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The test of might between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shifts to Kogi and Bayelsa states, where governorship elections will hold later this year after both parties settled for 15 and 14 states, respectively, in the 29 states, where governorship polls held in the just concluded general elections, FELIX NWANERI reports
The battle of supremacy between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the general elections has come and gone, following last week’s conclusion of collation of results of the Rivers State governorship poll and declaration of the winner. Conclusion of the Rivers State election was after weeks of intrigues, following the March 10 suspension of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in the oil-rich state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The commission, which premised its action on some factors, including widespread disruption of elections and violence in polling units and collation centres, consequently set up a fact-finding committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours. Collation of the result, however, resumed last Tuesday after the committee submitted its report, which revealed that while election could not hold in a few areas, it was successfully concluded in others with the declaration of winners in 21 state constituencies. Governor Nyesom Wike, who was declared winner of the governorship contest, polled 886,264 votes to defeat his closest rival, Biokpomabo Awara of the African Action Congress (AAC), who had 173,859 votes.
Wike contested the poll on the platform of the PDP, whereas the AAC candidate was backed by the Minister of Transportation and APC leader in the state as the ruling party at the centre was barred by the court from fielding a candidate for the poll over issues concerning its congress. When collation resumed on Tuesday, INEC announced results from 15 local government areas, with Wike polling 426,369 votes against Awara’s 129,855.
This lead was further extended, when the commission announced results from four more local governments the next day. In Degema Local Government Area, Wike polled 12,133 votes against Awara’s 5,071 votes. In the 12 wards of Asari-Toru Local Government, the governor had 32,172 votes, while Awara polled 18,945. In the 12 wards of Ogo/Bolo Local Government Area, Wike polled 11,855 votes to Awara’s 814.
The governor capped his outstanding performance in the 17 wards of Obio/ Akpor Local Government Area, where he polled 281,164 votes to Awara’s 7,495. These results took Wike’s votes from 426,369 to 763,603, while that of Awara rose to 162,180 from 129,855. But, the lead further increased, when results of the four outstanding local governments were announced in the evening.Wike’s total votes jumped to 886,264, while Awara trailed by 173,859 votes. Wike’s victory gave PDP 14 out of the 29 states, where governorship elections, where held, while the ruling APC won in 15 – a difference of one state.
The states won by PDP in the general elections are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Abia, Imo, Oyo, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto and Rivers. Those won by APC are Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa and Kano, Kwara and Gombe. Governorship elections did not hold in seven states – Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Osun and Ekiti as a result of the interregnum by the courts. Of these seven states, APC is in charge in six – Kogi, Edo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti. The PDP holds sway in Bayelsa, while Anambra is controlled by APGA.
To many analysts, the 2019 elections was a good outing for the Uche Secondus-led PDP despite the party’s loss of the presidential election. Its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, lost to President Buhari of the APC in the February 23 poll. Buhari polled 15.1 million votes to defeat Atiku, who garnered 11.2 million votes.
The President won in 19 states, while Atiku won in 17 states. Those, who believe that 2019 general elections was a good outing for the PDP, described the overall performance of the former ruling party as one that has re-launched itself after the dismal performance in the 2015 elections. The PDP had until its defeat then won four consecutive presidential elections in the current dispensation – 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.It equally controlled more than two third of elective positions at the federal, state and local governments levels within the period. At the state level, the party won 21 out of the 36 governorship elections in the 1999 elections. After the 2003 elections, the number of states jumped to 28 but Anambra was lost to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) three years after to bring the figure down to 27.
The standing was retained in the 2007 elections, but later dropped to 23 as the party later lost Edo, Ekiti and Osun states to the then Action Congress (AC) as well as Ondo State to the Labour Party (LP) through the courts. By 2011, the number states under the PDP’s fold stood at 23, but internal wrangling cost it five of the states – Rivers, Adamawa, Kwara, Sokoto and Kano in 2013, to reduce its controlled states to 18. The party later regained Ondo and Adamawa states from LP and APC through defection. Ekiti State also joined the league of PDP controlled states in 2014, following the party’s defeat of the APC in the governorship poll to take the number to 21.
The National Assembly, comprising of the Senate and House of Representatives was equally not left out PDP’s domination within the period. In the 4th Assembly (1999), the party had 59 out of the 109 senators. The number jumped to 76 in 2003; 87 in 2007 and 71 in 2011. In the House of Representatives that has 360 members, it was 206 members in 1999, 223 in 2003, 263 in 2007 and 203 in 2011.
The leadership of the party at a time, perhaps, got carried away by the success and boasted through its then National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, that PDP will rule Nigeria for 60 years before any other party can unseat it. That dream was cut short in 2015. This was occasioned by infighting, which resulted to several members leaving the party and the merger of main opposition parties then – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of APGA which gave birth to the APC. Against expectations, the APC defeated the PDP in the presidential poll by 15.4 million to 12.8 million votes. It was the first time in Nigeria’s political history that an incumbent president will lose an election.
Besides winning the presidency, the APC also won in 20 out of the 29 states, where governorship elections held. The states were Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kano and Imo. The PDP won only in nine states – Rivers, AkwaIbom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Gombe, and Abia.
The PDP lost in its traditional strongholds – Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa and Katsina states. It also lost its control of the National Assembly to the APC. The PDP’s senatorial seats dropped from 71 in 2011 to 49 against APC’s 60, while that of House of Representatives also dropped from 203 to 140 against APC’s 212. At the end of the 2015 elections, states controlled by the various parties stood as follows: APC (22) PDP (13) and APGA (one). However, political developments, particularly as a result of defection of some APC governors ahead of the 2019 elections and APC’s victory in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun governorship elections altered the equation.
As it stands, the Adams Oshiomhole- led APC has 20 states, PDP (15) and APGA (one). For the PDP, it added more states to its kitty. Remarkably, the main opposition party took-over four APC controlled states – Adamawa, Imo, Oyo and Bauchi in the 2019 polls. APC, on its part, won two PDP controlled states – Gombe and Kwara. While the victors in the respective elections have been handed their certificates of return by INEC and are awaiting the May 29 and June inauguration of the executive and legislative arms of government, there is no doubt that the 2019 battle between the APC and PDP is yet to be over. Most candidates on both sides of the divide, who lost during the polls, have headed to the various election petition tribunals to “reclaim their mandates.” But as Nigerians patiently await the outcome of petitions, including Atiku’s suit, challenging President Buhari’s victory, the battleground between the two parties have shifted to Kogi and Bayelsa states, which are next in line for governorship elections.
In Kogi, it would be battle royale as Governor Yahaya Bello, who had been in the eyes of the storm since he assumed office on January 27, 2016, seeks a second term. Bayelsa, also promises to be interesting as former political allies, who are now foes, square against themselves. Interestingly, the governorship polls in both states, in November and December 2015, were the first test of might between the PDP and APC after the 2015 general elections.
While the parties shared the spoils then, with APC taking over Kogi from PDP, and PDP retaining Bayelsa, that of Kogi nearly threw Nigeria into a constitutional crisis, following the death of APC’s initial candidate, Abubakar Audu, at a time he was coasting to victory as the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did not envisage such situation. The impasse over Audu’s death was however resolved, when INEC directed APC to nominate another candidate as Audu’s substitution for the supplementary poll in 91 polling units, where elections were cancelled. INEC had declared the election inconclusive following the cancellation of results in the affected polling units due to incidences of violence, ballot boxes snatching, over voting, among others.
Late Audu was at the time leading his closest rival and incumbent governor, Capt. Idris Wada, by 41,000 votes, whereas the total number of registered voters in the 91 polling units was 49,953, which the commission explained was higher than the margin between the top contenders. The opportunity granted the APC to substitute Audu, rather than serve as a relief to the party, sparked off another round of crisis as the deputy governorship candidate, Hon. James Faleke wrote to INEC that he be declared winner on the ground that the supplementary poll was needless as the number of eligible voters in the affected areas stood at 25, 000 and so will not make any impact in the overall result.
The PDP, on its part urged the electoral body to declare its candidate – Wada – winner as the votes garnered by Audu were not transferable. The party argued that Audu’s votes died with him. Amidst the arguments, INEC insisted on going ahead with the supplementary poll, and the APC nominated the first runner up in the governorship primaries, Yahaya Bello as Audu’s substitution. As expected, Bello was declared winner of the poll after the supplementary election. The APC garnered 6,885 votes in the supplementary poll to bring its total votes to 247,752, having polled 240,857 during the first balloting. The PDP scored 5,363 to take its total votes to 204,877 votes.
The party had earlier garnered 199,514 votes. The case of Bayelsa was entirely different. The December 5, 2015 poll was characterised by violence. Lives were lost and voting had to be shifted to the next day (December 6) as armed thugs disrupted the process in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The rescheduled poll did not hold as armed thugs prevented the commission’s officials from deploying officials and materials. INEC, against this backdrop declared the poll inconclusive as votes from the council was expected to be the decider, being the largest of the eight local government areas of the state.
The council then had 120,827 registered voters. Governor Seriake Dickson of the PDP led in six of the seven local government areas initially declared. He polled 105,748 votes, while the candidate of the APC and a former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva won in only one and had 72,594 votes, a margin of 30,154 votes.
The impasse was resolved after a week, when both candidates returned to the poll and it was the PDP that had the day. In what could be described as the stiffest governorship contest since the creation of the state in 1996, Dickson secured a second term by polling a total of 134,998 votes to defeat Sylva, who garnered 86,852 votes. While the 2015 and even 2019 polls seems to be history, it will amount to political gamble for any of the parties to rely on the variables that shaped both elections going into the forthcoming governorship contests given that politics remains dynamic.
For instance, the APC seized the opportunity of the 2019 polls to make inroad into Bayelsa State that was hitherto under PDP’s grip. The ruling party was able to win a senatorial seat as well as pockets of national and state assembly seats. Again, the fact that whichever way the pendulum swings in both states will further strengthen the confidence of the parties ahead of the 2023 general elections, will see both sides deploying all they could to either consolidate on what they have or extend frontiers. Governor Dickson, who recently reasoned along this line, while speaking at a forum in Yenagoa, the state capital, acknowledged that the battle for his successor is going to be a defining moment for the state.
His words: “The last governorship election in 2016 is still fresh in the memories of Bayelsans. It was more than an election, it was a war. The 2019 governorship may not be any different. The stakes are high as some persons are desperate to capture the state regardless of how unpopular they are among the people. “In their desperate bid to launch a deadly come back, they have begun to gradually disrupt security architecture in the state. This they have done by using their privileged positions against the people. In 2019, they are expected to be more daring but as always, Bayelsans know them and in line with true Ijaw spirit, the people are ready to repel every attempt to circumvent their will.
https://www.newtelegraphng.com/2019/04/b...i-bayelsa/