On April 11 governorship and State Assembly elections were conducted in 29 states across the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In three of the states namely Abia, Imo and Taraba, the outcome was declared inconclusive due to electoral malpractices and the provision of the electoral laws. INEC fixed today for supplementary election in the affected states.
Since election in the affected states were declared inconclusive, there has been war of words, allegation and counter-allegation, intrigues, scheming, and alignment between the members of the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).
Both parties and their supporters have also called for the removal of some INEC officials, and security personnel accused of being partisan during the inconclusive poll.
They have also called for the cancellation of the entire result, and punishment for politicians who were involved in electoral malpractice during the exercise.
Because of this, the leadership of the electoral commission has taken some steps to ensure that today’s election is hitch-free and transparent.
Imo State: Okorocha Versus Ihedioha
The state is on the familiar turf politically, having witnessed a supplementary election in 2011 governorship poll when the exercise was declared inconclusive because election did not hold in Ohaji/Egbema, Mbatioli, Ngor-Okpala and Oguta Local Government Areas as well as in Orji Ward in Owerri North Local Government Areas.
In today’s rerun, Okorocha, who is the incumbent governor and governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) is being challenged by the deputy speaker, House of Representatives and governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Emmanuel Iheanacho Of APGA, Kenneth Ojiri of Accord Party (AP)
Before declaring the election inconclusive, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officer for the election, Prof Ibidapo Obe announced that candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Rochas Okorocha garnered 385,671 votes, while the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Emeka Ihedioha had 306,142 votes. 144,715 votes were cancelled. With the margin, 79,529, less than the number of cancelled votes.
One of the factors that will decide the outcome of the supplementary poll today is the secret alignment and alliance between Governor Okorocha and some PDP stalwarts in the state since APC won the presidential election.
In the build-up to the general elections, not many residents of the state saw APC as a party with any chance of victory in the Southeast zone. Some political observers were of the view that the election would be a walk over for the PDP candidate, Ihedioha, considering the overwhelming support for the party in the state. But immediately the presidential election was won and lost, the support base of the PDP in the state dwindled, while APC gained some mileage before the governorship poll.
Some PDP big wigs in the state defected publicly and secretly to the APC and worked for Okorocha’s victory during the poll. Some of them also directed their supporters to vote for Okorocha instead of Ihedioha.
Also in the politics of the state, religion has always been a factor. Okorocha is a Catholic with larger membership in the state, while Ihedioha is an Anglican which many believe is in minority.
It would be recalled that in 2011 polls, the incumbent governor and candidate of the PDP, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim, also an Anglican lost to Okorocha, a Catholic. Not even Ohakim’s choice of running mate in the person of Prof. Viola Onwuliri, a staunch Catholic saved him in the election.
Being used against Ihedioha by some PDP stalwarts in the state was his unholy alliance with Speaker Aminu Tambuwal in 2011 which made southwest zone to lose the speakership position that was initially zoned to them by the party leadership.
An action many of them alleged was responsible for President Jonathan’s dismal performance in Southwest during the presidential election.
In the related development, Okorocha recently alleged that Ihedioha has sent his loyalists to lobby leaders of APC in both Northwest and South West to support him in winning the Imo state governorship re-run.
The Imo state governor further alleged that the PDP governorship candidate has equally pledged to decamp to the APC if he eventually wins the governorship election.
An allegation, Ihedioha Campaign Organization has dismissed as part of Okorocha’s propaganda to deceive Imo people.
Okorocha enjoys the power of incumbency, while Ihedioha enjoys the support of the presidency. Despite the fact that President Jonathan will be leaving office on May 29, having lost the presidential election to General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the APC, he may like to prove a point in the election, considering that South-south, and southeast zones are the strongholds of the PDP in the country now.
Abia State: Ikpeazu Versus Otti
Before the governorship election in the state on April 11, which was later declared inconclusive by the returning officer, Prof Benjamin Ozurumba, there has been war of words between the members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
After the poll, INEC said that no winner has emerged. In the words of the state Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, while announcing results from the polls after collation in the 17 local government councils of the state, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu scored a total of 248,459 ahead of his closest rival, Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) who secured 165,406 votes.
The Returning Officer could not declare the candidate with the highest votes winner, because of reports from electoral officers in about nine out of the 17 councils which showed that elections failed to hold in some polling booths in a total of 49 out of the 184 political wards in the state.
Prof. Ozumba reeled out the total number of registered voters in the affected areas to be above the margin of win by the PDP candidate.
Making reference to the provisions of the Electoral Act, Ozumba stated that “where the margin of win in an election is not in excess of the number of registered voters in areas where elections did not hold, no winner is declared until a rerun is held in the affected areas”.
With this development, some PDP members accused the returning officer, Prof. Ozurumba and the state resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Selina Oko of acting a written script. They have asked for their removal before the supplementary election is conducted today.
APGA members in the state have also called for the cancellation of results from three council areas in the state.
The Guardian learnt that today’s election will take place in 299 polling units across Abia North, Abia South, Ugwunagbo, Osisioma, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Umuahia North, Umuahia South, Umunneochi, Ohafia council areas of the state.
Several factors will determine the supplementary poll outcome just like the April 11 exercise. The PDP governorship candidate, Ikpeazu who hails from Obingwa council area in Abia South senatorial is a product of the PDP zoning in the state.
It could be recall that the Abia south senatorial zone is the only zone that has not produce governor in the state since 1999.
While the incumbent governor, Chief Theodore Orji is from Abia Central, his predecessor Chief Orji Uzor Kalu is from Abia North senatorial. It is in the light of this that many believe that in the interest of fairness and equity in the state, the South should be supported to produce Orji’s successor.
It was for this obvious reason that other aspirants on the party platform from North and Central withdrew from the race before the primaries where Ikpeazu emerged. Ikpeazu also enjoys the backing of the state governor, Presidency, PDP national leadership and his people of Ngwa clan, one of the largest groups in the state that has been hankering for the governorship seat since 1999.
Ikpeazu apart from being an academic, has been in active politics in the state for some years now. Apart from being one time council chairman, he was the deputy director, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) before his emergence as the PDP governorship candidate.
Again Ikpeazu’s running mate and incumbent speaker of State House of Assembly, Ude Oko Chukwu is from Ohafia Council Area, one of the council areas where election will take place today.
Beside, having more votes than his closest rival, Otti before the election was declared inconclusive, Ikpeazu and the PDP will be going into today’s election with optimism that they will garner more votes to emerge victorious. Looking at the margin between Ikpeazu and Otti, political observers believe that even if today’s votes are shared 50/50 Ikpeazu will emerge victorious.
For Otti, a renowned economist and banker, today’s election appears to be a tough task for him, and his party (APGA) considering that the PDP candidate, Ikpeazu has more votes than him before the poll was declared inconclusive. Also of advantage to Ikpeazu is the success of his party in the National Assembly poll where the party won all the national assembly seats in the state.
Initially Otti wanted to pursue his ambition on the PDP platform, but when he realized that PDP zoning in the state would not favour him, having hail from Arochukwu in Abia North, he defected to the APGA.
Since his defection to the APGA and subsequent emergence as the party’s governorship candidate, his candidacy is being challenged in the court by another chieftain of the party, Chief Reagan Ufomba who is also claiming to be the authentic candidate of the party.
On the issue of Otti’s local council identity, Otti has insisted that he is from Isiala Ngwa South Council Area. Many political observers have argued that if Otti is from Isiala-Ngwa South which is also in Abia Central zone where the incumbent governor hails from, Otti’s victory in the poll will mean that the Central will be producing governor againafter eight years of Orji’s administration. It is one factor many believe will work against Otti in today’s election because it negates the principle of equity and fairness. The people of Abia South especially the Ngwas believe that this is their best chance to produce governor in the state and they are leaving no stone unturned.
Otti enjoys the support of non-indigenes and some aggrieved PDP members in the state who see him as a better option for the state, having excelled in the private sector. Apart from this, his party, APGA is being perceived by the Igbos as their own party, because of the party’s tie with the late Biafra Warlord, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegu Ojukwu. But whether such sentiment will work in Otti’s favour will be determine by the outcome of the poll.
Taraba State: Alhassan Versus Ishaku
History may be made in the country today, if the APC governorship candidate and senator representing Taraba North, Senator Aisha Alhassan wins the supplementary governorship election in Taraba state today. She will become the first elected female governor in the country. How this will be possible will seen at the end of today when the winner of the poll will be declared by the INEC Returning Officer.
On April 13, the INEC Returning Officer for the Taraba governorship poll, Professor Mohammed Kyari had declared the election inconclusive. At the time the election was declared inconclusive, the PDP candidate and former minister of state for Niger Delta, Dairus Ishaku has won in nine local councils with 317, 198 votes, while his closest rival, Senator Alhassan won in six council areas with 268,386 votes.
Kyari’s decision, if not for the prompt intervention of security operatives, would have led to massive bloodshed following abrupt and massive protest by some aggrieved youths on the streets of Jalingo, the state capital.
The protest led to the burning down of houses as well as the destruction of valuables worth millions of Naira in some parts of the state.
Although supporters of the two major political parties in the race APC and PDP have agreed to go back to the poll for the re-run that will take place in some polling units in 10 out of the 17 local government councils, voters have called for adequate security measures to forestall possible breakdown of law and order in today’s poll.
Saddened by the decision of the returning officer, the senate committee chairman on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Emmanuel Bwacha, believed that Kyari has no “legal right whatsoever to cancelled the entire results of Donga local government when only it is only five out of the one hundred and sixty-five polling units was found wanting.”
In the same vein, the former-Vice President of Nigeria and APC Chieftain, Atiku Abubakar said that INEC and security officials implicated in the conduct of guber election in the State should be removed and replaced with new personnel in the rerun election in the state.
The former Vice President made the suggestion, while welcoming INEC’s decision to cancel the gubernatorial election results in some local government and declare the outcome of polls in the state inconclusive.
In a statement issued yesterday which was made available to The Guardian, Atiku expressed agreement with the widespread reports of irregularities in some local governments of the state.
“These irregularities included using armed personnel to intimidate voters,” Atiku alleged.
He said: “Nigeria is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Citizens should be able to go out and vote without fear of being threatened with the nuzzle of a gun.”
Of advantage to the PDP candidate is the support of the candidate of the SDP in the race, David Kente and major PDP stakeholders in the state. Apart from this, he has a high vote margin against the APC candidate before the poll was declared inconclusive.
Ishaku is the political godson of General TY Danjuma (rtd), a man that wields a lot of political influence in the state and national level. Since 1999, PDP has controlled Taraba State and may continue to control it after today’s election, unless APC candidate springs surprises. PDP’s victory in the National Assembly and presidential polls in the state will also work in favour of Ishaku today.
Similiarly, PDP has won 16 out of the twenty-four seats in the state House of Assembly poll.
For the APC candidate, Senator Alhassan, her party’s victory in the presidential election has boosted her chances in today’s election. The national leadership of the party, womenfolk, and party stakeholders from the Northeast zone have threw their support behind her.
Meanwhile The Guardian gathered that today’s supplementary election will take place in some polling units in 10 councils which include: Ussa:4 Polling Units (PU), 3085 Registered Voters (RV), Wukari: 4PU, 3,460RV, Yorro: 1PU, 1,043 RV and Zing: 1PU, 738 RV. Bali: 20 polling units, 14,587 registered voters, Donga: 165 PU, 85,657 RV, Jalingo: 1PU, 1,185RV, Karim-Lamido: 9PU, 5,176RV, Kurmi: 1PU, 753 RV, and Takum: 12PU, 11,441RV,
Rep Speaker: Gbajabiamila, Williams Top Contenders’ List
The contest for the Speakership of the 8th House of Representatives is reaching its climax, with information that the leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC) might have finally zoned the office to the Southwest.
A competent source disclosed that the leadership of the party in the Southwest has already started meetings to screen some candidates, who would be presented to the national leadership for approval before final nomination to the APC caucus in the House.
It was, however, gathered that four APC lawmakers might have been pencilled down by the Southwest leaders for the national leadership to pick one.
The preferred candidates are Femi Gbajabiamila (Surulere I Federal Constituency in Lagos State); Samuel Olusegun Williams (Abeokuta South Federal Constituency in Ogun State); Dada Awoleye (Ibadan North Federal Constituency); and Ajibola Famurewa Israel (Atakumosa/East/West Ilesa East/West Federal Constituency in Osun State).
Gbajabiamila was born on April 25, 1962 and is currently the Minority Whip of the House.
He attended Igbobi College in Yaba, Lagos; King William’s College on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom (UK); John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois, United States (US); and the University of Lagos.
Gbajabiamila was elected to the House in 2003 and re-elected in 2007, 2011 and last month.
Williams, was born in 1959 and shook the political space in 2011 when he defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and then Speaker, Dimeji Bankole.
Williams, who studied at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and Federal University of Science and Technology, Akure (FUTA), is a maverick politician and team player respected for being level-headed and his uncommon ability to find solution to knotty issues.
He had served in various committees of the House, including Banking and Currency, Ethics and Privileges, FCT Area Councils and Ancillary Matters, House Services/Welfare, Legislative Budget and Research Works.
Israel, an engineer by profession, became a member of the House in 2011.
He was born on July 13, 1965 and left his position as chief executive officer of ISBOL Energy Services Limited, Lagos to join politics.
Awoleye holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) from The Polytechnic, Ibadan and he has proved his mettle in Oyo State politics.
Born in 1970, has a record of never losing elections in the state and has served in various committees of the House, including Communications, Justice, Population and Steel.
While Gbajabiamila’s name resonates high among the contenders, the issue of the Vice president-elect, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who many believe is using Lagos’ ticket, may still keep the contest open.
Though Osinbajo hails from Ogun State, but he has spent his entire political career in Lagos, which makes many see him as a Lagos politician.
In all, it is the national leadership of the party that holds the ace to determine who assumes the position.