THISDAY ONLINE Guber Polls… From A to Z
Alhaji Modu Sheriff, the governor of Borno State, is one of the eight governors who are seeking re-election, having come to office four years ago. Others are Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Olusegun Agagu (Ondo), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano) and Danjuma Goje (Gombe). By no co-incidence, they all defeated incumbents to win. Is it nemesis time?
Bahiru Azeez was posted to Lagos as Commissioner of Police 48 hours after Udom Ekpoudom replaced the erstwhile commissioner, Emmanuel Adebayo. That makes three Police Commissioners in three days, probably a world record. The Action Congress is alleging that it is part of a plot by the PDP to rig the election in the state. In 2003, all police commissioners in the South-west, save Lagos, were re-deployed on the eve of elections and PDP captured all the states, save Lagos. Young Arabamen, then Police Commissioner, was retired after the elections, purportedly for not “capturing” Lagos for PDP.
Coca-cola is nothing, compared to the popularity of Ahmed Yusuf in Taraba State, according to the man himself. “What I believe is that my name is a brand in Taraba,” the AC governorship candidate told a newspaper. “I do not need to advertise myself. Everybody in Taraba knows me. I’m more popular than Coca-cola.” Watch this space next week.
Debates have been more prominent in these elections than in the past. In Lagos State alone, governorship candidates participated in several rounds of debate both on radio and TV. The effectiveness of debates as a campaign strategy is very hard to gauge because of the lack of a reliable and independent feedback mechanism, but it is thought that Jimi Agbaje (DPA) and Babatunde Fashola (AC) won many Lagosians over with their performance. Femi Pedro also got good ratings. Musiliu Obanikoro (PDP) failed to turn up for a couple of shows, fearing that fairness was not guaranteed because of the suspected involvement of the Lagos government. The Nation newspaper organised its own debates for candidates in the South-west, possibly the first by a newspaper in Nigeria.
Extension of tenure, so called, was not granted to two governors: Peter Obi of Anambra and Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo. Obi is still at an appeal court to seek interpretation of Section 180 (2) of the 1999 Constitution on his tenure, having been sworn in only a year ago for what should be a four-year term after fighting a three-year legal battle. An attempt by the Anambra State government to fast-track the case by going directly to the Supreme Court failed on technical grounds. Ladoja’s case was thrown out because even though he was illegally impeached and was out of power for nine months, the court ruled that since his deputy held fort in his absence, he had no case.
For voters who expect to be at the polling unit to know to the scores of their candidates after voting on Saturday, they may be disappointed by the pronouncement of INEC that they should leave the polling station immediately after voting. According to the INEC chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, the directive was intended to protect polling officials from being intimidated by voters. Loitering around the polling station is not allowed by the Electoral Act, he said, while warning governors and top government officials that they face prosecution if they are seen at collation centres.
Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, has endorsed another candidate—this time, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the AC governorship flagbearer in Edo State. “For more than seven years, Adams Oshimhole led the labour against the obnoxious and dehumanising policies of the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration. He called out the people in several strikes against fuel price increase… by this singular feat of courage and masses-oriented passion and focus, he endeared himself to the toiling people of Nigeria, including the workers,” he said.
Have our women indeed arrived? The country is yet to elect its first female governor, and no mainstream party has fielded a female governorship candidate. Apart from Virgy Etiaba, who is flying the flag of APGA in Anambra by default (INEC refused to substitute her name with Peter Obi’s, citing a court injunction), no party that currently controls at least one state in the federation is fielding any female governorship candidate. However, there are many running mates who are women—and perhaps potential governors in the future.
Indictment has become a key word in the electoral vocabulary in Nigeria for the first time. There have been indictments in the past, but it has never been an issue in election year as it has been this year. This was probably so because of the Atiku case and the EFCC advisory. In many states, governorship candidates were dropped because of “indictment”. Alhaji Rabiu Kwakwanso, former governor of Kano, was a victim, having been indicted by his successor about three years ago. In Oyo, Adebayo Alao-Akala (PDP) has been indicted but INEC has retained his name on the list because, according to the commission, the indictment came late in the day.
Justice Roseline Ukeje of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ruled on Tuesday that on no account should INEC postpone the general elections following the death of Adebayo Adefarati, the former presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy. It may be no more than an academic ruling, since AD had already substituted Adefarati with Pere Ajunwa, but it sets a precedent on the contentious provision in the Electoral Act 2006 which allows for the postponement of elections in the case of the death of a candidate. “I hold that Section 37 (1) of the Act is in clear and brazen contradiction of the constitution,” she ruled.
Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki (PDP), will face a lesser number of opponents with the decision of 12 parties to endorse the candidature of Gbenga Olawepo (DPP). Chief Cornelius Adebayo, former governor of the state and Minister of Transportation, chaired an exercise where the candidature of Olawepo was endorsed. Accord Party’s candidate, Chief Theophilus Bamigboye, has kicked against the endorsement. The three main contenders for governorship, meanwhile, will be Saraki, Olawepo and Makanjuola Ajadi (AC).
Like in previous elections, local and foreign observers are expected to “monitor” the elections, but unlike in the past, foreign observers have declared the Niger Delta a no-go area. This is not unrelated to the spate of kidnapping of foreigners in the region by militants agitating for control of the oil resources. Foreign observers were very critical of the 2003 elections, perhaps influencing the decision of INEC to exclude “monitors” from these elections. The commission eventually clarified its position, saying only observers and not “monitors” will be accredited, meaning, in some sense, that the sovereignty of Nigeria would not be compromised. Thousands of observers, both local and foreign, will monitor the elections, nevertheless.
Most incumbents are not running for re-election, but while some have served their constitutional two terms, others are out of the race not by choice. In Ekiti, the state of emergency led to the suspension of Governor Ayo Fayose (PDP), which effectively ruled him out of running for another term. In Anambra, INEC rejected the candidature of Peter Obi (APGA) based on a court injunction. Goodluck Jonathan (PDP) is the presidential running mate, thereby leaving his position as incumbent governor of Bayelsa. In Oyo, the PDP did not offer Rashidi Ladoja a return ticket.
No surprises are expected in states like Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Niger, Kogi, Kwara and Delta, where ruling parties are expected to retain their governorship seats. However, pundits are predicting “upsets” in a number of states. One is Edo, where Adams Oshiomhole (AC) is expected to torpedo the traditional “fix it” power of Chief Tony Anenih, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees. Anenih’s candidate, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, is considered not strong enough to continue PDP’s reign in the state. In Ekiti, the odds are very tight, but indications are that Dr. Kayode Fayemi (AC) will make a good showing against an equally formidable Dr. Segun Oni (PDP). In Ondo, Dr. Rahman Mimiko (LP) is highly rated to unseat the incumbent, Dr. Olusegun Agagu (PDP). Nasarawa State has always voted PDP, but Solomon Ewuga (ANPP) has gathered momentum in the last few weeks and may be in a good position to upset Aliyu Doma (PDP). Kashim Ibrahim-Imam (PDP) is very popular in the big cities in Borno, and he is up against an incumbent who has always won elections and who has villagers on his side. A win for Ibrahim-Imam will be considered an upset.
Only in Imo State has a governorship candidate been expelled from a party in the history of Nigeria. The ruling PDP has, rather than field Ifeanyi Araraume, as its governorship candidate—following Supreme Court’s ruling nullifying his substitution with Charles Ugwuh—decided that it would forfeit the state by not fielding a candidate at all. Araraume had dragged his party to court for substituting his name and had won up to the Supreme Court level. However, the PDP insists he is not a credible candidate and since it was too late to take any other decision, it has decided to avoid obeying the Supreme Court judgment by forfeiting the state altogether. Questions are still being asked on the legality of PDP’s action; litigations are expected to continue long after the elections. Chief Martin Agbaso (APGA) is expected to be the major beneficiary of this decision because of the strong position of the party in the state. Chief Ikedi Ohakim (PPA) is also in contention.
Peter Obi, the governor of Anambra State, may turn out to be the man who has fought most legal battles in the political history of Nigeria. In 2003, he was believed to have won the election, but INEC gave it to Dr. Chris Ngige. Obi went to the Election Petition Tribunal and successfully proved his case. Ngige appealed and lost. In March 2006, Obi was sworn in as governor. He was impeached in November 2006. He went to court and was restored to his seat. His attempt to run for governorship was scuttled by a controversial court ruling secured by Chief Chekwas Okorie, the factional leader of APGA. All other APGA candidates were cleared to run by INEC except Obi, whereas the injunction secured by Okorie was supposed to cover all. It was interpreted that Anambra’s case had to be special for reasons other than the court injunction. Obi is still in court over his tenure. If the court rules in his favour for a full four-year term, tomorrow’s election in Anambra may be declared null and void and of no effect. However, if Obi’s cases are not completed by May 29, he will most certainly hit a dead end.
Quite a number of opinion polls emerged during the electioneering process, each with varying levels of credibility and acceptance. THISDAY, which pioneered the polls in Nigeria, has predicted victory for the PDP most states. The poll has been criticised for being limited by the choice of sample population through mobile phones, although it is acknowledged that it substantially represents the realties. Guardian also did its own polls, which conform substantially with THISDAY’s, although it was criticised for being limited to the state capitals. Dissatisfied with the polls, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, presidential candidate and funder of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), commissioned a company that calls itself Galaxy Polls, to conduct one. Not unexpectedly, the poll predicted that Kalu’s party will sweep the polls in 14 states, followed by ANPP’s nine, PDP’s six, AC’s five and DPP’s two. Some of the states to be won by PPA include Lagos, Plateau, Taraba, Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa.
Remember Gbenga Aluko? He was the Senator who went down with Senator Chuba Okadigbo in the Senator in 2001 over accusations of impropriety in the award of contracts in the Upper Chamber. He is also the son of foremost economist, Professor Sam Aluko, who served as Chief Economic Adviser to General Sani Abacha. Gbenga was the only PDP candidate to win a Senate seat in the South-west in 1999. He fizzled out since the Senate scandals, but is in the news again. He is the governorship candidate of Labour Party in Ekiti State. He has promised to include permanent secretaries and directors in the Cabinet if he wins the elections.
Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, the governorship candidate of ANPP in Lagos State, has reportedly stepped down for Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the AC candidate, in the spirit of the AC/ANPP alliance. It is not yet confirmed. The much-trumpeted AC/ANPP alliance has, however, not fully taken off. It is projected that if the alliance works in Ogun State, it can defeat the PDP. In Katsina, Benue and Taraba, for instance, the alliance can uproot the PDP from the respective government houses. There are prospects that in Oyo State, a compromise might be reached. In 1999, the AD/APP alliance produced a joint presidential candidate in Chief Olu Falae, but it did not work in the governorship polls. In 2003, AD did not field a candidate in the presidential election in order to support the candidature of President Olusegun Obasanjo (PDP).
To prevent violence during the elections, reports suggest that the federal government is planning to deploy troops to volatile states. Troops’ involvement in the polls is nothing new, but their neutrality is often a subject of controversy. Opposition parties, like the AC, have criticised the government for planning to deploy troops. They believe it is a ploy to use maximum force to cow people into accepting whatever results are declared by INEC. Accusations of plans to rig have been freely traded by parties, and most of the accusing fingers have been expectedly pointed at the ruling PDP. They allege that the PDP is manipulating INEC in order to achieve pre-determined results.
Unusually, the federal government declared yesterday and today as public holidays, ostensibly in preparation for the elections this weekend. However, political meanings have been read into it. One, Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s case was to come up at the Supreme Court yesterday. The holiday technically put the case on hold until next week. Two, the holiday was also interpreted as an attempt to catch opposition politicians unawares as they would not be able to withdraw money to prosecute the elections this weekend. Meanwhile, PDP has reportedly made adequate financial provisions to prosecute it own electioneering for this weekend. This is a classic example of how state power can be used to deal with the opposition in a developing country where economic productivity can be sacrificed on the altar of politics.
Victory for Andy Uba in Anambra State will bring to an end the four-year-old crisis that has rocked the state, starting with the attempt by his younger brother, Chris, to unseat the former governor, Dr. Chris Ngige. The younger Uba had been the face of the crisis for a long time and, some will say, was enjoying the support of his elder brother who was working with the president. The violence that broke out and the sustained nature of the crisis were also attributed to the Ubas. However, as Andy prepared for the governorship, he tried to distance himself from his younger brother and has successfully schemed Chris out of the party. Igwe Igwebuike Ofuebe, the deputy chairman of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, has attributed his support for Uba to the relationship he enjoys with the president. “Each time I worship at the Villa [State House] chapel, I notice the way Obasanjo relates with our son [Andy]. It is only right for us in Anambra to honour this prophet on April 14 by electing him governor,” he said.
Will Lamidi Adedibu, the strongman of Ibadan politics, be alive to enjoy the fruits of his labour in this year’s electioneering? This was the question on many lips since reports filtered that he was critically ill. It has since emerged that he is recovering from whatever ailment struck him and he is still campaigning for his anointed candidate, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, the current deputy governor. The governor, Rashidi Ladoja, is yet to openly endorse any candidate, but reports indicate that Labour Party’s Lamidi Apapa is getting the attention of his aides and supporters. Apapa is former president of NUPENG and NLC in the state.
Xenophobia is “excessive fear of foreigners”, in this case fear of minorities as far as the elections are concerned. In most states of the federation, the majority ethnic groups often dominate governorships and clamour for power shift is often ignored. In Delta and Edo States, this is not the case. The PDP is fielding Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan from the very minority Itsekiri group. If he wins, it will become a major statement in the history of Nigerian politics. In Edo, the dominant Binis have voluntarily allowed the two leading parties to field candidates from other ethnic groups. In other states like Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Rivers and Benue, the status quo remains.
Yen Karalee, a group in Gombe State, has been fingered as the militants being employed by one of the candidates. In other states, it is OPC, NURTW and other groups that carry innocuous names that are accused of being used as thugs.
Zamfara is the only state where a two-term deputy has got the nod of the governor to stand for election. Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi is the ANPP candidate who is highly favoured to succeed Alhaji Sani Yarima, the man who controversially introduced the criminal aspect of Shari’a. Etiaba is running by default in Anambra.
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