BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR
LAGOS — TODAY’s tranche of elections, the last in the series, in the on-going general polls promises a lot of interesting scenarios.
Although it has been dubbed governorship and state House of Assembly elections, there will be no guber polls in 10 of the country’s 36 states; and 19 senatorial and over 50 House of Representatives seats will be contested today. In essence, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will have a handful conducting four elections at the same time in some parts of the country.
Given the outcome of the National Assembly and Presidential polls, the elections will put to test the rising uncertainties trailing the 2011 elections.
Before the whistle was blown for the 2011 polls, four parties —Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), were clearly the frontrunners among the plethora of 63 political parties in the country.
PDP had the South-South, and parts of the South-East, North-Central and North-East geo-political zones as its stronghold and was expected to do well electorally in these areas.
The Maj General Muhammadu Buhari-inspired CPC was perceived to have the North-West in its kitty, while ANPP was considered to have most parts of the North-East as its electoral world bank.
In the South-West, ACN appeared in-charge even though it had only three states -Lagos, Ekiti and Osun of the six on offer with Oyo and Ogun belonging to the PDP and Ondo cornered by the Labour Party, LP.
The strength of the parties in these areas were put to test at the NASS elections and the outcome was revealing. While the parties maintained their holds on some of their strongholds, there were upsets here and there.
For a start, the LP showed it was in control of Ondo State by winning all the three Senate seats and the bulk of the House of Reps slots.
The ACN displayed its electoral command of the South-West and Edo State by beating the PDP and claiming the bulk of Senate and House seats. Dismissed as a regional party by critics, ACN also made inroads into Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Benue and Plateau, where it won a couple of House seats. It is unarguably the main opposition party in the country now after displacing the ANPP. The party has 13 Senate and 53 House of Reps positions to ANPP’s seven Senate and 20 House of Reps seats.
On its part, the PDP retained its hold on South-East, South-South and made electoral gains in North-Central and North-East. The party gave the CPC a good fight in the North-West winning 12 Senate and 41 House seats while the CPC had four and 21 respectively. The CPC had a commanding performance in Katsina State where it swept the senatorial polls and Kaduna (House of Reps polls).
PDP maintains lead
Even though PDP’s collection of federal legislature laurels has dwindled, it nevertheless has maintained its lead such that its electoral hauls are more than the collections of all the opposition parties put together. Among the nine parties that won National Assembly seats, it was the only party that won both Senate and House of Representatives seats in all the six geo-political zones. It also dominated the NASS elections in all the zones apart from the South-West where the ACN held sway.
Of the 94 Senate and 312 House of Representatives seats contested for, only 89 Senate and 282 House of Reps results had been released. And of these, the PDP had 58 Senate and 158 House of Reps seats.
Altogether, the remaining eight parties have 31 Senate and 124 House of Reps slots.
That was the stand before the presidential polls, which panned out as a straight battle between President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP and Buhari of the CPC. Jonathan made a clean sweep of the 17 states of the South apart from Osun State that was won by ACN’s Nuhu Ribadu. The President also won in North-Central.
Expectedly, CPC rose from its slumber with Buhari winning in most states of the North-East and North-West. Altogether, he polled 11,822,931 (53 per cent) of the votes cast in the North to Jonathan’s 8,604,916 (39 per cent) and performed below par in the South where he had 391,922 votes to Jonathan’s 13,890,271 votes. Jonathan scored more than 25 per cent of votes cast in all the states and Abuja apart from Kano, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno.
The topsy-turvy performances of the parties in the last two elections is the situation facing the parties ahead of Today’s elections. Will the PDP repeat its April 16 performance on April 26 especially in the South-West where the ACN is determined to repeat its April 9 electoral accomplishments? Conversely, will the CPC sustain its rejuvenated performance at the third round of the polls? Also, will the outbreak of violence that trailed the presidential polls in parts of the North, for which the INEC has postponed the polls in volatile flashpoints, affect the outcome of the elections?
Leaders of the various parties are upbeat about their chances. Whether or not the voters will go with them is to be seen.
States where guber elections will not hold
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, last Monday, upheld the decision of a High Court that stopped the INEC from conducting gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa, Adamawa, Cross River, Kogi and Sokoto states The court gave a verdict in favour of the incumbents of the affected areas that their four-year tenures would expire at different dates in 2012, and not on May 29, 2011, as held by INEC. Their first elections were annulled and they won a re-run and took a fresh a oath of office.
Consequently, Mr Liyel Imoke of Cross River; Mr Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto; Mr Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa; Admiral Murtala Nyarko of Adamawa and Mr Ibrahim Idris of Kogi state, will for the time being, continue in office without going through the trials of seeking a fresh mandate.
Mr Idris would vacate office on April 5, 2012; Mr Wammako on May 28, 2012; Admiral Nyarko on April 30, 2012, Mr Sylva on May 29, 2012 and Mr Imoke on August 28, 2012.
Relatedly, the governors of Anambra, Ondo, Edo, Ekiti and Osun were sworn-in on dates different from May 29, 2007 as their contemporaries.
NASS polls: How the parties fared
Party Senate House
PDP 13 26
APGA 1 2
ANPP Nil 1
PDP 11 36
ACN 2 7
DPP 1 Nil
ACN 11 37
Labour 3 8
PDP 1 6
AP Nil 4
PPN Nil 2
PDP 11 24
CPC 2 8
ACN Nil 5
PDP 11 25
ANPP 4 6
CPC Nil 6
ACN Nil 2
PDP 12 41
CPC 4 21
ANPP 3 13
ACN Nil 1