Five first term governors looking for a second term in office will today face their arch rivals at select but highly dicey polling units in some local government areas of their states to save their seats.
On March 9, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted gubernatorial elections in 29 states.
However, except for Kano, Sokoto, Plateau, Benue, Bauchi, Adamawa and Rivers states, the remaining 22 states have either given a second chance to their governors or elected new ones.
In the seven states mentioned above, all the governors are seeking a second term under the platform of either the APC or PDP.
But, probably because the stakes are high, elections there were declared inconclusive, meaning that the governors must go back to the trenches with those who want to seize the baton from them.
Interests and to a certain extent, desperation to win are not restricted to the concerned governors as both the APC and PDP at the centre are fully involved in supporting their sitting governors and the scheming is already tilted towards 2023.
The APC wants to take over in Sokoto, Benue and Rivers to add to its kitty while the PDP is doing much to retain where it has governors and go ahead to win Kano, Adamawa, Plateau and Bauchi.
These states are very important because of their voting population and no political party would be comfortable without them.
And though INEC said it would conduct supplementary elections in 18 of the 36 states, attention is focused on the states where the fortunes of incumbent governors would be decided by the electorate.
Today, Governors Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau) will most likely know their fates while in Bauchi where there will also be supplementary election in some locations, Governor Mohammed Abubakar would still have to wait a bit longer to know if he would remain in office for the next four years.
In Adamawa, the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD) and its candidate, Rev. Eric Theman, had approached the court seeking outright cancellation of the gubernatorial election, meaning the state has been exempted from today’s contest in respect of the governorship.
Analysts believe that MRDD’s claim in the court has provided a temporary respite for Governor Jibrilla Bindow who is seeking a second term under the platform of the APC but is facing a serious challenge from Umar Fintiri of the PDP.
In Rivers, Wike also received some oxygen to re-strategize following the decision of INEC to continue with collation and re-run in the state on April 13.
Gama ward is decider in Kano
In Kano, today’s re-run election would be focused on Gama ward, being the most densely populated ward of all the areas where supplementary election would hold in the state. The ward has a total of 40,821 registered voters.
After the March 9 gubernatorial election that was declared inconclusive, INEC said only 13, 148 voters were accredited in the area out of which 7,000 voted for the PDP and the remaining 4,080 voters cast ballots for the APC.
Both the APC and its candidate, Ganduje and the PDP alongside its candidate, Engr. Kabir Abba Yusuf, had dedicated night and day in the past few days trying to woo voters to their sides.
Both parties have for the past two weeks engaged in house-to-house campaigns with a view to securing more votes today.
Although, the re-run is scheduled to take place in 30 of the 44 local governments in Kano State, Gama is considered a darling of both APC and PDP largely because of the bulk of votes expected from there.
The APC-led government had for the past two weeks, suspended virtually all other activities and focused attention on Gama. During the period under review, the government has constructed about 20 boreholes in the area, renovated the only healthcare facility, Isa Kaita Primary Healthcare Centre and is about completing the various road projects in the area among other activities taking place there, all courtesy of today’s re-run election.
Before the election was declared inconclusive, PDP’s, Abba Yusuf had 1,014,474 votes and is therefore ahead of Ganduje who had 987,819 and needs 26,655 votes to close the gap, secure more and then retain his seat. Anything short of this would mean a defeat.
A resident of Gama, Alhaji Aminu Idi Gama said, “To many of us, this re-run is a blessing to the entire people of Gama because…our votes earned us serious development within just two weeks.”
“If the electorate will hold politicians hostage in this style, I am sure they will achieve a lot without any difficulty because it shows votes count these days,” he said.
Another resident of Gama, Malam Ghali Ibrahim, said no one can determine which party would get the highest votes in Gama because they both devised means of getting more votes today.
Gritty battle in Sokoto
The governorship election was declared inconclusive because the cancelled votes totalling 76,403 was higher than the margin between the two leading parties in the state.
Governor Tambuwal of the PDP who scored 489,558 votes is ahead of APC’s Ahmed Aliyu who scored 486,145 votes. There is a difference of 3,413 votes between the two and they will now struggle during the re-run.
Over voting, wanton destruction of electoral materials, snatching of ballot boxes and other forms of malpractice were noted to have led to the cancelation of votes in the affected areas where there would be supplementary elections today.
Election will be conducted in 135 polling units across 22 local government areas of the state. The PDP is not happy with the supplementary election, arguing that since it was leading, it should be declared winner.
Tambuwal had insisted he should be declared winner of the governorship polls while on the other hand, the APC accepted the idea of supplementary election, saying it was most affected by the cancelation.
When contacted on the allegation that some electoral officials were compromised during the last election, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Abubakar Sadiq Musa, said he was not aware of such.
‘’I do not believe in sparing the rod to spoil the child. I have spoken to security agencies that if anybody commits a criminal offence, please arrest him, if I do, arrest me. If you have a complaint against Sadiq, put it in writing, if you prove it right, I am ready to surrender myself to a court of law,” he said.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 10, AIG Mohammed Mustapha, assured of readiness of the police and other security agencies for the election.
40 polling units to decide Plateau
Results from 40 polling units in nine local government areas of Plateau State will today determine who between Lalong of the APC and Useni of the PDP would be sworn in as the next governor of the state on May 29.
Results from the 17 local government areas of the state had tipped Lalong who polled 583, 255 votes ahead of Useni who polled 538, 326 votes. The two major contenders’ closest rival is Jon Temlong of the Action Democratic Party who polled 4, 665 votes.
Despite a lead margin of 44,929, INEC declared the March 9 gubernatorial elections in the state inconclusive and re-scheduled a re-run for today.
The state’s Collation officer, Prof. Richard Anande, had declared that the margin of 44,929 between the two leading parties was less than the number of registered voters in areas where elections were cancelled which stood at 49, 377.
The governorship supplementary election will take place in Bassa, Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, Jos North, Kanam, Langtang South, Mangu, Pankshin and Shendam local government areas. Plateau State INEC through the Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Osaretin Imahiyereobo, said for Barkin Ladi, the re-run would take place in Barikin Joji polling unit while in Bassa, it would take place in Gabia II (002) and Mista Ali I (006) polling units.
For Bokkos, the supplementary election will be conducted in Buut, 009, Primary School; Bot, 004, Primary School; Mandark 005, Primary School; Hurti, 003, Primary School and Dimak Wanze 003 while for Jos North, the exercise will take place in Jenta Mangoro (014), Plateau Hotel Junction (018) and Unguwan Abuja Tudun Wada II (027).
Imahiyereobo also stated that for Kanam, the re-run would be conducted in Gagdi (001) and Namaran Primary School (001) while in Mangu, he said, all 18 polling units would hold their elections in Mangu 1 Registration Area, Kantoma (014) polling unit in Mangu Halle Registration Area as well as Ajing (012) polling unit in Panyam Registration Area.
Though the re-run will give the PDP an opportunity to try to close the wide margin, the party’s candidate, Sen. Useni, had expressed displeasure.
Useni who said he was optimistic of winning, called on PDP stakeholders and supporters to stand tall, saying he was still in the race and could not turn back when he was coasting home to victory.
On their part, the Deputy Director, Media and Publicity Committee of the APC Campaign Organization, Barrister Festus Faunter, said despite being in a comfortable lead with a wide margin, the party would not take the supplementary election for granted.
Election to hold in Benue’s 22 councils
The need for the supplementary elections holding today in 22 of the 23 LGA of Benue State was necessitated by the number of cancelled votes that exceeded the gap between the two highest scorers in the first phase of the polls conducted by INEC penultimate Saturday.
The incumbent Governor Ortom of the PDP and his closet rival, APC’s Barrister Emmanuel Jime, are the main actors of the supplementary exercise.
It would be recalled that the PDP polled the highest votes of 410,576 during the March 9 elections while the APC trailed behind with 339, 022 votes, leaving a difference of 81,554 votes as averred by the INEC Returning Officer who is also the Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Professor Sabestine Maimako.
Professor Maimako had submitted that votes cancelled and places where voting could not hold due to violence cut across different wards and polling units across the state with a total registered voters of 121, 019, which is higher than the 81, 554 votes with which the PDP was leading, hence, the need for supplementary elections to determine a winner.
INEC had said at a stakeholders’ meeting a few days ago that 22 LGAs are involved. Snatching of ballot boxes, over-voting and manual accreditation led to cancellation of election in Azendeshi in Ukum LGA with 13, 611 registered voters, RA Ijigo, Olokolobo and Okpali in Okpokwu LGA with voting strength of 11, 153 as well as Nyiev RA, Tsekeleke PU, Amua Health clinic PU, Makundu, Saawuan, Tse-Kpanye and Dzegeor Inyundu Market square in Guma LGA with a total registered voters of 14, 982 among others.
The electoral umpire has published 204 polling units for the supplementary election. Their combined voting strength stands at 121,670 while a total of 109,733 PVCs have been collected by their owners in the areas affected.
INEC’s Resident Commissioner in the state, Nentawe Yilwatda, disclosed that apart from Katsina Ala Local Government Area, the supplementary election for governorship would be conducted in 22 of the 23 LGAs of the state.
A lecturer at the Benue State University, Dr. Chile Ngusha, opined that as for the Benue rerun election, INEC shouldn’t have earmarked money for it, saying Ortom should be declared winner.
“This is because the difference of scores between the PDP and APC is over 81,000. And if you look at the number of PVCs collected in the affected areas which was around 109,000 and you subtract the difference of the 121,000 cancelled votes, you will have 28,000 votes remaining which now makes Ortom to look for only 14, 000 votes to win,” he said.
Gov may not emerge in Bauchi today
As the PDP and APC on one hand and INEC on the other continue to bicker over the results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State, there is uncertainty on the emergence of a clear winner in the re-run governorship election today.
The two parties have been at logger heads over the unending disagreement over the Tafawa Balewa results since the election was declared inconclusive by the state’s Returning Officer, Professor Mohammed Kyari.
Results from Tafawa Balewa were rejected based on the alleged violence at the collation centre during which some election materials including results sheets were taken away.
Subsequent recommendations by the Festus Okoye-led committee from INEC that visited the state brought another dimension to the debacle.
The Okoye committee recommended that the results be re-collated to ascertain who between APC’s Governor Abubakar and PDP’s Senator Bala Mohammed won in Tafawa Balewa.
While the PDP welcomed the idea, the APC kicked against it. PDP Chairman Alhaji Hamza Koshe Akuyam argued that in all, their candidate got 469, 512 votes ahead of APC’s Governor Abubakar who got 465, 453 votes, giving a margin of 4,059 votes between the two.
According to him, if the results from Tafawa Balewa should be considered, the PDP would lead the APC with over 14,000 votes even before the supplementary election for the remaining over 22,000 votes will be held.
However, the state APC chairman, Alhaji Uba Ahmed Nana, argued that INEC would only be just if the results of Tafawa Balewa and Bauchi local government areas were cancelled and fresh elections held because the elections in the two local government areas were allegedly rigged in favour of the opposition PDP.
An order given by an Abuja High Court following a suit filed by the APC and Governor Abubakar brought another dimension to the issues and heightened the already tensed political atmosphere in the state.
Despite the political quagmire, INEC said it was prepared to conduct supplementary elections in other locations but excluded the contentious Tafawa Balewa.
The supplementary election according to INEC will be held in 36 polling units in 29 registration areas (wards) across 15 of the 20 local government areas of the state, adding that a total of 22, 759 registered voters would participate in the exercise.
According to INEC, the supplementary election would be held in some locations in Alkaleri, Bogoro Darazo, Dass, Gamawa and Ganjuwa local government areas.
Similar re-run would be held in Giade, Itas Gadau, Jama’are, Katagum, Kirfi, Misau, Ningi, Toro and Shira local government areas.
Daily Trust reports that even if results from all these local government areas are declared today, there is no certainty of having a clear winner. The verdict of the court in respect of Tafawa Balewa may change the pendulum which, in addition to a few other factors, would determine who wins.