By Omoshola Deji
Governing a state in Nigeria is equivalent to, or more demanding than, ruling some countries in Africa and the world. For instance, the Governor of Lagos State has about 20 million persons to cater for, while the President of Togo and Denmark have just about 6 and 8 million people under their watch. In matured democracies, the rigours of providing credible leadership dissuade people from contesting, but that is not the case in Nigeria because politics is very rewarding. Over 90 political parties, represented by over a thousand candidate, are seeking the mandate to govern Nigeria’s 29 (out of 36) state for the next four years on March 9. This piece foretells the outcome of the election in all the states. All the states? Yes! All the 29 states where governorship elections will hold.
Nigeria has 36 states, but 7 states governorship elections are off-cycle. The court ordered the swearing-in of the rightful poll winners when persons who were returned elected via electoral fraud has already started governing. The court also ordered that the winners four-year term had to start counting from the date they were sworn-in. Thus, an election will not hold in Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Bayelsa, Kogi, Ekiti, and Osun States. The uneven dates only affect the governorship poll as the State House of Assembly election — which is usually conducted simultaneously with the governorship — will be holding in all the 36 states.
Independently foretelling the right outcome of governorship elections in 29 states is an uneasy, nearly impossible task. Nonetheless, the Pundit is taking up the challenge and targeting to make the right prediction in over 20 states. Send in the awards and ensure this make the headings if the writer sails through.
Ardent followers of the writer’s work need no induction, but the customary introduction and clarification need to be reechoed at this point for the first-timers. The writer, subsequently titled Pundit, is Nigeria’s election result Nostradamus. Foretelling election’s outcome is a reflection of his political analysis prowess, not an endorsement of any party or candidate. The accuracy of his past forecasts has attracted the media and many Nigerians, home and abroad, to look out for his prediction during elections. Foretelling an election outcome doesn’t mean the Pundit has access to one sacred information or the election-winning strategy of any candidate. Assessing candidates’ fortes and flaws to foretell the winner is a common practice in developed nations. This doesn’t mean the pundits are demeaning the electoral process or influencing the election results. Nigerians have already decided who they’ll cast their votes for and nothing – not this prediction – can easily change their minds.
The Pundit wishes to provide an in-depth analysis of the election victory determinants in the 29 states (where governorship election will be conducted), but doing so will make this piece as long as a book. Taking the readers time and convenience into consideration, the Pundit would succinctly analyze the dynamics that’ll determine the outcome of the governorship poll in each state and foretell the winner. For easy grasp and reference, the analysis would be done per state according to the nation’s geopolitical zones. The six zones that constitute Nigeria are the North West (7 states), North East (6 states), North Central (6 states plus the Federal Capital Territory), South-South (6 states), South West (6 states), and the South-East (5 states).
Governorship elections will hold in all the 7 North West states, including Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa, and Zamfara State.
Kano State: The election is a two-horse race between Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr Abba Yusuf of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Kano is APC’s stronghold and the PDP recently had a major setback. On Monday, 4 March, 2019, a Federal High Court in Kano nullified Yusuf’s candidacy, citing the failure of the PDP to properly conduct its primary. Kano State has three main power bloc, each controlled by Governor Ganduje and ex-Governors Ibrahim Shekarau and Rabiu Kwankwaso. Ganduje and Shekarau are in the APC. The political weight of Kwankwaso would only earn PDP substantial votes, not a win. The recent corruption allegation against Ganduje will have no effect on his reelection. APC will win.
Katsina State: The state is relatively a one-party state with the APC holding sway. High profile defections such as that of ex-Deputy Governor Abdullahi Faskari has weakened PDP’s capacity in the state. The PDP candidate, Senator Yakubu Lado is currently not in the best form to defeat Governor Aminu Masari, the APC candidate. Katsina is President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state and his influence will give APC a landslide victory in the state.
Kaduna State: Governor Nasir El-Rufai of the APC is facing PDP’s Isah Asiru who is a political heavyweight. APC is strong in the state, but not as before. El-Rufai’s intolerance of criticisms and arrogance has brought about a strained relationship between him and political bigwigs such as Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and Senator Shehu Sani. This won’t deny APC a win. El-Rufai has regained strength with the recent defection of Mohammed Sidi and his over 50,000 followers into the APC. El-Rufai and his running mate are Muslims. This would make him accrue less votes in the Christian dominated Southern Kaduna area. The governorship election is going to be a tight race, but APC would win the state.
Kebbi State: Isa Galaudu of the PDP is contesting against Governor Abubakar Bagudu of the APC. Kebbi is APC’s stronghold and many PDP bigwigs have defected to the party, making it stronger than it was in 2015. APC will win the state by a wide margin.
Sokoto State: Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP is confronting his former deputy, Ahmad Aliyu of the APC. Tambuwal, who defected from APC to PDP in August 2018 is fighting a supremacy battle with Aliyu Wammako, the ex-Governor and godfather of Sokoto politics. Ahmad Aliyu’s refusal to defect with Tambuwal earned him the reward of becoming the APC candidate. 252 of Tambuwal’s appointees also refused to defect with him to the PDP. On the other hand, there have been some high profile defections into the APC. Tambuwal will lose the upcoming election. APC’s Ahmad Aliyu will win, but with a small margin.
Jigawa State: Governor Mohammad Badaru of the APC will defeat Mallam Aminu Ibrahim of the PDP. Jigawa is terrifically dominated by the APC and many bigwigs recently abandoned the PDP. They include two governorship aspirants Aliyu Santali and Tijjani Kiyawa. Ex-Governor Ali Sa’ad Birnin-Kudu and former commissioners who served under the then PDP administration of Sule Lamido have also joined the APC. Almost all the political heavyweights in Jigawa are in the APC. The PDP and other parties are currently weak, APC will win.
Zamfara State: The APC in Zamfara has been bedevilled by serious intraparty crisis lately. The outgoing Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, is up against the Kabir Marafa faction over who should fly APC flags in the elections. After intense legal battles, the Abuja Court of Appeal recently delivered judgment in favor of the Yari faction. The two contending factions claimed to have reconciled but there’s still deep animosity in the party. PDP’s Bello Matawalle would profit immensely from the intraparty crisis. The incessant genocidal killings by bandits have also made the ruling APC lose the support of most affected persons and areas. The PDP would most likely win Zamfara by a small margin.
The six states in the region are Edo, Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom State. Edo and Bayelsa State governorship elections are off-cycle. The South-South region is one of the major strongholds of the PDP. The APC is foreseen not to win any of the states, including Akwa Ibom. PDP will record a number of landslide victories.
Delta State: Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP is running against Great Ogboru of the APC. The longstanding power rotation/zoning formula in the state will help Okowa win. Between 1999 and now, James Ibori from the Urhobo region governed the state for two terms (1999-2007). Emmanuel Uduaghan from Warri South also spent two-term (2007-2015). Okowa from Delta North is in his first term and seeking reelection to spend another. The godfather of Delta politics, James Ibori, is backing Okowa’s candidacy. APC’s Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who got reelected into the Senate is strong in the Delta Central region, but his capacity is not strong enough to earn Ogboru victory. PDP’s Okowa will win the election.
Rivers State: Governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP is coasting to victory as the Supreme Court has banned the main opposition APC from participating in the election. APC members were planning to support Dunno Briggs of the Accord Party but the court also nullified his candidacy. Members of the APC led by ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi later resolved to adopt the African Action Congress (AAC) candidate, Biokpomabo Awara. AAC is the party of popular presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore. It is almost certain that PDP’s Nyesom Wike will win the election.
Cross River: Governor Ben Ayade of the PDP will win the election. On Tuesday, 5 March, 2019, a High Court in Calabar ordered the electoral umpire to delist APC candidates from participating in the governorship and House of Assembly elections. This seals PDP’s victory in the state.
Akwa Ibom: Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP is facing Mr Nsima Nkere of the APC. Ex-Governor Akpadio’s ‘uncommon defection’ from the PDP would not earn APC a win in this poll. The party is fast gaining ground but needs to do more to establish itself and be accepted by the masses across the state. It would take some years of relentless hard work for APC to make significant inroads in Akwa Ibom. Both parties will engage in vote buying during the election, but PDP’s Emmanuel will win.
The region comprises of six states including Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Taraba and Gombe State.
Adamawa State: Governor Jibrilla Bindo of the APC is facing the state’s ex-Speaker and Acting Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP. Adamawa is the home state of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. The APC has been struggling to cope with the crisis that sprung up after Bindo clinched the governorship ticket. His emergence is being challenged by bigwigs such as Babachir Lawal, Nuhu Ribadu, Murtala Nyako and Modibbo Ahmed, the brother of Aisha Buhari, wife of the President. The APC is engulfed in crises while the PDP remains united and gaining support. Governorship candidates of 10 little known political parties in the state recently endorsed PDP’s Fintiri. The Pundit predicts a narrow win for PDP in the state.
Yobe State: Alhaji Mai Mala Buni of the APC is running against Amb. Umar Damagun of the PDP. Yobe is an APC stronghold and a one-party state. The mass defection of PDP members into the APC has further strengthened the party. APC will win the governorship poll by a wide margin.
Borno State: is another major stronghold of the APC in the North East. Babagana Zullum of the APC is facing Mohammed Imam of the PDP. APC will win the state by a wide margin.
Bauchi State: PDP’s Senator Bala Mohammed is seeking to wrestle power from Governor Mohammed Abubakar of the APC. The Governor has been struggling to hold the party together after bigwigs like the House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara left the APC for PDP and got reelected in the just concluded national assembly election. Dogara’s defection won’t affect APC’s win. The high profile defections of ex-Governors Adamu Muazu and Isa Yuguda into APC has made the party more formidable. PDP’s Bala Mohammed is a strong candidate, the race is going to be tight, but APC would win the state.
Taraba State: Alhaji Sani Danladi of the APC is contesting against Governor Darius Ishaku of the PDP. Taraba is PDP’s major stronghold in the North East. The party have been governing the state from 1999 to date. Influential Buhari critic, General TY Danjuma is backing the PDP. Mama Taraba who gave PDP a tough contest in 2015 is no longer in the APC. What is more, Danladi has been largely distracted trying to defend his candidacy in court. A Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, the state capital, disqualified his candidacy less than a week to the election. The Appeal Court later swiftly granted a stay of execution of the High Court order to enable Danladi to participate in the race. This won’t repair the damage already caused. Danladi would be defeated by Ishaku of the PDP.
Gombe State: The election is a two horse race between Usman Nafada of the PDP and Inuwa Yahaya of the APC. In no small measure, APC has grown strong in the state, despite being the opposition. The incumbent and outgoing governor Ibrahim Dakwambo recently lost his senatorial election. The governorship poll would be a keenly contested one as never witnessed in the history of the state. PDP’s Nafada would fight hard to win, but he would be defeated by APC’s Yahaya.
The five states in the region are Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo state. Anambra governorship election is off-cycle. Excluding Imo State, the South East region has been quite impenetrable for the APC. PDP will win big in the region.
Abia State: The governorship election is a clash of the Titans. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the PDP, Alex Otti of APGA and Uche Ogah of the APC are struggling to govern the state. Despite winning his senatorial election, ex-Governor Orji Kalu’s APC structure in the state is not strong enough to earn Uche Ogar a win in the governorship election. Alex Otti will score an appreciable number of votes but lose. PDP’s Ikpeazu will be reelected.
Enugu State: The state has remained a PDP stronghold since 1999. The governorship position has always been won by the PDP. Not that alone, almost all the elective positions from 1999 to date have been won by the PDP. Senator Ayogu Eze of the APC will be defeated by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of the PDP.
Ebonyi State: The election is a two horse race between Governor David Umahi of the PDP and Sonni Ogbuoji of the APC. Both men are strong candidates, but the internal wrangling in the APC has incredibly diminished Ogbuoji’s chance. Umahi of the PDP will win the election.
Imo State: is the only state APC controls in the South East, but Governor Rochas Okorocha is supporting a candidate different from that of his party. Intraparty crisis had made the APC an enemy of itself in Imo State. Uche Nwosu, the candidate of Action Alliance has the backing of Okorocha, who just won a senatorial election under the platform of the APC. Moving on without Okorocha’s support, APC’s Hope Uzodinma is banking on federal might. Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP is relying on his vast connection and grassroots mobilization. The Imo 2019 governorship election is too close to call. The battle is mainly between PDP and AA. The Pundit predicts a low margin win for PDP’s Ihedioha.
The region also called the Middle Belt, comprises of six states, including Kogi, Benue, Kwara, Niger, Nassarawa and Plateau State. The governorship election in Kogi State is off-cycle.
Benue State: The lingering supremacy battle between Governor Samuel Ortom and the godfather of Benue politics, ex-Governor George Akume will not end Ortom’s reign. The Governor who is seeking reelection under the PDP has vast grassroots support. He won the peoples heart when he challenged the federal government to end the wanton destruction of lives and properties allegedly being perpetrated by herdsmen in the state. APC’s Emmanuel Jime will, most certainly, be defeated by PDP’s Ortom.
Kwara State: is going, going, going, and would be gone on March 9. Bukola Saraki’s political dynasty would be swept away by hurricane ‘o to ge’ – the APC campaign mantra meaning ‘enough is enough’. Saraki’s anointed and PDP’s candidate, Rasak Atunwa will lose the election to APC’s AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq.
Niger State: The people of Niger State are again presented with the two main choices they had in 2015. Governor Abubakar Bello of the APC and Mr Umar Nasko of the PDP are familiar rivals. Nasko is making a return to knock out Bello, but he will be defeated again. Bello will be reelected.
Nassarawa State: the election is a three horse race between Labaran Maku of APGA, David Ombugadu of the PDP and Abdullahi Sule of the APC. Maku would make a good appearance at the polls to come third. The gold prize is between APC’s Sule and PDP’s Ombugadu. One major setback for Ombugadu is that he and Maku are from the same region. Efforts to convince Maku to step down for him has fallen on deaf ears. This is a blessing for APC’s Sule as the votes of the region would be shared and thus become insubstantial to earn PDP or APGA a win. One major plus for Sule is that he has a large pocket. He is a former staff and candidate of Aliko Dangote in the Nassarawa governorship race. Sule has also been able to establish himself in the grassroots and win many political bigwigs over to his camp. He also enjoys the immense support of outgoing Governor Tanko Al-Makura. Victory is almost certain for Abdullahi Sule of the APC.
Plateau State: The poll is going to be a keenly contested race between Governor Simon Lalung of the APC and Senator Jeremiah Useni of the PDP. One crucial setback for the APC is that the majority of the population are dissatisfied with President Buhari’s handling of the herdsmen invasion and killings in the state. They believe Buhari is unconcerned about their welfare and handling the insecurity with kid gloves. On the other side, the intraparty crisis will affect PDP considerably. The win won’t come easy, but PDP’s Useni will come top.
Governorship election would be conducted in only three (Oyo, Ogun, Lagos) out of the six states in the region. Ondo, Osun and Ekiti States governorship election is off-cycle.
Oyo State: The poll is a two horse race between Seyi Makinde of the PDP and Bayo Adelabu of the APC. The population are confused about who to vote, because of the several political alignment and realignment going on in the state. Ajimobi’s unexpected senatorial election defeat largely created the confusion. Aside from his serial uncouth orations, Ajimobi’s problem began during the APC primary in the state. He hijacked the process and make sure his anointed candidates emerged, relegating the ex-Governor Lam Adeshina’s group. Ajimobi denied Senator Akanbi the party’s ticket despite his loyalty of not hobnobbing with the Sarak camp in the Senate. Akanbi recently defected back to the APC, after Ajimobi lost the senatorial election of the ticket the former was denied.
Ajimobi’s recent electoral defeat rattled the APC to embark on massive political campaign, spending, and horse-trading. The party recently convinced ex-Governor Alao Akala to drop his governorship ambition and endorse Adelabu. On the other hand, PDP’s Seyi Makinde won the endorsement of ex-Governor Rasheed Ladoja and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress. The poll is going to be keenly contested and the last minute’s permutation could earn any of the main candidates a win. The Pundit safely predicts the emergence of APC’s Adelabu.
Ogun State: The election is a contest between the high and the mighty. Some of them are PDP’s Buruji Kashamu, APC’s Dapo Abiodun, APM’s Adekunle Akinlade and ADC’s Gboyega Isiaka. Governor Ibikunle Amosun who just won a senatorial election under the APC is strongly supporting his anointed successor: APM’s Akinlade. Amosun’s decision is not unconnected with the APC’s decision to hand over the party’s ticket to Dapo Abiodun. Like in Imo State, the fallout of the primary has made APC an enemy of itself in Ogun State. A lot of last-minute endorsement and permutation is going on in the state and it’s quite different to state where the pendulum would swing. Almost all the main candidates have something to fight for. Buruji is trying to prove his worth, having fallen out with the national leadership of his party, the PDP. APC’s Abiodun is fronting the ex-Governor Segun Osoba and Senator Bola Tinubu’s revenge battle against Amosun. And Amosun is fighting not to drown politically. The election is going to be keenly contested and there would be no landslide victory. The Pundit predicts the emergence of APM’s Akinlade.
Lagos State: The poll is a two horse race between APC’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu and PDP’s Jimi Agbaje. ADP’s Babatunde Gbadamosi is brilliant and resourceful, but he stands no chance in this election. Sanwo-Olu would win because Jimi Agbaje is not strategic. He only shows up during election season and his campaigns have been quite unimpressive. People who’ll vote for him are those who are self-convinced that Tinubu’s has overstayed his welcome in Lagos politics. Agbaje’s ‘freedom’ message has not convinced Lagosians of why the state needs freedom. His words are not as punchy as expected despite APC’s several shortcomings. On the other hand, Sanwo-Olu has campaigned vigorously and reached out to virtually everyone that matters. He is on almost every radio and TV trying to convince people that he his independent-minded and this would earn him votes. APC would lose Lagos, but not in 2019, maybe in 2023. Sanwo-Olu will win the upcoming election, but he can’t perform up to expectations. He will use the larger part of the state’s resources to be paying debts of gratitude to the APC highs and godfather.
The fear of losing the election and eagerness to be in Tinubu’s good book would make APC thugs intimidate voters and snatch ballot boxes in PDP strongholds. Their excesses would make the election rough, unfree, unfair and un-credible in the state.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via email@example.com