THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced during the week that it will on March 23, 2019, conduct extra elections in the six states where the March 9 Gubernatorial and State Assembly Elections were declared inconclusive. The affected states where the commission will be holding the supplementary polls are: Plateau, Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa and Kano.
A statement on Tuesday by Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said the commission met on Monday and reviewed the conduct of the 29 Governorship and 991 State Constituency Elections held across the country on the 9th of March 2019. The commission had declared winners in the governorship elections in only 22 states while the Returning Officers (ROs) in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states declared the elections inconclusive.
“Consequently, the commission will conduct supplementary elections on Saturday 23rd March 2019 to conclude the process. Supplementary elections will also hold in polling units in all states where State Assembly elections were declared inconclusive and winners could not be declared,” Okoye said. Details of the constituencies including number of polling units and registered voters were published on the commission’s website last Wednesday, 13th March 2019.
Expectedly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been bragging about their capacity to carry the day ahead of the March 23 Supplementary Elections to decide who will control power in the six aforementioned states. While the leadership of the APC has expressed its satisfaction with the decisions of INEC, the PDP is faulting the commission’s decision in some states like Sokoto, Adamawa and Benue.
Both parties however vowed to win the re-run election billed for March 23 in all the states. While the APC now have control of 18 states following its victory in 13 of the 22 declared states, which is now added to the five states of Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kogi and Osun already in its kitty, the PDP can boast of 10 states, adding nine newly won states to Bayelsa State. The two parties are now poised to increase their tallies by adding more states on March 23.
In Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP, who scored 489, 588, is leading his APC counterpart, Aliyu Sokoto, who garnered 486, 145 votes, with 3,413 votes. According to the details released by the electoral umpire, the two leading parties will on March 23, battle for 75,493 votes in 136 polling units in 22 local government areas of the state.
Before the process was declared inconclusive, the two parties were laying claim to victory. But pundits say with over 75, 000 votes still at stake and the margin between Tambuwal and Sokoto standing at a meagre 3, 413, the March 23 election can tilt the final result of the governorship election in Sokoto state either way. “It is still too early to say precisely who will emerge the next governor of Sokoto state,” an analyst said.
Factors being considered by pundits in putting the tag of ‘unpredictable’ on the ongoing contest in Sokoto State include the APC’s sterling performance during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in the state and PDP’s unexpected comeback during the inconclusive Governorship and State Assembly polls. While the APC swept majority of the votes across the state in the earlier election, the PDP is leading in the latter with a slight margin.
The presidential election results in Sokoto State showed that while President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC scored 490,333 votes, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the opposition PDP got 361,604 votes to place second. The APC also won the three senatorial seats in the state and pocketed majority of the House of Representatives seats. But during the Governorship and State Assembly Elections, the PDP turned the table and took the lead.
Consequently, with the margin so slim and the votes to contest for quite much, Sokoto State remains a battleground ahead of the March 23 extra election. Reliable sources in the state told The Nation that the final result of the election in the state will be determined by some very local issues that are of importance to the ordinary people of the state. “The people are voting based on their individual convictions as to which of the two leaders, Wammakko and Tambuwal, can better their lots,” a source explained.
Before the process was declared inconclusive in Adamawa, the PDP, with 367,471 votes as against APC’s 334,995, was leading by 32,476 votes. The candidates of the two parties have 40,998 votes to fight for. Incumbent Governor Jibrilla Bindow of the APC and his challenger PDP Umar Fintiri will be slugging it out on March 23. Convinced that it won the election outrightly on the first ballot, the PDP has been clamouring that it should be declared winner.
On its part, the APC, realising that it has a hard task ahead of it, has been strategising on how to turn the table on March 23. But pundits say it is a herculean task that may be very difficult to carry out. With barely 41, 000 votes up for grab and the PDP already at advantage with 32, 471, in a state that was won by the opposition party during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, the APC may be unable to wrought any magic.
During the Presidential Election, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar polled 412, 266 to defeat APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari, his closest challenger who scored 377,488. The results show a difference of 34,778 between them. Ironically, Buhari won 11 of the state’s 21 local government areas, while Abubakar picked the remaining 10. Earlier, the PDP presidential candidate had lost his polling unit to the APC.
The PDP had also won two, out of the three senatorial seats in the state as well as majority of the House of Representatives seats. Ishaku Elisha Cliff of the PDP, clinched the Adamawa North senatorial seat while his party man, Yaroe Binos Dauda, emerged winner in Adamawa South. The ruling party, APC claimed victory only through Dahiru Aishatu Ahmed, who was declared winner in Adamawa Central Senatorial District.
All these facts, and more, will be trailing both the PDP and the APC as they go to polls on March 23 to decide the final winner of the obviously keen contest. However, the APC remains disadvantaged. Aside from the huge deficit the party will be struggling to cancel, renewed infighting among its chieftains may also work against its victory at the supplementary election.
Before INEC announced that it will, next Tuesday, be resuming collation of governorship election result in Bauchi State and may declare the winner of the poll, hitherto ruled as inconclusive, the planned re-run election in the state, earlier scheduled for March 23, from all available facts, as well as emerging indications from parts of the state where elections were to hold, remained too close to call. The PDP candidate Bala Muhammed, is currently enjoying a slight lead with 4,059 votes. At the end of the inconclusive first ballot, the PDP had 469,512 votes while the APC candidate, Governor Mohammed Abubakar, got 465,453 votes.
According to INEC, There were 139,240 cancelled votes to that were to be contested for on March 23. The voters in the affected polling units were to decide the winner of the tense governorship contest in the northeastern state. Before the inconclusive election, opinion as to which party will win Bauchi remained divided. The state, before 2015, has been a stronghold of the PDP.
While those banking on President Buhari’s popularity in the state predicted that Governor Abubakar will retain his seat, others, citing the local politics of the state as well as some failings of the Abubakar led APC administration, coupled with the growing popularity of the opposition PDP in the last few years, said it will be easier for the opposition party to displace APC at the gubernatorial election. Not even the victory of the APC at the presidential election changed their stance.
Though the APC won the three senatorial seats and majority of House of Representatives slots in the state, the victory of Speaker Yakubu Dogara and a host of other PDP candidates in the state provided a platform for the opposition party to rally its forces ahead of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections. The improved performance of the PDP in the inconclusive polls, according to analysts, is a result of the local issues determining the people’s voting preferences.
But the political scenario in Bauchi state changed once again when the electoral commission announced its latest decision concerning the guber election in the state in a press statement on Friday night reportedly after resolving some issues around the result of Tafawa Balewa local government and some polling units in Ningi local government.
INEC did not state whether by the decision, the scheduled supplementary election on 23 March has been cancelled. According to INEC, the number of cancelled votes in four polling units in Ningi Local Government was 2,533 and not 25,330 as recorded. On Tafawa Balewa Local Government election result, where collation was disrupted by armed gangs, affecting 7 out of 11 registration areas for governorship and 6 out of 11 for state assembly elections, INEC said a committee set up, has found that the results in polling units and registration areas are “available and in safe custody”.
INEC thus decided to resume the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of the council area for both the governorship and state assembly elections A new collation and returning officer for Tafawa Balewa has been appointed “to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original collation officer, who withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members”. The threatened collation officer was Dominion Anosike.
While INEC says result in Tafawa Balewa will be announced after collation, the PDP claims it garnered over 40, 000 votes in the L.G.A to APC’s less than 30, 000. It is however left to be seen if the party’s claim will tally with the result INEC will come up with. Head or tail, the governorship election in Bauchi state is a straight fight between incumbent Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress and former minister, Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party.
At the end of the inconclusive gubernatorial election in Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP got 410, 576. His closest rival, Emmanuel Jime of the APC got 329, 022 at the close of the first ballot. Going by the result released by INEC, PDP’s Ortom currently leads the governorship contest with 81,554 votes. The two frontline candidates will be slugging out for 121, 011 votes in the affected polling units across the state.
But analysts say it is going to be very difficult for APC, which also lost the last Presidential and National Assembly Elections in the state to the PDP, to overturn the deficit and win the supplementary election. “PDP will most likely go ahead to consolidate its lead at the extra polls on its way to finally retaining the troubled state in its political kitty till 2023,” an analyst said.
Before Governor Ortom moved over to the PDP last year, Benue State was controlled by the APC. But following incessant face-offs between Ortom and the leadership of his then party as well as the presidency over the herdsmen/farmers clashes in the state, Ortom defected to the PDP and picked its governorship ticket. Many prominent chieftains of the APC, including Senator Barnabas Gemade, also dumped the party.
The presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had emerged winner of the Presidential Election in the state last month. The result, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Collation Officer Prof. Sabastine Maimako, in Makurdi showed that President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC scored 347,668 vote, while Atiku scored 355,255 votes.
Also noteworthy is the fact that during the presidential election, APC won in 10 Local Government Areas of the state, while PDP won in 13 Local Government Areas. The party also cleared all the three senatorial seats up for grab. Former Governor Gabriel Suswam emerged as the Senator for Benue North East, Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev for Benue North West and ex-Minister Patrick Abba Moro in Benue South.
Majority of the State Assembly seats declared in the state are also now in the kitty of the PDP. The unexpected loss of the Benue North West seat by the APC leader in the state, Senator George Akume, disorganised the party ahead of the Governorship and State Assembly Elections. Though local issues like non-payment of workers’ salaries and lack of infrastructural amenities worked against the PDP and Governor Ortom, it appears the many killings and attacks suffered by the state decided how they voted.
In Plateau State, incumbent Governor Simon Lalong of the APC got 583, 255 to lead Senator Jeremiah Useni of the PDP with 44,929 votes. Useni got 538, 326. The duo will be fighting for the outstanding 49,377 votes. But many analysts say the election is APC’s to win. With only 49, 377 votes to be contested for in the affected polling units, and APC already comfortably leading with 44, 929, the opposition party looks defeated already.
Aside from its comfortable lead, the ruling APC also pocketed majority of the state assembly seats to show its acceptance across the state. The ruling party is also benefiting from the performance of Governor Lalong, which has been adjudged by many to be commendable, especially his ability to restore and maintain peace in the troubled parts of the North Central state. His relationship with civil servants in the state is also a plus for the ruling party.
The current result of the governorship election which shows that APC is ahead of the PDP is a departure from what obtained at the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in the state. Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the PDP, won the presidential election in Plateau after scoring 548,665 votes. Atiku defeated his closest opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, of the APC, who scored 468, 555 votes. Atiku won in 11 local government areas while Buhari won in six LGAs of the state.
Although the APC lost the state to the PDP during the presidential election and could only manage to win one of the three senatorial seats, with one declared inconclusive, observers of the politics of the state insist that APC looks good to win the governorship election in the end.
Kano State is one of the states where supplementary election will be holding on March 23. There are 100, 873 votes to decide who wins the election. The PDP, with 1,014,474 votes, is in the lead while the APC, which got 987, 810, is trailing in second place. The margin in the scores of the two contenders stands at 26,664 votes. It is this calculation that informs the position of most pundits that the election is still very open for either the ruling APC or the opposition PDP to win.
The turn of events in the Kano gubernatorial election is coming as a huge surprise to many watchers of the unfolding political drama, but analysts conversant with the voting pattern of the people of the Northwestern state say there’s nothing strange in what has happened. According to Istifanus Bako of the Centre for Democracy and Good Governance (CDGG), local issues are determining the ongoing voting patterns.
Given that President Buhari of the APC recorded a landslide victory at the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in the state, many pundits have given the Gubernatorial and State Assembly polls to the ruling party without batting an eyelid. The presidential candidate of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, defeated his opponent, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku of the PDP, with 1, 073, 175 votes.
The APC Presidential candidate garnered 1, 464, 768 votes, to defeat the PDP candidate, who garnered 391,593 votes.
The APC also pocketed the three senatorial seats in the state to drive home its landslide victory at the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. Former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau won the Kano Central Senatorial seat, Barau Jibrin emerged the senator in Kano North while another former governor, Gaya Ibrahim Kabiru, claimed the seat in Kano South.
But during the inconclusive Gubernatorial and State Assembly Elections, the tide changed as many voters opted to vote against Governor Abdulai Ganduje. Sources say the dollar scandal he got enmeshed in shortly before the general elections commenced has done a lot of damages to his popularity, especially among the ordinary people of the state. This appears to be working against him and the APC at the polls.
The PDP governorship candidate in the state, Abba Kabir Yusuf, has expressed confidence that he would emerge winner of the coming governorship re-run election in the state. Kabir-Yusuf, who is the son-in-law of PDP chieftain, Rabui Kwankwaso, says Kano people want a trustworthy leader. This is just as Governor Ganduje promised that the PDP will be shocked by the outcome of the re-run elections.
Ganduje said he was unperturbed by the wishful thinking and slapdash deportment of the PDP candidate considering what happened in the inconclusive election widely characterized by alleged vote buying and voter’s intimidation by the party. The two parties, sources claim, are working round the clock in the affected areas to ensure that they get the votes needed to merge victorious on March 23. The March 23 supplementary election will take place in 210 Polling Units constituting 88 Registration Areas.