in spite of the looming political image of Kwakwanso had surprised political observers, given the bribery scandal that was hunting governor Ganduje. The neck to neck running of the APC candidate and the PDP governorship candidate in the just concluded governorship election is striking. This is because if the electorate had voted the way they did in the last presidential and National Assembly elections the PDP candidate would not have had any chances of coming close to the APC candidate.
Many believe that apart from Oyo, Kwara and Kano states that showed a deviation of the existing party leaning in this year election, Nassarawa state also changed direction by ditching PDP for APC as against what had been the case between 1999 and 2011.
Also note that the governorship election unlike the last presidential and national assembly election was engulfed in controversies and violence which led to election in some states like Sokoto, Plateau, Adamawa and Bauchi declared inconconclusive There was also reported violence in Benue, Imo, Kogi, Ogun and Oyo states were a sitting PDP House of Representative member and senatorial candidate was shot dead.
But the good news was the re-election of some governors despite the noticeable violence in the states. They are Ben Ayade-Cross River, Ifeanyi Okowa- Delta, Nasir-El Rufai-Kaduna, Udom Emmanuel-Akwa Ibom, Aminu Masari-Katsina, Ifeanyi Umuanyi-Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu-Abia and Atiku Bagudu-Kebbi among others.
The governors who made it to the Senate but could not impose their surrogates on their respective states include Ibikunle Amosu of Ogun and Rochas Okoroacha-Imo.
Pending the conclusion of elections in the states election were declared inconclusive which going PDP way many Nigerians are already drawing up agenda for the governors who will be beginning a fresh term come May 29. The election also marked at the beginning of a revolutionary changed in election in Nigeria.