Undeterred by the disappointments occasioned by last Saturday’s last minute postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections, millions of Nigerians across the country are ready to cast their ballots in today’s rescheduled polls. DARE ODUFOWOKAN, Assistant Editor, reports that the stakes are higher as the frontline political parties and candidates battle for honors. He also identifies some states where the poll is expected to throw up some drama. Of course, pundits and analysts are still insisting that the outcome in most of these ‘swing’ states remains unpredictable.
Fears of possible outbreak of violence, especially in the southern flank of the state, is dogging today’s election in Kaduna. This is further heightened by the unending spats between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and leaders of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) over the killing of over60 people by yet to be identified hoodlums in various dispersed hamlets in the Maro Gida and Iri areas of Kajuru Local Government Area of the state. Observers of the politics of the state say the development has further weakened the strained relationship between the governor and the people of the zone. El Rufai had darwn the ire of the elites in Southern Kaduna earlier with his decision to appoint a muslim running mate from the axis. Pundits say the people may react by voting against the ruling party in today’s elections.The po litical scenario in the state has remained complex in view of some dynamics in the last three and a half years. The tense security situation in Southern Kaduna and Birnin Gwari axis has compounded the political permutations.
The issues beclouding politics in the state are performance; security challenge; the prolonged Hausa-Fulani/ Southern Kaduna cat and mouse relationship; religious factor, especially mutual suspicion by Muslims and Christians; the rising Shiites clan and its attendant grave security implications; and distrust among political elites. Governor El-Rufia recently pointed out that recent intelligence reports indicated that some people want to foment trouble in Southern Kaduna before or during the elections. He said the reports show that the planners want the violence to spread to other parts of the state, because they have sensed defeat in the coming general election. He appealed to the people that the only thing that they should carry with them on election day to the polling unit is their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
The police, he added, will arrest them if they carry weapons. Governor el-Rufai has controversially trudged on since 2015, his greatest asset is the enthronement of new governance modules which have reduced waste in government. Apart from pruning the size of his cabinet, he has cut frivolous expenses and his performance is appreciable. But his garrulous, uncompromising and dictatorial leadership style at a point alienated him from the masses. There are no old politicians in Kaduna State who are with him. Members of the old brigade who were with him in 2015 like Suleiman Hunkuyi, Isa Ashiru, Yaro Makama, and Ambassador Sule Buba are now in PDP against him. These old hands have teamed up with ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo, a former National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and exGovernor Ramalan Yero.
But, Buhari is likely to retain his grip on the state albeit with a lesser margin in February. KWARA STATE Following the postponement of the elections last week and the opportunity offered for further campaigns, the ruling APC and the opposition PDP in Kwara State decided to cover more grounds largely by taking their campaigns to churches, a development that is unusual in the politics of the state. While chieftains of the O tun ya Movement of the PDP visited some prominent churches on Sunday, the APC gubernatorial running mate, Kayode Alabi, toured a number of churches too. However, while the APC in the state will go into today’s elections more assured and united, following Tuesday’s confirmation of the Hon. Bashir Bolarinwa-led state executives as the authentic by the court, the PDP is facing serious crisis in the southern senatorial district as supporters of Senator Rafiu Ibrahim accuse Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of tricking them out of the senatorial race to pave way for Ahmed’s ambition.
With the failure of the last minute retrieval of the senatorial ticket from Governor Ahmed for Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim by Saraki, as INEC insists that the governor remains the senatorial candidate of Kwara South, the district may just be a walkover for APC. With Ibrahim’s supporters now aggrieved amidst suspicion that Ahmed and Saraki played a fast one on them by refusing to perfect Ibrahim’s candidature, PDP is seriously weakened in Kwara South. If one adds this to the seeming unpopularity of the governor in the area, the same factor that led to Saraki’s earlier decisison to substitute him with Ibrahim, and the massive followership currently being enjoyed in the area by APC and its candidates, then it may even be comfortable to predict that President Buhari will sweep the presidential votes across the district today.
The influence of Lola Ashiru, an architect, who is the APC senatorial candidate, is another factor helping Buhari’s chances. Other factors that may swing electoral behaviour this time include the looming protest votes from Offa and its environs over the recent bank robbery which claimed many lives; the spiral effect of losing Irepodun/ Ekiti/ Isin, Oke-Ero Federal Constituency to APC; and the neglect of the district in the scheme of things. The Ibolo, the Igbomina and the Ekiti in this district naturally detest the politics of the Sarakis. Also, today’s elections in Kwara State will be headlined by the intense struggle for the political control of the north-central state between the Saraki political family and those opposed to his continued hold on the politics of the state, who are largely chieftains of the opposition APC, Saraki’s former party.
Pundits say, for the first time in a long time, the threat to the status quo in the state, as symbolised by Saraki Dynasty is real. It is too dicey to say either of the two leading parties, APC and PDP, will win today, as analysts say the electoral map here is very fluid with the three senatorial districts left open to be won either by PDP or APC. Thus, the presidential election in the state can go either way at the close of political hostilities. The spate of violence in the past weeks across the state highlighted how tense the political atmosphere in the state is. While Saraki, aside from struggling to win his seat and return to the Senate, is also fighting to remain politically relevant by delivering the state to the PDP presidential candidate, Abubakar Atiku, the opposition APC is determined to show the world that Saraki has lost hold of the state as the “O to gee” movement swept across the state following the emergence of Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman, as the APC gubernatorial candidate.
Saraki, who represents Kwara Central Senatorial District, has a date with his closest rival, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who was a former member of the State House of Assembly. The contest is reminiscent of the duel between David and Goliath. For Oloriegbe, who was once a product of the dynasty, his record of selfless service as a medic and as well as coming from a respected family, will make the contest tough. His greatest advantage is the mass discontent against the Sarakis. Despite the power of incumbency and over reliance on money politics, it won’t be an easy ride for Saraki in Kwara Central District. In the last one month, the Senate President has retreated to fault lines for political survival and to retool his campaign machin ery, but the people of Ilorin Emirate, who dominate the district, are now sharply divided for and against him. What will count against Saraki include the collapse of governance in the state in the last four years; poor state of infrastructure; nonpayment of local government workers’ salaries; the conspiracy of the elites; sheer flaunting of affluence by political leaders in the state; the exodus of his loyalists and strategists to APC; the “O To Ge” (Enough is Enough) revolution; and the imposition of PDP governorship candidate, Razak Atunwa, on the party. In Kwara North, it is a battle royale between the PDP candidate, Hon. Zakari Mohammed (the incumbent member of the House of Representatives for Baruten/Kaiama Constituency), and the APC candidate, a pharmacist and erstwhile expert in DFID, Sadiq Umar. The two candidates are credible and tested professionals. But what will determine the direction of the district is the politics of power shift. The people of the district are unhappy with Saraki for denying them the governorship slot in the past 20 years. The last time the district tasted gubernatorial power was between 1991 and 1993 when Senator Sha’aba Lafiagi was elected into office. Despite plans by Saraki dynasty to enter into a gentleman agreement with the district on power shift in 2023, they are unprepared to trust him. AKWA IBOM The arrest of about 400 suspected thugs, allegedlyimported into the state by politicians last week to interfere with the process of last Saturday’s botched presidential and national assembly elections in the state, has heightened the political tension pervading Akwa Ibom State as the people go to the polling booths to cast their votes today.
While security agents insist that they are on top of the situation across the state, there are worries that the worst of such clandestine plans to violate electoral laws may not be over. Reports alleged that the thugs, many of whom were said to have been ferried into the state from Bayelsa, Rivers and other neighboring states, were meant to work for the ruling PDP against the opposition APC. The hotel where the suspected criminals were nabbed by the police is reportedly owned by a chieftain of the ruling party. Another prominent chieftain of the PDP is currently on the run as he is wanted by the police in connection with the development. But the APC in the state has assured its members that there is no cause for alarm while urging them to come out en masse and cast their votes. Former governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said PDP plans to intimidate the people of the state into staying at home and because they know they will lose today’s election. He urged them to defy the threat of violence and cast their votes. At no time had the PDP’s control of the politics of the state been threatened as it is today.
The contest between Buahri and Atiku today will determine how the rest of the polls will go in the state, pundits say. Since 1999, the oil-rich state has been voting for the PDP till date. Whether that will change today is left to be seen. The defection of former Governor Akpabio to the APC changed the political narratives in the state. As it is, both APC and PDP are laying claim to the state as a stronghold. But political signals indicate that President Buhari may carry the day. This is based largely on the political acceptance being enjoyed across the state by Akpabio. Since he left the PDP, he has resisted several attempts to undermine his popularity. Many analysts say his performance while in office as governor is still speaking for him. Going by recent political events in the state, it is very convenient to say both the PDP and the APC are well rooted in the nooks and crannies of the state, no thanks to the political division between Akpabio and Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel.
The politics of the state is now symbolised by a sharp division of the people into PDP supporters and APC supporters. The competition between the two political parties is further heightened by the fact that both Akpabio and his former godson, Udom Emmanuel, will be on the ballot paper as candidates in this year’s general elections but on the platform of different political parties. While Emmanuel is seeking to be reelected as the governor of the state, Akpabio wants to remain in the Senate as the representative of the people of Akwa-Ibom northwest. In 2015, the duo worked together as PDP candidates and won in convincing manners. This time around, their camp is divided and they are at loggerheads politically. Thus, Akpabio and the APC will be relying on the former governor’s political machinery across the state, aided by the political influence of other APC chieftains like Umanah Umanah, Nsima Ekere (a former deputy governor), John Akpan Udoedehe, Don Etiebet, Ime Umana, Group Capt. Sam Ewang (Rtd), among others, to carry the day.
For Emmanuel and the ruling PDP who will be entering the ring without the statewide support they enjoyed from Akpabio’s camp in 2015, their major strength will lie in the power of incumbency and the ability to showcase the achievements of the current administration to the people of the state. Across the three senatorial districts of Uyo (Akwa-Ibom northeast), Ikot Ekpene (AkwaIbom northwest) and Eket (Akwa-Ibom south), political analysts, candidates, party chieftains and the voters are daily coming up with permutations on how the governorship elections would be won and lost by the two leading political parties, PDP and APC, and their governorship candidates, Emmanuel and Ekere respectively. Akwa Ibom has 31 local government areas. While Eket, where both Emmanuel and Ekere hail from, has 12 local government areas, Akpabio’s Ikot Ekpene boasts of 10 council areas. The remaining nine are found in Uyo District where former Governor Victor Attah and Umanah hail from. At the last count, there are 1,837, 767 registered voters in the three senatorial districts of the state. According to very reliable political permutations, the PDP and APC will keenly contest for the votes of the people of Akwa-Ibom South Senatorial District.
It is unclear who is likely to win the zone between the two leading parties given the parity in popularity of both in the area. The APC is most likely to sweep the votes in Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District where Senator Akpabio is the undisputed leader. The Northeastern Senatorial District is another battleground where both APC and PDP will slug it out evenly. However, pundits say with Umanah supporting Ekere, the APC may slightly outperform PDP in the zone, slightly because Uyo is also the seat of government and Emmanuel has many of his people resident there. While Umanah’s popularity in Uyo will aid APC, PDP should benefit from the votes of government functionaries and their people. OGUN STATE Amidst fears of violence in today’s rescheduled presidential and national assembly elections in the state, the police command in Ogun State has appealed to the people in the state to desist from thuggery and violence to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections. Reports had it that there was a high presence of thugs in the state last week in the build up to the postponed elections. Rumours of the kidnap of a prominent market leader in Abeokuta, the state capital, earlier this week has also fuelled anxiety. Eye witness reports from across the state also have it that groups of rival transport unions in some parts of the state may have concluded plans to unleash terror on the state during today’s polls as they struggle to ensure the victory of their preferred political parties and candidates across the state. Places like Abeokuta, the capital, Imeko-Afon, Ijebu-Ode, Idi-Iroko, Ijebu-Igbo,Ilaro, Sagamu, Aiyetoro and Ota, are places to watch out for today, according to reliable sources. Bimbola Oyeyemi, the police public relations officer for the command, warned that the command would not tolerate any act of thuggery and violence during the election. He said the command is well prepared for today’s exercise, adding that it had deployed many personnel across the state to check and curb any misconduct during the election.
““Three commissioners of police have been deployed to the three senatorial districts in Ogun to man the elections,” he said. Today’s presidential contest in Ogun will surely be unusually interesting. This is just as pundits say for the APC, the result will be better than it was in 2015 when the APC defeated PDP by a hundred thousand votes. Buhari polled 308, 290 votes, while former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP took 207, 950 out of 559, 613 total votes cast. According to the formal results announced, Buhari won in 13 local governments, while PDP won in seven local government areas.
In spite of the support currently being enjoyed by Atiku and the PDP from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Buhari will still win the presidential election in the state convincingly. Given the fact that Buhari’s candidature has been adopted by about four other political parties aside his APC in the state, the President looks set to confirm his acceptance in the state. With the APC and APM in the state working towards the victory of President Buhari, and the two factions of the PDP unable to come together and galvanise their members towards the presidential election, the APC is looking good to win the presidential election in the state even with a wider margin than it posted in 2015. Notwithstanding the support of former President Obasanjo for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, investigations show that the APC candidate, President Buhari, stands the chance of winning the presidential election in the state with convincing margin.
This is because in spite of the unusual political ripples, APC’s candidate evidently enjoys massive support from the state. The Federal Government’s attention to major roads in the state, including the Sagamu-Ikorodu road and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is also swaying support for APC across the state. Also, Buhari’s decision to immortalise the late Chief MKO Abiola, an indigene of Ogun, by declaring June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day, remains a political move well aimed. It has endeared him to the elites in the state and it is expected to help him garner some votes across the state. Similarly, numerous artisans and traders across the state who benefitted from the Tradermoni scheme are helping Osinbajo to propagate the candidates of the ruling party just as many youths now enjoying under the N-Power employment scheme in the state, are poised to reward the APC by voting for Buhari today.
It is for these reasons that analysts concluded that though the election will be dramatic, the APC looks good to win. EDO STATE In spite of the anxiety created by allegations of huge sums of money moved into the state by an opposition political party to sway the support of the people its way, President Buhari of the APC will still win the presidential election today in Edo State. The arrest and questioning of a close ally of the PDP presidential candidate by security operatives in relation to similar cash haul, strengthened the vote buying plan rumour in the state. But Governor Godwin Obaseki said the PDP will just end up wasting money if it attempts to buy the votes of the people in Edo. He said Buhari will win and his victory will surprise many observers. This is because he will garner good votes in areas he hitherto would have done badly ordinarily.
The change in his political fortune in places like Edo Central is as a result of certain factors that were not available before now. According to pundits, President Buhari will easily garner the majority of votes in Edo State given the popularity of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress, across the state. The APC’s political hold on the state, from the days of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who is now its National Chairman, supported by the rave reviews currently being enjoyed by Governor Godwin Obaseki, should work in the party’s favour. Before the 2015 general elections, the PDP could boast of pockets of strongholds in the Southern Senatorial District of the state, but all that faded with the defeat of the party by APC that year. However, some observers say a pocket of opposition may arise today, largely from revenue touts and their godfathers who have been having a running battle with Governor Obaseki over revenue collection across the district, especially in Oredo council. The death of PDP strongman and former political leader of the state, Chief Tony Anenih, late last year, may have completed the demystification of PDP in a state it controlled for nearly 12 years before Oshiomhole took over.
Also, the decision of Governor Obaseki to hearken to the clarion call on him by the people of Edo Central, to extend developmental projects their way will be rewarded by the people of the area today as they change their age-long voting pattern and embrace the APC. It is a widespread belief in the area that unlike Oshiomhole who abandoned the area while in office, Obaseki has carried out numerous developmental projects in Edo Central. To also shore up the chances of the APC in Edo Central, many supporters of the late Anenih have joined the APC and are now working hard for the victory of President Buhari in the area today. PLATEAU STATE Today’s presidential election on the Plateau is expected to be dramatic. It is highly unpredictable with pundits saying whoever wins will do so with a very slight margin. Yakubu Dati, the Plateau Commissioner for Information, has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari will win 100 percent votes in the state. This was just as a former governor of Plateau State and Senator representing Plateau North, Jonah Jang, boasted that the state will deliver two million votes for the PDP presidential flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar, today. “I assure you that Plateau will vote Buhari 100 per cent this time around. President Muhammadu Buhari is going to win Plateau State this time around because of the steps he has taken to strengthen the state. As I speak with you, more than 5,000 rice farmers have been empowered with farming implements and seedlings. The school feeding programme is ongoing, safety nets programmes are also there. People are benefiting at the grassroots level.
We are also benefitting directly because Mr. President, for the first time, when we had crisis, he and the vicepresident came,” Dati said. But Jang, who is not seeking a return to the Senate, insisted that the APC in the state will lose today’s election to the opposition PDP. “Since 1999, no PDP presidential candidate had ever lost an election in Plateau State, and failure will not start in 2019. I want to urge Plateau people that during the forthcoming presidential polls, the PDP Presidential flag bearer should get two million votes in the state,” the former governor boasted. And ahead of today’s presidential election, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Plateau had urged its members to canvas for votes for President Buhari. Dogara Abubakar, the SDP’s chairman and Alpha Kapnan, its secretary, said that the resolve to mobilise members for President Buhari came after an agreement by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja. But a coalition of political parties in the state under the auspices of the Plateau Political Parties Forum(PPPF) on Thursday endorsed Atiku of the PDP as their preferred candidate, vowing to deliver the state to the opposition party. Both the PDP and the APC can boast of presence in all the corners of the state. While the APC formed the state government, the PDP represents two of its three senatorial districts. So, the political climate in Plateau State is as uncertain as it was in 2015.
To most observers, the presidential race might be neck and neck. KOGI STATE Although he is currently being trailed by bad press following a fresh face-off between him and his deputy, Simon Achuba, that has seen the personal security team of the number two man withdrawn without explanation, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, is still boasting that President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling APC will win today’s elections convincingly across the state. The unexpected disagreement between the governor and Achuba had further disturbed the unity of the factionalised ruling APC in the state. Governor Bello has been at loggerheads with nearly all the foundation chieftains of his party since emerging governor in 2015. But observers say with all the groups within the party united in their resolve to work for the President’s re-election, the effect of the intra-party crisis may not be felt much in today’s election.
In 2015, Buhari surprisingly won the presidential election in Kogi State, polling 60.3 % of total votes cast. At a time when the state was in the firm control of a PDP administration, it came as a surprise. But today, the story is queerly different. While the state is now controlled by Buhari’s party, pundits say the people may not repeat the same enthusiasm that saw them voting for APC in 2015. Aside from the obvious fact that the PDP in Kogi State may have shaken off their slumbering and ready to do serious political battle to return to prominence, the APC will have to first wriggle out of its political quagmire for it to make any serious impact in today’s election. It is left to be seen if the party has actually done that. Kogi is a state many observers are watching keenly as PDP confronts APC today in a battle for political superiority.
The ghost of the late Governor Abubakar Audu is still haunting APC and Governor Yahaya Bello, who has tried to re-write history after benefitting from Audu’s mandate. Out of the three senatorial districts, APC remains solid in Kogi Central, which is largely populated by the governor’s Ebira kinsmen. There had been a few protests against Bello in the Central District but the governor has engaged in arm-twisting and outright political witch-hunting to retain his grip. But the party needs extra salesmen to regain the confidence of Kogi East (Audu’s fortress) in the next strands of election. The management of the aftermath of Audu’s death – including the hounding of his son – looks set to hurt the ruling party. Most retired civil servants/ teachers (pensioners) are from Kogi West and in the last three and a half years, they have gone through hell trying to collect their gratuities and pensions. The same Kogi West secured the deputy governorship slot but its candidate, Hon. James Faleke, was uncomfortable with the power equation. Faleke’s loyalty to Audu appeared to be a “wise” decision because he would have ended being a glorified deputy in a despotic Bello government. The tactical senatorial nominations of Jibrin Echocho (APC candidate for Kogi East) and Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) have, however, succeeded in bridging the gaps between the ruling party and the peo ple of the state. Also, the travails of Senator Dino Melaye have left the Kogi West with no alternative than to shop for an amenable candidate in Adeyemi in order to get value for their votes.
BENUE STATE In a move that further heightened the already tense political atmosphere in the state ahead of today’s polls, the Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ohimini Local Government Area of Benue State, Boniface Okoloho, was last Saturday shot dead by unknown gunmen. The APC chieftain was reportedly killed on his way home from a party function in Ohimini. Ohimini is an Idoma dominated area in the state which forms part of Benue South Senatorial District. Up until a few weeks ago, many had thought that the presidential race between APC and PDP in Benue State is predictable. While many had considered the security challenges faced by the state in recent times and predicted a victory for PDP, some others have examined the leanings of major political gladiators in the state and announced that APC will poll more votes than PDP in today’s election. But today, most analysts agree that the election in the state can go either way. Governor Samuel Ortom has capitalised on the farmers-herders crises as a weapon to secure his second term ticket. The anti-Fulani sentiments in the state have grown to the extent that President Buhari and APC are despised. Ortom went a step further to apologise to the people of the state for leading them to APC in 2015.
The joining of forces by Ortom and ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam, who has an axe to grind for being put on trial for alleged corruption by the APC administration, has made the PDP more formidable. The scenario in the state is being monitored because the three senators from the state, who are leaders with massive support in the grassroots, are treading different political paths. They are Senator David Mark (Benue South); Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-East) and Senator George Akume (Benue North-West). While Akume is sticking to APC, Mark remains in PDP with his ally ex-Minister Abba Moro now taking his slot, and Gemade is trying his luck in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) after defecting first from APC and then PDP in quick order. Of the three senators, only Akume has a herculean task at hand to sell APC to the people of the state who are angry over the consequences of the farmers-herders crises. He needs to work harder to retain his senatorial seat for the fourth term since 2007 and to install his political associate, Emmanuel Jime, as the governor of the state. He has a tall order to assert himself as the “political godfather” of the state.
As a leader with tremendous goodwill, if Akume succeeds, he will book a place in the Guinness Book of Records as a great politician. Any loss might be the beginning of his political retirement. NASARAWA STATE As the people of the state file out today to vote for the country’s next President, the question on the lips of analysts is whether incumbent President and APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, can break his now age-long electoral jinx in Nasarawa State. The APC flag-bearer has never won elections in Nasarawa State since he has been participating in the presidential race. During the 2015 presidential election, the then President Jonathan of the PDP surprisingly won the presidential election in Nasarawa State, defeating Buhari, who was widely tipped to win the state. It was a surprise because the state was seen by many as a stronghold of Buhari’s given the presence of many of his associates in the state. Not even the widespread opinion that Governor Tanko Al-Makura has done well in office helped. He also lost the state in 2011 when he contested on the platform of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC).
While the CPC’s governorship candidate, Umar Tanko Al-Makura, the incumbent governor, won the gubernatorial election, Buhari could not get enough votes to defeat Jonathan in the state. Not a few analysts are saying that the APC will have to do more than enough to change the status quo today. Al-Makura’s decision to stamp his feet and allow power to shift from Nasarawa South District to Nasarawa North District for fair ness and equity has deflated the anticipated winning formula of the opposition. This has in turn shored up the popularity of the ruling party in the north where the PDP held sway before now. This is expected to impact in favour of President Buhari in the presidential election. The harmony within the rank and file of APC in the state notwithstanding, it is still uncertain if Buhari can floor Atiku in the state. ADAMAWA STATE In spite of the tension created in Adamawa State by allegations and denials of an alleged attempt by the PDP to bribe the leadership of INEC in the state ahead of last week’s postponed election, the people of the state are ready to vote in today’s rescheduled elections. Perhaps as part of measures to calm frayed nerves, the state office of the INEC, has administered oath of neutrality on its staff. INEC has consistently denied the alleged $1million bribe offer. Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC) in-charge of the state, Kassim Gaidam, before administering the oath in his office, noted that the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) made it mandatory for all staff both employed and appointed by INEC for the conduct of an election to affirm or swear before the high court, an oath of neutrality.
He said: “We are gathered here today to administer this oath on me, management, electoral officers and other staff of INEC in Adamawa State office. A similar ceremony will be carried out for ad hoc staff at their respective local government areas of posting”. Adamawa, since 1999, remained a PDP threshold until 2015 when it voted APC. Pundits will say Buhari’s victory in the state back then was aided by the presence of Atiku in the same party with him. But with the President and Atiku today on the ballot on opposing sides, many of the factors that delivered Adamawa to APC in 2015 are no longer applicable. The people of the state are now caught between two choices of producing a home-bred president or voting for their son-in-law Buhari to remain in office. For Atiku and the PDP, a lot is now at stake. If he defeats Buhari in Adamawa, he would boost his political profile as primus inter pares in the state. But if Atiku suffers any setback, he would join the league of the likes of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who lost in his home state. Being an indigene of the state who once won its governorship election before being selected as Vice President by former President Olusegun Obasanjo is an added advantage for Atiku in today’s contest.
On the other hand, the performance of Governor Jibrilla Bindow in office has added value to Buhari’s campaign. Also, the nomination of game changers like Senator Binta Mashi and Hajiya Aishatu Ahmed Binani and other mobilisers at the grassroots have made winning the state an uphill task for Atiku. But the two camps stand equal chances of carrying the day, according to pundits. Other prominent politicians Buhari and his party will be banking on to swing the votes their across the state today include former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd); a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the President’s in-law, Dr. Halilu Modibbo, among other numerous elected and appointed political office holders across the state. For Atiku, he will be relying on a strong, tested and trusted political machinery with tentacles across the nooks and crannies of the state that has aided his hold on the politicos of the state for decades now. Though his recent return to PDP has seen some of his associates turn their back on him, it is still largely believed that his political structure is strong enough to deliver the votes for him. Our findings show that the governorship candidate of PDP, Umaru Fintiri, popularly called “The ATM” by civil servants due to the prompt payment of salaries when he was Acting Governor of the state, has made the turf tougher. Fintiri is giving Bindow an electioneering headache because of ‘the ATM perception’. The governor, for his part, has been prudent and he has performed creditably better than most of his successors..