By Lateef Adegbite
The March 18, 2023, governorship and state House of Assembly elections organised by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,appeared to have been ranked as one of the worst since 1019.
This is because the election was characterized by violence leading to some of the governorship elections being declared inconclusive by the Commission. This is evident going by what is happening in Abia and Enugu states, in the south east eastern Nigeria where the Collation of votes, were said to have been suspended by the electoral umpire to avoid shedding of innocent bloods.
Going by the way the declaration of results from each of the Local government Areas in the two south eastern states collation centres, it was obvious that the Opposition Labour Party, LP, will clinch the governorship slot, which the ruling People’s Democratic Party , PDP, did not find funny.
Alex Oti, a former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, which has been acquired by Access bank and the LP, governorship Candidate in Abia and his Counterpart in Enugu state, Chijoke Edega, had raised alarm of plot by the ruling PDP, in the two states to turn the table against the LP, by manipulating the results.
This may have drawn the attention of Prof. Yakubu, the INEC, Chairman, who was said to have given a matching order to the Resident Electoral Commissioners in the two south east states, after a meeting in the Commission’s Headquarters in in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,‘’to review of the results in some parts of Abia and Enugu states, respectively.
Festus Okoye , , INEC , National Commissioner, Information and Voters Education Committee, had cinfirmed that ‘’the Commission took the decision after a meeting to review the elections in the 28 states of the Federation where e elections were held’’. The Commission may have been angered by the incident at its office in Obiomangwa Local government Area of Abia state on Sunday , March 19, 2023, where party thugs were said to have invaded and held its officials hostage in the collation of results from the LGA.
The Commission may have also responded to the call for a review of the results of the governorship election from the two outstanding LGAs of Nsuka and Nkanu East, in Enugu state..It was not surprising why the Commission have no option tut to suspend the collation of results in Obiomangwa LGA of Abia state and the two outstanding LGAs of Enugu state which are yet to be collated.
In the north western state of Kebbi, the Commission was said to have also declared the governorship election inconclusive to calm frayed nerves. Professor Yusuf Sa’adu, had said the measures became necessary because ‘’ there were breaches of the 2022, Electoral Act, which was said to have led to the cancelations of results in 21 polling units within 20 of the 21, LGAs, in the state. He did not stop there.
Prof. Sa’adu, wh served as the state Returning officer, had said that ‘’violence, destruction of election materials, disruption of electoral proceedings and over voting’’, played a role in having the governorship election in Kebbi state being declared inconclusive. Note that before declaring the election inconclusive, the ruling APC, in the state was leading the polls with 388,258 votes to the Opposition PDP Candidate’ 342,980 votes.
Many had expected the Commission to have also declared the governorship election in Lagos state inclusive, because of the widespread electoral violence, leading to snatching of Ballot boxes, destruction of election materials and disruption of voting in scores of polling units in the state.
Amid the electoral violence during the election in the state that was marked by ‘’ voters suppression, ethnic intimidation, political thuggery and physical attacks on voters, INEC staff and security personnel alike, which was nothing compared to the incident in Abia and Enugu states, Sanwo-Olu, the APC, on election duty, Babajide sanwo-Olu, the governor of the south western state , who was said to have scored a total of 720,134 votes to Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, his closest rival, from the LP, who polled 62,446 votes, was declared the winner of the governorship election in the state.
The situation in Kano state may have appeared worrisome after the elections as loyalists of the New Nigerian People’s Party, NNPP, were said to have defiled the down –to dusk-curfew imposed o by Abdullahi Gandunje, , the ruling APC, governor of the state on Sunday, March 19, 2023, to prevent breakdown of law and order in the state over the delclaration of Abbah Kabir, the NNPP, flag bearer as the governor-elect of the state.
The situation is even more worrisome in Zamfara state, which is sitting on a keg of gunpowder as the Opposition PDP, which had accused Bello Matawale, the governor of trying to manipulate the Authentic results from Maradun, LGA, which have been uploaded to the INEC , ReV, to favor the APC, had vowed to fight back to frustrate such plan.
Dauda Lawal, the PDP,governorship Candidate , in the state had told those that cares to listen that Matawalle, the state governor is not ready ‘’to accept defeat in peace’’, which may throw the state into crisis. Acting on information from close sources, the PDP, Flag bearer, who could beat his chest that the Zamfara governor may not succeed in forcing the INEC officials, ‘’to allocate figures in his favour’’ because the Commission had already uploaded results of 185 polling units out of a total of 195, in Maradum LGA to its sever.
Notwithstanding that there have been winners and losers as results of the governorship and state Assembly polls are being collated across the country, the European Union, EU, says no fewer than 21 persons have died from electoral violence during the elections.
Note that Prof. Babaga Zulum, an Mai Mala Buni, Yobe , Dapo Abodun, Ogun, Eng.Abdullahi Sule, Nasarawa, APC, Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe, Abdurahman Abdulrazaq, Kwara, all former APC, governors, who were said to have sought re-election , were returned to office for another four –year term.
Also, , Seyi Makinde, Oyo, Bala Mohammed, Bauchi, Ahmadu Fintiri, Adamawa, all former PDP, governors, were said to have equally made the list of re-elected governors, in their respective states.
There is no gain saying the fact that the ruling APC , is celebrating big wins in the just concluded governorship election, across the country and truly asserting itself in power, while flipping in taking over some of the states previously controlled by the Opposition PDP.
Indeed, the Christian Association of Nigerian, CAN, may have cause to encourage more of its members to go into politics as shown by Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia, of the APC, who polled 473,833 votes , ahead of his closest rival and PDP, Candidate, Titus Mba, who scored 223, 913, to be declared the governor-elect of Benue state by Prof. Faruq Auta, the Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Capital of Niger state. The new faces that would be seen in the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, this time around include, Caled Mtfwang, Plateau, Plateau, Sheriff Obrewori, Delta, Simanyi Fubara, Rivers, PDP an Umo Eno, Akwa Ibom, all of the PDP. While he APC, will boast of Dikko Umaru Radda, Katsina, Bassey Otu, Cross river, Umar Bago, Niger, Francis Nwifu, Eboyi, andUmar Namadi, Jigawa.
For the state Assembly election, the biggest losers were Muazu Maganya, Speaker, Zamfara state House of Assembly, Musa Bawa Yankuzo, the House Deputy Speaker and Nasiru Lawal Bungudu, Deputy Leader. The trio, were said to have lost their Seats to PDP, Candidates I their various Constituencies in the state.
Another major loser in the just concluded state Assembly election, was Ahmed Lawan Mirwa, who was beaten in the keenly contested Nguru II, Constituency slot , by 36 year-old, Lawa Musa, of the PDP. Mirwa, the Yobe state Speaker, has been in the state House of Assembly since 2003. The biggest shock in the State Assembly election was in Kwara state where a 26 year-old Hajia Rukayat Shittu, of the APC, won the Owode /Onire Constituency. Suffice it to say that Hajia Shittu, is the youngest Lawmaker in the north central state of Kwra and arguably the youngest in the country to clinch a House of Seat in the 2023 state House of Assembly elections.