2023 State Elections: Matawalle Loses Out In Zamfara, Otti Secures Victory For LP, In Abia State

By Suleiman Umaru

 The governorship and state Assembly polls, appear to have been concluded in all                                            the 28, with the states of the Federation where the election was conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the chairmanship of Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor of Political Science and the people knowing their governors-elect.

President  Muhammadu Buhari, who had told  Mary Beth  Leonard, the outgoing North American country  of the United States , US, Ambassador in Nigeria, that  that the election was ‘’free, fair and credible’’, may have   expressed his unhappiness  that some Candidates of the ruling APC,  lost the election.

He may have alluded to Nasir Gawuna, and Bello Matawalle the APC, gpovernorship Candidates of Kano and  Zamfara states, respectively.  Recall that Matswalle, the Zamfara sta governor, was elected on the platform of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as the governor of the state in 2019.

Being a neighbouring state  to Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, , he  was said to have put under intense pressure from political   Associates of the Katsina state born Nigerian President  to dump the PDP, and join the APC, if he really wants to get the Federal government attention  to effectively combat Banditry activities in the state.

The pressure became so pronounced that in June 2021, the Zamfara state governor, who has been battling the Bandits group in the state formally dumped the PDP, for the APC but Mahdi Aliyu, the Deputy, governor, refused to go with him to APC, leading to his impeachment by the state House of Assembly in 2022.

Mustapha: SGH, Welcomes Matawalle , PDP, eLetected Govenor Of Zamfara State To APC, In Gusau, The State Capital

In welcoming Matawalle, the Zamfara state governor, to rulingAPC,  Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the government of the Federation, may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President, when he said that ‘’the governor’s voluntary decision to join the ruling APC, was another testament to his virtues’’.

Mustapha,  had made  the people of Zamfara state  to believe that  Matawalle’s decision  to join  the APC,  clearly confirms the fact  that the party agenda  for good governance  is the only reason  that may have attracted him  and other top Nigeria politicians in the state  to the party  because the alternative, PDP, has failed to work.

The dumping the PDP, by the Zamfara state governor for the APC, may have encouraged the Nigerian President, to have urged all the APC,governors,  ‘’to continue to work harder to ensure  that the party,  maintains its popularity and retains power beyond 2023. The day of reckoning came on March 18, 2023.  

 Indeed, Matawalle, has opportunity to test his popularity to show that he did not miscalculate in dumping the PDP,that brought him into prominence in the state.  Matawalle, who has Dauda Lawal, of the PDP, to contend with may not have read the handwriting on the wall tha Zamfara is a PDP state.

Acting on the information from the party agents, the governor who was said to have been given a close marking by Lawal, the PDP, flag bearer,  to ensure that he  will do anything  funny  by manipulating the authentic result from Maradun  , his home Local government Area, to favour  his party , had vowed to frustrate such plan.

Matawalle, and his foot soldiers, may not have succeeded  in manipulating the results of the governorship election from   Maradun GA,  because the Commission was said to have already  uploaded  results of 185 , out of  a total of the 195 polling units in the LGA, to ReV  for public viewing , leaving out only 10 polling units.

There are indications that the Zamfara governor and his Collaborators in the state INC, tried to see what could be done to allocate votes to the parties which could have given him the highest votes in Maradun LGA, but no luck. The Commission, according to an insider, have no option, but to declare the esult of the Zamfara governorship election that was said to be inconclusive in the early hours of Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

In announcing the governorship election result of the state, Prof. Kassimu Shehu,  the INEC , appointed Returning Officer from the  Federal University of Birnin -Kebbi, cAapital of Kebbi state,   had declared that Lawal, the PDP, Candidate, polled  377,726 votes , to  Matawalle of the ruling APC , in the state vote’s 311,976 votes, thus losing his exalted office to the PDP Flag bearer.

Matawalle Loses Out To Lawal Of PDP In Zamfara State

In declaring PDP Candidate as the winner of the Zamfara state, governorship, election, Prof. Shehu, had said that he’’ satisfied all the requirements of the Law’’. Matawalle, who has been carrying on in the state over the last three years as a political heavy weight who can sway the people’s vote to his new party, APC, may have found out that he is a feather weight.

  Not that he had spearheaded the impeachment of the Aliyu, the state Deputy governor in 2022, for refusing to dump the PDP, for the APC.   Now the electorate has proved to him that he can use the Lawmakers to remove his Deputy in 2022, for refusing to dump the PDP but the final power to remove him lies with them. March 18, 2023, the electorates voted him out in the state.

The Nigerian President may have had a word of consolation that Matawalle, particular, lost his re-election bid in Zamfara state when he noted that ‘’given the chance of a free and fair election as well as the non- interference that was witnessed on the February 25, Presidential and Mach 18, 2023, governorship elections, Nigerians have proved to be capable of deciding who leads them without anyone telling them what to do’’.  

The declaration of the Zamfara state governorship election result , may have encouraged the Commission  to give its words to also give the nod for  the collation of votes in Abia and Enugu states Collationcentres respectively to continue on Wednesday, March 23, 2023 after a meeting to review the governorship elections, across the country.

Festus Okoye, the INEC, National Commissioner, Information and Voters Education had said that the Commission suspended the collation of result in Obingwa LGA of the state because ‘’it was invaded by party thugs on Sunday, March 19, 2023. Alex Otitti, the LP, Candidate, had accused the of Leadership PDP, and Okezie Ipkeazu,  the state governor, who incidentally was   a member of the G5,  in the PDP,battling for the removal of Senator Iyorchia Ayi, the party Chairman, of plotting to rig the election, with the active connivance of INEC , officials,  through the Obingwa LGA in favour of the party Candidate  Okey Chikwe.

With the INEC, leadership lifting of the suspension order on the collation of votes, in the two south eastern states, o Wednesday, 22, 2023, the respective Returning Officers were forced to return to the Collataion centres  in the two  states at Umuahia and Enugu, respectively, to continue from where they had stoppe on Sunday, March 19, 2023.

Otti: LP Gov. Elect Of Abia State

  There was jubilation in Otti, the governorship Candidate of the LP’s camp, as Prof.  Nnenna Nnanaya Oti, the Returnng Officer, declared him the winner of the Saturday, March 18, 2023, governorship in the state.

The University Don   , had announced  that the LP, Candidate,  who many believe had put a close tab , on the INEC , officials at the polling units,   Wards, Local government and state , levels and the PDP, to ensure that he was rigged out, polled 175,467 votes and winning in 10 ,out of the 17 , LGAs, in the state.

His closest rival,  Chikwe of the PDP, was said to have come a distant second with 88,529 votes but won in six LGAs, in the state, notwithstanding the support from Ikpeazu, the ruling PDP, governor of the state. The remaining one LGA, in the state was said to have been won by Enyinnnaya Nwafor of the Young People Party, YPP, who garnered 28,927 votes.

 Okezie , the outgoing Abia state governor, may have seen that there is no way the governorship election  resultsof the state  can be upturned in favour of Chikwe, the PDP, Candidate  that he has congratulated, Otti, the state governor-elect ,  for his ‘’staying power  and resilience’’ , against the wish of the party leadership in the state.

  He was said to have even urged all the LP Candidate’’s opponents including Chikwe, the party flag bearer,  not ’’to distract  the incoming  governor with court cases so that they will settle  down  and deal  with  the very demanding business of governance’’.

He was said to have also advised the Abia governor-elect ‘’to see his victory as a higher call to service to the people of Abia state’’. The governor was said to have assured the governor-elect, that he will ‘’put in place every necessary measure to ensure a seamless transition’’ to give him a breather to retire without being probed by the incoming Administartion.

   In Enugu state Chjioke Edeoga, of the LP, Candidate, who  was optimistic of winning the governorship election in the state  because of the crisis in the PDP,  may  not have been  lucky like Otti, his Abia state Counterpar.,  Edeoga, had lost to PDP,  Mbah Peter Ndubuisi, the PDP,  Candidate in the state, believed to be a stooge of Efeanyi Ugwuanyi, the incumbent governor.

Going by the result declared by the state, Returning Officer, Prof.  Maduebibisi Iwe, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Umudike,the Enugu governorship election was a close call between the Candidates of the two dominant parties in the state, the PDP and LP. 

The PDP, governorship  Candidate according to the INEC, Returning officer , declaration,  polled 160,895 votes to Edeoga of the LP’s , 157,552 , votes,  and thus, declared the winner and goer-nor elect of the state. Recall that the   collation of votes at Nsukka and Nkanu East, LGAS, in the state was suspended mi-way into the collation centre, in Enugu, the state Capital over the disputed results from the two Council Areas.

 The suspension of collation of votes from the two council areas may have provided opportunity for the Commission to carry out a total review of the disputed results from the two Council Areas. The completion of the exercise, may have facilitated the release of the governorship election result in the state, which gave victory to the PDP.

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