The governorship elections which were held in 29 states of the country on March 9 were declared inconclusive in six states according to the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and had to be rescheduled.
The states are Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Plateau, Benue and Adamawa. INEC had fixed today for the supplementary elections in the affected states excluding Adamawa following court injunctions.
For about two weeks, the two parties that are front runners in the governorship race, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, embarked on intensive campaigns trying to woo the electorate deploying all manners of arsenals. Roads were hurriedly being constructed, bore holes were being dug while truck load of gift items surfaced in areas where the re-run elections will hold.
The governors in these states are seeking re-election and they are ready to throw everything into the race in order not to be humiliated. It is therefore a fight for their political life as they face the electorate again today in areas where the result of the earlier election was cancelled.
Plateau: APC, PDP confident of victory
By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Jos – Residents of Plateau State were always apprehensive whenever an election was conducted in the state following violence that usually trailed such exercise leading to loss of lives and property. Many of them, especially those living in volatile areas of the state were not very comfortable participating in elections to avoid being maimed or even killed during the process.
However, with improved security and increased awareness on voting, most residents turned out to participate in the February, 23rd Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Two weeks after, the apathy returned as the low turnout for the Governorship and House of Assembly elections held on the 9th of March became worrisome even to politicians; Some of them who expressed concern said they could not understand the reason for the low turnout of voters across the 17 local government areas of the State.
Speaking on the issue, a former Deputy Governor of the State, Dame Pauline Tallen told journalists at her house in Shendam local government area that she had to personally inquire from the Mai Angwas (Ward Heads) the reason for the apathy and they told her that “there has not been water supply in Shendam for a long time, women went in search of water for house chores.”
Most respondents who expressed diverse opinions attributed the apathy to many factors as one of them, Donald Luka said, “the apathy was due to the inability of the electoral officials and desperate politicians to allow the ordinary man’s vote to count especially for those of us in Jos North/Bassa federal constituency.
“The people who willingly came out to vote and their votes were tampered with were discouraged to come out and vote again during the supplementary election which was held on the 9th of March. If our votes did not count the first time, what is the assurance that we would not be robbed again in the second election?”
Miapsuk Madugu, a public affairs analyst who x-rayed the 2019 elections highlighted issues like acrimonious campaigns, tribalism/religion, apathy towards collection of PVCs, poor voter education, vote buying/rigging, militarization of election, among others as factors that marred the process and called for urgent review of the electoral laws.
His words, “The 2019 elections provided Nigerians the chance to make an impact through their votes, but as the 2019 general elections gathered momentum; an air of uncertainty ominously hung in the air, the discerning electorate were still looking forward to issue-based campaigns as is the practice in advanced climes.
“As our politicians embarked on the political campaigns, rather than telling the electorate their agenda, they (politicians) were busy engaging in personality clashes. Few months to the polls, the political arena became increasingly acrimonious. The campaigns were characterized by division, blackmail and bitterness among party supporters, especially on social media platforms.
“While the 2019 general elections were meant to serve as an avenue to elect good people to lead us, we sacrificed competence on the altar of mediocrity, ethnicity and religion. We refused to ask questions about the candidates with a clear vision who would champion the much needed transformation of the country. We forgot to look for the people who would turn our socio-economic fortunes for the better.
“Contrary to expectations, the initial postponement of the poll by INEC few hours to its commencement did not deter the voters, they came out to vote. However, many Nigerians said the outcome of the polls dashed their hopes because it did not truly reflect their wishes. Sadly, this negatively affected the voters’ turnout during the governorship and state house of assembly elections. Many were discouraged from voting again, leading to widespread apathy.
“Again, because politicians and their political parties were busy with campaigns of blackmail against one another, public awareness about their party logos, manifestoes as well as their candidates contesting in the various elections were not given the pride of place. Hence, the electorate knew next to nothing about the over 90 political parties and their candidates. These reflected in the high numbers of rejected or cancelled votes recorded during the elections.” He added that another disturbing issue about the elections which should concern Nigerians was “the delayed announcement of results.
According to him, “Prior to the polls, there were incidents of people induced with material things and money which cut across all political parties. There were alleged cases of people selling their PVCs for N10,000 while others were induced with packets of Maggi and salt, just to mention few.”
Despite the apparent apathy during the March 9 election, the figures churned out at the collation centre for the governorship election were intimidating as they were higher than those recorded during the Presidential election which had massive turnout of voters.
All is now set for the governorship rerun as the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP involved in the race have tied all loose ends in anticipation of clinching the seat at the end of the day.
On the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the electoral umpire had been busy putting its house in order to ensure early takeoff and a smooth exercise and not leaving anything to chance, while the collaboration with security agencies has been strengthened for a hitch-free supplementary election.
Although the two contending parties have claimed the affected areas for the supplementary election as their strongholds, they have not taken anything for granted as they court the electorate for their votes.
Taking into consideration, the earlier results announced by INEC which saw the APC candidate, Governor Simon Lalong leading with 44,929 votes and the number of cancelled votes standing at 49,377, the PDP had more work to do to overturn the table but pundits doubt if such feat could be achieved going by the intensive manner the ruling party APC went about seeking the less than 4,000 votes needed to coast to victory.
Reports had it that the APC supporters had invaded Mangu, (the local government area of the incumbent Deputy Governor, Sonni Tyoden and the PDP’s Useni’s running mate, James Dalok) which has the highest number of cancelled votes of 25,035, campaigning but the PDP has accused its rival of buying votes with gifts which they alleged were shared to electorate in the affected areas.
As it is, the APC has 583,255, the PDP polled 538,326 and despite the margin, Senator Jeremiah Useni, the PDP governorship candidate who kept promising the people of serving a single tenure in office believed he could still emerge victorious, cautioning that he would not accept any form of rigging.
According to him, “As the flag bearer of our party, I did not expect an inconclusive conclusion; the Plateau PDP State Campaign Council, stakeholders and all supporters of the PDP worked very hard for an outright win; The results released by INEC showed that PDP maintained very good scores across all the LGAs; this is in spite of the widespread thumb printing, vote-buying and outright intimidation by some security men who had absolutely no business with the election.
“In one instance, I personally went out to Tudun Wada Collation Center and freed
voters who were made to lie down on the ground by some Security men; Civil servants and our traditional rulers were threatened to either deliver to APC or lose their jobs or be dethroned; votes were simply allocated to APC or bought with large sums of money; In some places PDP supporters were not allowed to vote, or their votes were torn to pieces.
“The card readers were not used in many polling units while in some units they were reported even stolen, results were declared without any regard to the choices of the people who voted; elections have never been this bad in Nigeria in general and in Plateau State in particular. It is no wonder that we are having a re-run for nine local government areas in the State.
“I salute the people of Plateau for their brave stance for democracy; I promised the people of Plateau that I would stand by them and protect their votes; I also cautioned that I would not accept rigging. Today, I still stand by my words; I cannot turn my back now when we are coasting home to victory. My candidature is aimed at restoring our lost glory as a people and state.
“I want to assure the people of Plateau that I am still very much in the race, and I will lead in the most responsible manner; I want to assure the People that I will only spend one tenure of four years, because I believe it is not a matter of how long you stay in office but how much you can do within a short time; I therefore call on our stakeholders and supporters to stand taller and even stronger than before as we approach the supplementary election.”
As the supplementary election takes place today, the question on everyone’s lips is which of the two major political parties will carry the day. The two parties are confident of victory and their supporters are all over the social media accusing one another of unscrupulous acts aimed at winning the election.
Bauchi: Incumbent faces herculean task
By Charles Agwam – Bauchi
Since the announcement of the rerun elections in Bauchi state by INEC, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have employed various tactics to woo voters in areas where the re-run will hold, especially in Tafawa Balewa local government, which will, to a large extent play a major role in deciding who becomes the next governor of Bauchi State.
In the past few days, a number of groups in the state have been agitated over the turn of events that have been associated with the governorship election in the state, especially with regards to an order stopping collation of Tafawa Balewa local government results by a Federal High Court in Abuja
Already, there have been series of protests and counter protests in Bauchi. There were those who argued that PDP’s Bala Mohammed should be declared winner of the election, while others in support of the governor said they wanted Bauchi local government results cancelled over allegation of election malpractice.
Tafawa Balewa local government has registered voters of about 139,000. Incidentally, it is one of the local government areas that form the constituency of Yakubu Dogara, Speaker House of Representatives, who is a front line campaigner of the candidate of the PDP, Bala Mohammed. The area is also known to be a strong base for the PDP as the people have voted massively for the party’s candidates since 1999.
Governor Muhammed Abubakar is however not relenting in wooing voters in that area. In addition to campaigning for votes in the area, there were unconfirmed reports that the people of Tafawa Balewa area have been receiving trailer loads of gifts including motor bikes, cars, cash, etc from the governor in the last few weeks in the anticipation that a rerun poll will be conducted in the area.
PDP on the other hand, is counting on its popularity in the area, and the people’s anger against the governor over an interview he reportedly granted a national newspaper where he was quoted as saying that “Tafawa Balewa and other local government areas forming the Speaker’s constituency are irrelevant” to his reelection bid. He was further quoted as saying that “Yakubu Dogara is a light weight politician. I didn’t need him to be elected governor in 2015 and I won’t need him now to be reelected as governor of Bauchi State.”
The statement attributed to the governor, which was allegedly made in December 2018, four months before the event at Tafawa Balewa local government, may influence how the electorate in the area will vote today if the rerun holds.
Aside Tafawa Balewa result which is still pending in court, the cumulative cancelled votes from other local government areas stand at 22,759 while Bala Mohammed is already leading by 4,059 votes against the incumbent governor, Muhammed Abubakar.
INEC told newsmen, Thursday, that they will go ahead with the rerun elections in other local government areas today pending the decision of the court on Tafawa Balewa local government area.
All eyes on Kano as parties embark on prayer sessions
By Abdulmumin Murtala, Kano
Of the six states across the country where governorship supplementary elections are scheduled to hold today, more attention is being focused on Kano as it is seen as the stronghold of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
During the last Presidential election, the party got 1,464,768 representing 74.6 % of the total votes while the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP polled 391,593 getting only 20%
The ruling APC in the state was confident of winning the governorship election following the figures the party secured at the presidential election. The incumbent governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, who is also the APC governorship candidate boasted in an interview with newsmen that he was confident of getting more votes than President Buhari in Kano.
What followed was the exact opposite as the PDP candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf emerged winner of the inconclusive election as he got 1,014,474 votes while the APC candidate had 987,810 votes. PDP candidate is therefore leading with a margin of 26,655
The result was from the 44 local government areas of the state out of which results from 234 polling units with 141,694 registered voters were cancelled. It was clear that the APC wanted the rerun due to its low performance in the March 23 election although it won the election in 25 of the 44 Local Government Areas leaving the PDP with only 19. In areas where the PDP won, it led the APC by a wide margin while in other areas where the APC had the upper hand, it defeated the PDP by narrow margin.
It will not be wrong therefore to say that the rerun is also an opportunity for the PDP to re-strategize and see how it can make up the 26,655 difference and also be able to defeat the APC.
Following the disruption of the voting process in Nasarawa Local Government Area, the INEC insisted on regenerating results of 10 out of the 11 wards from its other sources leaving out Gama ward which has the largest number of polling units. The PDP had insisted on getting the Gama result regenerated but the INEC insisted on cancellation. The PDP was not pleased with that decision insisting that elections were conducted, the results were available and should be included in the total votes and not canceled. During an attack on the collation centre, someone got hold of the result and took it to the police while the police submitted it to INEC. The electoral umpire however decided to cancel the result because it did not get to it through the right channel.
Initially there was tension in the state after the cancellation which was doused by some stakeholders in the state which include the police commissioner Muhammad Wakil, the Emir of Kano Muhammad Sanusi II, Bashir Tofa as well as the leader of the Kwankwasiyya Movement Sen Rabiu Kwankwaso.
They all appealed to the people to maintain peace and await the rerun.
The CP issued a statement saying that he would not compromise his apolitical stance in the election adding that the law will take its course against anyone who engages in acts that could breach the conduct of the election no matter his position in the state.
There was a rumor that the ruling APC has interest in the election and that some leading members of the party would arrive Kano to rig the rerun election.
In a weekly radio chat, Sen Kwankwaso warned that Kano was not like other states that they could just enter and change result of elections. He said “whosoever does that will have Kano youths and patriots to contend with”. The police were also said to have arrested some individuals who were accused of buying PVCs from members of the public.
Meanwhile, just a few days to the rerun election, the APC led government has embarked on a road construction project at the Gama ward of the Nasarawa LGA and dug boreholes for the community.
Gama ward is very strategic for the APC in the rerun election because the ward alone has 63 of the 234 polling units in 30 LGA where the rerun election will be held. Gama ward is however a PDP stronghold. Majority of the places where the rerun will take place are mainly PDP dominated areas that witnessed violence resulting in cancellations.
In preparations for the rerun today, PDP have embarked upon daily peaceful processions in different parts of the state and have also engaged in public prayer sessions and sacrifices. The APC, on its part has also staged peaceful processions calling for peace in the state before, during and after the election.
Game is up for APC in Benue — Ortom
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Today, in Benue state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, will be going into a historic rerun or rescheduled election to elect a governor for the state after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared the March 9 governorship election inconclusive.
At the end of that election and collation of results, the Gubernatorial Returning Officer, Prof. Sabastine Maimako declared the election inconclusive on the premise that the margin of lead between the front runner Governor Samuel Ortom of PDP and his closest rival Mr. Emmanuel Jime of the APC which was 81,554 was less than 121,019 being the figure of registered voters in 204 Polling Units, PUs, in Wards where elections were either cancelled or did not hold.
Governor Ortom of PDP had polled 410,576 votes ahead of Jime who garnered 329,022 votes.
Latest information from the umpire body indicated that the elections would hold in 22 out of the 23 local government areas, LGAs excluding Katsina/Ala local government area.
The LGA where the election will hold are Makurdi, Guma, Buruku, Tarka, Okpokwu, Otukpo, Ogbadibo, Ukum, Logo and Kwande LAGs. Others are Oju, Obi, Ohimini, Agatu, Apa, Ado, Konshisha, Vandeikya, Gwer West, Gwer East, Gboko and Ushongo LGAs.
Perhaps of significance is the fact that of the disenfranchised 121,019 registered voters in the 22 LGAs, 109,733 of the eligible voters have Permanent Voters Card, PVCs.
Suffice it to state here that this statistics clearly places the PDP candidate on a better stead to coast home victorious because a close look at the votes so far garnered by the candidates indicates that while Governor Ortom would require about 19,000 votes to dust Jime, the APC candidate requires about 100,000 votes to win.
It is therefore left to be seen how APC intends to stage a come back in the quest which not a few pundits believe has been won and lost. No doubt several APC stalwarts have been expressing so much confidence that the table could be turned in their favour, it is however left to be seen how the mountainous lead of the PDP could be leveled to allow an APC resurgence.
Instructively, from the records of the last election in the state, local government areas that are expected to churn out large number of votes like Okpokwu, Konshisha, Vandeikya Guma, Gboko and Buruku are known strongholds the of PDP but the APC would certainly put up a fight to record a good showing in those areas.
Undoubtedly, Governor Ortom would be fighting for his political life in this election and would no doubt deploy all his political arsenal to secure a second term which obviously would not come easy like previous second term bids of past Benue governors.
Speaking on the chances of the top two contenders, the Convener of the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP, Comrade Joe Bukka said he had expected the APC candidate to concede defeat and congratulate Governor Ortom.
Bukka said, “from the onset I told you that Ortom would win the election. I am not saying that Ortom has met all the expectations of Benue people as their Governor but when I felt the pulse of the people I knew that they would rally round the Governor for the singular fact that he stood up for them when it looked like the state would be overrun by armed herdsmen.
“Look, irrespective of the political party the Benue man belongs, when it comes to the herdsmen killings the average Benue man is touched and he believes that Ortom has done well in that regard and should be compensated with a second term, that is the truth of the matter.
“As for the rescheduled election, how on earth do you expect that a party that is down by over 80,000 votes will stage a comeback, how possible can that be?
“You can only achieve that where you are able to record about 100 per cent voter turnout in a rerun but from available records no where in the world has any electoral process recorded that magnitude of turnout, even the last election never recorded up to 50 percent turn out so how would they achieve that?
“The fact is that if the election records anything near that, then INEC would have to explain to the world because it would be a clear case of manipulation and it would rubbish everything that INEC stands for and it would obviously lead to the end of democracy in this country because the issue of compromise on the part of the umpire body becomes an issue of discussion in the country and beyond.”
Also speaking, the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Benue state Governor, Mr, Terver Akase said, “there is no chance for the APC in the rescheduled election. Governor Ortom would extend his lead on Saturday because the APC candidate has not even canvassed for the remaining votes since INEC announced the supplementary election.
“APC knows that the game is up and the party has apparently given up on the race, which is why they have resorted to blackmail of the church, I am sure you have noticed the attacks on the church and the traditional institution in the state. They have taken a heavy swipe at the traditional rulers, the Tor Tiv who is the Chairman of the Traditional institution in the state and other traditional rulers. They have been attacking them in the last one week. Even this morning they launched a heavy attack on the church, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN in Benue state after the church called on all parties in the contest to eschew violence in the election.
“We don’t know why the APC came hard on the church calling leaders of CAN unprintable names. So for us we feel that they know that the game is up and they have given up on the race that is why they have resorted to attacks on Governor Ortom and every other stakeholder in the state.
“It is very unfortunate but we are waiting for the official declaration of Governor Ortom after the election because we are sure of extending the over 81,000 votes across the 204 PUs in the 22 LGAs of the state. We have gone to each of the PUs to solicit for votes and the electorates have expressed their willingness to vote Governor Ortom for a second term on Saturday.”
On his part, the State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. James Ornguga said, “our chances are very bright as usual. I have always told you that in a free and fair election in Benue state no party can defeat the APC in the state. So we are positive and upbeat about our chances.”