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BUHARI VS ATIKU: HOW STATES WILL VOTE (II)
Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor and Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor by Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor and Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor February 9, 2019
BUHARI VS ATIKU: HOW STATES WILL VOTE (II)
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In six days, Nigerians across the 36 states would be queuing up in their millions to decide the 2019 presidential contest. In this piece, Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor and Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, report on the chances of the parties – especially the biggest one – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – who given their spread have best chance of claiming the prize.
It is not a quantitative projection where percentage of likely votes would be assigned. Rather it is based on our analysis of traditional voting patterns, current trends, the issues driving the current campaigns as well as the critical personalities who determine which way zones and states may go. It bears repeating that our projections for the 2015 polls – reproduced on page 27 – were largely correct.

NIGERIANS go to the polls in less than a week to decide who of two septuagenarians would run the country for the next four years.The voters’ register published several weeks ago by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), shows that 84, 004, 084 million Nigerians are eligible to vote. Although, significantly less than that number are expected to make it to the polling booths because as at Friday, February 8, millions of permanent voters cards (PVCs) were yet to be collected across the country – forcing INEC to extend the collection deadline to Monday, February 11.

The zonal summary of registered voters is as follows: 12,841, 279 (South-South); 16, 292, 212 (South-West); 10, 057, 130 (South-East);

13,366,070 (North-Central); 20,158,100 (North-West); and 11, 289, 293 (North-East).

Irrespective of the benchmarks adopted, the battlegrounds remain the Northern axis with 44,813,463 votes and the South-West having 16,292,212 votes. Out of the nation’s 84,004,084 eligible voters, the North and the South-West control 61,105,675: whatever happens in these zones could be decisive.

Not surprisingly, the frontrunners – APC and PDP – have been trying to outwit each other from state to state. Last year witnessed a flurry of movements of key political figures across party lines. Some of these individuals are very influential and could have a say in determining the outcome, come February 16.

However, on-the-ground assessments by our correspondents in different states suggest that despite these defections and the nation’s security and economic challenges, we may not see radical changes in the electoral map.

The main contest is expected to pitch Muhammadu Buhari of the APC against long-standing aspirant, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has adopted Buhari as its candidate – citing the legal tussle between former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke and former minister Professor Jerry Gana for the party’s ticket. Atiku has equally been endorsed by some elders of known socio- political groups like Ohanaeze, Northern Elders Forum, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and Niger Delta association. Some other members of these bodies have repudiated the endorsement and have instead either adopted Buhari or other candidates. Commodore Dan Suleiman of the Middle Belt Forum, for instance, has kicked against the adoption of Atiku and reinterated the adoption of businessman Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim of the Peoples Trust Party.

Other notable candidates include former former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Professor Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress.

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), has voluntarily dropped out of the race, but INEC is refusing to accept her withdrawal, insisting her party’s name would still be on the ballot.

A lot of youths appear to be rooting for Sowore and Durotoye. They don’t want both Buhari and Atiku. Many of them know that their preferred candidates cannot win, but they don’t want the two grandees. Many of them in Lagos, Abuja and other cosmopolitan cities could cast their votes for these fringe candidates. The real loser here will be Atiku, as Buhari’s base – the grassroots – seems to be very solid.

In the Southeast, Moghalu may also get sizeable votes. Many voters in the region believe he is the best candidate in terms of articulation and capacity to solve the nation’s socio- economic problems. Again, Atiku will be the loser as the zone is traditional PDP territory.

In the Middle Belt or North Central, Atiku could also lose votes to Olawepo-Hashim if those backing the latter truly work for him. Any loss of votes to third party candidates depletes what should ordinarily go to the PDP’s candidate.

As the clock ticks away towards Election Day, these are our projections regarding likely outcomes in the presidential election from state to state, if the polls were held today.

NORTH EAST ZONE

BAUCHI STATE

Ordinarily, this is an electoral fortress for Buhari who garnered 931,598 votes in the state in 2015 compared with a paltry 86,085 votes received by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. But the coalition which brought Governor Mohammed Abubakar to power during the last poll collapsed – leading to a major crack in APC and the dwindling of the party’s fortunes.

Until Buhari and the APC pulled a fast one, the state was almost lost to the PDP going by massive defections from the ruling party to the opposition. Among those who left was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. Armed with an impressive war-chest, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, also revved up the PDP in the state with the choice of Baba Tella (a grassroots politician) as his running mate for the governorship race. The ex-minister, who is from Bauchi South Senatorial District like the governor might split the votes from the zone.Other factors in favour of the Bauchi PDP are Dogara (who commands the strong following among Christians and minorities in the state) and a former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Abdul Ningi.

However, in recent weeks, Buhari and APC have embarked on a salvage mission which is paying off for the party. Apart from wooing ex-Governor Isa Yuguda to the ruling party, the President has also courted aformer National Chairman of PDP, Adamu Mu’azu, the immediate past Deputy National Chairman (North) of PDP, Sen. Garba Babayo Gamawa and a Board of Trustees member, Alhaji Kaulaha Aliyu. The major heavyweights in Bauchi politics are back in APC to give more bite to the campaign of the party. This is the first time Yuguda and Mu’azu will join forces politically to campaign for the same candidate and party. But the fate of APC depends on more reconciliation because some of its stalwarts like ex-Minister Yakubu Lame, Capt. Bala Jibrin and others might lead internal revolt and deliver protest votes against Governor Abubakar next month. A foretaste of wrangling within APC happened recently in Azare and Misau (Katagum Emirate) when

the governor’s campaign entourage was pelted with stones by angry citizens.Except for the Emir of Katagum, most of the Emirs in the state are reportedly unhappy with the governor although they usually pretend and tag along with him. Yet these royal fathers wield enormous political influence.Following realignment of forces in the state, the APC may still retain the grip. The APC and PDP have had impressive campaigns in the state with massive turnout of their supporters at their rallies.

However, we project that Buhari’s mass appeal would make the difference – leading to a very comfortable win for him.

Verdict: Buhari to win.

BORNO STATE

In spite of the insurgency, Borno is still a stronghold of the APC and Buhari. The people of the state have undiluted loyalty to the president and his commitment to the war against Boko Haram has strengthened their political bond with him. The humble and unifying disposition of Governor Kashim Shettima in governing the state have also left APC more united for a straightforward victory at the polls. Initially, there were fears that the imposition of a former Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Prof. Babagana Zulum as the APC governorship candidatemight create crisis, but the governor managed the stakeholders with maturity.The return of a former National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to APC, which he assisted to form, has been a game-changer which has left PDP in quandary.

The seemingly intractable crisis in opposition party in the state has affected its fortunes. Since the ill-fated governorship primaries of the party, it has broken into two factions led by Alhaji Usman Baderi and Alhaji Zanna Gadama respectively. The PDP is not only in bad shape to promote its governorship candidate, Mohammed Alkali Imam, it is yet to win the confidence of the masses of the war-torn state. The defection of the highly-respected ex-Governor of old Borno State, Alhaji Mohammed Goni (1979-1983) from PDP to APC has made the victory of APC a fait accompli.There are 2,315,956 votes available in the state and APC may win with a landslide. In 2015, of the 510,920 valid votes cast, Buhari received a massive 473,543 – leaving a paltry 25,640 for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Nothing has happened in the last four years to suggest a significant change in likely outcome. Buhari could score more votes in the state with the relative peace it now enjoys. Verdict: Buhari

YOBE STATE

A politically homogenous enclave, Yobe State has been traditionally progressive since 1999. It has always voted against PDP despite its political transformation from All Peoples Party (APP) to All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and APC. The smooth transition of power laid down by the first civilian governor of the state, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim has helped in consolidating its progressive credentials. The Kanuri-Fulani collaboration has made the state impregnable for the opposition. But the Kanuri have been governing the state since its creation.Although the PDP is rebranding itself with the emergence of Ambassador Umar Iliya Damagum as its consensus gubernatorial candidate, the party is still weak. Its weakness was fueled by the crisis of

confidence between ex-Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, who has been the sole gubernatorial flagbearer of the party since1999, and the current Senator representing Yobe South Senatorial Zone, Mohammed Hassan. They both emerged from parallel primaries.In 2015, APC received 446,265 votes as opposed to just 25,256 for the PDP. This pattern is set to repeated as Buhari’s appeal remains strong here.

Verdict: Buhari

TARABA STATE

This is one Northeastern state where analysts expect PDP to do well. Governor Darius Ishaku is still popular and former Minister of Defence, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma who is the governor’s political godfather, remains highly influential. He has not hidden his opposition to a second term bid by Buhari.The security problems which the state underwent in the last three years with ethnic undertone have not helped electoral chances of the APC. The defection of ex-Minister of Women Affairs, Aishatu Jummai Alhassan from APC to United Democratic Party (UDP) has made the latter to lose its soul. The internal wrangling within APC has not put it ingood stead for next month’s election. Still, the massive turnout for last Thursday’s APC presidential rally in Jalingo, the state capital, has become a talking point. While the PDP is still expected to prevail here, the ruling party would give it a close fight. In 2015, the difference between the parties was roughly 50,000 votes. PDP raked in 310,800, while APC managed 261, 326 votes. A re -enactment is likely.

Verdict: Atiku

GOMBE STATE

Initially, it was thought that the contest between APC and PDP in Gombe State would be a keen one. The outgoing Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo is trying to assert himself as the new kingmaker. Against all odds, he won re-election in 2015, a development which cast a little shadow on the political profile of his erstwhile godfather, ex-Minister Danjuma Goje, who is trying to regain control of the state. Goje had in 2015 pitched his favourite ex-Commissioner for Finance, Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya as the governorship candidate of APC, but he lost the battle. Now, he is back in the trenches with Dankwambo.For the governorship race, ethnic colouration and the need for power shift might determine which between the APC or PDP wins the race to the Government House. In the past 16 years, Goje and Dankwambo from Gombe Central Senatorial District have ruled the state and there is agitation to allow power to shift to another zone.While Goje is sticking to Inuwa Yahaya (an Hausa from Gombe Central), PDP and Dankwambo have opted for ex-Deputy Speaker of theHouse of Representatives, Senator Bayero Nafada, who is a Fulani from Gombe North.The PDP has a big hurdle to cross in this election . The hurdle is his alleged refusal to honour his pledge to give Gombe South a shot at the governorship race. The party on October 3 lost Sardauna Gombe, Alhaji Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna who defected from PDP to APC. Gwamna’s parting of ways with PDP has made the race keener.For the presidential poll, ethnic fault lines will be sole determinants. The ethnic groups in the state are Fulani (Northern part); Tangale (Southern part); Hausa, Tera, Waja, Bolewa, and Kanuri. Both Buhari and Atiku are of Fulani stock.

However, Buhari’s mesmerizing connection with the masses of the people would see him win the state handily again. In 2015, APC polled 361,245 votes as against 96,873 for PDP. Watchers of politics in the state expect a similar thing on Saturday.

Verdict: Buhari

ADAMAWA STATE

Adamawa has been a PDP state since 1999 until the APC’s 2015 bandwagon altered its political focus. The next poll in the state will draw more attention than elsewhere because the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar is from there; Buhari married from the state to make the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, equally a factor in the presidential race.

The likely factors in the state are religion, ethnicity, security challenges, the political elite, money, and good governance. If performance is anything to reckon with, Governor Jibrilla Umaru Bindow’s achievements will make it an easy ride for APC.

Unfortunately, some political leaders are angry with the governor, who is a minority, for not looting and sharing the state resources. But Bindow has upped the ante in the state and his performance benchmark will create a hurdle for his successor.

Four parties are competing for space in the state. They are APC, PDP, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) being led by Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, who is also the governorship candidate of the party. His father, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako was a former governor of the state. While Bindow is the governorship flag bearer of APC, ex-Acting Governor Umaru Fintiri is the candidate of the PDP and Marcus Gundiri has earned the ticket of SDP.

The gruesome killing of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), has affected the fortunes of SDP because he was alleged to be a major sponsor of the party’s candidate.

For Atiku, it has been topsy-turvy experience for him in the state. He was instrumental to the emergence of Boni Haruna as the governor from 1999-2007 but after a cold war with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, he lost the initiative to the ex-President who wielded incumbency influence to anoint Vice Admiral Nyako for the gubernatorial seat.

Although Atiku attempted to install a governorship candidate in 2015 under the banner of APC, he failed in his bid because Bindow defeated his preferred candidate twice at the primaries.

Having a president from a state can be a source of pride, but it will be a tough task for Atiku to prevail in his home state. Buhari’s popularity was in evidence during the APC’s presidential campaign rally in Yola on Thursday. The government’s success in blunting the Boko Haram insurgency here is also a plus.

Buhari won here in 2015, garnering 374,701 votes as opposed to 251,664 for Jonathan. While it is tempting to cede the state to him, Atiku being on home turf is equally a powerful factor to consider. Expect a major electoral battle here. Adamawa may be too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

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Re: Buhari VS Atiku: How States Will Vote – The Nationby Clerverly7:20am On Feb 10
NORTH CENTRAL ZONE

KWARA STATE

In 2015, President Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the presidential election in Kwara State, polling 302,146 votes, while the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP polled 132, 602 votes. It was the first time the state voted against the presidential candidate of the PDP since 2003 , and the party lost to APC with almost 200, 000 votes.

Today, the state is a major focus point following the return of Senate President Bukola Saraki to the PDP. It is also attracting attention because the threat to the status quo in Kwara politics, as symbolized by Saraki dynasty, is real today more than ever before. The rate at which the APC’s ‘O To Ge’ (Yoruba for Enough is Enough) mantra caught fire like dry leaves in the harmattan, is reportedly a source of worry for the Senate President and his political family.

The emergence of the APC’s candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, from a noble family like the Saraki’s has changed the usual scenario where Saraki would confidently boast of the support of the royals and elites in the state. Today, the creme de la creme in Ilorin are sharply divided in their support for APC and PDP ahead of the general election on account of Abdulrazaq’s candidature.

The spate of violence in the past two weeks underscored the prevalent do-or-die politics in the state. While the ruling PDP does not want to relinquish its grip on power, the wind of change blowing from the direction of the APC has been like a tsunami. Analysts see the electoral map here as fluid with the three senatorial districts left open to be won either by PDP or APC.

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 machinery, 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; non-payment 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, Razaq 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 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.

Were it not for the last minute retrieval of the senatorial ticket from Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim by Saraki, Kwara South District would have been a walkover for APC. Even at that, Ibrahim faces likely electoral defeat because of the influence of his opponent, Lola Ashiru – an architect.

Factors that may swing electoral behavior 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.

All these factors in each district will be at play as voters choose between Atunwa and the APC governorship candidate Abdulrazaq, who is an oil magnate.

Against this backdrop, the relative strengths of the APC and PDP in the different senatorial districts is likely to impact the outcome of the February 16 contest. As things stand the race between Atiku and Buhari in Kwara is too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

KOGI STATE

It came to many as a surprise in 2015, when INEC declared Buhari of the APC as the winner of the presidential election conducted in the state. In an unexpected victory, he won by 60.3 % of the total votes. It was unexpected largely because Kogi at the time was governed by a PDP administration that appeared ready to be re-elected.

Buhari clinched victory by polling 264, 851 votes ahead of the then incumbent President Jonathan of the PDP, who polled 149, 987 votes. To complete the routing of the PDP in its hitherto stronghold, it was ascertained that Buhari and the then opposition APC, won in 15 local government areas while Jonathan managed to win in only six L.G.As.

But as the February 16 date of the next presidential contest draws nearer, it is uncertain if the APC under Governor Yahaya Bello can repeat the winning streak of the last general election in the state. Surprisingly, the PDP in the state appear to have woken up from its slumber, ready to chase Buhari’s men out of town if they are not careful.

In spite of their obvious love for Buhari, so many issues are making the ruling party unpopular with the people of the state. The governor’s inability to pay salaries and pensions remains an albatross. But Bello who is Ebirra remains very popular in his home Kogi Central Senatorial District.

But in the West senatorial zone there is a 50-50 battle shaping up. Senator Dino Melaye comes against his old sparring partner Senator Smart Adeyemi in an intriguing rematch. The zone also has James Faleke, the late Abubakar Audu’s running mate, who is running for reelection for a House of Representatives seat in Lagos State. That notwithstanding he keeps a keen eye on political developments back home.

In the East zone, the ghost of the late Governor Abubakar Audu is still haunting APC. Audu worked feverishly for the APC in the area because of his gubernatorial ambition. His son, Mohammed, who also has an eye on his father’s old office is also keen to see the APC do well in the zone.

He and his supporters are aware that APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and Bello are not the best of friends. However, the chairman is likely to order that direct primaries be held in the state – a situation that would put them in good stead to produce the next governorship candidate.

That said, it should be pointed out that Audu’s supporters may have issues with the incumbent governor but not with Buhari. This suggests that working for the president’s reelection might be something that unites the divided party temporarily. Thus making what would have been an easy pick-up for the PDP a much harder proposition.

Verdict: Battleground

BENUE STATE

At the onset of the 2015 presidential election, Benue State was one of the few remaining states through which the then President Jonathan and the PDP were hoping to defeat the APC and its presidential candidate, Buhari. Most pundits gave the state to PDP. Surprisingly, and unfortunately for the PDP, the people of the state opted to follow the APC.

In the result which was announced around midnight, the returning officer, Prof. Heward Mafuyai announced that Buhari polled 373, 961 votes to defeat Jonathan who got 303, 737 votes. The result of the presidential contest in Benue, which remains one of the shocks of the 2015 polls, was further highlighted when the APC went ahead to win the state governorship poll weeks later.

With Governor Samuel Ortom sworn in as governor, Benue, a traditional stronghold of the PDP that has never voted against the conservative party since 1999, joined the league of progressive states, and many expected the new status to last long considering the political heavyweights paraded by the new ruling party. But that soon turned out as wishful thinking as Senator George Akume, leader of the APC in the state and Ortom soon fell out.

And when Ortom, who had been having a running battle with the federal government over the handling of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in his state, eventually left the APC, he went to the PDP with a good number of heavyweights, thereby depleting the political strength of his former party while bolstering the PDP which still had former Governor Gabriel Suswam as leader.

Today, the two frontline political parties have huge tasks on their hands in their bid to take their campaign to the nooks and crannies of 23 local government areas in the state. The politics has largely been personality-based, but has also been coloured by economics, ethnicity and religion in the light of the herdsmen killings witnessed in the last two to three years.

With over 70 per cent of the people dependent on agriculture, the farmers-herders crises had affected and displaced thousands of peasants in the rural areas from the dominant ethnic groups especially the Tiv, the Idoma and the Igede. Ortom has capitalized 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 in the week to apologize 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. Not a few pundits are saying it will be hard for the APC to repeat its victory of 2015 with the duo working against it.

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) who is supporting the PDP; Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-East), now a senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Senator George Akume (Benue North-West) the leader of the APC in the state.

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 farmers-herders crises. But he needs a victory for his party at the presidential election to keep alive hopes of retaining his senatorial seat for the fourth term since 2007 and installing his political associate, Emmanuel Jime, as the governor of the state. But as things stand, PDP looks more positioned to win the state.

Verdict: Atiku

PLATEAU STATE

In 2015, the APC could not tame the PDP on the Plateau as it lost the presidential election to the then ruling party. Jonathan of the PDP had polled 549, 615 votes to defeat Buhari and the APC that got 429, 140 votes. Not many people saw that coming as most pundits had given the state to the APC in all elections. Surprisingly, the APC bounced back to win the governorship seat a fortnight later.

Few days to the next presidential election, the political climate in Plateau State is as uncertain as it was in 2015, but Governor Simon Lalong’s leadership qualities have reunited and restored peace to the state. The main issue in Plateau for February poll is how to curtail the security challenge in the state. The people of the state are divided in their opinion as regard how well the APC administration has handled the menace of killer herdsmen across the country.

The PDP’s campaign in the state is being led by 75-year old Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni, who was a former Minister of FCT under the late Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha. He is the gubernatorial candidate of the opposition party and he has vowed to deliver the state to Atiku in the presidential election next weekend.

Another issue playing a key role is religion which ex-Governor Jonah Jang has exploited in the past to sustain PDP. Being a Christian-dominated state, Buhari’s candidacy is seen from the prism of Hausa-Fulani /Muslim sentiments. But that approach may no longer work for the PDP as neither Buhari nor Atiku is a Christian this time around.

The absence of imprisoned ex-Governor Joshua Dariye has created a setback for APC but the governor has been able to accommodate his structure in the scheme of things. To most observers, the presidential race might be neck and neck with PDP having a little edge.

Verdict: Battleground

NIGER STATE

In spite of the fact that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has a lot of political baggage that could make him lose his re-election bid, the goodwill of Buhari is his asset. The president is still adored in the state more than his PDP challenger, Atiku.

But the governor has not met the expectations of the masses of the state. Anywhere he goes, he is always greeted with the chant of “So daya” (one term) by the people. He had also suffered attacks in Bida and Erena in Shiroro Local Government Area.

The governor may, however, benefit from the goodwill of his father, Col. Sani Bello (a former Military Governor of the state); the benevolence of his in-laws having married the daughter of a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and allegiance to power rotation formula in the state irrespective of whether a governor has performed or not.

Most political and military leaders in Niger State, including ex-President Ibrahim Babangida find it difficult to oppose the second term bid of the governor because of the mutual respect they have for Col. Sani Bello and Abdulsalami, who is also the chairman of the National Peace Committee. Although Abdulsalami is apolitical, his son-in-law is benefitting from empathy for the ex-Head of State

Having come from Zone C, there is an unwritten agreement that any zone in power must complete its two terms in office.

The PDP at the onset had a smooth edge over APC in the state but its governorship candidate, Umar Nasko, is cash-strapped. He is looking forward to assistance from the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku and other leaders of PDP. But most of the party’s leaders, who invested in Nasko in 2015, are afraid of deploying their resources again to back him.

Despite the well-advertised opposition of Babangida to Buhari’s re-election bid, the incumbent’s lopsided win in 2015 is expected to be repeated come February 16. Four years ago, he received 657,678 votes – dwarfing the PDP’s 149,222 votes. Our investigations show that the president’s popularity is still holding steady.

A former PDP commissioner in the state said: “There is no doubt that Buhari will win Niger State. This has been his political terrain and voters in the state have not changed in following him.”

Verdict: Buhari

NASARAWA STATE

During the 2015 presidential election, the then President Jonathan of the PDP, surprisingly won the presidential election in Nasarawa State, defeating main challenger Buhari of the APC. It was a surprise because the state has always been a stronghold of Buhari’s even when he had no formidable political platform to contest on.

Jonathan polled 273, 460, while Buhari polled 236, 838 votes. But the APC went ahead to win the governorship election few days later. Since then, the APC had been kept on its toes by the opposition PDP and it is still not easy to predict the outcome of any electoral contest between the two political parties in the state. Not even the widespread opinion that Governor Tanko Al-Makura has done well in office had changed that status quo.

Al-Makura’s decision to stamp his feet and allow power to shift from Nasarawa South District to Nasarawa North District for fairness 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 favor of President Buhari in the presidential election.

Between 1999 and 2019, the governorship slot had rotated between Nasarawa West and Nasarawa South and any slip will be too costly for APC. Though Al-Makura has anointed Abdullahi Sule (ex-Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery) as APC governorship candidate, the option is left for the people of Nasarawa North to accept him or go for either the PDP candidate, David Ombugadu or APGA candidate, ex-Minister Labaran Maku, who is fast becoming a serial governorship contestant.

With the choice of Sule, APC is in a good stead to retain its hold on the state. A die-hard supporter of President Buhari, ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu is keeping vigil in Nasarawa West and Al-Makura is seeking the senatorial ticket of Nasarawa South as part of steps to gate keep for Buhari in the district. 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.

Verdict: Battleground

NORTH WEST ZONE

KANO STATE

If there is any state giving PDP a headache, it is Kano which has been a hard nut to crack. In the heat of the recent gale of defections, the opposition had toyed with the idea of taking over the state which has about 5,457,747 votes in its kitty.

The PDP has employed all sorts of political gimmicks but it suffered a big setback in the way it conducted the governorship primaries that led to the coronation of Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf, a son-in-law to ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. Following the loss of the APC presidential ticket by Kwankwaso, he left the party with his disenchanted supporters.

But that triggered a counter reaction: the mass movement of ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his supporters from PDP to APC. It was the last straw that broke the carmel’s back. Others who have deserted PDP are Prof. Hafiz Abubakar, a former Deputy Governor to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Aminu Dabo; the immediate past National Treasurer of PDP, Bala Mohammed Gwagwarwa; Security Adviser to Kwankwaso, Gen. Danjuma Dambazzau (rtd); Sen. Isa Zarewa; and Mu’azu Magaji Dan Sarauniya, who was a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on SURE-P.

But in an embarrassing turn of events, almost all of aforementioned who initially left APC with Kwakwaso, have since beat a retreat to the ruling party.

No doubt, APC has a robust edge over PDP in Kano because of Buhari’s factor, the influx of new influential defectors, and the incumbency influence of Governor Ganduje who is more popular among the masses and Islamic clerics.

Since 2003, Buhari has never lost in Kano State and this year’s poll will not be an exception. What remains to be seen if he can once again receive the 1,903,999 votes he got in 2015. PDP only managed 215,779 votes in that contest.

Kwankwaso is now on the opposing side but he will be fighting against the combined forces of Buhari, Ganduje, Shekarau and his erstwhile lieutenants. It is not looking good for the PDP and Atiku.

Verdict: Buhari

ZAMFARA STATE

The irreconcilable intra-party crisis in the APC in Zamfara State has left PDP waiting to be crowned as the next ruling party unless the court upholds the election of Mr. Dauda Lawal as the APC governorship candidate.

Governor Abdulaziz Yari and all the APC stakeholders threw decorum to the wind and the center did not hold again. Not even the intimidating presence of two ex-governors (Sen. Ahmed Sani Yerima and Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi) and the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan Ali could help find a solution to the division.

The fate of the APC lies with the court because INEC has been adamant on its position not to recognize the party’s candidate. The PDP candidate, Alhaji Bello Mohammed Matawale will have to slug it out with the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Abdullahi Sani Shinkafi.

While awaiting the court verdict, the focus of the APC may be the bigger picture of the presidential race between Buhari and Atiku. Since 1999, Zamfara has been a progressive enclave.

Judging by the voting pattern of 2015, APC will have the edge during the presidential poll. Four years ago Buhari received 612,202 votes to 144,833 for the PDP’s Jonathan.

Verdict: Buhari

KADUNA STATE

The political scenario in Kaduna State is 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.

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir 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.

Except for the Buhari factor, El-Rufai may face an uphill task in securing a second term ticket. He is a victim of his own invention to uproot the status quo. 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 ex-Governor Ramalan Yero.

The governor has, however, bred a new generation of young politicians who are managing to warm their hearts into the people of the state. If he succeeds in displacing the old brigade from power next month, he would have created a political record in the state.

So far, the APC may not get substantial votes in Kaduna South District, it has to work harder in Kaduna North and Kaduna Central which are largely populated by Muslims. As a strategist, he might depend on religious and ethnic fault lines to win or else he has to look for a new vocation.

For Buhari, whose natural homestead is Kaduna, he lost in the state during the presidential elections in 2003 and 2007. But in 2011, running on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), he polled 1,334,244 votes to defeat the PDP which received 1,190, 179. That keen contest was reversed four years later when he earned a historic victory with a wide margin in 2015. In that election, he recorded a massive 1,127,760 votes – leaving PDP with just 434,085 votes.

Buhari is likely to retain his grip on the state albeit with a lesser margin in February.

Verdict: Buhari

KATSINA STATE

Despite the formidable nature of PDP in Katsina State, APC would still emerge victorious because of the Buhari factor. The people of the state want power to continue to reside in their domain for the next four years. The party boasts of a majority in the House of Assembly, it also controls all available seats in the National Assembly. Of recent, the APC won by-elections conducted in the state.

Although ex-Governor Ibrahim Shema and the PDP governorship candidate, Garba Yakubu Lado, are pulling some strings, they are unlikely to erode Buhari’s grip on his home territory. Four years ago, he polled 1,345,441 votes here to PDP’s paltry 98,937. The landslide victory of 2015 is likely to be repeated on February 16.

Verdict: Buhari

KEBBI STATE

The sterling performance of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State in the last three and a half years has surpassed all permutations. He has brought his experience in the private sector to bear in managing the economy of the state. His focus on agriculture has led to massive employment and a rice boom. His ability to bring more supporters into APC, especially ex-Governor Saidu Dakingari and his deputy, Ibrahim Aliyu has sealed whatever hope was left for PDP.

The recent attacks on the late Emir of Gwandu by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the PDP over the 53 suit cases ferried into the country in 1984, have made things difficult for the main opposition party.

Buhari won handsomely here in 2015, receiving 567,883 votes to the PDP’s 100,972 votes. He remains hugely popular in the state and is expected to win comfortably.

Verdict: Buhari

SOKOTO STATE

The battle in Sokoto State is between Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and his estranged godfather, ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako – with each of them having stakeholders in the state split between them.

Besides his solid structure, some of those with Wammako are some ex-ministers, lawmakers and APC leaders including Umar Nagwari Tambuwal, Muhammed Maigari Dingyadi, Yusuf Suleiman, Abubakar Shehu Wurno, Jibril Gada, among others. His asset, however, is his closeness to the grassroots.

But what will decide the fate of Tambuwal is performance which is nothing to write home about. He has not been able to match the legacies of Wammako and ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa whose administrations built sustainable infrastructure.

Although Tambuwal enjoys the support of some forces in the Caliphate and the backing of Bafarawa, Mukhtar Shagari and a few other political leaders, he faces a crucial battle in his career. The omens are not too good for him. A few days ago he faced a major embarrassment with the defection of his Commissioner for Information, Bello Muhammad Goronyo, to APC.

The APC had an impressive campaign outing in the state recently and look set to repeat the comfortable victory of 2015. Back then, Buhari received 671, 926 votes compared to 152,199 votes for PDP. Nothing on the ground suggests that this pattern would change dramatically.

Verdict: Buhari

JIGAWA STATE

What is at stake in Jigawa State is a struggle for the soul of the state between ex- Governor Sule Lamido and Governor Abubakar Badaru whose rice production revolution has empowered many citizens. His problems are the alienated political elite and some royal fathers who are not enjoying as much largesse as they used to do in the past.

To Lamido, the loss of PDP to APC in 2015 was a disaster and he is determined to regain control of the state. His Achilles Heel, however, may turn out to be the imposition of Aminu Ringim as the party’s governorship candidate, a development which angered some PDP stalwarts.

The emergence of Bashir Adamu as the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is fast changing the equation in the state. For putting him and his sons on trial, Lamido is staking all his resources to stop APC and Buhari from winning the state.

Both APC and PDP attracted massive crowds when their presidential campaigns stopped over in the state capital, Dutse. However, for Atiku to win here, he would have to cover the margin of over 600,000 votes by which Buhari defeated Jonathan in 2015.

Back then APC polled 885,988 votes to the PDP’s 142,904 votes. That seems, at this point, an insurmountable objective.

Verdict: Buhari

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Re: Buhari VS Atiku: How States Will Vote – The Nationby Clerverly7:26am On Feb 10
SOUTHWEST ZONE

OGUN STATE

The presidential contest in Ogun state is already showing flashes of being an unusual one, but the result is most likely to be same as 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 formal results announced, Buhari won in 13 local governments while PDP won in 7 local government areas.

APC won Ijebu North-East, Odogboolu, Abeokuta North, Ado-Odo/Ota, Abeokuta South, Ewekoro, Obafemi-Owode, Ijebu-Ode, Odeda, Egbado South, Ifo, Egbado North and Ipokia local government areas, while PDP carried the day in Ikenne, Ijebu-North, Ijebu-East, Sagamu, Imeko-Afon, Remo-North and Ogun waterside. Going by the zones, while PDP cleared the entire Remo zone, the APC was the clear winner in Egba and Yewa zones while the Ijebu zone was shared by the two parties almost equally.

Save for a few changes expected to happen here and there, the outcome of the next presidential election in Ogun State may still remain close to what obtained in 2015. 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 Egbaland convincingly.

This is because Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who is also running on the APC ticket in the zone’s senatorial election, is well loved by his people. And in spite of the unusual political ripples within the APC in the state, the two factions, as well as Amosun’s adopted Allied Peoples Movement (APM), are all working hard for the victory of Buhari and the APC in the presidential election.

In the Yewa/Awori area of the state, the APC will win convincingly in all but Imeko-Afon, where Gboyega Isiaka, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) candidate hails from. Isiaka and his party, who are being supported in the race by Obasanjo, have announced their adoption of Atiku as their preferred presidential candidate. Isiaka has a firm grip on the politics of Imeko-Afon and will most likely deliver the local government for the PDP once again.

But in Ado-Odo/Ota, Egbado South, Egbado North and Ipokia local government areas, the APC will win majority of votes largely on the combined strength of Amosun, other APC chieftains like Speaker Suraj Adekunbi, Biyi Otegbeye, Tolu Odebiyi, as well as Adekunle Akinlade, the APM gubernatorial candidate, who is from Ipokia area of the zone. It is obvious that neither Isiaka, nor the PDP can withstand the political strength of this combination.

In Remo zone this time around, the PDP may not find it easy winning the way they did in 2015. Although the party still boasts of formidable chieftains in the area, the lingering face-off between Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon. Ladi Adebutu has done a lot of damage to its presence across Ogun East senatorial district so much so that many of its erstwhile foot-soldiers have dumped the party.

Aside that, the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Dapo Abiodun, two Remo sons from Ikenne-Remo and Iperu Remo respectively, in the race as APC’s vice presidential and governorship candidates, may alter the age-long voting pattern of the people of this zone that has voted PDP massively since 2003. Abiodun will be ably assisted by other APC chieftains like Post-Master General Bisi Adegbuyi from Ode-Remo, former Speaker Muyiwa Oladipupo in Sagamu, among others. As it is, it is most likely that the zone will be shared between the two parties at the presidential poll.

The two parties are likely to retain most of their strongholds in Ijebu zone as they share the votes and council areas in the area at the presidential election. Naturally, Buruji will deliver his native Ijebu North to the PDP and may easily add Ijebu East, but the APC will give him a good run for his money in Ijebu Waterside this time around considering the defection of most of his erstwhile supporters in the area into the ruling APC.

Similarly, the APC will not find it easy winning Ijebu-North East on February 16 on the strength of its declining popularity in the local government. The party lost popularity following the failure of its elected council chairmen, except Adeola Banjo (Lord Banjou), to live up to the expectation of the people. Banjo’s predecessor, who is now one of the people leading the APC’s campaign in the area, is specifically alleged to have done nothing for the people while in office. Sadly, Banjo, like numerous other former chieftains of the party in the area, left the APC for the APM few weeks back.

All in all, 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 galvanize their members towards the presidential election, the APC is looking good to win the presidential election in the state even with a wider margin that it posted in 2015.

Verdict: Buhari

LAGOS STATE

Not minding the threat to “take over Lagos” by the opposition PDP, it is convenient to predict that APC will win convincingly in Lagos State at the presidential poll. Pundits are even of the opinion that the opposition PDP will perform poorer than it did in 2015 when it gave the ruling APC a good fight in all the elections.

APC scored 792, 460 to defeat the PDP which had 632, 327 in the presidential race back then.

Although the PDP governorship candidate is working had to garner the votes for Atiku, the personality of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the APC, and the recent restructuring carried out within the party, will do the trick once again and Buhari will win more votes in Lagos. Also, unlike in 2015 when some fallouts of its party primaries caused serious frictions within its ranks, the APC is today more united that it was four years ago.

Also working against the PDP in Lagos State is the loss of majority of its prominent leaders to the APC. Chieftains like Chief Mrs. Remi Adiukwu, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and its then state chairman, Moshood Salvador, are now in the APC ready to work for Buhari’s re-election. Even Chief Bode George, though still in the PDP and openly supporting Atiku, is on a self-imposed political holiday, leaving the party without a known leader in the state.

The PDP has also lost many of the areas it garnered votes to the APC following the defection of almost all the state and federal lawmakers that won on its platform into the APC. Thus, erstwhile strongholds of the PDP like Oshodi-Isolo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ojo, Badagry and Amuwo-Odofin are now brimming with APC chieftains ready to get the votes for Buhari.

Also, the APC ticket will benefit from the acceptance being enjoyed in the state by Vice President Osinbajo. The choice of Osinbajo has been a hit across the Southwest and this is expected to translate into votes on Election Day for the APC. In spite of the criticisms trailing some of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s policies and projects, observers say the APC government in the state have performed enough to keep the voters trusting its candidates.

However, the PDP is putting up a good fight in the state largely by targeting the votes of non-indigenes across the state. Notably, the vice presidential candidate of the party, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, has been to Alaba International Market, Ladipo Market, Trade Fair Complex and a number of other Igbo-dominated areas in the state to canvass for votes. Agbaje has also been promising non-indigenes better deals under a PDP administration in the state.

Although the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate in the state, Agbaje, are vowing to win the state for Atiku come February, the APC which has intensified its mobilization efforts across the state, looks good to sweep to victory as usual. Analysts say the reality on ground does not support PDP’s claims as the APC look set to run out what remains of the PDP at the next general elections.

VERDICT: Buhari

OYO STATE

APC won the presidential election in Oyo during the last presidential poll. APC scored 528, 620 while PDP got 303, 376. The state used to be the stronghold of the opposition PDP until recently. But today, majority of those chieftains who made the party tick in the state have jumped ship or gone into political oblivion, leaving the party in limbo.

The likes of former governors Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala are no longer with the party. While Ladoja now leads the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the state, Alao-Akala is the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Both leaders have also lost some of their chieftains to the ruling APC in recent times, especially Alao-Akala, who joined the APC briefly after dumping the PDP.

Other erstwhile PDP top guns like former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin and former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Ayodele Adigun are now in the APC working for the success of its presidential candidate. Observers of the politics of the state say PDP in Oyo State is today a ghost of its glorious past and cannot put up any serious challenge to the victory of President Buhari in February.

After an initial threat to its peace by a disagreement between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Communications Minister, Adebayo Shitu, the APC in Oyo appears to have repositioned itself to rout the opposition in all the elections. Buhari will win the highest number of votes in the coming presidential election in the state on the strength of the popularity of his party.

Although the PDP held a well-attended rally in Ibadan, the state capital in December, analysts insist Oyo State will go to APC while the PDP will clinch the first runner up position ahead of any other political party. In spite of their political differences, both Ajimobi and Shittu are vigorously working hard to make sure the state is won by Buhari in the presidential election.

Verdict: Buhari

ONDO STATE

In spite of the state not being under the control of the party, the then presidential candidate of the APC Buhari was declared winner of the presidential election in Ondo State. He polled 299, 889 votes to beat former President Jonathan of the PDP, who got 251, 368 votes, according to results declared by INEC.

The result came as a surprise to many pundits who had thought the PDP will ride on the popularity of the then Governor Olusegun Mimiko to clinch victory. Mimiko had just joined the PDP from the Labour Party at the time as part of efforts to strengthen the PDP in the Southwest zone and enhance the re-election of Jonathan. But the plot failed as Buhari won more votes for the APC.

Come February 16, Buhari and the APC would still win in Ondo State. This is not only because the state is still firmly in the political grip of the ruling party under Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, but largely because Atiku’s party, the PDP has little or no presence in the state as we speak. Political observers say the PDP which used to control the state until 2012, is struggling to stay alive even in Akure, the capital.

Following its loss at the last general election, the opposition party went into disarray with most of its chieftains dumping the party alongside former Governor Mimiko, who is now a senatorial aspirant of little-known Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). The gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2012, Temitayo Jegede seems to have left politics outrightly while Jimoh Ibrahim has been unheard of in the politics of the state since then.

Although they are disagreeing between themselves, the two rival groups in the APC led by Governor Akeredolu and Senator Ajayi Boroffice are working towards the same goal; delivering the votes for Buhari in February. Atiku’s campaign is not being felt in the state and the few PDP members that remain are ruing the exit of the likes of Olusola Oke and Senator Tayo Alasoadura from the party.

VERDICT: Buhari

OSUN STATE

After giving the impression that it was ready to take over the political leadership of Osun State during the last governorship election in the Southwest state, the opposition PDP appears to be fading away from the political firmament of the state so soon. The party in Osun shocked many people when it almost snatched the governorship seat of the state from the ruling APC last year in a keenly contested election.

Shortly before then, the party emerged winner in a senatorial bye election in the state ahead of the ruling APC, sending signals that it was back and better. Many had predicted the return of the party to take over the state politically back then. But few months after that impressive showing, the same cannot be said of the party that governed the state between 2003 and 2011.

Senator Ademola Adeleke, the candidate in the two said elections, is not as visible as he was in the politics of the state since losing in controversial manner to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the APC, amidst indications that the state chapter of the PDP is back to its crisis-ridden self. A sitting Senator, Adeleke surprisingly is not seeking re-election into the upper chamber, leaving the opposition without its star chieftains in the 2019 elections.

For its part, the APC appears to be repositioning itself for new electoral challenges ahead. Governor Oyetola, who took over from Rauf Aregbesola has embarked on a number of fence-mending missions that analysts say are yielding fruits. To add to this, the state managed to conduct crisis-free primary elections to elect its candidates. Consequently, Buhari looks poised to win the presidential election in the state.

To add to the good fortune of the ruling APC and compound the political troubles of the opposition PDP, Senator Iyiola Omisore, one of the erstwhile pillars of the opposition in the state and gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the last election, has pitched his tent with the APC to work for Buhari’s re-election.

However, the APC will surely not repeat the margin it achieved in the state in 2015. Back then it took 383,603 votes to the PDP’s 249,929. This is because in spite of its lackluster approach to the presidential contest, the PDP in Osun still enjoys good followership among the people, especially in Osun West senatorial district where Adeleke hails from. Many of the people there are still aggrieved that the APC allegedly stole the governorship victory from their son and may give protest votes to Atiku and the PDP.

Also, the crisis that trailed the emergence of Oyetola as the candidate of the APC last year led to some prominent APC chieftains dumping the party. Unless some of these people return to the party before the presidential election, some hitherto strongholds of the ruling party may be lost to the opposition. The likes of Peter ‘Power’ Babalola, and Moshood Adeoti must return to the APC for the party to repeat the 2015 feat.

Verdict: Buhari

EKITI STATE

In 2015, PDP won the presidential election in Ekiti State. Jonathan won all the 16 local government areas of the state, according to results of the presidential election announced by INEC. PDP also won all the National Assembly seats in the state. Jonathan polled 176,474 votes ahead of Buhari who got 120, 332 votes.

But many people have attributed the PDP’s surprise victory of 2015 largely to the widespread acceptability enjoyed by the then Governor Ayodele Fayose of the PDP and the federal might provided by the then Jonathan-led federal government. Today, the scenario is totally different. Kayode Fayemi of the APC is governor and the federal government is also under Buhari’s APC.

Can the PDP deliver the state for Atiku this time around? The answer may be an emphatic no especially with the PDP in the state now divided into two groups led by Fayose and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abiodun Olujimi respectively. To make matters worse, the two groups are at war over who should lead the partying the state while the APC is consolidating its grip on the politics of the state.

Governor Fayemi is reaching out to members and non- members of the ruling party to come aboard and be part of his new administration promising that he will not discriminate against those who worked against him. The APC has been reinvigorated by the gubernatorial victory and the party has been receiving decampees from the PDP in droves.

One thing is, however, clear, the presidential election in Ekiti State will be keenly contested as Fayose and Fayemi renew their political rivalry. They both have points to prove. While Fayose wants to prove he is still popular in the state, Fayemi must show that his victory last year wasn’t a fluke. But as it stands, the APC appears to have the advantage.

VERDICT: Buhari

To be cont’d