Nigerians will once again file out to elect their various state chief executives as well as members of the 36 states Houses of Assembly in what pundits describe as another opportunity for dominant political parties to test their might. Eleven incumbent state governors are expected to slug it out with opposition candidates while voters are expected to elect new chief executives in 17 other states due to the fact that the tenure of the affected incumbent governors are billed to lapse by May. Aside from that, voters in eight other states would only be content with electing members of their respective state Houses of Assembly because the four-year tenures of their governors are yet to lapse constitutionally. Should today’s poll go the way of the last Presidential and Parliamentary election, it is expected that the battle for the various Government Houses will be fierce as the three dominant parties will once again seek to showcase their dominance of the nation’s polity. Three parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party, will expect to exercise their dominance of the nation’s political space.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), candidates are going into the poll today to contest for the 28 governorship seats available. Also, the commission stated that elections into Enugu East senatorial zone, in Enugu State, and two federal constituencies in Edo State, will not hold today.
It will however be a battle royale between the returning governors, their opponents and godfathers who want to install their successors. Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu alongside 16 others incumbents are expected to battle opponents in their states in their bids to return to power. Apart from Sanwo-Olu, other governors seeking reelection include Bala Muhammed (Bauchi), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Bello Malawalle (Zamfara), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Ahmadu Finitri (Adamawa). Also presenting themselves before voters are Governors Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara), Babagana Zulum (Borno) and Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe). Voters are however expected to elect their new governors in Plateau, Ebonyi, Delta, Katsina, Sokoto, Jigawa, Benue, Enugu, Rivers and Taraba. Other states include Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Abia and Niger. States where election for the office of governor will not hold on today include, Osun, Anambra, Ondo, Kogi, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Imo and Edo. Notwithstanding, elections are expected to take place electing new members into their respective state Houses of Assembly. In all, there are 993 state constituency seats available for grabs in the various state Houses of Assembly and they (the seats) are being contested for by 10,240 candidates of various political parties.
The February 25 presidential election showed that it will not be an easy ride for any of the candidates or the godfathers. The performance of the Labour Party (LP) in the election has forced the hitherto confident governorship candidates to step up their campaign to the grassroots and meet the people. Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been interacting with Lagosians on the streets to woo them for support. The All Progressives Congress (APC) that has dominated Lagos politics since the return of democracy in the country in 1999 lost the state the Labour Party in the Presidential poll. LP won 582, 454 votes in the presidential election, while the APC trailed with 572, 606 votes. INEC said out of over seven million voters who registered to vote in the state, 6.2 million collected their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) and will vote in today’s state elections. The battle in Kano State will be between the APC and the emerging political party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). Though the state governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, is not seeking re-election, it will be a tall order for him to install his successor. During the presidential election, his godfather Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who contested under the NNPP scored 997,279 votes, to Ganduje APC’s 517341 votes. NNPP also won two senatorial seats and 17 House of Representative seats to APC’s one senatorial and five House of Representatives seats. Ganduje who won re-election in 2019 after a re-run, may have to device the same method he adopted, if possible, to install his successor. Kano State has a total for 5.6 million voters who collected their PVCs for grab by any of the governorship candidates. Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike, who before now had boasted to be in charge of politics of the state, is seeking alliance with a faction of Labour Party for support for his choice candidate. Rivers State next governor will need a large chunk out of 3.5 million voters who have collected their PVCs, to win the governorship.
Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has a huge task before him as he tries to install Senator Uba Sani as his successor. Though a second term governor, the former Minister of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will have to work extra hard to produce Sani as his successor. The governor not only lost his state at the presidential election to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but also failed to produce any of the three senators-elect from the state. And out of the 16-member House of Representatives- elect, el-Rufai’s APC managed to produce only four. It will be a miracle for the governor to produce his successor. Kanduna has a voting population of 4.3 million, out of which, 4.2 million have collected their PVCs. It is not only returning governors and godfathers who are facing the heat.
Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State and his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, who are not standing for election, are afraid that the opposition dominating their state assemblies may present threat to the continued remaining in office. Obaseki lost all the three senatorial seats in his state to the APC. His party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could not also win a seat into the House of Representatives. The nine House of Representatives seats were shared between APC and LP with two outstanding. In Anambra, Soludo’s All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) failed to win any of the three senatorial seats. LP and Young Peoples Party (YPP) shared the seats with 2:1 ratio. APGA managed to win four House of Representatives seats while LP won five and YPP one with one outstanding. Soludo is begging for support in today’s House of Assembly election, and expressed the fears that he would be impeached by LP if the party dominates the next assembly.
INEC has again assured that results of today’s elections will be uploaded on its server at polling unit level.