ANALYSIS: How the governorship elections would be won and lost

FILE PHOTO: 2015 Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in Nigeria

The governorship election holds in 29 out of the 36 states today. Election will not hold in Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi, Anambra, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states though the House of Assembly election will be conducted in all the 36 states. In this analysis, Festus Owete projects how the battle would be won and lost by the candidates of the parties.


Abia: It is a three-horse race in the “God’s Own State”. The battle is clearly between the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Okezie Ikpeazu, the All Progressives Grand Alliance’s candidate, Alex Otti, and the All Progressives Congress’ candidate, Chinenye Nyerere. Going by the result of the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly election, bookmakers will give outright victory to the PDP. However, the victory of APC’s Muhammadu Buhari is likely to create some upset. Regardless, that will not be enough to sway victory the APC way. In any case, Chikwendu Udensi of Progressives Peoples Alliance and Chris Akomas of United Progressives Party are certain to put up some good showing. Likely Winner: Okezie Ikpeazu of PDP

Imo: In neighbouring Imo State, the incumbent, Rochas Okorocha, is being intensely challenged by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, the candidate of the PDP. With the result of the Presidential election, in which President Goodluck Jonathan was massively voted for, it is safe to conclude that Mr. Ihedioha will carry the day. But political events are unpredictable. An hour in politics is enough to change the tide. Two factors will work in favour of Mr. Okorocha, who is flying the APC flag. They are the incumbency factor, his performance, especially in the area of free education, and the victory of his party at the centre. The recent visit of Mr. Buhari to Imo, where he was nicknamed “Okechukwu”, will surely boost Mr. Okorocha’s chances of returning for a second term. Likely Winner: Rochas Okorocha of APC

Enugu: The election in the “Coal State” is going to be a straight one between Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of the PDP and Okey Ezea of the APC. Both of them are from the Nsukka zone, which is favoured to produce the next state chief executive. While Mr. Ugwuanyi, a member of the House of Representatives is new in the race, Mr. Ezea has contested the gubernatorial position in the past. Even though the PDP flag-bearer appears to be in the lead going into today’s contest, his main challenger in the APC may be compensated for his resilience like Mr. Buhari at the federal level. Likely Winner: PDP’s Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Ebonyi: The race in Ebonyi is going to be an interesting one. Although, it is a PDP state, having been ruled by the party since 1999, there is the threat of the rampaging Labour Party taking over. The outgoing governor, Martin Elechi, a PDP member, is backing the LP candidate, Edward Nkwegu, against his deputy, Dave Umahi, who is flying the PDP flag. Although the PDP won in both governorship and national assembly elections, the Ebonyians may likely vote Mr. Nkwegu because of the respect Mr. Elechi still commands in the state. Even so, the combination of former governor Sam Egwu, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, and other PDP stalwarts, is certain to resist the governor’s threat. Senator Julius Ucha of the APC is also a frontrunner in the race although his party, like in some other South East states, is not popular in Ebonyi. Likely Winner: LP’s Edward Nkwegu


Rivers: What the result of today’s election will reveal is the supremacy of political gladiators. Though the gubernatorial contest in this oil-rich state is between Dakuku Peterside of the APC and Nyesom Wike of the PDP, the real contest is between the outgoing governor, Chibuike Amaechi, and the Jonathans (President Jonathan and his wife, Patience). While the Jonathans are backing the PDP candidate, a former junior minister, Governor Amaechi is solidly behind the APC man, who is a serving member of the House of Representatives. Besides, in a way, it is going to be a battle of political supremacy between the upland area, where Mr. Wike comes from, and the riverine area where Mr. Peterside hails from. All this will largely define the contest despite PDP’s huge victory in the presidential and federal legislative elections on March 28. However, Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party, also from the riverine area, may have some strength but is not expected to win. He may end up being a candidate for the future. Likely Winner: Too close to call (Between Wike and Peterside).

Akwa Ibom: Like Rivers State, this state is also one to watch. The battle is between PDP’s Udom Emmanuel and APC’s Umana Umana. Mr. Emmanuel was thrown up by the outgoing governor, Godswill Akpabio, who might use the incumbency factor to see his protégé’s victory through. However, the support from some quarters for Mr. Umana is reportedly giving the PDP sleepless night. A former governor of the state, Victor Attah, a former Petroleum Minister, Don Etiebet and a former Vice Chairman of the PDP in the South-South zone, Edet Mkpubre, had recently adopted Mr. Umana as their candidate. There are other candidates for the election, including Senator Helen Esuene of LP and Sam Akpan of Accord party. They are, however, no frontrunners and could perhaps be described as jokers. Likely winner: Too close to call (Between Emmanuel and Umana).

Cross River: The race is essentially between Fidelis Ugbo of LP, Senator Ben Ayade of PDP and Odey Ochicha of APC. Although, Mr. Ayade has an edge over the others, the recent victory of Mr. Buhari in the presidential contest has boosted Mr. Ochicha’s chances of clinching the exalted seat. Likely winner: Ben Ayade of PDP

Delta: Victory here may be defined by ethnicity and Mr. Buhari’s presidential victory. It is a three-horse race between PDP’s Ifeanyi Okowa, a serving senator from the northern district, APC’s O’tega Emerhor and LP’s Great Ogboru. Both Emerhor and Ogboru are of the Urhobo ethnic group, which is the largest single ethnic group in state. The LP and APC candidates will split the Urhobo votes. The Urhobo in the central senatorial district had produced two former governors of the state, Felix Ibru and James Ibori. Although, the state is dominated by the PDP, which won the presidential election in the state on March 28, the victory of Mr. Buhari is certain to impact on the voting behaviour and pattern today. Likely Winner: Ifeanyi Okowa of PDP


Lagos: Until recently, analysts had given away Lagos as a state where APC will contest against itself. But it is no longer so. The PDP candidate here, Jimi Agbaje, is squaring up against APC’s Akinwunmi Ambode in a manner that suggests the victory could go either way. Again, the close victory of Mr. Buhari over Mr. Jonathan in the presidential election might also count for the PDP. The recent outburst by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu that if Igbos in the state fail to vote for APC they would be thrown into the Lagoon is one sure factor that could help Mr. Agbaje. Perhaps, a combination of these factors informed Mr. Buhari’s statement during the week to the effect that the APC cannot afford to lose Lagos. However, if anything, the political dexterity of the APC’s National Leader and former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, will come handy here. Mr. Tinubu will most likely do everything to keep it even if it will be his last major political battle. Likely Winner: Too close to call (Between Ambode and Agbaje).

Oyo: The race here is between the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi of the APC, Teslim Folarin of the PDP, Adebayo Alao-Akala of the LP and Rasheed Ladoja of Accord Party. Seyi Makinde of the SDP is also in the race. Both Messrs Ladoja and Alao-Akala are former governors of the state. Although the APC showed its supremacy in the recent presidential election, it is not certain if it will translate to Mr. Ajimobi’s success at the poll today. This is because of the political realignments that occurred after the presidential poll. Secondly, no governor of the state has ever won a second term. Likely Winner: Abiola Ajimobi of APC

Ogun: The incumbent, Ibikunle Amosun of the APC is set to battle Gboyega Isiaka of the PDP in a keen contest today. The race is basically between the two though there are other candidates, including Akin Odunsi of SDP. Both Messrs Odunsi and Isiaka are from Ogun west, which has not produced the state governor since its creation in 1976. Mr. Amosun is from the central senatorial district. In the build up to the APC primary election, the governor faced so many challenges, including those from his deputy, Segun Adesegun, and a former governor of the state, Olusegun Osoba. All that have been settled as they defected to another party. In today’s contest, the governor may carry the day not only because of his popularity but also due to other factors, one of which is that the people of the state would want to honour their son, Yemi Osinbajo, who was recently elected the nation’s vice president with their votes for the APC. Likely Winner: Ibikunle Amosun of APC.


Benue: There are two major contenders here – Samuel Ortom of APC and Terhemen Tazoor of the PDP. Mr. Tazoor is a former Speaker of the House of Assembly. Although, it has always been a PDP state since 1999, the ruling party is facing an unprecedented threat from the opposition more than ever before. The victory of the APC in the presidential and National Assembly elections two weeks ago has made it a state to watch. The party won two senatorial districts in the state. Mr. Ortom, alongside a former National Chairman of the PDP, Barnabas Gemade, defected from the ruling party a few months ago following the rancour that trailed the primary election. What appears to be going for the APC is the poor performance of the outgoing governor, Gabriel Suswam, who seemed to have run out of ideas on how to move the state forward. Likely Winner: Samuel Ortom of APC

Niger: The battle here is between two major contenders, the youthful Umar Nasko, son of a former army general, Gado Nasko and Abubakar Bello of APC. The victory of the APC in the presidential election and all the three senatorial districts two weeks ago is a major threat to the emergence of Mr. Nasko as the next governor. Similarly, the seeming unpopularity of the outgoing Governor, Aliyu Babangida, who himself failed in the senatorial election, may count against Mr. Nasko today. However, the state has always been in the kitty of the PDP since 1999. Likely winner: Abubakar Bello of APC

Nasarawa: Governor Tanko Al-Makura of the APC is facing a fierce challenge from a retired civil servant, Yusuf Agabi, of the PDP. Yet, a former Information Minister, Labara Maku of APGA is trailing behind. Although controlled by the APC, the trouncing of Mr. Buhari of APC by Mr. Jonathan in the presidential election in the state is a major threat to Mr. Al-Makura’s bid for second term. Likely Winner: Too close to call (Between Al-Makura of APC and Agabi of PDP).

Plateau: PDP’s Gyang Pwajok and APC’s Simon Lalong are the two major contenders in today’s election. The state has always been in PDP’s kitty, but the recent impressive performance put up by Mr. Buhari may alter the equation in today’s contest. Already, there are reports of some political gladiators defecting from the PDP. If this is anything to go by, Mr. Pwajok may lose. What with the raging bitterness arising from the conduct of the primary election last December. Some political leaders in the state are not happy that the PDP candidate is from the same place as the outgoing governor, Jonah Jang. Likely Winner: Too close to call (Between PDP ‘s Pwajok and and APC’s Lalong).

Kwara: Today, the APC candidate and incumbent governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, will slug it out with his main challenger, Simeon Ajibola of the PDP. However, as things stand, the contest will not be keen though Mr. Ajibola is believed to be a grassroots politician who has never lost any election. He is in the Senate for the third time running. However, many attribute his staying power to support he enjoyed from the Sarakis. This is disputable, anyway. Yet, analysts say the APC structure headed by a former governor of the state, Bukola Saraki, is too massive and strong to be threatened by the PDP, on whose platform he (Saraki) governed the state between 2003 and 2011. This week’s reconciliation of Mr. Saraki and his younger sister, Gbemisola, herself a former senator, will certainly affect the PDP’s fortunes in the election. Mike Omotosho, the LP candidate is not a major contender. Likely Winner: Abdulfatah Ahmed of APC


Taraba: In this North Eastern state, the race is between APC’s Jummai Alhassan, a senator and former civil servant and PDP’s Dairus Ishyaku, a former Minister of State for Niger Delta. The third major contender is David Kente of the SDP. Mr. Ishyaku is believed to have been propped up by a former Defence Minister, Theophilus Danjuma, an indigene of the state and the political family of the ailing Governor Danbaba Suntai. This factor may work for Mr. Ishyaku. Again, the result of the presidential and national assembly election shows that it is still dominated by the PDP as it has always been since 1999. Likely Winner: Dairus Ishyaku of PDP

Gombe: The incumbent, Ibrahim Dankwambo of the PDP is facing a major challenge from Inuwa Yahaya of the APC. The victory of APC’s Mr. Buhari in the presidential election and the party’s victory in two of the senatorial districts sent jitters down the spine of the governor and members of his camp. A former governor of the state and serving senator, Danjuma Goje, is said to have been the rallying point for the APC members in the state. Already, some PDP members are planning to quit the PDP for the APC. However, the incumbency factor could still help Mr. Dankwambo, who is also said to have put up a superlative performance since he assumed office four years ago. Likely Winner: Inuwa Yahaya of APC

Bauchi: In neighbouring Bauchi, the politics is interesting. The ruling PDP lost in the presidential and national assembly elections to the “rampaging” APC even though the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, hails from the state. In today’s contest to succeed Governor Isa Yuguda, Auwal Jatau of the PDP and the youthful Mohammed Abubakar of the APC are the major contenders. Likely Winner: Mohammed Abubakar of APC

Adamawa: This is also a state to watch. The pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu of the PDP and Jubrilla Bindow of the APC are the major contenders. However, Marcus Gundiri of the SDP cannot be dismissed outright because of his past political exploits and his capacity to win votes from the Christian population in the state. Although, it’s traditionally a PDP state, the defection of former Governor Murtala Nyako brought some life to the opposition in the state. A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, is part of this opposition as well. The APC won the state in the presidential election but the people might vote the way of PDP in today’s gubernatorial election. Likely Winner: Too close to call (Between Ribadu of PDP and Bindow of APC).

Borno: Since 1999, the PDP has never won in this state. The situation might not be different today. It voted massively for Mr. Buhari of APC in the recent presidential election. In today’s contest, the incumbent governor, Kashim Shettima of the APC will be challenged by PDP’s Gambo Lawan. Likely Winner: Kashim Shettima of APC

Yobe: Like in Borno State, the PDP has never been in power in Yobe State and the situation is not likely to change. The contest today is between Governor Ibrahim Geidam of the APC and Adamu Waziri, a former police affairs minister, of the PDP. Mr. Waziri is coming back to the race after eight years as he was also the PDP candidate in the 2007 election. He ran against the late Mamman Ali of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party. Likely Winner: Kashim Geidam of APC


Kano: The major contenders are the incumbent deputy governor, Umar Ganduje of the APC and Sagir Takai of the PDP. Both are political heavyweights, but the incumbency factor might secure victory for Mr. Ganduje. Besides, the popularity of Mr. Buhari in the state as well as the performance of Governor Rabi’u Kwakwaso will be an added advantage for the APC candidate. However, with the combination of former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, foreign Minister Aminu Wali and other PDP chieftains, the road to victory for the APC might not be an easy one. Likely Winner: Umar Ganduje of APC

Katsina: Although ruled by the PDP, the APC’s resounding victory in the Presidential and National Assembly elections two weeks ago is a source of worry for the ruling party. It is the home state of Mr. Buhari and it may likely go the APC way. The PDP is fielding Musa Nashuni while the APC is fielding Aminu Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Likely Winner: Aminu Masari of APC

Jigawa: The main contenders are PDP’s Aminu Ringim and APC’s Muhammad Abubakar. Although the APC won the presidential election here two weeks ago, the people might go PDP’s way in today’s contest. The outgoing governor, Sule Lamido, who is popular in the state, might put up a good fight to sway victory in the direction of his anointed one. Likely Winner: Aminu Ringim of PDP

Kebbi: The major candidates are Sarkin Yakin Bello of the PDP and Abubakar Bagudu of the APC. Both are strong candidates. The state is currently ruled by the PDP but the bandwagon effect occasioned by Mr. Buhari’s victory in the presidential poll might create some upset. Likely Winner: Abubakar Bagudu of APC

Zamfara: The race is between the incumbent governor, Abdulaziz Yari of the APC and Mamuda Shinkafi of the PDP. Mr. Shinkafi is a former governor on ANPP ticket but crossed to the PDP some years ago and was defeated by Mr. Yari in the 2011 election. The PDP has never won here and the situation might not change today. Likely Winner: Abdulaziz Yari of APC

Sokoto: The battle in this Caliphate state is between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal of APC and his former boss, Abdallah Wali of the PDP. Mr. Tambuwal was an aide to Mr. Wali when the latter was Senate Leader under former Senate President, Evan Enwerem. The victory the APC posted in this state during the presidential election will certainly determine the direction the people will go today. Likely Winner: Aminu Tambuwal of APC.

Kaduna: This is going to be a battle ground because the PDP and the APC are presenting two political titans struggling hard for the position. The former is fielding the incumbent, Ramalan Yero, while the latter is presenting a former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Nasir El-Rufai. Reputed to be the political capital of the North, Kaduna State has always been in PDP’s kitty. But the entry of Mr. El-Rufai into the race is giving the PDP elements seriousworry. Again, Mr. Buhari’s victory in the March 28 presidential poll here will certainly affect the way today’s election would go. However, Vice President Namadi Sambo will mobilize the PDP machinery to put up his last fierce political battle to keep the party in the hands of the party. Likely Winner: El-Rufai of the APC

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