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Undercurrents driving voters’ considerations in eligible states

By Leo Sobechi, Rauf Oyewole, Emmanuel Ande, Danjuma Michael, Rotimi Agboluaje, Msugh Ityokura and Auwal Ahmad
07 March 2019   |   4:20 am
Come this super Saturday, the battleground shifts to the states, where the duel revolves around potential members of the state legislatures and contestants for the governorship seats.

[FILE PHOTO] Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa State

• Periscoping endangered, highly endorsed candidates
Come this super Saturday, the battleground shifts to the states, where the duel revolves around potential members of the state legislatures and contestants for the governorship seats.

Despite the heightened anxiety over the presidency and the National Assembly, the real citadel of democracy is the grassroots, including the local councils, state legislatures and governors.

However, because the state governors weld much influence and control over the subordinating levels, The Guardian decided to examine the likely scenarios and undercurrents that could predicate voter preferences in Saturday’s election.

At the tip of the pyramid are first term governors in search of a second and final term that is between the endangered and highly endorsed. Then there are gubernatorial candidates seeking their mandate in troubled milieus.

A unique feature of the forthcoming governorship poll is that virtually all the state governors from the Southwest are virgin candidates seeking their first terms in office. Although Ekiti and Osun have produced their governors, the case of Lagos was made worse by the inexplicable decision to deny the incumbent a second term ticket on the APC platform. That being the case, Governor Kayode Fayemi would be the only second term governor in the anticipated dispensation.

Highly endorsed governors: Southeast/South-south
From the Southeast and South/south, Governors Nyesom Wike and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi come up easily as candidates whose second term aspiration are not encumbered by serious challenges from the opposition.

While Wike has his path cleared by the internal confusion and combustion in the camp of opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), Ugwuanyi is basking on widespread public acceptability and endorsement based on his leadership acumen and performance in the past four years.

As he goes into a ceremonial poll on Saturday, Ugwuanyi’s headache, according to his loyalists are how to meet the challenges of his second term and pressures from his Senatorial district urging him to started preparing himself for a journey to the Senate.

On his path, although Wike is sure of victory, his immediate concern seems to be how to avert the violence disruption planned by the opposition in a bid to abort the election and prepare the stage for an isolated poll or at worse a state of emergency.

North Central
Although there is a sort of repeat contest between incumbent governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and Umar Nasko, sons of former military officers. While Governor Bello is contesting on APC platform, Umar Nasko is the standard bearer of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Bello defeated the PDP candidate in the 2015 contest and is flaunting his performance in office as the clincher in the forthcoming contest. Perhaps on account of the fact that both candidates hail from the same zone, Bello exudes confidence and comes out highly recommended by voters.

The Governor told The Guardian in an interview that there was no power-sharing arrangement between him and either Musa Ibeto or Umar Nasko requiring that he should do just one term in office and give way.

Umar, who is the eldest son of Major General Gado Nasko (retd), seems to have his chances severely hurt by the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the February 23, presidential election, instead of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate in the election.

Governor Samuel Ortom also comes as a highly endorsed gubernatorial candidate in the forthcoming poll, going by native patriotism built around his defection from ruling APC to PDP, shortly after the outrage and outcry over herdsmen massacre of Benue farmers, especially the killing of 73 innocent citizens of the state in January 2018.

Although there are misgivings about the governor’s handling of salaries and allowances to civil servants in the state, it is expected that native solidarity would obfuscate those shortcomings and return the penitent, but courageous governor for a second term.

Endangered mandates: Northeast/Northwest
Governors Aminu Bello Masari, Nasir El Rufai and Mohammed Abubakar stand out as incumbents whose second term ambition might not receive the unction of salvation from President Buhari’s second term mandate.

The Bauchi State governor seems to have an uphill challenge presented by four strong contenders. Prior to 2015 about face, Bauchi was a PDP state. Four years after APC took over, the battle on Saturday is arrayed against it from a former minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Muhammed Abdulkadir of PDP, a former minister of state for health, Professor Muhammed Ali Pate of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), a former Ambassador, Ahmed Shua’ibu of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Muhammed Jumba of Green Party of Nigeria (GPN).

Few days before President Muhammadu Buhari campaigned in the state, two former governors had publicly announced their defection to APC, including former PDP chairman, Adamu Mua’zu and Malam Isa Yuguda and other top politicians from various opposition parties.

That defection by those hefty politicians caused panic within the camp of PDP, which has been planning to end “Abubakar’s years of underdevelopment in state,” by holding coalition meetings with different political parties to unseat the incumbent governor whom they described as “Pharaoh and Hitler” of Bauchi State.

Cases against the incumbent are many. For Ali Pate, the governor should be stopped for poor performance, especially increasing out-of-school children to 1.3million and high poverty rate.

The Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has been wondering why the state is broke. He accused Abubakar of mismanaging and embezzling funds allocated to the state from the Federal Government.

Governor Abubakar insists that his administration has done well in the agriculture sector, stressing that “after payment of salaries I have little or nothing left for other things, but bottleneck in the payment of salary has become history.”

Masari’s problem has to do with the general perception in Katsina State that he has not performed to expectation and latching on support for President Buhari. Right from the Akida movement, the governor has not been finding things easy and if the threats of the electorate are anything to go by, re-electing the governor for a second term might be an extraordinary development.

However, the incumbent is bubbling with optimism because according to party faithful, the odds stack in Masari’s favour out of the 13 contenders in the coming poll.

Apart from the power of incumbency, it is believed that the outcome of the presidential election and ‘Buhari factor’ could strengthen his sagging clout. Another factor is the defection of several key PDP stalwarts to APC before and during the electioneering.

For El Rufai, a combination of fear and public distaste is fueling his degraded approval rating in Kaduna. Christians and Muslims in the state seem united in the opinion that the governor is the source of most security threats in the state.

With voices of pain and longing, most voters wish that the election would be free and fair so that they could bid farewell to ‘the small one’ as they refer to the incumbent.

It is generally believed that Governor El Rufai has been feeding the negative impression of heightened insecurity in the state to ensure that the election does not hold on Saturday or to secure the presence of soldiers to scare voters and perpetrate rigging.

States with hypersensitivity
Adamawa, Jibrilla Bindow
Unless something dramatic happens, Adamawa State might have a brand new governor, especially following the renewed momentum stoked by PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who most indigenes believe was robbed of victory on February 23.

Signs of that possibility emerged recently when 10 governorship candidates endorsed the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Support Group dumped the APC candidate, Governor Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow.

The spokesman and leader of the group Alhaji Bashir Ishaku, while declaring his group’s position, yesterday, at an expanded meeting of his members in Yola, said their action was based on the directives of the president that they should vote only credible people for leadership positions.

Ishaku disclosed that after closely examining the performance of Bindow in close to four years they concluded that the governor has failed woefully, despite the huge amount of money he collected as statutory allocations and from borrowing.

He said: “If you are in Adamawa state here for only one month, you don’t need anyone to tell you that the present administration is a national disaster and a disgrace to tenets of APC which is good governance and workers welfare.

“As I talk to you now salaries of workers has not been pay and the state government got allocation before the presidential election,so what explanation can Bindow give for not paying workers.”

Ishaku explained that their support for Fintiri should not be misconstrued as decamping to PDP, but based on the credibility of the candidate, pointing out that what the group wants is good governance for the state.

He urged Bindow to start removing his personal belongings from the Government House, preparatory to his handing over to Fintiri, stressing that the governorship election in Adamawa State would be a lesson for Fintiri to ensure that he must perform.

[File] The Governor of the host state, Abiola Ajimobi

Oyo: Adelabu’s pyramid on trial
It was a shocking defeat for the All Progressives Congress (APC) when the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, failed to win a senatorial seat, which was much like a third of the state.

But on Saturday, it would be a different kettle of fish because people of Oyo State would be considering what they stand to gain in the gubernatorial candidates, especially given the fact that the presidential election has been won and lost.

In the possible two horse-race, all eyes would be on the APC candidate, Adebayo Adelabu, who has been busy moving around the state, espousing his quite lofty plans aimed at consolidating the successful efforts of the outgoing administration in the state.

If he wins the gubernatorial election ‪on the 9th of March, 2019, Adelabu, together with the Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, would have made history by being the first to handover within the same party.

In trying to make this count, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has made famous a plan of his named, the ‘Next Level pyramid’, a plan he posits will efficiently steer his administration towards achieving success in its desire to consolidate the achievements of his predecessor and improve the quality of life of the people of Oyo State.

According to him, the Next Level pyramid consists of a 7-layered vision that will guide his administration towards driving people-centric socioeconomic development and also strengthening the state’s economy.

“The Next Level pyramid contains our focus areas in the next four years as we look and hope to take the lives of our people to the next level indeed. It’s a guide we will follow to fulfill our intention of building expertly on the successes of the outgoing APC government on Oyo state”

Adelabu spoke recently at a meting with stakeholders and members of the Professional Tradesmen and Artisans (PROTARN) in Oyo state. He moved on, “For us, bettering the lives of the people and multiplying avenues of creating prosperity for the good people of Oyo State comes first. This is why we are going to consolidate the peace and security in our state as a priority. Without it, we can neither successfully create nor enjoy the prosperity we hope to create.”

At the base of the Next Level pyramid is Security. It is no secret that Adelabu is keen and big on security. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Oyo State Security Trust Fund (OYSSTF), and in this role, he has led the application of technology to aid security, such that, there are CCTVs at major city centres and hotspots today in Ibadan, with a view to spread it round the state.

At a breakfast session with business heads within Oyo state in January, 2019, he highlighted plans to light up Oyo state by replacing old, energy-consuming street lights with modern, energy-efficient LED lights; this he said will complement the existing tech-driven security infrastructure within the state.

Adelabu-led OYSSTF had also raised funds to see to the constant assistance of the existing security outfits across Oyo with modern equipment & accouterments to ensure better functionality and easier/faster mobility a lá response time. The man is clear on the fact that his idea of consolidation does not kickoff without security at its base.

Agriculture and food security is next up on Adelabu’s Next Level pyramid. His plan on maximizing Oyo’s arable wealth is quite clear. Many have questioned why the prospects of agriculture still remain underutilized in a state with such arable land like Oyo state; Adelabu believes he has answers.

For years, the Bayo Adelabu Foundation has given relief in bursaries and scholarships to a handful of Oyo state students. Apart from the fact that this is a good deed, it also serves as a vehement testament to Adebayo Adelabu staunch belief in student welfare and their right to qualitative education.

Plans for education in the Next Level pyramid contains a blueprint to amplify the standard of education in Oyo state to a global grade and ensure state-owned schools and institutions in Oyo do not suffer breaches anymore, especially as this has been made easier by steps already taken by the present government.

Adebayo Adelabu particularly believes that the idea of comfortable student loans should not be a long lost idea. He has continuously echoed that students deserve qualitative education that can make them globally competitive and relevant, and they should be able to access loans repayable over a comfortable stretch of years, in order to remove the burden of instant payment for such qualitative education.

Adelabu’s pyramid doesn’t stand alone has it is ramped by what he has called “enablers” that will aid the execution of his vision. A robust, healthy and growing internally generated revenue (IGR), technology, and the modern ideals of industrialization are the enablers that Adelabu has highlighted to aid his 7-layered vision for Oyo State.

‪March 9, 2019 is almost here; the people of Oyo State are ready to make a decision that will put the efficiency of Adebayo Adelabu’s Next Level pyramid to test.

Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade

Cross River: Ayade’s day with destiny
The coast appears clear for Governor Ben Ayade to get a no contest reprieve. Cross River State chapter of APC expressed worry over the crisis rocking the party in the state, saying it would degenerate to “epic proportions” if urgent actions were not taken to address it.

The party appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the National leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to wade into the crisis with a view to ushering in lasting peace.

It also called on the National Working Committee, NWC and the Board of Trustees, BOT to cancel what it referred to as “an illegal state congress” which held on February 24, 2018.

The APC alleged that the illegal Congress conducted by the Deputy National Chairman, Engr. Segun Oni, disenfranchised 980 delegates and has aggravated the party crisis in the state and therefore required urgent attention.

In two separate letters made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday and conveyed to the National Chairman and the BOT chairman, the Chairman, Ikom Local Government and Area Council Caucus leader, Barrister Odey Oyama said the Congress fell short of the law and should be cancelled.

Oyama stated, “By copy of this letter, we are notifying President Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,  as well as His Excellency (Senator) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (the Party Leader) of the crisis in Cross River State Chapter of APC and to emphasise that it requires urgent attention in order to prevent a multiplicity of actions.”

According to Oyama, the disenfranchised 980 delegates included 196 women from196 wards who were also disenfranchised, contrary to the party constitution which stipulates that “Five delegates per ward, at least one of whom shall be a woman”, shall take part in the Congress.

Oyama stated, “The disenfranchisement of 980 legitimate delegates (i.e. about 91℅ of the total number of legitimate delegates that ought to have participated at the congress) is perverse.

“Therefore, in order to avoid the perpetuation of such gross impunity in APC, the BOT and/or the NWC have an inherent jurisdiction to set aside the congress that has been done in abuse of the APC Constitution.

“Hence it is our prayer that the BOT and/or the NWC should evoke its prerogative and inherent jurisdiction to discountenance the state congress of Saturday February 24, 2018 that held in Calabar.”

Gombe: Turning the table
Barely three days to the governorship and state House of Assembly elections, 19 gubernatorial candidates of various political parties declared their support for Alhaji Mohammad Inuwa Yahya of APC in Gombe state.

The gubernatorial candidate of Unity Party of Nigeria, Ambassador Moradiya Aiye lead the candidates, disclosed this during the press briefing organised by the Coalition of progressive political parties in the state, said decision to support  Inuwa Yahya was taken after exhaustive meeting with all the 19 gubernatorial candidates and 28 political parties in the state.

“We the gubernatorial candidates have unanimously agreed to keepour personal interest aside and put the interest of Gombe state in front therefore, we have adopted and endorsed the candidature of Inuwa Yahya of the APC for the 9th March 2019 Governorship election in Gombe State.

“By this endorsement, we call on the entire electorates in Gombe state to cast their precious vote to the APC candidate for us to ensure a collective change of government and we assure you that together, we will be proud of our collective decisions.”

The implication of this late rally is that APC stand strong in stature to displace the ruling PDP in the state. This is because the parties, including Unity party of Nigeria (UPN), Advanced Congress of Democracy (ACD), Accord (A), Advanced Allied Party (AAP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Alliance of Social Party (ASD) among others, have visible presence in the state.