Magnus Eze (Enugu), George Onyejiuwa (Owerri), Ahmed Abubakar (Dutse), Okey Sampson (Aba), Obinna Odogwu (Abakaliki), Noah Ebije (Kaduna, Gyang Bere (Jos)
When on March 9 the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the governorship and state assembly elections,all the political parties that fielded governorship candidates had hopes to emerge victorious. But in every state only one candidate will win. So, in the 29 states that the governorship election took place, there was great tension and anxiety as the people waited for the results of the polls. While some states’ results were collated and a winner declared, there are some others whose results were declared inconclusive and a supplementary election rescheduled to hold on March 23.
Sunday Sun in this report looks at the various states, how the parties and their candidates faired at the election and factors that made or marred their chances.
The results of the March 9 Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Enugu State as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have obviously shown that there was no contest at all in the state.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi polled a total of 449,934 to defeat over 30 other contestants, including that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ayogu Eze, who polled 10,423 votes.
Senator Eze has since dismissed the result, claiming that he did not participate in the election and wondered how the electoral umpire allotted the ‘laughable and embarrassing figures’ to him.
Results from the 17 local government areas in the state showed that the PDP polled over nine per cent of the total votes cast in the election.
The total accredited voters, which stood at 478,241, were less than 25 per cent of 1,944,803, the total number of registered voters in the state.
The State Returning Officer, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, who is the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, set the stage for celebration across the length and breadth of Enugu State when he declared the results after the election.
While the celebration was yet to die down, people have tried to interrogate what actually went wrong with the major opposition party in the state, the APC.
Truth is that the party has been polarized for over a year. Its case was worsened by the party congresses as well as the eventual outcome of the primaries conducted last year.
Dr Ben Nwoye is the recognised state chairman of APC, yet a former Commissioner for Lands in the state, Okey Ogbodo, parades a parallel leadership.
To show how balkanised the party is in the state, there was uncertainty over the party’s governorship candidature until about 48 hours to the elections when the Appeal Court, Abuja Division, said that Senator Eze was validly nominated.
Prior to that day, George Ogara, a legal practitioner and member of the Ogbodo group, had paraded himself as the party’s candidate and even a High Court in Abuja supported his claim.
In addition, the APC in Enugu State could be said to have come together once, and that was on January 24, when Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential campaign trained stopped over in the state.
What this meant was that the party was never coordinated to the point that people doubted their seriousness to face a very formidable PDP that is in total control of all levers of power in the state.
To further buttress the disunity in the party, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, campaigned round the state for Buhari with Ogbodo’s group. Also in his team was Osita Okechukwu, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON).
Okechukwu who was recently suspended by the national leadership of the party has been aggrieved over his denial of the party’s ticket for Enugu West Senatorial District.
He made it very clear after losing the ticket that he was only concerned about Buhari’s victory.
Yet, the result of the Presidential and National Assembly election held in the state on February 23, which was a precursor to the March 9 elections, was quite abysmal for the APC.
It was indeed a clean sweep for the PDP, which also won all the National Assembly seats, even as the APC merely garnered about 54,000 votes for Buhari.
There was also the allegation that virtually all the big-wigs of APC were in cahoots with Governor Ugwuanyi, including the biggest name in the party in the state, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani.
With the hot romance the governor shared with these APC chieftains, it was doubtful whether they could in the true sense pose any threat to his reelection bid.
Director of Communication of Enugu State PDP campaign organisation, Chief Nana Ogbodo and Okechukwu at separate interviews described the governor as a bipartisan politician who accommodates everybody irrespective of party affiliation.
Ogbodo somewhat foretold that the governorship election would be a mere coronation for Ugwuanyi.
With the elections won and lost, the truth is that March 9 eventually became coronation for the governor as the APC wasted an opportunity and posed no threat to the PDP at all. And for the other less significant political parties, 70 of them on the platform of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) adopted Ugwuanyi as their sole candidate for the governorship few days to the election.
Meanwhile, days after the Governorship and House of Assembly polls, more details have emerged why supporters of the flag bearer of the APC boycotted the exercise.
Media Director of Senator Eze’s campaign office, Okey Ezirigwe, explained that they shunned the elections to protest the curious removal of his name from the list of governorship candidates for the election a few days before the election.
He said that as at the day of the election, Eze’s name had not been restored to the list of candidates for the election, even after the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal ordered that his name be restored on the list.
The whole of Imo State erupted in celebration following the official declaration of former Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, as the governor-elect late Monday night by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s State Returning Officer, Prof. Francis Otunta.
Imo people had maintained round-the-clock vigilance around the vicinity of the INEC headquarters in the state from Sunday afternoon as the collation of results of the governorship election began till when the winner was declared.
Ihedioha, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), defeated his closest rival, Uche Nwosu, candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) and son-in-law of Governor Rochas Okorocha, with over 87,000 votes having polled 273,404 to the latter’s 190, 364.
With this victory, Ihedioha became the first civilian governor from Owerri zone since the inception of the current democratic dispensation in 1999.
Director-General of Rochas Okorocha Campaign Organisation in 2015 and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr. Iheukwumere Alaribe, in his congratulatory message to Ihedioha said: “He could not make it in 2015 when he had the money and power as the Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives. PDP relied on God and public goodwill to win. APC lost when they had power, money, took the sentiment of the people for granted and forgot God. For Action Alliance, an evidence of high handedness, arrogance and contumacy loudness, the door was shut. This is a lesson; kingdoms and kings are made by the sovereign God.”
Three major factors were responsible for the emergence of Ihedioha as the governor-elect. First is the issue of restoring of the Charter of Equity in the state, which has eluded the Owerri zone for long; secondly, the unity of the Owerri zone and thirdly, the Uche Nwosu factor.
Until Ihedioha’s victory, Owerri zone had not tasted the governorship position in the state since 1999. Even when Chief Humphrey Anumudu won the governorship primaries of the PDP back then, elders of the party decided to give it to Chief Achike Udenwa from Orlu zone, arguing that the zone had not produced the governor since the creation of the state. By the time Udenwa’s eight-year tenure ended in 2007, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume had won the gubernatorial ticket of the ruling PDP, but the party leadership supplanted him with Chief Charles Ugwu also from the Okigwe zone.
But when Ararume who had gone to court obtained judgment in his favour, the party leaders rather declared that it was not interested in the governorship in the 2007 election and in that confusion Chief Martins Agbaso of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) from Owerri zone emerged as the governor against the run of play. Incidentally, the poll was annulled two weeks after by the INEC and in the rescheduled poll, Chief Ikedi Ohakim from Okigwe zone, who ran on the platform of the Progressive Peoples Party (PPA) with the backing of the PDP, emerged as the governor in keeping with the Charter of Equity.
However, in 2011, the internal schism in the PDP caused Ohakim his re-election as leaders of the party, especially from Owerri zone, who had moved to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) drafted Rochas Okorocha into the party. Okorocha had promised to serve just a term and then hand over to a person from Owerri zone in 2015. Yet, that was not to be as the governor did not only renege on his earlier promise, but had pleaded that he be allowed to go for a second term to enable him complete most of the critical projects like the 27 general hospitals which his government embarked on at the tail end of its first term. Equally, the people supported his populist policies like the free education programme.
Surprisingly, after winning his second term in office, Okorocha went full throttle in pursuit of anti-people policies like the mindless demolition of markets across the state under his urban renewal policy and the acquisition of private land through the revocation of certificates of occupancy of those unwilling to sell their lands.
Nonetheless, Okorocha’s greatest undoing was his insistence that his son-in-law and former Chief of Staff, Chief Nwosu, would succeed him. This tore the ruling APC apart and when he lost in the battle for the governorship ticket, he instructed Nwosu and his appointees to move to the Action Alliance, saying that zoning was dead in the state with his election in 2011 and re-election in 2015.
What the governor did not know was that the leaders of Owerri zone and indeed the preponderance of political and opinion leaders from both Okigwe and Orlu zones had already resolved to restore the Charter of Equity in the governance of the state. Little wonder, the chances of Ihedioha were very bright being of the major opposition, the PDP; and the most formidable one too, given his track record.
Recall that Ihedioha, who was the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in 2015 lost by a slim margin to Okorocha after the supplementary governorship polls.
Also, the controversial primaries of APGA, which threw up Araraume further buoyed Ihedioha’s likely emergence as governor given the initial agreement of the leadership of the party to cede the governorship slot to Owerri zone.
That singular act by the leadership of APGA immediately dimmed the party’s prospects in the elections as all the party’s stalwarts from Owerri zone, especially the major stakeholders of the new-APGA in the state led by former Minister of Interior, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho, threw their weight behind Ihedioha.
Sunday Sun gathered that this was the major reason Araraume could not win substantial votes from Owerri zone which was the same for Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Accord Party.
Similarly, Sen. Hope Uzodinma against all expectations had picked the ticket of the APC, while the likes of the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, Sir Jude Ejiogu, Sir George Eche, Chuks Ololo from Owerri zone lost out. So, Ihedioha became the trump card that would enable the zone to produce the next governor of the state.
With the overwhelming support of Owerri zonal political leaders, Ihedioha swept the votes from the zone, which has the highest voting strength in the state. He also won in Oguta council in Orlu zone, as well as in Obowo council in Okigwe zone.
Dispassionate political analysts had predicted that the crisis in the ruling APC between Okorocha and Uzodinma, which polarized the party between the Coalition Alliance and ‘Ndi Agburu’ (Okorocha’s faction) would be to PDP’s advantage because Orlu zone was going to be a major battle ground for the two political gladiators as Okorocha had vowed to ensure Uzodinma’s defeat in the election.
So, in the presidential election that preceded the governorship, which was a foretaste of what to come, the PDP had won in 24 of the 27 local government areas. It was not a surprise, therefore, that the PDP has returned to power after eight years of political hiatus in Imo State.
The incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Muhammed Badaru Abubakar, emerged victorious with 810,933 votes. His closest rival, Mallam Aminu Ibrahim Ringim, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 288,356 while Alhaji Bashir Adamu (Jumbo), candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), polled 2,894 votes.
In the build up to the election, Badaru, Ringim and Jumbo traversed the state, to seek the support and votes of the electorate.
The campaigns were intense, intriguing and emotional at different times. As would be expected, the incumbency factor as well as the wide support, which President Muhammadu Buhari enjoys in the state, both gave Badaru the edge over his challengers.
It is noteworthy that Badaru, during his first term eschewed politics of acrimony. Not only that, he continued and completed most of the projects he inherited from the previous administration.
As the campaigns reached the crescendo, Bashir, the SDP governorship candidate, revealed that his party had decided to seek God’s intervention in the election.
Speaking on an FM radio station, monitored by Sunday Sun, he alleged that the APC and PDP had compromised the voters during its electioneering for the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
The SDP gubernatorial candidate said the party had taken stringent spiritual measures against any person that would usurp the party’s mandate from the electorate.
“We have made animal sacrifices and recitation of the Holy Qur’an, invoking the wrath of God against any perpetrators.
“We have enough evidence to tell the world that civil servants in the state were intimidated, coerced and blackmailed into colluding with authorities to stuff ballot papers at their various polling units in order to save their threatened jobs,” he stated.
He also stated that he has audio recordings of top government officials issuing threats to civil servants with stern warning that they must ‘deliver’ their polling units for the APC.
The PDP governorship candidate, Ringim, criticised the manner the police were used to openly coerce, harass and intimidate the supporters of the party even at polling units on the election day.
However, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Bala Zama Senchi, debunked the allegation, stating that the police were very professional in executing their assignment.
Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is reasonably basking in the euphoria of winning the election after beating his main challengers, Dr. Uche Ogah of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Ikpeazu polled 261,127 votes to defeat Ogah and Otti who had 99,574 and 64,366 votes respectively.
Reasons have be given by interest groups as to why Ikpeazu won the election, raking in over 60 per cent of the votes cast while his challengers shared less than 40 per cent of the total votes cast.
While some people believe that Ikpeazu’s purported good outing in the first tenure enabled his re-election, others think the opposition in the state did not do their ground work well enough to dislodge the incumbent. Yet, the third group which appeared more potent contended that sectional interest was a factor in Ikpeazu’s victory while egotism on the part of the challengers cost the opposition the election in Abia State.
Giving insight on why Ikpeazu won, a staunch member of the PDP in the state, Chief Dennis Nwala, said the governor had performed well and that was why the people re-elected him.
He mentioned some roads, particularly in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state, done by the Ikpeazu-led administration, to buttress his point.
On his part, a chieftain of APC in the state, Chief Onyebuchi Eze, placed the blame for the failure of the party in the governorship election on the party’s standard bearer’s campaign strategy.
He accused Ogah of making it a solo affair, saying that he did not involve leaders of the party in his campaigns and indeed, did not do enough electioneering that could have made him to unseat a sitting governor.
Eze was disgusted that the much-touted “federal might” by the leadership of the party in the state was not flaunted as some INEC staff and security personnel that should have been at their beck and call, were rather more at home with the PDP.
His words: “There was no way he could have dislodged the incumbent governor with such shoddy and uncoordinated campaign.”
An APGA chieftain in the state, Chief Udo Kalu said: “APGA lost the election because of the way it is structured in the state – around one man who is just everything to the party. It is very difficult for one man to finance and run a party and it wins an election in a state like Abia.”
The sectionalism theory is even potent among the APC members in the Ngwa area of the state. A member of the party from Isiala Ngwa who would not want his name in print told Sunday Sun: “This is the first time an Ngwa man will be governor of the state and people from this part of the state saw his re-election as their collective project. I can say without mincing words that some of the APC stalwarts from the area worked for the governor’s re-election.”
On why the opposition lost in the state, Ibe Chukwu, a public affairs commentator said that selfishness on the part of the flag bearers cost them the election. “I believe the opposition lost the election in the state because their candidates put themselves first. It was impossible for both of them having come from the same zone to win the governor who had no challenger from his own part of the state,” Chukwu said, adding that it could have been a different ball game if either the APC or APGA candidate had stepped down for the other.
In the youngest Southeast state, many political pundits believe that the governorship election was won and lost after various political parties, especially the two leading parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – conducted their party primaries.
This view was held more by the political watchers on the side of the APC in the state. Already, everyone knew that no one would contest the PDP’s ticket with the incumbent governor, Chief David Umahi, who had shown sufficient interest that he would be going back for his second tenure on the platform of the party.
True to expectation, it was not clear if anyone manifested interest in contesting the party’s ticket with him. In fact, the action of some commissioners, government appointees and others who reportedly contributed money and bought Umahi’s nomination and expression of interest forms helped in sealing the fate of anyone who might have nurtured the idea of contesting.
But in the camp of the APC, the story was totally different. Quite a number of them bought the forms and contested the party’s primary election and at end, the senator representing Ebonyi South Senatorial District, Sonni Ogbuoji emerged the party’s flag bearer.
For many political watchers, the chances of the party defeating the incumbent governor, Umahi was eclipsed on that day. In fact, to them, it was the day the party, for whatever reason, nailed the coffin in which their chances of emerging victorious were buried.
Political commentators said that certain reasons determined the outcome of the governorship polls in the state. One of such reasons was that the (unwritten) charter of equity would not favour another person to emerge from the Ebonyi South zone other than Umahi who also comes from there.
Umahi, they reasoned at the time, if re-elected would serve out his tenure and return power to the Abakaliki bloc, consisting of Ebonyi North and Central senatorial districts. But if another candidate from the same zone emerged, it was reasoned, the chances were that he would like to go for a second tenure, thereby making the zone to retain power more than it should.
Again, the APC candidate was said not to be strong and influential compared to the first runner up in that primary election, Professor Bernard Odoh, who wields good influence and is loved by many.
In addition to the goodwill he commands, Odoh happens to come from one of the two largest clans in the state, Ezza clan. Ezza and Izzi clans are said to be the two largest clans in the state. Izzi alone controls three local government areas out of the 13 in the state.
Incidentally, both are in the Abakaliki bloc in the state which has eight LGAs. The other political bloc, Afikpo, has five LGAs with less voting strength. This means that Abakaliki bloc, by virtue of their voting strength could decide the political fate of the state as it wishes.
For many people in Abakaliki bloc, Odoh’s emergence as the governorship candidate of the APC would have helped Abakaliki bloc to take back power. Again, Odoh was seen as more accessible and open to people compared to Ogbuoji.
Political analysts believe that the incumbent governor had no competitor in the race considering what it would have been if Prof Odoh had emerged as APC’s governorship candidate. Although Odoh might not have won the election proper, the PDP and their candidate would have felt the heat of the election.
In addition, the APC and its candidate did not really run campaigns. While the PDP moved from one LGA to the other campaigning, the camp of the APC was observably cold.
Save for few areas were its campaign train reached, there was nothing that really showed that the APC was ready to contest the election in the real sense of it.
Many of the apologists of the party believed and bragged that they had the Federal Government which might assist them to win the election.
Eventually, the outcome of the election which had the candidate of the PDP emerging victorious already showed that the so-called federal might could not work. Rather, the will of the people triumphed.
Back home, in Afikpo South Local Government Area, where the APC governorship candidate, Senator Ogbuoji, should have won under normal circumstances, the PDP candidate still defeated him there. This, many political analysts explained, showed that he was not on ground even at home.
Umahi trounced Ogbuoji and 36 candidates of other political parties in the 13 LGAs with wide margin.
By and large, the governor has, according to many residents of the state, done well to deserve a re-election to enable him complete most of his ongoing developmental projects.
A lthough the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cleared 38 candidates for the governorship election in the state, the race was actually between two parties: the All Progressives Congress, which fielded the incumbent governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which presented Isa Ashiru as its candidate.
At the end of the day, El-rufai won the race with 1,045,427 total votes, while Ashiru, came second with 814, 168 total votes.
Even right from the primary election, the journey to nomination was actually smooth as El-rufai emerged without a contest. His emergence was a product of affirmation by delegates of the party from the 23 local government areas of the state.
Kaduna APC chairman, Emmanuel Jekada, said Governor El-Rufai did not have a challenger “because he performed well and also brought development to the state.”
However, some factors indeed determined the pattern of decision making by the 3,932,492 registered voters in the state at the just concluded polls.
Political differences between Kaduna North/South political blocs played a major role. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, elections in Kaduna have been polarised along geographical and religious lines.
The bulk of votes in the Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna have consistently been for PDP while that of the North, populated by Muslims, have always been reserved for APC starting from the days of the ANPP, on to the time of the CPC and the present APC.
Expectedly, the following local governments – Zango-Kataf, Kagarko, Kajuru, Jema’a, Chikun, Sanga, Kachia, Kaura and Jaba, which are all in Southern Kaduna constituted the strongholds of the PDP.
The PDP candidates in both presidential and governorship elections won in all of these local governments.
On the other hand, block votes for El-Rufai came from Igabi, Zaria, Kaduna North, Giwa, Birnin-Gwari, Kubau, Soba, Sabon-Gari, Kudan, Ikara Makarfi and Kaduna South.
This was not to say that El-Rufai did not have votes in the South or Ashiru in the North. The two regions in the state are dotted with small communities of Christians and Muslims.
For El-Rufai, the incumbency factor was very helpful: in every corner of the state capital and other towns, the posters of the governor were pasted higher than that of Ashiru.
The governor relied heavily on some projects his government has executed in the last four years, such as road construction, attracting investors to the state, creating employment, school renovation and school feeding, among others.
Last minute political realignment also helped El-Rufai. It was thought that the break in the APC camp would pave the way for a strong PDP alliance, but this did not happen because at the 11th hour to the election, many people left PDP to join the APC.
After working for the emergence of Ashiru at the primaries, the likes of Ahmed Makarfi, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, former governor Ramalam Yero, Buba Galadima, and a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Andrew Yakubu, were alleged to have given Ashiru little or no support during the election proper.
There were speculations that they may have seen El-rufai as more trustworthy than their own Ashiru. The only problem they had with El-Rufai, as a competent source told Sunday Sun, was their belief that the governor was trying to plunge the state into religious crisis by picking a Muslim as his running mate.
Nevertheless, they tried to rally round Ashiru at the dying minute to the election, but it was too late. None of them from the North won their local government area for Ashiru, neither did he win in his own local government area.
In the APC camp, the governor relied on new alliances he had formed, which resulted in new office holders such as Uba Sani and Abdu Kwari for Kaduna Central senatorial zones and Kaduna North senatorial zone respectively.
When asked why he chose Hadiza Balarabe, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate, El-Rufai simply said that the Government House “is not a place for worship, but where people work. Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a religious ticket, but a competent and performance-based ticket.”
There was heavy criticism over the choice of his running mate as both the Christian and Muslim communities kicked against it. But as time went on, the tension died down with many people supporting El-Rufai on the Muslim/Muslim ticket. They were convinced that if other states could produce Christian/Christian ticket, there was nothing wrong in Kaduna having a Muslim/Muslim ticket.
But El-Rufai’s choice paid off as his running mate who hails from Sanga Local Government Area was able to deliver her local government with 20,000 votes, though PDP won the area with 21,000 votes.
At a town hall meeting with some Christian leaders in February, the governor said: My goal is to end the religious/ethnic division and unite the people of the state. In my life, I have never worked with people based on religious and ethnic considerations. Don’t look at what people said, but what I have done in the past.”
El-rufai’s radical policies also worked for him. Just as many affected persons were not comfortable with some of the radical policies of the governor, other people saw them as a better way of righting the wrongs for the progress of the state. For instance, in January 2018, El-Rufai sacked 22,000 teachers with the justification that the affected persons were dismissed for being unqualified. To fill the void, the state government employed another set of teachers but had to sack 4,562 believed to have found their way into the final list illegally.
In June 2017, the state government sacked 4,776 district and village heads as well as their staff as it began the implementation of the recommendations of the committee it set up to review the number of such personnel in the state.
In their place, the government recognised only 77 districts and 1,429 villages. The government also said the essence of the sack was to shore up the finances of local government councils in the state. Despite nullification of the appointment of the district heads by a Kaduna State High Court in November 2018, the governor is yet to restore the former heads.
These and some other policies have been criticised as anti-people among the lower class while the elite applaud it as a sound move towards educational standardisation and cost-cutting.
Not a few people thought that those two factors would work against him at the governorship election, but they showed no negative impact on the outcome.
Moreover, it was also thought that violent attacks from Birnin Gwari to Kajuru, Kachia and other parts of the state capital, recent kidnappings (particularly the abduction and killing of the Paramount Chief of Adara, Agom Raphael Galadima in October 2018) and violent attacks experienced in parts of the state would affect his reelection, but these did not hamper El-Rufai’s ride to victory.
It is noteworthy that the rumour which went rife that the Shi’ittes would vote against El-Rufai in bloc in Zaria may not have had any effect on the result from Zaria, their stronghold. Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, popularly known as Shiites were said to have resolved not to vote for either President Muhammadu Buhari or Governor El-Rufai at the election.
The decision was hinged upon the Federal Government’s refusal not to release their leader and the ban placed on the group by the Kaduna State government.
Ironically, their resolution, if at all they voted against El-Rufai, did not play out significantly in the result of polls in Zaria. The governor got 111, 014 votes against 35,356 votes cast for the PDP. The people in Gyellesu community of Zaria were said to have vowed to counter the Shi’ites’ votes by coming out en masse to vote for El-Rufai, who they believe rescued them from constant crisis in the area by the members of the IMN. Both the presidential and governorship elections results showed that APC won every in polling unit in the community.
The Senator-elect for Kaduna Central, Malam Uba Sani said his heart was literarily in his mouth as he was waiting for the governorship election result, pointing out that if Governor Nasir Elrufai had lost at the poll, the joy over his own senatorial victory would have been incomplete.
But soon after El-Rufai was declared winner, the Senator-elect said his joy knew no bounds, just as he expressed satisfaction over the peaceful conduct of the polls.
A cloud of political uncertainty is hanging over the Governor of Plateau State and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Simon Lalong and General Jeremiah Useni (Rtd), governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), following the declaration of the governorship election in the state inconclusive.
Lalong was leading with over 44,929 votes when the member representing Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives and PDP senator-elect for Plateau North, Istifanus Gyang, raised fundamental issues that compelled the state Returning Officer, Prof. Richard Anande, to declare the elections inconclusive based on the provision of the Electoral Law.
He had drawn the attention of INEC to results cancelled in 40 polling units across nine local government areas of the state which were more than the leading margin.
Governor Lalong of APC polled 583,255, winning in 11 local government areas while Useni got 538,326 votes, to win in six LGAs.
The lead margin was 44,929 while the total votes cancelled stood at 48,828. The votes cancelled were cast in nine LGAs and 19 registration areas, thereby affecting 40 polling units.
Lalong comfortably beat Useni in his Shendam LGA where he polled 61,646 votes while Useni got 17, 035 votes. Again, Useni, in his Langtang North and South LGAs polled 40,519 and 17,644 while Lalong scored 18,979 and 13,495 respectively.
Political pundits believe that Lalong succeeded in penetrating Useni’s Langtang LGAs where he got over 30,000 votes.
Useni, who is old, but mentally fit had two of his kinsmen, Gen. Jonathan Temlong (Rtd) of the ADP and Mr. Godfrey Miri of the SDP, who contested the governorship elections with him.
Age was the greatest factor that worked against Useni and the controversy that trailed the selection of his running mate. Top party chieftains and concerned citizens of the state persuaded Useni to substitute his running mate with a younger, energetic and intelligent person, but he refused.
His challenges started when he indicated interest to run for the governorship election. Some elders told him at the period of consultations that he should endorse a young and intelligent person to contest the poll instead of him.
Useni refused and contested the party primaries with 13 young and intelligent men, but he emerged the winner. Not all the contestants were happy, some defected to APC while some others remained in the party, but were dormant. His selling point was his security experience and doggedness in dealing with issues. Plateau people went with him despite his age because of the prevailing security challenges that have turned the state into a theatre of war.
Nevertheless, most people believe that Useni no longer has the strength due to his age to carry out effective governance the state requires, but were still hoping his personality and connection within and outside the state will fix the deplorable security challenges in the state.
This was evident in the votes secured by Useni and PDP in the areas affected by insecurity. The PDP enjoyed protest votes from the killing fields in Barkin-Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos, Bassa and Jos South Local Government Areas in Plateau North respectively.
For Governor Lalong, the power of incumbency was a great factor that influenced the votes he got coupled with prompt payment of salaries of public servants.
Lalong entered into a covenant with workers in 2015 on prompt payment of salary and cleared the eight months’ salary arrears and 13 months pension arrears inherited from the previous PDP administration. He kept to his word and this accounted for the fact that there was no strike by civil servants, rather more people got employment.
The incumbent governor embarked on the Lalong Legacy projects across the 17 local government areas where model schools were constructed in each of the council areas.
The greatest undoing of Governor Lalong was his inability to effectively handle the security challenges in the state. The PDP was angry with Lalong because he couldn’t build on the security architecture he inherited.
This position is being contested in several quarters with regards to the peace and security of the state. Many alluded to the fact that Plateau witnessed tremendous peace in the first three years of Lalong’s administration before there was a relapse.
Lalong enjoyed the sympathy of people from Plateau Central who believed that giving the incumbent governor a second term would guarantee their tenure in 2023. Some people hold the view that a fresh tenure to Useni from Plateau South might mar their chances in 2023 because he might decide to go for second term, but Useni has made it clear that he will do only one tenure.
Pundits believe that the governorship re-run that is expected to produce 48,828 votes to decide the winner will hold in PDP strongholds while others believe that it would be difficult for PDP to get the entire polling units which will give them the winning votes.
The APC won 14 out of the 24 seats of the State House of Assembly while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won eight seats
A supplementary and by-election will be conducted in Langtang South and Pengana constituency where Hon. Ezekiel Afon, APC member-elect died few hours after his victory.
The APC and PDP state campaign council are working round the clock to ensure victory at the end of the supplementary elections.
The Deputy Director, Media and Publicity Committee of the (APC) Campaign Council, Barrister Festus Fuanter said that the party is not taking the election for granted.
“The victory of APC so far is not a surprise to us because Governor Simon Lalong in the past four years has performed to the admiration of many. Apart from regular and prompt payment of salary, he is the first governor in the history of Plateau State to give priority to projects abandoned by his predecessors and complete them within four years.”
The PDP State Campaign Council reviewed the conduct of the March 9, 2019 Governorship and House of Assembly elections and said the party was robbed of its mandate.
Chairman Media and Publicity Committee, Hon. Yiljap Abraham said that INEC compromised its neutrality during the conduct of the poll.