With the array of powerful contenders for governorship seats in 2019, the race will be a battle of titanic proportions in a number of states. Daily Trust on Sunday reports the state where the war will be hottest.
In Rivers State, it is a straight fight between the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike. Amaechi is not directly contesting for the governorship election, but he is fronting his political ally and businessman, Tonye Dele Cole as the governorship flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The governorship contest is more of a personality clash between Amaechi and Wike over who controls the soul of Rivers politics. The two political gladiators have been on each other’s throat for long.
In 2015, Wike defeated Amaechi’s ally, Dr Dakuku Peterside, in the governorship election, with an unimaginable gap of over one million votes. Amaechi had argued that the election was rigged in favour of Wike with the federal might of the then ruling PDP.
As the director-general of the APC Presidential Campaign Council for 2019, Amaechi had claimed that Rivers was an APC state. He said the 2019 governorship election would be a veritable platform to prove his point.
Wike, on his part, said that Rivers people had been voting for the PDP, hence the forthcoming election would be a walkover for the party. The governor also believes that the numerous projects he initiated, which have reached appreciable levels of completion, would speak for him in the election.
Both politicians are oiling their political machinery to prove their weight in the 2019 governorship election.
The biggest challenge facing Amaechi’s camp presently is the crisis rocking the party over who flies the party’s governorship ticket.
Senator Magnus Abe, who has not hidden his desire to become the party’s governorship candidate, said he was not treated fairly by the party during the party’s primary elections. He claimed that his supporters were disenfranchised. He has gone to court to seek redress. Abe is a force that cannot be waved off. Until his matter is addressed and he is properly appeased, the senator may spill the beans for the party.
Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar is expected to face strong old and new political foes in the forthcoming 2019 governorship election. The APC candidate is being challenged by candidates from various opposition parties.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) are regarded as the opposition parties with enough spread and support to pose a serious threat to the APC candidate.
Many observers believe that the opposition to Governor Abubakar from some elements within the APC is fiercer than the one from candidates of the opposition political parties.
The opposition against the governor is being spearheaded by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Senator Isah Hamma Misau and Suleman Nazif, who have all moved to the PDP.
With the emergence of Senator Bala Mohammed, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as the PDP gubernatorial candidate, analysts believe the battle would be very tough for the governor despite his power of incumbency.
Many, however, believe that the exit of the likes of Professor Mohammed Ali Pate from the APC might be a plus in disguise for the governor. Pate is now the gubernatorial candidate of the PRP.
Speaking on the political situation in the state, a youth leader, Sule Yaro, said, “The governor has his constituency in Bauchi. The fact that some powerful political gladiators have moved to the PDP, PRP and other parties, is beneficial to the governor.’’
But political analysts believe that Senator Mohammed has the financial muscle and acceptability to give the governor a big fight. It is said that he has a large followership, especially in his party.
The PDP is also gaining back its popularity in the state because of his candidature. In order to consolidate his support base, immediately after the primaries, Senator Mohammed constituted a committee which got in touch with all the aspirants who lost out.
Ambassador Shu’aibu Ahmed, the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), is seen as another powerful contender in the race. Shu’aibu, a former ambassador, commissioner and Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to Governor Ahmed Mu’azu, is a financial expert.
In Imo State, the battle for the governorship seat will be fought with wits and lots of money. The race will be among four major candidates – Hope Uzodinma of the APC, Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, Ifeanyi Araraume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA)
It is very unpredictable who will win the 2019 governorship election in Imo. Few weeks ago, it would have been a straight contest among the first three, but the entry of AA with Nwosu, the son-in-law of Governor Rochas Okorocha as its candidate, appears to have altered the political permutation.
Nwosu, who was frustrated out of the APC, made a dramatic turn to pitch his tent with AA, a party promoted by his father-in-law. Okorocha had registered the AA in the early 2000, but abandoned it for the PDP where he contested presidential primary election. With the active backing of Okorocha, the AA will surely have a good outing at the election, going by the defection of 19 members of the Acho Ihim-led House of Assembly to the party.
The support base of Uzodinma appeared to have weakened on Thursday with the defection of 16 members of the House of Assembly to the AA.
Ihedioha also suffered the same fate as three members of the PDP equally defected to the AA. Interestingly, the three legislators are from his constituency in Mbaise.
The APGA is going into the contest as a troubled house, going by the strong protest by members of the party over the emergence of Araraume, who defected from the APC. It is also likely that Araraume would have a strong challenge from his kinsman, former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, who defected from the APGA, to Accord Party after a fiercely contested primary election.
Although Ohakim is not expected to have a strong outing in the election, he will, however, be a spoiler for Araraume as both are likely to share the ballots from Mbano voters, which is their major support base.
The governorship race in Plateau State will be a hot contest between Simon Bako Lalong of the APC and Sen. Jeremiah Useni of the PDP. Both are from the southern senatorial district and from two of the major ethnic groups that dominate the area.
Being a retired army general, former FCT minister, military governor and party chairman and now a senator, General Useni is capable of giving Lalong a fierce contest due to his years of experience and wide acceptance among his large Tarok tribe in the southern zone and the Berom in the northern senatorial zone.
But Lalong, who also enjoys wide acceptability from his Gamai tribe, is enjoying a lot of goodwill among state civil servants and various labour unions due to his penchant for paying workers’ salaries and pensions.
The governor’s recent decision to restore chiefdoms previously set aside by the immediate PDP government, as well as create new ones and upgrade others, scored him a major political point against Useni and the PDP. The state PDP chairman, Damishi Sango’s ethnic group, Aten, was equally elevated to a first class status.
The controversy surrounding Useni’s choice of running mate, John Dalok, has refused to go away, and it is threatening his outing in the election. Dalok and Lalong’s running mate, Prof. Sonnie Tyoden, a onetime vice chancellor, are from Mangu in Plateau central district.
The governorship contest in Kaduna State appears to be a straight fight between the incumbent, Malam Nasir el-Rufai of the APC and Isa Ashiru of the PDP. But two other parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the PRP, with their candidates, Haruna Sa’eed and Ahmad Tijani Umar, respectively, are also not relenting in their efforts to win the election.
Initially, the race appeared to assume previous patterns, where the candidates weighed their options according to prevailing sentiments. But the slight change in the equation, where the APC candidate picked a female running mate who shares the same faith as him but from the southern part of the state, has altered bookmakers’ predictions.
The PDP has continued with the tradition of balancing its ticket on religious lines to give it an edge over whoever the APC may present. But the APC refused to toe that line and chose to act differently, introducing a new twist in the power equation in the state.
Both the SDP and PRP were able to put their houses in order and attract strong aggrieved aspirants from other parties after the primaries.
Political watchers say the APC candidate seems to have identified his areas of strength and weakness and has started working on the latter.
The governorship election in Akwa Ibom State in 2019 will be a battle of supremacy between the PDP and APC. This will be the first time in the state that the PDP will be having a formidable opposition, as the APC is battle-ready to possibly take over the seat of government in the state.
Notably, the recent political upheaval in the state House of Assembly has thrown politicians into a frenzy, destabilised a once peaceful state and thrown voters into confusion.
The candidate of the APC, Nsima Ekere, has the support of a former governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, while Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP has been accused underperforming by the opposition.
But the PDP is not resting on its oars, as recent events in the state have witnessed massive mobilisation of youths and women to support their course.
Also, a lot of political intrigues are going on in the state, with many unending defections to and from both parties.
The ability of the APC and Nsima Ekere to settle disagreements among party members, led by erstwhile minister and senator, John Akapnudoedehe, is a plus to the party.
Also, many believe that Ekere will not stick to the promise of one tenure if he wins the 2019 election, and so, will destabilise the zoning arrangement which should favour the Akwa Ibom northeast senatorial district in 2023.
But sympathizers of Governor Emmanuel give him credit for the roads he constructed so far and feel he could do better if given a second chance in 2019.
At least 12 political parties have indicated interest in the 2019 governorship race in Benue State. However, political watchers believe the battle would be hot between the governorship candidate of the APC, Emmanuel Jime and the incumbent Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP.
Candidates of other parties that would likely put up outstanding performances include The Rev. Frederick Ikyaan of the PRP and Dr. Stephen Hwande of the SDP.
Jime’s chances at the polls appear bright, following complaints that Governor Ortom has not been able to offset workers’ salaries.
However, with the recent cracks on the walls of the APC in the state as a result of the party’s choice of running mate, some major stakeholders are being rumoured to have left the party, a development that is expected to affect Jime’s chances in no small measure.
It is expected that, relying on the power of incumbency and the anti-grazing law, which has won the heart of citizens in the state, the PDP candidate would triumph at the end of the day if the election is free and fair.
Meanwhile, the SDP and PRP are beneficiaries of crises in the two big parties in the state as aggrieved politicians have consistently swelled their camps since conclusion of primary elections in the state.
Political analysts believe that the ability of each of the parties to win the forthcoming governorship election in the state cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand, as they can spring surprises in the days ahead.
In Gombe State, the 2019 gubernatorial election is going to be a hot contest between the candidates of the two major political parties in the state, Inuwa Yahaya of the APC and Usman Bayero Nafada of the PDP.
Bayero was a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives while Yahaya was former Governor Danjuma Goje’s commissioner for finance for eight years. He attempted to succeed his principal, but the former governor anointed the incumbent, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.
Although Nafada was compensated with a senatorial ticket in the APC, he allegedly formed alliance with Dankwambo of the PDP, who was then seeking for his second term, and they worked against the APC. In July, he decamped to the PDP and later emerged as its gubernatorial candidate, while Yahaya picked APC’s ticket.
Nafada is relying on a strong political support from Gombe-North and the power of incumbency wielded by his party, which has been in power since 2003.
It is believed that Yahaya’s impeccable character and the support enjoyed by President Muhammadu Buhari, his party’s presidential candidate, would work in his favour.
For keen political watchers, the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State may be the hottest battle in recent times. The race presents five formidable candidates; and any of them could eventually take over the Oke-Mosan Government House come May 29, 2019. The election would be defined by political wits and largely financial muscle.
According to analysts, out of the 39 candidates from various political parties, the winner would emerge from the following candidates – Dapo Abiodun of the APC; Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka of the African Democratic Congress (ADC); Buruji Kashamu of PDP and Dimeji Bankole of the Action Democratic Party (ADP).
The PDP ticket has been subject of litigation between Kashamu and Ladi Adebutu, even though the Independent National Election (INEC) recognises Kashamu as the flag-bearer of the party.
Out of the top five contenders, Akinlade, who enjoys the support of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, and Isiaka, a two-time gubernatorial candidate, hail from the Ogun West senatorial district, a zone that has not produced governor since the creation of the state in 1976.
Also, Kashamu and Abiodun come from Ogun East, the super rich zone, while only Bankole, who was Speaker of the House of Representatives, hails from Ogun Central.
Akinlade, on his part, relies on the incumbent governor, who has vowed to ensure that he succeeds him.
In Sokoto, the contest is between Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the PDP and his immediate past deputy, Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto of the APC, who is being supported by former Governor Aliyu Wamakko.
The recent launch of the PDP presidential campaign in Sokoto indicates how important the state is to the calculation of the 2019 elections.
Governor Tambuwal, who has incumbency factor at his disposal, also enjoys the support of some political heavyweights in the state, such as former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa and Alhaji Umarun Kwabo. The two politicians would do everything possible to use Tambuwal to settle scores with Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko.
On the other hand, Wamakko has since promised to show Tambuwal that “Sokoto belongs to the APC.”
The race for the governorship seat in Kwara State may witness a new dimension, considering that the APC, led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, will give a good fight to the PDP, led by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The recent by-election to the House of Representatives, which was won by the APC, is believed to have changed the political narrative in the state.
The emergence of Razaq Atunwa as the PDP gubernatorial candidate amidst grumbling by other aspirants, as well as the recent decision of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to drop his senatorial ambition, points to the fact that political calculations are changing in Kwara State.