Battle for governorship seats heats up in States

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The battle for Government Houses in the 2019 elections has begun in earnest with the number of aspirants rising on a daily basis amid loads of promises. Thirty of the 36 States will be involved in the elections. In this first part of a series on the battles that lie ahead, Yusuf Alli, Tony Akowe, Abdulgafar Alabelewe (Kaduna), Adekunle Jimoh (Ilorin), Bisi Oladele (Ibadan), Okungbowa Aiwerie (Asaba), Yusuf Aminu Idegu (Jos), Adamu Suleiman (Sokoto) and Augustine Okezie (Katsina) examine the state of affairs in some of the affected states.

One of the unique features of 2019 polls is the governorship race in 30 of the 36 states of the federation. The number of aspirants is increasing by the day in the various political parties. The aspirants are never in short supply of reasons for aspiring to become governors-call to service, pressure from the people, ability to outperform the incumbents, need to rescue the people from poverty, among others.

Between 1999 and now, the current political dispensation has produced 144 governors, including those that are serving second terms and those who lost out in hi-wire political conspiracy, the worst being the Tsunami of 2003 which swept off the progressives from power during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

It was only in 2015 that the progressives realigned with some conservatives in the country to make a coalition history and gain power at the centre for the first time in the country’s democratic journey.

The constitutional provisions on governorship seat

Sections 176 to 178 of the1999 Constitution provide for the office of a state governor thus: “There shall be for each State of the Federation a Governor. The governor of a state shall be the Chief Executive of that state.

“A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if (a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of thirty-five years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

“An election to the office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“An election to the office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date not earlier than sixty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.

“Where in an election to the office of Governor of a State one of the two or more candidates nominated for the election is the only candidate after the close of nomination, by reason of the disqualification, withdrawal, incapacitation, disappearance or death of the other candidates, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall extend the time for nomination.

“For the purpose of an election under this section a State shall be regarded as one constituency. Every person who is registered to vote at an election of a member of a legislative house shall be entitled to vote at an election to the office of Governor of a State.”

Current outlook

At present, the All Progressives Congress (APC) controls 21 states, followed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is in charge of 14 states (including Ekiti State, recently lost to APC in an election), while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) runs the affairs of only one state.

There will be no governorship election next year in six states, namely Edo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Anambra and Kogi states. The people of Osun will go to the polls on September 22 to elect a new governor to take over from Rauf Aregbesola of the APC.

Why the governorship battle is unique

The 2015 governorship polls reshaped the power equation at the state level with the massive defeat of the PDP, which had ruled for 16 years. The opposition party is now desperate to regain its lost glory and has adopted the merger/alliance strategy of the APC to pay the ruling party back in its own coin. Nigerians will have the opportunity to know whether or not the PDP’s latest option will work.

For any party to control the centre in Nigeria and make any meaningful impact on the masses, it needs to have a majority in the National Assembly and dominate the statutory National Economic Council where strategic decisions affecting the economy are usually taken. Both the PDP and APC administrations have so far enjoyed seamless and robust sessions at the NEC meetings in the past 19 years

Also, for the first time, APC will be facing a score card test before the electorate. The number of states the party is able to secure in 2019 will be a measure of the vote of confidence in it.

Gubernatorial tussle in each state often leads to the emergence of new power brokers and the fight for survival by godfathers.

The status of gubernatorial aspiration in states

KADUNA

No fewer than 16 aspirants across the various political parties have indicated interest in the Kaduna State governorship race, with the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alone having 11 contenders for the party’s ticket. The aspirants cut across the three senatorial zones of the state as there is no written zoning agreement by any of the political parties.

The aspirants are: incumbent Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (APC), immediate past governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (PDP), Mohammed Sani Bello (PDP), Isha Ashiru Kudan (PDP), Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi (PDP), Shuaibu Idris Mikati (PDP), Sani Sidi (PDP), Jonathan Kish Adamu (PDP), Ja’afaru Sa’ad (PDP), Mohammed Kadade (PDP), Bello Kagarko (PDP), Ibrahim Dauda (PDP), Haruna Saed Kajuru (SDP), Weynet Sidi (SDP), Isaac Ango Makama (PRP) and Polycarp Gankon (APGA).

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, the only APC aspirant so far, has not only the party structure in his hand, but also all the instrumentality of government at his disposal. He is clearly the candidate to beat. Rating: Strong (incumbency).

El-Rufai’s predecessor in office, Ramalan Yero of the PDP is a political godson of former Vice President Namadi Sambo. Yero came into political limelight through the former Vice President. Before his appointment as Commissioner for Finance by Sambo, Yero had worked in the former Vice President’s company, Nalada Nigeria Limited, as Chief Accountant. Little wonder he was Sambo’s natural choice as Deputy Governor to the late Patrick Yakowa who was sworn in as governor in May 2010 when his boss, Sambo was picked as Vice President.

The death of Yakowa on December 15, 2012 in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State placed the governance of one of Nigeria’s most complex states in Yero’s hands. He was the candidate of the PDP in the 2015 elections, but was defeated by El-Rufai owing to what observers described as “his lackluster and clueless administration”.

He is said to have since fallen out with Sambo shortly before he left office as governor. He was arraigned alongside three others on September 26, 2015 by the EFCC at the Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna on a four count charge of money laundering. The case is billed to come up on September 26 for hearing.

He said his decision to join the 2019 governorship race was informed by the genuine concern of the people and the numerous calls he received, urging him to contest. He said governance since May 29, 2015 has been a series of half-hearted trials and errors, with disastrous consequences on the people.

“I believe that my humble track record of academic achievements and working experience in both the private and public sectors have earned me tremendous knowledge, skills and capacity to understand the multiple expectations of our people across the state,” he said. Rating: Uncertain.

Isah Ashiru hails from Kudan local government area of Kaduna State. He was elected into the State House of Assembly in 1999 to represent Kudan state constituency. He served for two terms before moving on to the House of Representatives where he also served for two terms representing Kudun/Makarfi federal constituency between 2007 and 2015.

In 2014, he left the PDP for the APC and contested the party’s governorship primaries with Governor El-Rufai and three others. He got 1379 votes to El-Rufai’s 1,965. He was appointed Chairman of the governing council of the University of Benin by the Buhari government.

He is generally seen as one of the major contenders for the PDP ticket and is believed to enjoy the support of prominent PDP stalwarts in the state. He is very close to ex-Governor Ahmed Makarfi and he is from the same local government as Suleiman Hunkuyi who also ditched the APC for the PDP. Rating: Strong.

Sani Sidi was a commissioner in the Mohammed Namadi Sambo government, serving in such ministries as Environment and Natural Resources, Works and Transport and Culture and Tourism from 2007 to 2010.

He was appointed Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in 2010. Originally from Kagarko local government area in the Southern Senatorial District, many southern Kaduna people do not see him as one of them. He is perceived as a political godson of former Vice President Namadi Sambo. He was a special assistant to a former Finance Minister, Mrs.Nenadi Usman between 2003 and 2007. Many also believe that his tenure as the boss of NEMA was meant to prepare him for the governorship seat. He said his decision to run for the position was informed by his passion to rescue Kaduna from total collapse. Rating: Weak

Hunkuyi,a serving senator, was Director-General of Makarfi Campaign Organisation in 1999 and thereafter became Commissioner for Finance. He fell out with Makarfi in 2003 because of his decision to challenge Makarfi for the PDP ticket. He believes his former boss betrayed him by jettisoning an ‘agreement’ between them. He dumped the PDP for the then All Peoples Party (later All Nigeria People’s Party) on whose platform he contested the governorship election. He lost only to return the PDP to contest the 2007 primaries which he lost to Namadi Sambo. He contested the party’s ticket again in 2011, this time against Patrick Yakowa and lost.

He later switched to the APC and was elected Deputy National Organising Secretary. He defeated Senator Makarfi in the 2015 Senatorial election. He is one of the APC defectors, who returned to the PDP recently. He is seen as a grassroots politician and was a close ally of El-Rufai before they fell out and became bitter political rivals. In the heat of his stand-off with El-Rufai, the state government demolished his house for allegedly violating “land use laws”. Government claimed he converted the house to the secretariat of a faction of the APC. He has vowed to ensure that El-Rufai does not return in 2019.

For allegedly instigating the Senate to reject a $350 million World Bank loan sought by the Kaduna state, El-Rufai has also vowed to ensure that none of the three senators from the state returns to the senate on the platform of any party.

Hunkuyi was a teacher before he ventured into politics. He was Chairman of Kudan Local Government during the Babangida transition programme. He was also commissioner for finance during Makarfi’s first term as governor from 1999 to 2003. Rating: Strong.

Jonathan Adamu Kish is the only PDP governorship aspirant yet from Southern Kaduna. Like Ashiru, he was a member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and hails from Kaura Local Government Area, same as the state deputy Governor, Arc. Barnabas Bala Bantex. He is one of the emerging political leaders in the zone. Kish served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice during the administration of the late governor Patrick Yakowa.

Kish said his desire to seek the governorship ticket stemmed from his desire to serve the people. His catchphrase is: “The people, my heart beats”. He said his approach to governance will be totally different with the people as his focus.

“Running for this position is not a decision you take just like that; it requires a lot of extensive consultations, which I have undertaken over the years,” he said.

Kish is confident that the PDP will return to power in Kaduna State in 2019 and has warned El-Rufai to start writing his handover notes.

“This government should start writing its hand over notes. They should prepare to leave, because the citizens of Kaduna State are not happy. We have never been this divided. The government doesn’t seem to have respect for anybody. I do not see how this government could get its mandate extended,” he said in an interview. Rating: Uncertain

Shuaibu Idris Mikati, who is from Birnin Gwari local government, was at a time General Manager in the Dangote Group. Mikati previously sought the governorship ticket in 2007 and 2011 and lost. He boasts of his vast experience in the private sector and wide contacts in the business and corporate world. He said he has ideas that will transform and that only a credible candidate could defeat the incumbent governor.

“I believe I have the goodwill to move Kaduna to greater heights. We should look deep down and see who PDP can present that will match the incumbent in terms of knowledge, intelligence, ability and performance,” Mikati said. Rating: Weak.

Dr. Mohammed Sani Bello served as Commissioner for Science and Technology in the state between 2007 and 2010. He was until recently Financial Controller at the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS). His supporters credit him with standing by the PDP during its crisis period, especially after it lost power in 2015.

They claim he singlehandedly financed the party and made it the vibrant opposition that it is today. Bello promised that he will be the people’s servant, leading a people oriented administration, transparently run on the rule of law and fully accountable to the public.

In declaring his intention to contest the governorship seat, he vowed to “restore peaceful coexistence and provide adequate safety and effective security of lives and property, prioritise economic growth and development for all where everyone has equal access to jobs, regardless of sex, gender, religion, age or physical conditions, pursue increased community cohesion and civic identity through societal re -orientation programmes and representative participation in social, political and cultural spheres.” Rating: Weak

APC, PDP in wait-and-see game in Kwara

The APC and PDP are keeping their strategies for next year’s elections under wraps. It is particularly so in the PDP apparently on account of the recent gale of defections from the APC led by Senate President Bukola Saraki. For now, no one in PDP has indicated interest in the PDP for the governorship seat.

But the decision, if history is anything to go by, will be largely taken by Saraki whose family has handpicked every civilian governor of the state from Adamu Attah to Cornelius Adebayo, Shaaba Lafiagi, Muhammaed Lawal, Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed.

In fact, only members of his camp are now being touted as possible aspirants. They include former Youths and Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, former nPDP chair Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and Speaker of the state House of Assembly Dr Ali Ahmad all of whom are from Kwara central district.

Others are House of Representatives members from Kwara north, Zakari Mohammed and Ahman Patigi. None of these people has come out to deny their link to the insinuations making the rounds.

However, at a meeting with PDP members across the 16 local government areas of the state on Tuesday in Ilorin, Saraki said he does not have any anointed candidate. He promised to consult widely with the people in picking the party’s flag bearer.

Said he: “We will ensure that we work as one party, because we have always worked together before. We will see that all the wards and local governments popular candidates emerge based on their popularity and acceptability.

“I want to emphasis it that I don’t have any anointed candidate at all levels. I don’t have candidates for state Assembly. It is the person you want in your constituency that I will okay. Don’t allow anybody to deceive you that I have endorsed any candidate.

“I implore party leaders and elders not to drop my name to impose unpopular candidates. I don’t have candidate for the National Assembly. All of us will collectively choose who becomes the next governor. We will ensure that there is no faction but one PDP.

“We will ensure that meetings in the local government areas take place in one venue. And we will all work together for the interest of the party. I want to assure you all that as far as I am concerned everybody belongs to one PDP family and there is no favouritism of one man over the other.”

Saraki’s and others’ defections from the APC forced the party to go back to the drawing board. For a start, it plans to conduct fresh congress across the state.

Currently, APC is headed by an interim caretaker committee although the immediate past chair of the party in the state and loyalist of Bukola Saraki, Alhaji Ishola Balogun-Fulani is still laying claim to the seat. He has gone to court to challenge the Bashir Bolarinwa caretaker committee.

This notwithstanding, a number of people are aspiring to pick the party’s governorship ticket.

Among them are a son of the late pioneer chair of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Mustapha Akanbi, Ahmed; ex-University of Ilorin Vice Chancellor Prof. Shuiab Abdulraheem, Alhaji Shuiab Yamman Abdullahi and Abdulfatai Seriki Gambari. Others are founder of an Ilorin based private radio station, Sobi FM.

Posters and banners of all these aspirants have flooded the Ilorin metropolis and other parts of the state.

It’s Masari, nine others in Katsina

The question on the lips of many residents of Katsina State about who can muster the courage and the war chest to upstage Governor Aminu Bello Masari in 2019 is now being answered by the number of those who have indicated their interest in the race so far: nine at the last count. Three of the aspirants are from the APC and six from the PDP.

Consultations by aspirants across the state are intensifying while realignment of forces is growing. From the look of things, the primaries will not be a walk in the park for Masari. Three men are waiting in the wings to challenge him for the party’s ticket. They are Senator Hadji Sirika, Dr. Usman Bugaje and Abdulaziz Musa Yar’Adua.

Hadi Sirika, the current Minister of Aviation, hails from Daura. Indeed, he was elected Senator to represent Katsina North in 2015 only to be picked as minister later by President Buhari. His posters are now all over Daura and observers are watching whether he will buy into the consensus arrangement being proposed by some politicians to allow Masari go for a second term. Rating: Strong

Usman Bugaje is a university lecturer and former House of Representatives member who had contested for the position on at least two occasions. He is from Katsina Local Government area and was originally in the PDP before crossing to the APC.

He is widely respected for his intellect and is reputed for the massive paper work he has done on turning the state into a socio-economic giant in Nigeria. He is quite popular in APC and is reportedly part of a faction group known as AKIDA, within the party.

He however lacks a strong grassroots support base and is not known to have the financial power to last the distance. Rating: Weak

Abdulaziz Yar’Adua, popularly known as ‘’Audu Soja’’ on account of his military background, is a younger brother to the late president Umaru Yar’Adua. He wants to have a fresh go at the governorship race after losing the last time.

He is counting on the family name and he lacks political experience. Rating: Weak.

Aminu Bello Masari, the incumbent is the first governor of the state to be elected from the southern part. He is also the first non-PDP governor of the state since 1999.

He was Speaker, House of Representatives and was a commissioner in the Saidu Barda administration of 1992-93.

He hails from Kafur council area and has the incumbency factor to his advantage as well as a strong followership at the grassroots.

He has a major opposition from within the APC to contend with.This group claims he has failed to meet the expectations of the people. Rating: Strong (incumbency)

From the PDP are: Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke, Umar Abdullahi Tsauri, Abdullahi Garba Faskari, Engr. Musa Nashuni, Mutakka Rabe Darma and Arc. Ahmed Aminu Yar’Adua.

Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke was an avowed member of the Shehu Yar’Adua inspired Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) which fused into the PDP at the formative stage.

He was a councillor in his Kankara hometown before becoming Chairman of the LG. He was also elected into the Senate to represent Funtua zone, and had also served in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He contested the governorship in the past and some people have come to see him as a perennial aspirant. He has a strong war chest and a reasonable followership. However, not much of his political structure is visible. Rating: Uncertain.

Umar Abdullahi Tsauri, popularly known as Tata, hails from Dutsinma, same as former Governor Ibraihim Shehu Shema. His two previous shots at the governorship on the platforms of PDP and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) were unsuccessful.

Tsauri’s strengths include his popularity at the grassroots as well as his war chest. He is believed to have the backing of not a few political heavy weights within and outside the state, with several of them said to have bankrolled his previous attempt to vie for the position. Within the PDP, he is among the more popular aspirants.

In an interview with The Nation at a rally in Malumfashi, he promised to bring his wealth of experience from the civil service, and philanthropy to bear if elected Governor

His weaknesses include lack of political experience as he is not known to have occupied any public office before now. Rating: Strong.

Abdullahi Garba Faskari from Faskari served as deputy to ex-Governor Ibrahim Shema during his second term in office. His bid to go to the National Assembly during the 2015 elections hit the rocks. He is plotting his way back into political reckoning as he is becoming more visible at public functions in his hometown and other parts of the state. Past intrigues that characterized PDP’s process of selecting its governorship candidate in the state might yet work against him. If financial status is anything to go by, his chances of securing the ticket might crash as he is not known to hold weight monetarily. Rating: Weak.

Engr. Musa Nashuni was commissioner for Resource Development during Shema’s reign. He hails from Kankia Local Government area and was ,at a time touted as Shema’s anointed candidate.

With Shema still weighing much influence within the PDP, it would not be a surprise if the former governor decides to support him to contest for the position for a second time.

If Shema supports him,he can count on the support of the PDP executives in the state.

This also translates to a strong war chest since most of the wealthy members of the party are often loyal to the exco. But he has the all pervasive influence of the APC to contend with if he ever gets the PDP ticket. Rating: Weak.

Mutakka Rabe Darma was at different times Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and commissioner in the state. He was also a godson to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He is reported to be currently engaged in programmes that promote youth empowerment in the state, and hails from Katsina local government area.

His charismatic demeanor easily endears him to the youth. Supporters of the late President Yar’Adua may also throw their weight behind him. Rating: Uncertain.

Arc. Ahmed Aminu Yar’Adua, a cousin to the late president Yar’Adua was Secretary to the Government of the State (SGS) during Shema’s first tenure in office.

He was also at a time, Managing Director of the Federal Inland Waterways. He hails from Katsina council area. Like Darma, Aminu has the advantage of enjoying the patronage of the Yar’Adua associates. Apart from his stint as SSG, he has no other political experience. Rating: Weak

APC plots Okowa’s ouster

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not seem to be losing sleep over who will fly its flag in Delta State in next year’s governorship election. The matter looks settled with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa heavily favoured by leaders of the party to for a second term. But the APC, despite its internal ranglings, believes it has what it takes to deny him another four years at the Asaba Government House. The APC is bogged down by its inability to resolve the question of who the authentic chairman of the party is. Closely allied to this is the issue of whether or not to zone the party’s gubernatorial ticket.

The unresolved issues are the reasons for the emergence of the two factions jostling for the control of the party’s structure with the ultimate goal of producing the gubernatorial flag-bearer at the 2019 Delta Sate governorship elections.

Locked in the battle are Olorogun O’tega Emerhor/Enuha versus Senator Ovie Omo-Agege/Ogboru factions. Aligned to the Emerhor’s camp are ex-Speaker Delta State House of Assembly and governorship aspirant, Hon Victor Ochei, Petroleum Minister (State) Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, Prof Pat Utomi, ex- Representative and governorship aspirant Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Chief Hyacinth Enuha, Dr. Leroy Edozien, Hon Doris Uboh, and others.

In the opposing camp are Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Chief Great Ogboru, factional chairman Mr. Jones Erue, Chief Frank Kokori, Mariam Alli, Ike Odikpo, Veronica Ogbuagu and a host of others.

The Emerhor/Enuha group favours a strong candidate from Delta North to challenge Governor Okowa who is from Delta North thus maintaining the existing zoning arrangement to appease Delta North and Delta South voters, but the Omo-Agege/Great Ogboru faction wants power returned to Delta Central having been out of power since 2007.

This much was gleaned from Olorogun O’tega Emerhor comments while receiving Prof Pat Utomi who was on a consultative visit at his country home in Evwreni, Delta State recently.

He said, “As an individual, I have decided along with committed APC leaders who really want change in Delta State that we will not do things the same way again this time because the opposition in Delta has not had this type of opportunity that is available to us today. You will recall that in 2015, I ran for the governorship position of Delta State, and still have the capacity to do that now. But I took a decision not to run because the environment supports a different formula that excludes me, and that is why I am not out there consulting like others.”

Although, Great Ogboru has not made his political ambitions public, it is safe to conclude that he is eyeing the plum seat in Delta State Government House come 2019.

But the Omo-Agege/Ogboru faction banks on the numerical strength of the Urhobo ethnic nationality of Delta Central and the statewide popularity of Great Ogboru to wrest power from the PDP.

A source within the Emerhor faction who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “If Ogboru from Delta Central contests and wins the 2019 governorship seat, it will mean eight more years for Delta Central that has already done eight years under James Ibori (making a total of 16 years) thus leaving Delta North with just four years and jeopardizing Delta South wait-time calculation of 12 years. The sensitivity of voters from Delta North to this issue will only mean a loss to APC.”

But the recent directive by the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole for feuding members to recognize Jones Erue as the State chairman until the consent judgment obtained by the Agege/Ogboru faction is vacated has further escalated tension within the party with several party leaders unwilling to accept the directive.

Both with the appeal against the consent judgment filed by the Emerhor led faction hanging, an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion pervades the party hindering party unity.

This latest directive, according to sources, effectively hands over party structure to the Senator Omo-Agege/Great Ogboru faction.

An analyst Dr. Charles Edeogu predicts a tough battle for the ruling PDP should the APC present a candidate from Delta North, adding that the permutations could be altered if the opposition presents a candidate from any other part of the State.

He said: “If the opposition presents a rugged, strong, time-tested candidate of Delta North extraction, it will aim to divide the votes in Delta North with nine local government areas while fighting to split votes in Delta South and Central. But if a Delta Central candidate is presented by the APC, Okowa will aim to seize Delta North with a voting strength of about 650,000 and will aim to take a sizeable chunk of the 750,000 votes from Delta South from where his Deputy hails and with the influence of Ibori , split Delta Central with a voting population of about 870,000”.

Although, many APC aspirants are yet to publicly declare their intentions to contest for the governorship ticket, many have intensified consultative visits across the State.

They include ex-Speaker Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Victor Ochei, Prof Pat Utomi, ex-member House of Representative, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, Dr. Leroy Edozien, Chief Okotie Osiobe and Great Ogboru.

With the decision of the APC to adopt direct primaries, it remains to be seen who will emerge victorious with preparation in top gear by both factions for the registration of members to bolster their chances at the polls.

A chieftain of the All Progressive Congress in Delta State, Hyacinth Enuha last weekend disclosed that the party is embarking on membership registration exercise to use as basis to conduct direct primaries for the 2019 general election.

He said the party opted for direct primaries to discourage the financial inducement of delegates by wealthy politicians which usually characterizes delegates’ primaries leading to the emergence of unpopular candidates.

According to Enuha, the registration exercise which is expected to begin nationwide from next week will cover old and new members, adding however that those who registered in 2013/2014, will be required to revalidate their membership.

He said, “After the registration, permanent membership cards will be issued which will be the voting cards for the direct primaries. There will be no more issues of locking delegates in hotel rooms, feed them for three days and induce them with lots of money to vote for a particular person.

“It will be difficult to bribe the entire members of the party at any level. So an aspirant does not need to have so much millions to emerge as candidate. What needs to be done is for the aspirants to mobilise the grassroots and convince them to vote for him or her. The direct primary is a popularity contest because the people know who they want.”

But should the APC continue bickering and enter the elections divided, the ruling PDP may just nick the prize.

Oyo: Major contenders for Ajimobi’s job

The entry of Alhaji Olalekan Alli, Secretary to the Oyo State Government (SSG), into the race for the APC governorship ticket has a twist to the party’s forthcoming primaries.

Observers say he is one aspirant to watch given the fact that he has held his current position for five years.

The SSG had made his mark in both the public and private sectors before his appointment as SSG in 2013.

He is a key player in Ajimobi’s kitchen cabinet.

Alli, who hails from Ibadan is thought by some to be a last-minute joker by the governor. He is believed to pass most of the many criteria which the governor has highlighted for his successor. Alli, observers believe, will likely earn Ajimobi’s support when additional criteria of loyalty and possibility of sustaining his (Ajimobi’s) legacies are considered as the topmost factors. But it is not known if the SSG has the financial muscle to prosecute his ambition should the outgoing governor refuse to pick the APC candidate’s campaign bill.

Joseph Tegbe

A consummate finance expert, engineer and economic planner, Tegbe, is another illustrious son of Ibadan, and a leading aspirant in the APC. A partner in the KPMG, the manner Tegbe conquered the campaign scene since June this year and his intimidating credentials as well as his closeness to Ajimobi make him a force to reckon with. He has been consulting for the Federal Government and several state governments on economic policies since 1999. He was a key member of Ajimobi’s economic team before he joined the race. He is a major contender. Rating: Stron

Bayo Adelabu

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adelabu, who is a grandson of the late popular Ibadan politician, Sir Adegoke Adelabu (aka Peculiar mess), remains a major contender for the APC ticket. He is one of the earliest starters and has been consistent, traversing the length and breadth of the state to seek grassroots support. The 48-year old counts on his experience in the banking sector, his family name and closeness to Ajimobi to pick the ticket. Rating: Uncertain.

Ajiboye Omodewu

Omodewu is one of Ajimobi’s closest followers. Currently the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Survey, the Otu, Oke-Ogun born politician is favored within the APC if the party settles for Oke-Ogun zone to produce the governorship candidate. As one of Ajimobi’s closet allies for decades, analysts believe that the governor will consider him above others when the issue of loyalty and sustenance of his legacies are the defining factors. He has been serving as commissioner since the inception of the Ajimobi administration. Rating: Strong

Other major contenders include Niyi Akintola (SAN), Adebayo Alao-Akala, Soji Eniade, Olusola Ayandele and Babalola Owolabi. A member of the progressives family for three decades, Akintola is among the people that signified interest early enough. He has since remained consistent in trumpeting his ambition.

Alao-Akala is a former governor who still holds the ace in Ogbomoso land and some areas in Oke-Ogun. He joined the APC in 2015 after losing to Ajimobi for a second time. While he contested on the platform of the PDP in 2011 as the sitting governor, he flew the flag of Labour Party (LP) in 2015.

PDP

Businessman Seyi Makinde is the major contender for the PDP ticket since the exit of Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Olufemi Lanlehin.

Makinde is currently the leader of the party in Oyo State. It is almost predictable that he will fly the flag of the party in the next year election.

An oil magnate, Makinde is leaving no stone unturned in mobilizing support for his ambition across the nooks and crannies of the state. From his Omi Tuntun house on Iwo Road, Ibadan, Makinde makes promises of bringing fresh air to governance in the state. Rating: Strong

ADC

Since former governor Rashidi Ladoja, his supporters and members of the Unity Forum, a break-away faction of the APC joined the party last month, African Democratic Congress (ADC) has become a major party in Oyo State for the next year election. Leading aspirants in the party include Olufemi Lanlehin, Yunus Akintunde and Aderemi Olaniyan.

Lanlehin is a former senator and an indigene of Ibadan while Akintunde hails from Oyo. Lanlehin is believed to be Ladoja’s choice. Rating: Weak

Akintunde, on the other hand, is leveraging on his contacts, rich experience and other positive resources to pick the ticket.
Source: The Nation

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