Voters in 28 states across Nigeria will on Saturday file out to elect governors who will run their affairs for the next four years, effective May 29.
There will also be voting into 993 state assembly seats across the 36 states of the federation in this rescheduled governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after a slipshod performance at the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, largely due to failure to transmit and collate results electronically as assured, promised an improved performance.
INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu vowed that the polls will be free and fair.
Yakubu urged parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war and to “refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers.”
By Friday morning, INEC had concluded the distribution of sensitive materials for the governorship and house of assembly elections to all the wards.
INEC Promises to Upload Results Real Time
On Friday, INEC gave an insight into how polling unit results will be transmitted during today’s governorship elections.
The Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, while speaking on Arise News said “the law as of today prescribes a dual mode of either transmission of results or transfer of results.”
He said when polls closed at the level of the various units, the Presiding Officer who superintended the polling unit would enter the scores of the various political parties in form EC8A which is the polling unit level result.
“The PO will sign that particular result sheet and stamp it, the PU agent or party agent if available will also countersign and copies will be given to them and the police.
“That original result is what will be scanned and uploaded to our INEC Result Viewing Portal for public viewing. Not only that, the accreditation data that has arisen from that polling unit will also be uploaded, but the physical result and the BVAS itself will also be taken to the Registration Area Collation centre,” said Okoye.
According to him, the Collation Officer will have the benefit of seeing the original results and the BVAS itself and have the benefit of looking at the accreditation data as transmitted, and the result sheet as transmitted from the polling unit.
“That is the dual mode which the law has prescribed for the commission and that is the mode that we’re going to use for the purpose of this election,” said Okoye.
Speaking on real-time IREV delivery on Saturday, Okoye said results would be transmitted as soon as the polls closed from various polling units.
“The commission is determined to improve on its previous performance. What we have done is to learn valuable lessons from previous elections that we conducted, and we’re going to put those lessons into our planning purposes and processes, and into our deployment purposes,” Okoye said.
On INEC’s readiness, he said, “In all the states of the federation, both the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines and all the sensitive election materials have left the Central Bank and the various state offices of the federation.
“We want to ensure that all polling units open on time. Secondly, we made sure that we reconfigured all the BVAS that will be used for this particular election in terms of making sure that the BVAS perform optimally and also making sure that some of the challenges we had in the previous elections do not reoccur.”
Police Pledge Tight Security
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, is deploying over 400,000 officers and men for today’s operation.
Baba, who urged voters to come out and vote without fear, promised tight security.
He has also ordered the restriction of all forms of vehicular movement on roads, waterways, and other forms of transportation, from 12 am to 6 pm on Saturday in all states where elections will be conducted.
Baba said those on essential services such as officials of INEC, electoral observers, accredited media and observers, ambulances responding to medical emergencies, firefighters, amongst others are exempted from the restriction.
He noted that the directive excludes the Federal Capital Territory, as no election is being conducted therein.
The IGP reiterated the ban on all security aides to VIPs and escorts from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election.
State-established and owned security outfits/organizations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guard and security outfits are also barred from participating in election security management.
The IGP has also extended additional human and logistic support to police commands and formations across the country for effective election security management today.
The additional support includes the deployment of personnel, operational vehicles, non-lethal weapons, personal protective equipment (body armour), and anti-riot equipment among others.
It’s a three-horse race in God’s own State. Incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP is pushing for his former Chief of Staff, Okey Ahiwe to succeed him.
This appears to be in danger because of Ikpeazu’s poor performance in the last eight years.
The bad situation is at a boiling point in this state. Teachers and civil servants are owed backlog of salaries, pensioners not paid, tertiary institutions losing accreditation, and all forms of development arrested, while political office holders and their families flourish.
This anger of the masses has already claimed the ambition of the Ikpeazu who desired to retire to the Senate but was trounced at the polls.
The PDP has Alex Otti of the LP and Ikechi Emmenike of the APC to contend with. The LP has upset the apple cart in several states and Otti who is riding the crest of the euphoria appears set to clinch the prize in Abia State. Emmenike of the APC will no doubt give him a good fight. It’s too close to call here.
The state parades an array of strong contestants with front runners being Peter Mbah of PDP, Chijioke Edeoga of Labour Party and Frank Nweke of APGA.
Mbah enjoys a broad spectrum of support from political bigwigs in the state and with the state treasury at his disposal, being the candidate of the sitting governor and the state being a PDP state for long, Mbah who also parades a personal war chest will give a good fight.
However, Edeoga of the Labour Party might ride on the back of the tsunami sweeping through the political space, added to the sympathy of having their senatorial candidate murdered, to clinch the coveted seat, especially as the Labour Party is wearing the messianic toga now.
Frank Nweke, who even some “Obidients” favour because of his past records, is also a strong contender which also makes the state a battleground, especially as the state is known for its violent disposition of some old politicians. Allegations of arms stockpiling is already rife and it will be a tough fight between PDP struggling to retain the state and LP/APGA bent on wresting it from them.
This is an APC state with a gladiator in the person of Rabiu Kwankwaso that has moved to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of APC, though none of them is on the ballot.
While Kwankwaso who swept the presidential ballot in Kano is supporting Abba Yusuf, Ganduje is backing Yusuf Gawuna.
The candidates of the governor and Kwankwaso are not only contesting but there is an ego war of who has the bragging rights over the state. Kano State is too close to call. The prize can go either way.
There is a marked departure from the past as a Catholic Priest, Father Hyacinth Alia, contesting under the APC, survived all intrigues to hold on to the ticket, while Herman Hembe latching on to the Labour Party’s acceptance to struggle to be elected governor to succeed Samuel Ortom, one of the G5 governors that bloodied the nose of their party over power shift to the South.
Ortom, who lost his senatorial election, would strive to ensure his candidate of the PDP, Titus Uba wins, so there won’t be a double loss of his seat and that of his successor. Allegations of arming youths to steal mandates are rife in Benue. It’s a three-horse race here and too close to call.
Since Governor Dave Umahi moved over to the APC on account of complaints of inequity in PDP, Ebonyi was suddenly racked by spates of violence and the governor is one to ram through his wish on issues of interest.
So, it is expected that he may, against all odds, do everything he can to deliver Mr. Francis Nwifuru to succeed him.
Umahi however has Chief Francis Odii of the PDP to contend with in a predominantly PDP State before Umahi jumped ship.
On the shadows to spring surprises might be Labour Party’s candidate, Chief Edward Nkwegu who is riding on the back of Peter Obi and his Obidients. As usual, violence will make or mar the outcome of the contest. Nwifuru of the APC may pick this ticket.
Old rivalries have been rekindled as former governor Rotimi Amaechi and incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike have squared up again with their support for candidates of their parties and brickbats are flying, often leaving issues to attack personalities.
Wike is pushing Similaye Fubara for his party, PDP, which he had campaigned vigorously against in the presidential election over the sharing of party positions, while Amaechi came back in full force leading the campaigns for APC, which fortune had dwindled with exit of many members over choice of candidates, with his candidate, Tonye Cole.
The presidential election saw a lot of violence when their direct interests were not at stake, and this signposts what will happen today. Candidates were attacked with dynamites and guns during campaigns so worse would be expected today as Wike will struggle to break the jinx of Rivers State governors not being able to determine their successors.
Senator Magnus Abe of Social Democratic Party (SDP) is also in the race and can make the contest to go anyplace.
It is going to be a straight battle between incumbent Seyi Makinde of PDP and Teslim Folarin of APC.
Makinde, being a G5 member that dared the party, is not enjoying the backing of some of Oyo PDP big wigs.
Even with being an incumbent, with some of the parties collapsing their structure for him, Makinde still does not have that edge. Folarin is looking good for the Oyo State governorship.
With Governor Simon Lalong’s failure to grab his senatorial seat, his quest to determine who takes over from him has become a serious agenda.
So far, his candidate, Dr. Nantwe Yilwada of the APC has Caleb Muftwang of PDP and Yohanna Margif of Labour Party to slug it out with, given their performances during the presidential elections. Margif has been bogged down by court orders which were cleared a few days ago.
With the backing of the incumbent governor, APC will strive to retain the state which has been a core PDP state till Lalong took it to APC.
Also, the general acceptance of the Labour Party in Plateau and the performance of its presidential candidate in the last election may throw up some upsets in favour of the Labour Party. Muftwang looks determined to return Plateau to the PDP. But anything can still happen in Plateau State today.
The loss of Lagos by the APC to little known LP in the Presidential election threw up a gamut of variables which sent strategists hurrying back to the drawing board.
Whereas Lagos was seen as tug of war between the APC and their usual PDP, what could be a rib excised from PDP ended up causing an upset that has made the poster boy of Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to start losing sleep due to the possibility of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the LP upstaging him.
This factor has seen a flurry of activities in churches, football stunts and visits to places that ordinarily would not be contemplated.
Later statements by Rhodes-Vivour that he was going to open the account books of Lagos for people to see how funds of the state had been applied will definitely lead to a do or die contest. Moreso, when it comes with the threat that may smear reputations. The heat is already on in the state with threats of Oro cult and warnings to non-Yorubas not to rock the boat.
As for Delta State, apart from being the sitting Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa was also Atiku’s running mate, and the least expected from him was to deliver maximum votes in the Presidential election. However, he managed to garner 161,600 votes, trailing the LP by a distance.
Okowa will be fighting today to take his preferred candidate, Sheriff Oborevwori, to the Delta State Government House, Asaba.
Apart from the rising popularity of the Labour Party, Okowa also has the candidate of the APC and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege to contend with.
With PDP chieftains, including the former governor of the state, James Ibori, and Senator James Manager both working at cross purposes with the Okowa administration, it would be interesting to see which of the parties have the last laugh today. It’s a three-horse here.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State may have won the North-west state for Atiku and his PDP in the February 25 presidential election. Yet, a dark cloud of uncertainty hangs over the governorship election. Today’s voting will be a keenly contested poll between Saidu Umar of the PDP and the APC’s Ahmad Aliyu. The race is too close to call in Sokoto State.
In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el-rufai will require a miracle to determine his successor.
El-rufai and the APC were badly trounced in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections by the PDP, making today’s election a tough one for his favoured Ubah Sani. Isah Ashiru of the PDP will give el-rufai’s man a good run for his money. Victory can go either way. The race is too close to call in Kaduna State.