By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
It was a matter of controversy last year when the National Assembly raised objections to the order of elections as prescribed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The order as stipulated by the commission put the General Election in two stages with the presidential and National Assembly elections holding on the first day and the governorship and state legislative election holding on a latter day.
The order as prescribed by the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu led INEC was against the order as specified at the commencement of the Fourth Republic in 1999. In 1999 the elections started from the bottom with local government elections, followed by state-level polls before the presidential which was last.
It was the same order in the ill-fated Third Republic and the Second Republic in 1979.
However, incumbent governments had always influenced the order of elections in a way to put the presidential election first. The reason is to serve as a check to governors who are compelled to ensure that they help to deliver the president in order not to suffer recriminations from him (president) who could, in turn, use whatever opportunity to work against the governor.
Putting the presidential election first also causes a bandwagon effect. Voters and political actors are often compelled to switch loyalties after the outcome of the presidential election to side the political party that wins at the federal level.
This was about the case in 2003 when five of the six Alliance for Democracy, AD states were taken over by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP after the presidential election won by the PDP.
It was against that background that the Senator Bukola Saraki led National Assembly tried to prescribe a specific sequence for elections in the country in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018. That proposal and other relatively less self-serving proposals aimed at lifting the integrity and transparency of elections in the country were, however, rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was against that background that the APC, after winning the presidential election in 2015, went on to win some strongholds of the PDP such as Jigawa, Kogi, and Benue.
However, not always. Despite the APC’s win in 2015 presidential election, the bandwagon was of little consequence in the Southeast and the South-South base of the PDP.
However, not many states are so rooted in support of either of the two major political parties and as such could be easily swayed by the outcome of today’s presidential election.
Kwara since 1979 has always oscillated along with the political fancies of the patron of the Saraki family.
However, the state has lately come into play for several reasons, primarily for the determination of the APC national leadership to outwit the present patron of the Saraki family, Senator Bukola Saraki who is also the campaign manager of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The APC national leadership is understandably grieved that Saraki who was part of their party until last year jumped ship, and there is thus a deliberate policy at the national level to stop the dominance of the Saraki political machine in the state.
Victory for the PDP today would give the PDP cause for cheer and strengthen the chances of the party in retaining the state.
However, a victory for the APC could put the Saraki political machine in serious trouble as it could give the needed momentum to the APC in the state which has been trying to mobilise a revolution to bring down the Saraki hold on the state.
The major strength of the APC government of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State is its relationship with the centre.
The APC won the 2015 governorship election on the sentiments that ran against the decision of the former governor of the state, Jonah Jang to foist his kinsman on the state after him.
That sentiment is gone now with the emergence of Senator Jerry Useni from a different political zone. Despite some internal contradictions within the PDP especially the perceptions on the leadership deficiencies of the state leadership of the party, the PDP on the Plateau seems to have found an unusual unity around the flag bearer to the extent that it has the ascendancy in the state. It would take a strong win by Buhari to stop the momentum for the PDP on the plateau.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s political engineering as demonstrated by his adoption of a Muslim-Muslim ticket may have galvanized the Christian population in the state against the APC. However, the unity of purpose of the PDP especially in the North would in a long way determine the import of today’s election on the governorship.
Given past suspicions between Senator Othman Hunkuyi, the PDP Kaduna North Senatorial candidate and Alhaji Isa Ashiru, the PDP governorship candidate what happens in the governorship election would not only depend on the presidential election. Victory for Senator Hunkuyi would fully convince him that Ashiru may have worked for him and engineer him, Hunkuyi to work for Ashiru in the governorship ticket. If that happens, Governor El-Rufai with minimal support in Southern Kaduna and a united PDP team in the North would be seriously challenged in two weeks.
The Imo State governorship contest is undoubtedly one of the most keenly contested in the country with at least four major contenders with almost equal opportunity for victory. The four major contenders include Senators Hope Uzodinma of APC, Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP and Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance, AA.
Nwosu, the son-in-law of the outgoing governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has already been endorsed by the incumbent and has the machinery of the state government working on his behalf. A victory for Atiku will automatically bring down the prospects of Uzodinma putting the other three candidates in near equal ranking to benefit. However, a victory for the APC would, on the other hand, raise his prospects.
Ogun like Imo State has about four major governorship candidates and has an APC governor supporting a governorship candidate of another political party. The APC candidate is Dapo Abiodun; the PDP has Senator Buruji Kashamu, the incumbent governor is supporting Mr. Adekunle Akinlade of Allied Peoples Movement while Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo was believed to have been in support of the African Democratic Congress, ADC’s Gboyega Isiaka.
Victory for the APC’s candidate may not easily translate into a net gain for the APC as the APM backed by Governor Amosun could easily stroll in to pick the advantage. President Buhari, it would be recalled had shied away from openly endorsing the APC’s Abiodun when he came to campaign in the state.
However, a victory for Atiku would translate into a major boost for the party’s candidate. Saturday Vanguard gathered that the Atiku Campaign had been holding parallel and confidential meetings with the two camps in the party towards making them work together and sharing the booty if the party wins at the national and state levels.