Guber Polls: Key contests, battleground states

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If the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly election was dramatic, the Gubernatorial Elections coming up today are expected to be sensational. Unlike the presidential election, which is conducted across all 36 states and the FCT, the governorship elections will be conducted in 29 states. There are no governorship elections in 7 states; Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Bayelsa, Edo, Anambra and Kogi.

The local nuances of issues and political activities in different states make these elections quite dynamic.

Today’s Echo examines the states that present the most dynamic contests and who will likely win them

Kwara

Kwara is the field for a tough contest between a Bukola Saraki dynasty that is battling to survive the biggest challenge to its supremacy and the Tinubu dynasty that is hellbent on displacing it.

Initially, APC seemed to have lost the state already with the defection of the godfather of Kwara politics, Bukola Saraki alongside the governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed in 2018.

However, the slogan, ‘O to ge’, meaning ‘It is enough’ has pervaded the fabrics of Kwara politics, sweeping out Bukola Saraki from his senate seat and clinching the state for the APC in the presidential election. Even Bukola sister, Gbemisola has joined the ranks of those who want to displace her brother.

The top governorship contestants in the state are APC’s AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and PDP candidate: Hon. Razak Atunwa, who is seen as a crony of Bukola Saraki.

Verdict: APC

2. Adamawa

Adamawa presents a tough contest because it is the home state of the PDP presidential candidate; Atiku Abubakar. Moreover, the two main contestants for the guber election are seasoned politicians. PDP’s Hon Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri is battling to displace Governor Jibrilla Bindow of the APC, who emerged winner in 2015 on the back of Buhari’s popularity in the North.

The farmers-herdsmen clashes and other ethno-religious conflicts have hit the state severely in addition to the return of Boko Haram in some Christian areas.

Since 2015, APC’s fortune has dwindled in the state as opposition grows. PDP clinched two out of the three senatorial seats in the state in the last national elections.

Verdict: PDP

3. Sokoto

It will be interesting to watch how events unfold in Sokoto, the seat of the Caliphate

The current governor and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal who is seeking re-election, defected to PDP last year.

However, Tambuwal, who is seeking a second term, may just be regretting his decision as the PDP lost the state during the presidential election. There are also rumours that he has gone to beg the former governor and APC leader in Sokoto, Senator Aliyu Wammako as massive defections hit the PDP in the state.

Tambuwal’s major opponent is his former Deputy, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu, who is flying APC’s flag.

Verdict: APC

4. Ogun

Ogun state presents one of the most dynamic contests of the most interesting contests of the 2019 gubernatorial elections because of the number of strong contenders.

The incumbent governor, Ibikunle Amosun has refused to support the APC candidate, Dapo Abiodun, whom he believes was forced on the state by the party leadership under Bola Tinubu and Adams Oshiomole.

He has thrown his weight behind Abiodun Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM)

Then there is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) represented at the moment by Buruji Kashamu, whom many party members view as a usurper. The party leadership see Ladi Adebutu, a member of the House of Representatives as the authentic candidate of the party but cannot do anything to Kashamu at the moment because of his victory in court.

Lastly, there is also Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, popularly called GNI, governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). GNI is an election veteran who used to have the support of the Deputy National Director of PDP’s presidential campaign and former Ogun State governor; Gbenga Daniel.

However, the contest became even more complex after Gbenga Daniel declared support for Dapo Abiodun, the APC candidate.

As it stands, Ogun State is free for grabs among the top four contenders but only one will emerge winner.

Verdict: APC

5. Rivers

Rivers is a peculiar case because there is no APC candidate due to internal conflict in the party between the Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and a prominent chieftain, Magnus Abe.

The APC was left with no candidate after a court judgement that nullified the candidacy of Tonye Cole, whom Amaechi had backed to contest against incumbent governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP

Amaechi has reportedly endorsed Awara Biokpomabo, candidate of the Allied Action Congress(AAC) for the gubernatorial election in the state.

Verdict: PDP

6. Lagos

The contest in Lagos is interesting, not just because it is a tough one, but also because of the strategic importance of the state. Lagos State has been dominated by a cabal headed by former governor Bola Tinubu since 1999 and PDP is still figuring how to wrest power from it.

One of the most dramatic points in Lagos politics was the replacement of the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode by a relatively unknown Babajide Sanwo Olu as the APC candidate. Ambode has resigned to fate but many of his supporters’ nurse grievances and may decide to vote for PDP’s Jimi Agbaje, who is a veteran of Lagos politics, having run for 4 times.

It is doubtful if Agbaje can muster enough votes to snatch the state from Tinubu’s stranglehold this time, after the state went narrowly to the APC in the presidential election. Nevertheless, it remains a tough contest.

Verdict: APC

7. Oyo

Oyo is the second largest state in the Yoruba-dominated South-West, after Lagos. It is expected to present one of the most exciting contests of the election. The two major contestants are Seyi Makinde of the PDP and Adegoke Adelabu of APC.

One of the shocking outcomes of the national elections was the loss by the incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who contested for Senate.

Today’s Echo gathers that Ajimobi has lost considerable support in Oyo state, especially in Ibadan, where local people say he has disrespected the traditional ruler. Ajimobi’s travails seem to be rubbing off on the APC and this is affecting the party’s chances at the governorship elections.

APC National leader, Bola Tinubu has moved swiftly to regain the party’s dominance and avoid a humiliating defeat. He has negotiated an agreement with former governor Alao Akala, who has promised to deliver Ogbomoso for the APC. He has also reportedly barred Ajimobi from attending the party’s political campaigns in the state, deciding to personally spearhead the party’s political strategy in the state.

However, Tinubu’s emergency moves may have come a little too late.

Verdict: PDP

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