The Nation http://thenationonlineng.net/buhari-vs-atiku-how-states-will-vote-ii/
BUHARI VS ATIKU: HOW STATES WILL VOTE (II)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
7 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Buhari VS Atiku: How States Will Vote – The Nationby Clerverly: 7:20am On Feb 10|
NORTH CENTRAL ZONE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.