By Stephen Ubanna and Emmanuel Uffot
Barely two months for the inauguration of a new government both at the Federal, State and Federal Capital Territory FCT Abuja, Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and his National Commissioners, appear to be against time. This is because of the problem the Commission has created for itself by the declaring the governornorship in six states of the Federation inconclusive.
Subsequent to meeting the deadline for the handover date to the new governments both at the Federal , State and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, the Commission has fixed Saturday March 23 for asupplementary election in the 6 states that the governorship and States House of Assembly Elections were declared inconclusive.
The affected states are- Sokoto, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Kano and Adamawa. INEC was said to have used the lead margin principle to declare the governorship elections in these states inconclusive. Political watchers believe that the lead margin principle employed by INEC which they claimed was backed by the new Electoral Act was a ploy to weaken the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which may not realy have the resources to prosecute the election in these states compared to the APC.
Among the 6 States where election were declared inconclusive, PDP was said to be actually leading in 5 except Plateau where the incumbent governor Simon Lalong, of the All Progressive Congress, APC, was leading. For now, the leading governorship candidates from the APC and PDP, who are ready to slug it out in the states appear to have gone back to the drawing board to outwit each other.
Take the case of Kano state which the contest was initially very competitive, the two leading candidates Abdullahi Ganduje of APC who was on the losing side on the March 9, 2019 election had boosted that he will defeat the PDP Candidate, Kabir Abba Yusuf. The Supplementary election in Kano State may be interesting because of the powers behind the Candidates who are contesting the election.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling APC, who is behind Ganduje is optimistic that the party will win, but Rabiu Kwakwanso, a former governor of the state and Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is working round the clock to return the state to PDP.
The party according to sources has re-strategised to beat the APC in the local government areas where the Re-run would take place. Recall that Kwankaso had alleged that the election was declared inconclusive the state due to the massive rigging by the ruling APC. This is evident by the arrest of the Deputy governor, Nasir Gawuna and the Commissioner in charge of Local government by the police over election malpractices.
In Sokoto where the incumbent governor Aminu Tambuwal was also leading though with a slim margin, the people of the state believe there was no need for a supplementary election. Specifically the women in the state have protested to INEC insisting that the incumbent governor Tambuwal who scored 498,558 votes to the APC’s Candidate 486,145 votes should have been declared winner. With the rerun election just by the corner,there are fears that Tambuwal may be rigged out in the local government areas where the supplementary election would be conducted. However, the governor is still counting on his popularity and laudable achievements in the state to be return to power.
In Plateau State, Jerry Useni, a retired Major General and a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a close ally of late General Sani Abacha, a former Head of State and the PDP Candidate is taking the supplementary election serious as he was said to have embarked on a door to door campaign in the affected local government areas fffected to win the people’s heart . But governor Simon Lalong who is seeking re-election on the platform of APC seem to have a slight edge over him because of the lead margin as against the votes in contention.
For Bauchi which voted overwhelmingly for President Buhari of the APC, during the February 23, 2019, Presidential election, it may turn out to be a battle ground, notwithstanding the political heavy weights behind the APC Candidate Mohammed Abubakar, the incumbent governor. His inability to win in the first round of the governorship election in the state despite riding on the back of Buhari speaks volume. There are fears that he may lose the governorship election to Bala Mohammed, the PDP Candidate because of his unpopularity and alleged non-performance in his first term in office.
In Adamawa, the home state of Atiku Abubakar, the PDP Presidential Candidate, it may go either way. This is because Atiku, appear to be unpopular in his state as reflected in the voting pattern in the last Presidential and National Assembly election. These also showed in the March 9,2019 governorship election with the PDP candidate leading by a slim margin compared to the landslide votes the APC Candidate won in Katsina, the home state of President Buhari. Many believe that the APC governorship Candidate in the state who is riding on the back of Buhari may clinch the governorship position in Adamawa to further humiliate Atiku.
For Benue, Samuel Ortom, who defected to PDP from the APC may have an uphill task because of the forces against him. George Akume, a former governor and other political heavy weights in APC in the state will do everything within their power to frustrate him in the supplementary election. But what may work for him is the problem created by herdsmen and his stand as well as the fact that he was comfortably leading in the first round of the governorship election.