While controversies surrounding last month’s Presidential election results still linger, Nigerians are again bracing themselves for a return to the poll on Saturday for the gubernatorial and state assembly elections which will be holding across several states in the country.
Regardless of the doubts on IREV Portal efficiency and the BVAS reconfiguration exercise, which led to the postponement of the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is also prepared to face Nigerians at their polling units once again.
March 18th 2023 will be another decider of fates for the next four years. Public office holders are on the verge of experiencing some table shaking moments as their seats are up for auctions in hands of the electorates.
As both national and international bodies stand again to observe the second bout of election in Africa’s most populous country, NPO Reports presents states to watch at the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
The Shape of Battle to Come in Lagos State
One of the largest economies in Africa, Lagos State, will be leading the pack of states where there will be tension. The poll in Lagos is the type that promises to keep contestants at the edge of their seats until the umpire announces the winner.
It promises to be most sapping for candidates and may likely be the most intriguing with the sudden rise of the Labour Party and its army of Obidients who are on the verge of upsetting the dominance of the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress. The Obidients are keen on repeating the feat they accomplished during the Presidential election where Labour Party’s Peter Obi, toppled the mighty Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his own turf with 582,454 votes as against APC’s 572,606 votes. Despite Tinubu’s eventual victory, the fear of losing Lagos for the second time in a row still grips the APC. The fear of Labour Party and its gubernatorial candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, appear to have given the APC leadership sleepless night with party leaders embarking on “get-the-votes-out” strategies.
Prior the presidential poll, Sanwo-Olu appeared to have been confident of victory as his biggest rival then, People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, Abdul-Azeez Adediran (popularly known as Jandor) did not appear a hard nut to crack in all sense of the word.
Labour Party, as at the time, was not on the radar of Lagos gubernatorial election discourse
Surprisingly, what had been considered would be the Jandor-Sanwo-Olu clash suddenly changed with the tide in favour of the Labour Party.
With PDP now seemingly off the scene, Sanwo-Olu is faced with a new rival he never saw coming, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. Since the emergence of the new threat, Sanwo-Olu has visited every nooks and crannies of Lagos to get the votes out. Just on Thursday, he was at the car park of the Lagos airport to solicit for votes from carb drivers.
The Battle of Ogun State
Like Lagos, Ogun State gubernatorial election appeared to be a two-horse race with an equally third force in the candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Biyi Otegbeye. Unlike Lagos, the incumbent governor and APC candidate, Dapo Abiodun, faces no threat from the Labour Party and the Obidients.
Rather, the Labour Party endorsed the governor as the party revealed that they have no candidate for Ogun State gubernatorial election. Dapo Abiodun’s rival is the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, a veteran politician with over thirty years of experience.
While Adebutu vows to unseat the governor, Otegbeye, who is backed by former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, has made impressive showing with the possibility he may weaken the votes of Abiodun.
Amosun is bitter with Abiodun has vowed that he will do everything in his capacity to prevent him from a second term.
Recall that Amosun had led a similar onslaught in 2018 when he supported Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) which however lost to the incumbent now.
Though, it is believed that Amosun, a serving senator, still wields significant influence in the state’s politics, it stands to be seen on Saturday if this will translate to electoral capital for his supported candidate.
Any Possible Upset in Rivers State?
As Governor Nyesom Wike’s drama-filled tenure is heading towards its end, the race for who next governor of Rivers State is will bring the state into focus on Saturday.
Wike’s anointed and PDP’s candidate, Siminilayi Fubara, will have to face stiff competition from his former ally, Magnus Abe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and APC’s Tonye Cole. Other candidates also include, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Prince Ugo Beke, Beatrice Itubor of the Labour Party, and Accord Party’s Dumo Lulu Briggs.
While it would have been trite to say that Tonye Cole will have to build on the momentum of APC’s victory in the state during the Presidential election, it is an open secret that the votes that made Bola Tinubu of APC to win in Rivers are those from voters who are more likely to vote for PDP’s Fubara.
And Fubara, banking on the strength of Wike, coupled with insinuations that Cole does not enjoy full support of Tinubu make the game more in favour of the PDP candidate.
How the game plays out between Fubara and Cole promises to be the meat of Saturday’s engaging contest in Rivers state.
In spite of the game being majorly between PDP and APC, a faction of the Labour Party has pledged backing for APGA’s candidate, Prince Ugo Beke instead of Labour Party’s Beatrice Itubor.
Who Owns Kano? Ganduje or Kwankwaso?
New Nigeria Peoples Party’s presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Governor Abdulahi Ganduje will once again prove his popularity among Kano voters as he mobilises support for his party’s flag bearer for Kano, Yusuf Abba Kabir. The debate surrounding who runs the show in the Northern state came to an end following Kwankwanso’s victory against PDP’s Atiku Abubakar at Kano’s poll.
If the feat is repeated on Saturday, Kwankwaso’s candidate will devour Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna.
Kaduna State and the Big Battle
Who takes power from Nasir El-Rufai is unarguably a big question to be answered on Saturday as the North-Central state also goes to the poll. The APC-led administration has put forward Senator Uba Sanni who however has an uphill task facing PDP’s candidate for the state, Isah Ashiru.
Ashiru appears to put the el-Rufai’s APC under pressure with PDP’s victory in Kaduna during the presidential election.
The battle to preserve the status quo as exemplified by el-Rufai’s eight years in office will make the contester a keen one to follow on Saturday.
The Battle for the Big Heart of Delta
Election in this oil-rich region is going to be a three-way race. It is a battle among major contenders of APC’s Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, PDP’s Sheriff Oborevwori and Labour Party’s Pela Kennedy.
The Labour Party overthrew the PDP’s hold on the state three weeks ago after it defeated and the APC in the presidential election.
It was the first time in 24 years that the PDP would not win a election in the state.
Omo-Agege is keen on changing the status quo as he eyes taking over from current governor and PDP’s vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa. PDP’s dominance was shaken at the Presidential election as Labour Party’s Peter Obi emerged winner at the state with 341,866 votes as against PDP’s 161,600 votes and APC’s 90,183 votes.
This is why Labour Party’s possible win in the state cannot be ruled out on account of the Presidential election success in the state. Analysts believe that Omo-Agege and Sheriff Oborevwori would underrate Ken Pela at their own peril.
The Battle of Oyo State
Ibadan does not appear to be ready to have a new face at the capital city as the re-election of current governor, Seyi Makinde, looks unhindered. A return to APC government does not look feasible at the moment.
The tension is already rising in Oyo State. On Thursday, there were allegations and counter-allegations of killings of some PDP members by thugs allegedly loyal to the governorship candidate of the APC, Senator Teslim Folarin.
Governor Seyi Makinde faces an uphill task ensuring re-election after his party supported the APC and ensured the victory of its presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu three weeks ago.
Part of the deal being touted is that Makinde’s support for Tinubu was procured on the understanding that Tinubu would ensure that the APC’s candidate, Folarin, does not present a major threat to Makinde.
However, events of the last two weeks have appeared to show that APC’s Folarin would not have anything to do with any perceived deal between Tinubu and Makinde.
However, a third force, and the candidate of the APC in the 2018 election, Bayo Adelabu, is making waves in the Accord Party. This however does not look well enough to earn him a win on Saturday. Should he pitch his tent with any of the other contenders, he may be the decider for who occupies the Agodi Government House for the next four years.