HEADLINE | Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019

Tomorrow’s election: Politicians dig in for survival, turn states to battlegrounds


Electoral Commission Officers await for voters as a polling station opens at Agiya polling station in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria on February 23, 2019, the day of the general elections. – Nigerians began voting for a new president on February 23, after a week-long delay that has raised political tempers, sparked conspiracy claims and stoked fears of violence. Some 120,000 polling stations began opening from 0700 GMT, although there were indications of a delay in the delivery of some materials and deployment of staff, AFP reporters said. (Photo by AFP)

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Vincent Ujumadu, Demola Akinyemi, Joseph Erunke, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Umar Yusuf, Ike Uchechukwu, Chinonso Alozie, Harris-Okon Emmanuel & Boluwaji Obahopo

  • Tough contests loom in Lagos, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Imo, Ogun, others

  • No governorship elections in 7 states - Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Bayelsa, Edo, Anambra, Kogi
  • LAGOS - Leading politicians and candidates criss-crossed the length and breadth of the 36 states of the country, yesterday, wrapping up campaigns for tomorrow's governorship, state assembly and supplementary National Assemblyelections.elections.

    There will be no governorship elections in seven states - Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Bayelsa, Edo, Anambra and Kogi. However, there will be state assembly polls in all the states and supplementary National Assembly polls in 14 states.

    For the leading politicians, including those who won or lost out in the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly polls, tomorrow's elections will make or mar them. It is, therefore, not surprising that they are digging in for what has become a battle for relevance or survival, a development that has turned most of the states into battle-grounds of sorts.

    States to watch out for in the governorship and state assembly elections include Lagos, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Kogi, Kano, Sokoto, Delta, and Edo, among others.

    In Lagos, the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, took his campaigns to areas of the state dominated by non-indigenes such as Ojo, where there will also be a supplementary House of Representatives election, tomorrow.

    There will also be supplementary House of Representatives election in five other constituencies - Oshodi-Isolo I, Oshodi-Isolo II, Eti-Osa, Shomolu and Ajeromi-Ifelodun.

    At the February 23 election, the APC defeated the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos but the margin of victory was considered low, a reason leaders of the party embarked on intense moves to woo non-indigenes, especially the Igbo.

    Indeed, Lagos Ohanaeze endorsed Sanwo-Olu, last Sunday, but the national body of Ohanaeze and some other Igbo groups disagreed and kicked against the endorsement of Sanwo-Olu, a development that led to more vigorous campaigns and lobbying by APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leaders. A victory for the APC will cement the leadership of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has bestrode the politics of Lagos like a colossus since 1999.

    Battle for Ogun, Oyo

    The governorship election in Ogun State has been fraught with a lot of intrigues and mudslinging.

    Governor Ibikunle Amosun, now a senator-elect on the plank of the APC, is not resting on his oars to ensure his preferred candidate, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, of the Allied Peoples' Movement, APM, succeeds him.

    Though suspended by the APC, Governor Amosun is doing everything in his power to outwit his party and ensure Akinlade gets hold of power.

    On their part, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, have set their machinery in motion to see that the APC candidate, Mr. Dapo Abiodun becomes the next governor of the state.

    In Oyo State, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, having lost the chance to return to the Senate, is throwing his weight around to ensure victory for his preferred candidate, Mr. Bayo Adelabu, of the APC.

    With the recent return of former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala to the APC, Ajimobi is also banking on his achievements and incumbency factor to work in favour of Adelabu.

    On the other hand, the PDP has gone into alliance with other gladiators in the state, such as Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Chief Femi Lanlehin and others to oust the APC from the state, arguing that the emergence of Adelabu will be a third term for Ajimobi.

    Anambra: APGA in final mop-up

    Although, there will be no governorship election in Anambra, there is intense battle for the 30 seats in the House of Assembly. The ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, lost the presidential, three senatorial and most of the House of Representatives seats at the last election to the PDP and the Young Progressives Party, YPP. This indicates that the APGA has to up its game if it hopes retain its majority in the House of Assembly.

    To achieve this, National Chairman of APGA, Dr. Victor Oye, yesterday, embarked on a final campaign for the candidates of the party in the 30 constituencies in the state.

    The state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, had earlier addressed civil servants in the state and urged them to ensure that APGA won in their constituencies as a way of appreciating the cordial relationship between the government and workers.

    Okorocha asks supporters to vote candidates of their choice

    In Imo, it will be seen whether Governor Rochas Okorocha, who is a senator-elect on the card of the APC will get his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, elected as his successor on the banner of the Action Alliance, AA. To do that, he has to stop APC's Hope Uzodinma; PDP's Emeka Ihedioha; APGA's Ifeanyi Araraume; and Ikedi Ohakim of Accord Party, AP.

    Yesterday, Governor Okorocha called on Imo people to vote the candidates of their choice and

    urged the electorate to conduct themselves in an orderly manner before, during and after the elections.

    The governor warned that anybody caught trying to steal ballot boxes would be dealt with by the security agencies, adding that he was aware that arrangements were in place for peaceful conduct of the elections.

    According to a statement by Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, his chief press secretary,the governor advised candidates whose only hope of winning in the Saturday's election is rigging through carrying of ballot boxes and writing fictitious election results to drop such wicked plots in their own interest because they would never succeed and would have themselves to blame, if caught.

    Saraki, PDP in door-to-door campaigns

    In Kwara, PDP top shots, after the devastating result of the February 23 National Assembly election where it lost all the three senatorial and six House of Representatives seats to the main opposition APC, are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to ensure political relevance for Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who lost his Kwara Central seat to Ibrahim Oloriegbe.

    To claw back into political reckoning, the PDP wants to win the governorship and the state assembly seats in tomorrow's election. Leaders of the party wrapped up their aggressive door-to-door aggressive campaigns, yesterday, reaching out to traditional rulers, artisans across board and various political interest groups on the need to give Dr Saraki another chance to reclaim the political leadership of the state.

    However, they are meeting a match in the APC team, led by Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, which had vowed to ensure 100 per cent success of the O To Ge (Enough is Enough) whirlwind that swept Saraki and other PDP National Assembly members out of office.

    Indeed, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, assured of peaceful polls and warned potential trouble makers to stay away from the state before, during and after the elections in the state or risk the full wrath of the law.

    Governor Ahmed, who handed down this warning during a meeting of Kwara State security committee on Wednesday evening, said he had received the assurances from heads of security and para-military agencies in the state of their full readiness to curb any threat to the conduct of free and fair elections by any individual or group.

    Stressing that elections in Kwara State have traditionally been peaceful, Alhaji Ahmed said the state government stood ready to provide the logistic support required by security agencies to maintain law and order as well as protect lives and property during the elections.

    The governor, who is also chairman of the Security Committee, therefore, called on all residents of the state to turn out in their numbers tomorrow to exercise their civic obligations and right to elect leaders of their choice as security agencies in partnership with the state government will guarantee safety and security.

    Usani, Owan-Enoh lay claim to APC guber ticket in C-River

    In Cross River, Senator John Owan Enoh, and Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani were locked in claims and counter-claims to the APC governorship ticket.

    Addressing newsmen in Calabar, yesterday, on preparation for tomorrow's polls and crises plaguing the party, Usani boasted that despite the disagreement and rancour between him and the senator representing Cross River Central at the Senate over who was the true flag bearer of the party, he remains the authentic APC governorship candidate.

    "A time has come for the people of the state to determine rightly and we know where we stand. I am the authentic candidate of the APC in the state because we have followed all the statutory provisions laid down by the party and are very confident.

    "We know what we are doing and also believe that the public needs to be led right. I am not conscious of the name on the ballot but conscious of the name which being there for swearing-in," he said.

    In a related development, Senator John Owan Enoh who faulted Usani's claim, stated that the minister is not the governorship candidate of the APC stressing that he is the only recognized candidate standing elections against Governor Ben Ben Ayade who is seeking re-election on the platform of the PDP.

    Enoh asked his supporters to shun rumours making the rounds that a court had stopped him from contesting the governorship election saying that the rumour was a cock and bull story.

    Enoh said: "The victory that is going to come out from the Saturday' s poll will belong to no one else but to John Owan Enoh."

    I'm sure of victory in Adamawa - Fintiri

    In Adamawa State, the PDP governorship candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, expressed confidence that he will win the election tomorrow.

    Speaking to newsmen at his house on the preparedness of the PDP for the elections, Fintiri said he is confident that the PDP would emerge victorious if the election is conducted in a free, fair and crisis-free atmosphere.

    He said the PDP has worked hard to plant their agents at every polling unit in the 226 wards of Adamawa State to ensure that the voting is transparent and devoid of rigging or manipulation.

    PDP accuses Fayemi of plotting mayhem

    In Ekiti, the PDP alleged that Governor Kayode Fayemi and his counterpart in Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu were plotting to unleash mayhem on the two states in a bid to win the elections.

    The party alleged that Fayemi initiated the plot and co-opted Akeredolu, who had earlier lost Ondo to PDP in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

    Speaking with newsmen in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Ekiti State PDP Chairman, Barr. Gboyega Oguntuase, said many of his members and supporters were attacked in the state during the February 23 elections without the police arresting anyone.

    "During the last elections, our members were attacked in Efon, Are, Ilawe, Ado , Ikere and other parts of the state. We even documented how our member's buildings were riddled with bullets , how some were flogged and gave to the police, but no arrest was made.

    "It was shameful for Ondo people to be raising allegation of crime against Fayemi because of how he has been influencing governor Akeredolu to use violence to win the assembly election.

    "No election is worth the blood of any Ekiti man. The terror group they used to rig presidential poll is still intact and we beg Governor Fayemi not to use Ekiti as a field to practice war strategies he studied. Instead let him go to the war-torn Sudan or elsewhere to display this," he said.

    Dismissing the allegation, Fayemi said the PDP was only giving flimsy excuses to prevent ignominy that awaits it in tomorrow's election.

    Fayemi, who reacted through his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, described the allegation as mere ranting of an ant since the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, security agencies and international community, had rated Ekiti as the most peaceful state during the last elections.

    Fayemi said: "The international observers and security agencies adjudged Ekiti's elections as the freest and fairest in the country. The Police said no arrest was made and the PDP was just using escapist strategy ahead of its impending loss on Saturday. Not even a single gunshot was fired in Ekiti. Government and security put up a yeoman's performance, if they could do that then, no cause for alarm.

    "PDP will be defeated on Saturday under a peaceful manner because the people have seen the lies and deceit of the party and have seen Fayemi as their true friend and that is why the elections have gone the way of APC. The PDP was being haunted by its past misdeeds and that was why they were raising baseless allegations."

    The Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, Caleb Ikechukwu, said no arrest was made in the presidential and national assembly elections because the polls were peaceful in the state.

    Supplementary poll holds in one A-Ibom constituency

    In Akwa Ibom, the supremacy battle between Senator Godswill Akpabio, whose uncommon defection to the APC caused stir, and his successor, Governor Udom Emmanuel, will be concluded at the polls.

    Akpabio's uncommon loss at the Presidential and National Assembly was almost total. The PDP won the presidential, three senatorial and nine House of Representatives seats that were announced

    In addition to the governorship and state assembly polls, there will also be a supplementary election in one federal constituency in Eket Senatorial District, tomorrow. The supplementary election would take place in Oron Federal Constituency. INEC had cancelled the election in Udung Uko, one of the local governments of the federal constituency over alleged attacks on the electoral officer, and destruction of electoral materials by political thugs.

    Awoniyi, group raise alarm over threats of violence in Kogi West

    In Kogi, where only state assembly elections will be held, immediate past deputy governor of the state, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, has raised alarm over threats of violence in Kogi West to forcibly ensure the peoples' votes did not count in the election.

    Awoniyi's alarm was also corroborated by a group, Okun Media Links, which called on the state security personnel to step into the rumoured attack planned by the state ruling party to win the Assembly elections at all cost.

    Awoniyi said his concern was coming against the background that after losing the senatorial district to the opposition PDP in the Presidential and National Assembly election, the Kogi State government read the riot act to its appointees from the district to go and deliver for APC at all costs or lose their positions.

    We 're still in the race in Rivers - Accord Party

    Apart from the unending skirmishes between Governor Nyesom Wike and Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, the Accord Party, yesterday, said it was still very much in the race for the Rivers State governorship.

    Amaechi, after APC candidates were barred from the polls by the courts, pitched his support for the African Action Congress, AAC, candidate, Awara Biokpomado, in his bid to stop Wike's re-election.

    National Chairman of the party, Muhammad Nalado, who stated this at a news conference in Abuja, lamented that political opponents in Rivers State were peddling fake news that his party had been barred by the court from contesting.

    According to the party chairman, though the high court in Rivers State had passed a judgement that the party's governorship candidate, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, was not the rightful candidate, the party has appealed the judgement.

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