FOR the April 9 Area Council polls, the battle line has been drawn between the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja. Already, both parties are perfecting strategies to outwit each other at the polls.
By Henry Umoru
Currently, the FCT has become a behemoth of sorts as PDP, APC and other political parties have intensified campaigns in the six area councils to woo or cajole the electorate in favour of their candidates. The tenure of the incumbent chairmen will end on May 17, 2016.
Poster war: There is a poster war as posters of the candidates are pasted on available spaces like trees, street light poles, road sides and broken vehicles, among others.
Other parties with candidates are Accord (A), Action Alliance (AA), Advanced Congress Of Democrats (ACD), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Democratic Peoples Congress (DPC), Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MPPP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and United Progressive Party (UPP).
The six area councils
The six area councils are Abaji, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali.
Apart from the headquarters of these councils, political activities are also high in villages and towns like Yaba, Agyana, Shadad, Soitan, Takpeshi, Talpa, Tanaga, Wapa, Yelwa, Yelwa Gawu, Orozo, Zuwa, Ushafa, Dutse Alhaji, Dobi, Doni, Yagoji, Karu, Jikoyi, Gwagwalada, Kabusa, Gosa, Katampe, Gida Doni, Zuba and Wuye among others.
30 candidates, 13 parties locked in a rat race
As parties and residents prepare for the election, the FCT Electoral Commission had disclosed that 30 candidates are jostling for the six chairmanship seats and according to a document by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Augusta C. Ogakwu, 13 political parties are taking part in the polls.
People, factors that will shape the polls
In Abaji, major stakeholders like Senator Sidi Ali, the Sokodobos and Anguss are backing the candidate of the APC while the PDP has the likes of General Abdullahi Bagundu Mamman, among others.
In Abaji, the fight is expected to be tight because candidate of the APC comes from the main town, Abaji which is believed to be favoured by the unwritten arrangement that after Gawu, it should go to the central.
In AMAC, a keen contest is also expected between the PDP and the APC because the PDP has been in control of the council since 1999. The efforts of the serving Senator and Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda; member, House of Representatives representing AMAC/ Bwari, Zephaniah Jisalo; Ambassadors Jacob Ayuba Ngbako and Esther Audu among others may still give the PDP an upper hand in the council.
Since 1999 when the PDP controlled the administration for 16 years, it had always won the area with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA always championing the course.
With the APC in power now, it was, therefore, not surprising that penultimate week, the Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, took the campaign himself to the nooks and crannies of the FCT and asked members to embark on what he described as vigorous campaign if they must win the six area councils.
The FCTA minister had said:“I believe that 12 months ago, none of you here was allowed to enter this hall. And I am telling all of you here that this house you are seeing here is the fruit of your labour. So, we must work hard now, day and night, to ensure that the APC captures all the six area councils.”
The Minister held a stakeholders meeting with Senator Usman Jibrin Wowo, FCT senatorial aspirant, Hajiya Ireti Kingibe, APC chieftain, Alhaji Musa Tanko Abari, and AMAC chairmanship aspirant, Mrs. Amanda Pam among others in attendance.
In Gwagwalada, it is a contest between the incumbent chairman, Alhaji Jibrin Giri of the APC, popularly known as ‘Two Terms’ and candidate of APGA known as ‘Obama’. Abdullahi Yunusa Umar of the PDP is expected to fight hard but the Council had always been controlled by the opposition even when PDP was in government. However, the reverse is now the case, APC is now the ruling party.
One interesting aspect of the election is the fact that around the territory, candidates of the APC have stopped using the picture of President Muhammadu Buhari along side their own may be owing to the harsh economic situation in the country which has reduced the hitherto popularity of the party prior to 2015 presidential election.
INEC, Police battle-ready
To ensure eligible voters are not disenfranchised, the INEC held a seven -day exercise, which ended on March 16, 2016, to enable all who had registered in the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to collect their PVCs.
The electoral umpire said it will deploy 9,933 permanent and ad-hoc staff for the elections.
With a total of 1,020,799 registered voters, the election staff are made up of 9,375 Presiding Officers, 62 Supervising Presiding Officers (SPOs), 62 Collation Officers (CO), and six Returning Officers (RO) with 428 Reserves.
Mrs Ndidi Okafor, the INEC Deputy Director of Publicity in FCT, who spoke on behalf of the commission said that INEC had recruited 9,374 ad hoc staff for the exercise, adding that the commission had also recruited and trained extra personnel in addition to the 9,374 ad hoc staff to address likely shortage on Election Day.
The ad hoc staff are employed from the serving National Youth Serving Corps (NYSC) members, students of the University of Abuja and ex-NYSC corps members from our data bank.’’
Speaking on the readiness of the INEC, Prof. Jacob Jatau said: “I can confirm to you that the commission is fully ready for the April 9 election. We have been able to recruit the additional ad hoc staff to meet the shortfall that made us to postpone the elections. The commission has also trained the additional adhoc staff recruited for the exercise. All is now set for the conduct of free, fair and credible election in the FCT.”
In the area of security, the FCT Commissioner of Police, Wilson Inalegwu, has given assurances of adequate security during the election.
According to FCT INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Jacob S. Jatau, the contestants and their parties are as follows:
Yusuf Abdulkarim S—Accord
Francis Udoka Okpor—CPP
Comfort B. Effiom—DPC
Iber Stephen Shimakaha—MPPP
Kura Bitrus Tanko—PDP
Uzeh Taiye Sarah Odion—PPA
Barry Avotu Johnson—SDP
Nwosu Ozoemelom Kenneth—UPP
Kenneth Igbekele Olabamiji—CPP
Andrew Samuel Gwani Igu—PDP
Abubakar Jibrin Giri—APC
Danze Mustapha Adams—APGA
Sarwuan Fater Ephraim—DPC
Abdullahi Yunusa Umar—PDP
Abdullahi D. Galadima—APC
Haruna Etsu Iliya—APGA
Ishaku Tete Shaban—PDP
Sani Amako Yewuli—Accord
Hon. Joseph K. Shazin—APC
Population of AREA COUNCILS
Abaji — 93,360
Kuje — 154,800
Abuja — 1, 235,880
Gwagwalda — 252,520
Bwari — 365,010
Kwali — 137,190