Thirteen political parties, sponsoring 30 chairmanship candidates, will be participating in today’s elections into the six Areas Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, climaxing several weeks of intense political campaigns.
The parties with candidates are Accord, Action Alliance, Advanced Congress of Democrats, All Progressives Grand Alliance, Citizens Popular Party, Democratic Peoples Congress, Democratic Peoples Party and Mega Progressive Peoples Party.
Others are All Progressives Congress, Progressive Peoples Alliance, Social Democratic Party, Peoples Democratic Party and United Progressive Party.
However, days before now, it became apparent the context is mainly between the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress in pursuit of mandates to form governments in the Area Councils of Abaji, Abuja Municipal, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Bwari and Kwali.
It is the first election into the councils since the APC formed the government at the centre after defeating the PDP in the general elections last year.
Winners of today’s poll, which was initially fixed for March 19 but shifted to April 9, will be sworn in on May 17 when the tenures of the current chairmen ends.
Of all the Councils, the APC currently controls only Gwagwalada Area Council. This factor may prove advantageous for PDP as its members who hold public offices still have their goodwill intact and can deploy substantial influence.
But the APC now controls the FCT Administration. APC chieftains, led by FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello, took campaign to the nooks and crannies of the federal capital territory, while urging members at the grassroots to embark on vigorous campaign in a bid to win all the six Area Councils.
One factor that may count in favour of the PDP is the severe hardship brought on the people by the seemingly intractable fuel scarcity and epileptic power supply, widely blamed on the APC-controlled Federal Government.
But in what appears a strategy to ensure the poor rating of the APC-controlled Federal Government does not negatively affect their fortunes, the APC candidates, more than a month to the election, stopped using President Muhammadu Buhari’s picture on their posters. This is a sharp departure from the practice in the 2015 elections where Mr. Buhari was the “poster boy” for all APC candidates, even beyond Abuja.
Phillip Aduda, the deputy minority leader of the Senate, who represents FCT and his APC challenger in the March 28, 2015 National Assembly election, Sidi Ali, are major factors in today’s election.
While Mr. Ali will be leading the APC in Abaji to take the council from the PDP, Mr. Aduda’s core domain is Abuja Municipal (AMAC) which has been held by the PDP since 1999.
For a total of 1,020,799 registered voters, INEC has deployed 9,933 permanent and ad hoc staff for today’s polls. The staff consist of 9,375 Presiding Officers, 62 Supervising Presiding Officers (SPOs), 62 Collation Officers (CO), and six Returning Officers (RO) with 428 Reserves.
Similarly, the police have deployed 13,000 of its personnel to provide security during the exercise.
Electronic accreditation process, using permanent voter’s card and electronic card reader, will be deployed for the election.