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Buhari versus Atiku: How states will vote

Buhari versus Atiku: How states will vote

The die is cast. In 34 days, the 2019 presidential contest would have been won and lost by candidates seeking the mandate from 84 million Nigerian voters. 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 largest 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.

With the publication of voters’ register during the week by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all is set for the February general elections with 84, 004, 084 million eligible Nigerians deciding the fate of an all-time record 18,400  candidates.

The breakdown includes 1,800 for 109 Senatorial seats; 2,600 to jostle for 360 House of Representatives slots; and 14,000 for 991 state House of Assembly offices.

The coming poll has some significant statistical changes – including being the first time the nation’s voter register will rise by close to 50 per cent (from 57million in 2015 to 84million in 2019). Also, 73 political parties are participating in the contest.

Another remarkable feature is the close monitoring of campaign finance which appears to have curtailed the unrestrained splashing of cash that was the case four years ago.

Already, all candidates are in the field canvassing for votes. Every zone is now important going by the likely haul of votes available to candidates. 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.

The 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 because of these defections and other local factors, we may  see some changes in the electoral map.

The main contest is expected to pitch Muhammadu Buharu of the APC against long-standing aspirant, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has former Cross River State Governor Donald Duke and former minister Professor Jerry Gana at war as to who the real candidate is.

Other notable candidates include businessman and former activist, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim of the People’s Trust pasrty, who might have a decent showing in the North-Central zone after being endorsed by a clutch of Middle-Belt leaders.

Former Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor, Professor Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), have also been vocal on the hustings. They may have added colour to the campaigns but would probably end up as footnotes.

As the countdown begins to 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 the last three 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 a former 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 on Monday and Tuesday 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, Buhari and APC may still retain the grip and the governor might survive his re-election campaign by a whisker.

The underdog in the race in Bauchi State is the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) which has a credible candidate in its gubernatorial nominee, Prof. Muhammed Ali Pate, who was a former Minister of Health. Pate is creating an unprecedented wave in the state and he might win the governorship race on merit if Bauchi voters live up to their revolutionary inclination.

Verdict: Battleground

BORNO STATE

In spite of the insurgency, Borno is certainly a stronghold of the APC and President Buhari. The people of the state have undiluted loyalty to Buhari 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 candidate might 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 in not only 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 landslide.

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 since 1999, and the current Senator representing Yobe South Senatorial Zone, Mohammed Hassan. They both emerged from parallel primaries.

There is likelihood of APC getting 90 per cent of the votes in Yobe.

Verdict: Buhari

TARABA STATE

With the APC not getting its act together, PDP will have an easy ride in Taraba State because Governor Ishaku Darius is still popular. 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 in good stead for next month’s election. PDP will retain its hold on Taraba.

Verdict: Atiku

GOMBE STATE

It is going to be a fight-to-the-finish between APC and PDP in Gombe State where 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 of the APC or PDP will win 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 the 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 the House of Representatives, Senator Bayero Nafada, who is a Fulani from Gombe North.

The PDP has a big hurdle to cross in 2019 bordering on the refusal of Dankwambo to honour its 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 tribes in the state are Fulani (Northern part); Tangale (Southern part); Hausa, Tera, Waja, Bolewa, and Kanuri. Both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidential Candidate of PDP are of Kanuri and Fulani descent. The race is 50-50 in Gombe.

Verdict: Battleground

ADAMAWA STATE

Adamawa has been a PDP state since 1999 until the broom change of the APC 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 a co-contestant in the presidential race; some members of the Kaduna Mafia, who determine the direction of Northern politics, are from the state; and the heterogeneous nature of the state makes it politically fluid.

The likely factors in the state are religion, ethnicity, security challenges, the political elites, 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 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. He was unceremoniously impeached due to his comments on the Boko Haram insurgency and spat with the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Although Atiku attempted to install a governorship candidate in 2015 under the banner of APC, he failed in his bid because Governor 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.  Adamawa is too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

NORTH CENTRAL ZONE

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 President Buhari is his asset. The president is still adored in the state more than his PDP challenger, Atiku Abubakar.

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.

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

BENUE STATE

The farmers-herders clashes last year will surely define all the strands of the February poll in Benue State. For providing leadership at the right time, even though bare handed as the Chief Security Officer of the state, Governor Samuel Ortom, earned instant political sympathy and all his shortcomings were forgiven by the citizens.

The enactment of Open Grazing Prohibition Law and latching on to the age old Tiv-Fulani animosity added to his mileage. The governor was also quick to seize the momentum when he quickly defected to PDP since his people were already blaming the APC at the center for alleged mismanagement of the conflicts.

Unlike in 2015, PDP in the state is more united and stronger after Ortom and ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam sunk their differences. It is certainly the party to beat in the state.

The APC arsenal is still being managed by ex-Governor George Akume, whose political large-heartedness is appreciated. He is sailing against the winds in view of the propaganda against his party which has made the turf very tough.

Akume’s jokers revolve around propping up issues-based campaign against PDP administration in the state bordering on outstanding salaries of workers, the management of bailout funds and London-Paris Club refunds and the fact that President Buhari has curtailed farmers-herders crises in the state.

The choice of Emmanuel Jime, the outgoing Director-General of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), as the APC governorship candidate is the icing of the cake for the party because the decision will add value to its campaign.

If the Idoma vote for APC as a result of the weighty influence of the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the race might be too close to call. But the rating so far is about 60-40 per cent in favour of PDP.

Verdict: Atiku

PLATEAU STATE

The political climate in Plateau State is similar to its twin sister, Benue State, 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 PDP’s antidote is the choice of the 75-year old Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni, who was a former Minister of FCT under the late Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

For Lalong, age is on his side and his generation will be more preferable than the septuagenarian Useni.

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. 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.

In spite of the fact that Lalong may defeat Useni, the presidential race might be neck and neck with PDP having a little edge.

Verdict: Battleground

KWARA STATE

Since 2003, Buhari has always secured more than 25 per cent of the votes in Kwara State. The mass discontent against the PDP administration and the urge to liberate the state from the hegemony of the Saraki Dynasty (symbolized by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki) has brightened the chances of APC and Buhari.

The catchy slogan in the state is “O to ge” (Yoruba for ‘Enough is Enough’). Even when Saraki appeared on a television programme in the week, the “O to ge” cry re-echoed and he was sweating to wave it off as a non-issue.

For the first time in 15 years, Saraki is facing a major ballot test which has overstretched him physically and financially. He had underrated the opposition but the loss of Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency seat to APC jolted him to accept the reality that his empire is crumbling.

This is also the first time Saraki will fight for survival without the federal might he had always leaned on against his opponents. Without the backing of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency, the Saraki Dynasty could not have defeated the defunct All Peoples Party governorship candidate, the late Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal.

He later became a member of the inner caucus of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to consolidate his grip on the state.

The factors that will shape the race are poor performance of PDP and its governor; dilapidated infrastructure in the state; non-payment of outstanding salaries of local government workers, lecturers of state-owned tertiary institutions and street sweepers; the defections of bigwigs and members of Saraki Dynasty from PDP to APC; likely protest votes by some loyalists of Saraki still perching in PDP; reneging on commitment to power shift to Kwara North; the neglect of Kwara South;  the division in Ilorin Emirate occasioned by the APC governorship candidature of Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the challenge which the choice of PDP governorship candidate, Abdulrazaq Atunwa has provoked.

Saraki has, however, resuscitated his father’s winning formula like emergency upgrading of traditional rulers, buying choice cars for royal fathers and emirate chiefs, whipping up anti-South-West sentiments and many interventions including the doling out of N16million to offset the salaries of workers in Irepodun Local Government Area.

Out of the three Senatorial Districts in the state, two districts (Kwara North and South) are dicey for PDP and Kwara Central where Saraki comes from is hot now. The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is now the arrowhead of the “O to ge” revolution in the state.

All the projections are of a very, very tight race. But Saraki may survive the battle of his life by a whisker.

Verdict: Atiku

KOGI STATE

The alleged maladministration of Kogi by Governor Yahaya Bello with salary arrears has pitched him against the people of the state. The turnout at PDP rally in Lokoja created upset in APC in the state because it was contrary to the permutations of the ruling party. Out of the three senatorial districts, Bello is still very strong in Kogi Central among his kinsmen. He remains unpopular in Kogi East and Kogi West where Sen. Smart Adeyemi is rebuilding the party to chase away PDP and the embattled Sen. Dino Melaye.

The luck Bello has is that he is not seeking re-election until later in the year. The February poll is a litmus test to evaluate himself and make amends. Otherwise he is sitting on a fragile throne.

Kogi is dicey. It is a 50-50 scenario.

Verdict: Battleground

NASARAWA STATE

Governor Umar Tanko 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.

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 may make the party to defeat PDP again. It is still an APC state.

Verdict: Buhari

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 employed all 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, who is a son-in-law to ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. The loss of the presidential ticket by Kwankwaso left the party and its supporters disenchanted.

The mass movement of ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his supporters from PDP to APC 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.

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

Since 2003, Buhari has never lost in Kano State and this year’s poll will not be an exception. PDP is beginning to realize that Kwankwaso is more of a liability to it than it assumed when it handed over the party’s structure to him. A 70-30 % win is more likely for APC in the state.

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 canmdidate (Dauda Lawal). 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. APC may have an edge during the presidential poll.

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 he won in 2011 and earned a historic victory with a wide margin in 2015 because of PDP elements/giants in the old brigade.

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 will 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 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 cannot erode Buhari’s votes for Atiku/ PDP in Katsina State.

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 rice boom. His ability to win more souls 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 remains highly popular in the state.

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.

Apart from constant shuttle to Abuja, the governor is weak in administration to the extent that simple decisions have to await his endorsement.  In the last one year, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been placed on irregular cash allocations such that they exist only in name.

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.

Irrespective of where the pendulum swings, Tambuwal cannot stop Buhari from defeating other presidential candidates in the state.

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 of the state. His problems are the alienated political elites 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.

It is a 50-50 game at present.

Verdict: Battleground

FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY

If there are going to be any upsets in this electoral cycle, don’t look for them to happen in Abuja or the rest of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Buhari and the ruling APC have always done well here in recent years and it is expected that the president would win easily here come February 16.

Verdict: Buhari

SOUTHWEST ZONE

LAGOS

APC will win convincingly in Lagos State. 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. The personality of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the recent restructuring carried out within the party will do the trick once again and President Muhammadu Buhari will win more votes in Lagos.

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 President Buhari’s re-election. Even Chief Bode George, though still in the PDP, is on a self-imposed political holiday, leaving the party without a known leader in the state.

Also, the APC ticket will benefit from the acceptance being enjoyed in the state by Vice President Yemi Osibajo. 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.

Although the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate in the state, Jimi Agbaje, are vowing to win the state for Atiku come February, analysts say the reality on ground does not support such claims as the APC look set to run out what remains of the PDP at the next general elections. All things being equal, Buhari of the APC should coast home with about 70% of the total votes cast in the state.

VERDICT: Buhari

 OGUN

Notwithstanding the internal crisis that is troubling his party, the APC in Ogun State, following Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s controversial decision to oppose the ambition of Dapo Abiodun, the party’s gubernatorial candidate and support Adekunle Akinlade of the little known Allied Peoples Movement (APM), President Buhari will still win more votes than any other presidential candidate in the state.

In 2015, APC won the presidential poll with a slim margin. But pundits say the party will do better this year as the opposition PDP and its candidate, Abubakar Atiku, appear to be unable to put its house in order and mount a serious challenge as the election draws closer. The PDP is seriously factionalized in the state with Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon. Ladi Adebutu laying claims to the gubernatorial ticket. Numerous cases are pending in court over the issue.

Also, the choice of Gbenga Daniel as the Director-General of Atiku’s campaign has kept the Buruji faction, which obviously has the larger membership of the two factions, out of the PDP presidential campaign. Thus, Atiku’s campaign is not being felt across the state as it should be felt. To further position Buhari for victory in the state; his candidature was recently endorsed by the APM in the state with tacit support from Governor Amosun.

Another reason why political observers have given the state to Buhari is the Osibajo factor. Although based in Lagos, the Vice President hails from Ikenne-Remo in the eastern senatorial district of the state. It is expected that his kinsmen from Remoland and other parts of the state will because of him, support and vote for the APC presidential ticket come February.

VERDICT: Buhari

OYO

Oyo used to be the stronghold of the opposition PDP until recently. But today, majority of those chieftains who made the party thick 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).

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, Barrister Adebayo Shitu, the APC in Oyo appear 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 Oyo state on the strength of the popularity of his party in the state.

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

Buhari and the APC will win massively during the next presidential election in Ondo state. This is not only because the state is 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 statue until 2012, is struggling to stay alive even in Akure, the state 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 Olusegun Mimiko, who is now the presidential aspirant of unknown Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). The gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2012, Temitayo Jegede seems to have left politics outrightly while Barrister 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 remains are rueing the exit of the likes of Olusola Oke and Senator Tayo Alasoadura from the party.

VERDICT: Buhari

OSUN

The PDP in Osun shocked many people when it almost snatched the guvernorship 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 surprise spinning 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.

On its own, 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 vowed are yielding fruits. To add to this, the state managed to conduct crisis-free primary elections to elect its candidates. Consequently, President Buhari looked poised to win the presidential election in the state.

However, the APC will surely not repeat the landslide feat it posed in the state in 2015. This is because in spite of its lackluster approach to the presidential contest, the PDP in Osun state 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 goober 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 this 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

In 2015, PDP won the presidential election in Ekiti State. But many people have attributed largely to the widespread acceptability enjoyed by the then Governor Ayodele Fayose of the PDP and the federal might provided by the then Goodluck 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 ex-Governor Fayose and Governor 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 let year wasn’t a fluke. But as it stands, the APC appears rot have an edge.

VERDICT: Buhari

SOUTHEAST ZONE

ANAMBRA

Anambra State is currently ruled by an All Progressives Grand Alliance-led government. Since the death of its former Presidential candidate, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in 2011, the party had been aligning with the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in most of the presidential elections.

It would be recalled that when the ruling party, APGA, aligned with PDP in 2015 Presidential Election, PDP’s Dr. Goodluck Jonathan got 660,762 out of the 688,584 valid votes cast in the state. APC then got 17,926 votes to come second.

Today, the case is different. APGA is fielding its presidential candidate, Retired General John Ogbo. This suggests that the advantage PDP has been enjoying as a result of the cooperation of APGA in the state may be denied during this presidential election.

However, PDP evidently has a boost because the former governor of the state, Peter Obi, is it’s vice presidential candidate. It is a fact that in Anambra, Obi is well loved and has incredible grassroots support. This, added to the feeling that ‘PDP has fielded our own son’ will go a long way in securing votes for PDP’s Atiku.

The snag for PDP however is that Governor Willie Obiano, the estranged former political son of Obi, who is alleged to have secretly endorsed APC’s Buhari, is out to continue the political rivalry that has been raging between him and Obi since the two parted ways. He is closely supported in this assignment by Senator Victor Umeh, also a former political ally of Obi. The governor and the former National Chairman of APGA are some of the forces that will battle Obi and PDP in this coming presidential election.

If the governor finally gives secret support to Buhari as is being alleged in order to slight Obi and PDP, APC chieftains, like Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, will be further empowered to win more votes for APC and Buhari.

This notwithstanding, PDP seems most set to win the presidential election in the state. It seems difficult to imagine that the Atiku/Obi ticket can lose in Anambra State, where Obi hails from.

Verdict: Atiku

ENUGU

The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is poised to win the presidential election in Enugu State notwithstanding the recent progress made by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the PDP stronghold.

This is because the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led PDP state government has in a way deepened the party’s firm hold on the politics of the state. Widely endorsed across the state, analysts said the governor has not only delivered dividends of democracy to the people, thereby sustaining the popularity of his party, but has also managed to remain what analysts described as a friend of all in Enugu, including the opposition in the state. His performance is considered one of the major planks upon which his party, the PDP, hopes to win the forthcoming elections.

Another major force that will work in favour of PDP in the state is the influence of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who hails from the state and is a strong ally of Governor Ugwuanyi. We gathered that the closeness of these two grassroots political leaders has remained one of PDP’s gains in the state.

It would be recalled that since the return of democracy in 1999, Enugu has remained a PDP state. In 2015, for example, PDP garnered 553,003 out of the total 573,173 viable votes cast in that year’s presidential election, leaving the remaining 13 political parties that contested that election to share the remaining 20,170 votes.

Observers, who have monitored the progress so far made by APC in the state, said the margin may not be this wide in the forthcoming presidential election. This is because APC in the state now boasts of top political leaders like former Governor Sullivan Chime, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Senator Ayogu Eze, its governorship candidate. According to an informed analyst, ‘if not for the misunderstanding that trailed the party’s primaries, it would have by now emerged a stronger opposition to PDP in the state.’ It would be recalled that even when the party did not boast of some of these political leaders in its fold in 2015, it got 14,157 of the total 573,173 valid votes cast in that year’s presidential election, thus emerging second to PDP.

Even more than 2015, it could be seen that this year’s presidential election will be a two horse race in Enugu State. It will be a race between PDP’s Atiku and APC’s Buhari. They two have influential politicians campaigning for them, but PDP, which has power of incumbency and age-long loyalty, has greater chances of winning, not only because of the internal dynamics that still favours it but also because PDP’s Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, from the neighbouring Anambra State, also enjoys wide acceptability in the state.

Verdict: Atiku

ABIA

Abia State has been another Peoples Democratic Party’s stronghold since 1999. But reports of under-performance or near total lack of dividends of democracy there have resulted to outcry from across the state for a far reaching change.

This feeling will ultimately affect the result of the forthcoming presidential election in the state. Most stakeholders are furious to note that Abia, though an oil-producing state, is today one of the least developed in the country, a development that has resulted in aggressive agitation for change of leadership. How that change will affect the ruling Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu-led PDP in the state, both in the governorship and presidential elections, promises to be intriguing.

The feeling that the state needed socio-political change preceded 2015 elections. Then, majority of voters simply stayed away during Election Day. The records showed that, that year, the state recorded high level political apathy.   Out of the 1,349,134 registered voters, only 401,049 cast their votes during the presidential election. Our investigation shows that this attitude has changed tremendously. In all the 17 local government areas of the state, campaigns have been comparatively more passionate and determined. It is being alleged that the renewed interest is a result of well-coordinated schemes to put Abia on a new path.

Already, two political parties are particularly strong enough to effectively challenge PDP in the elections in the state. They are the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, who is also the party’s senatorial candidate for Abia North and of course the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), led by Dr. Alex Otti, its governorship candidate.

But it would be recalled that PDP convincingly won the 2015 presidential election in the state by getting 368,303 of the total 391,045 valid votes. That year, APGA had officially endorsed PDP’s presidential candidate, former President Goodluck Jonathan, as its candidate. This is not the case today.

However, our investigation shows that notwithstanding the aggressive campaign to tackle the PDP in the state elections, the party may still win the presidential election easily. This is because of the obvious popularity of Peter Obi, the Vice Presidential Candidate of PDP in particular and the relative acceptability of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the state.

Considering the possibility that APGA may be convinced to support one of the two leading presidential candidates, APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari and PDP’s Alhaji Atiku Abubakar during the presidential election in Abia State, some informed observers said PDP could not, as at today be absolutely certain it would win in the state.

APC can no longer be taken for granted in Abia today. It would be recalled that even in 2015, when the party did not have some political heavyweights it parades today, it came second in the state during the presidential election when it got 13,394 valid votes. So, the permutation today is that if Otti-led APGA finally supports APC during the presidential polls, the table may turn against PDP. However, the same would be the case if Otti and his party forget the political experience with PDP in 2015 and support the party. So, in all, the decision of APGA will significantly affect the presidential result in Abia, but the race remains a two horse race between APC’s Buhari and PDP’s Atiku.

Verdict: Atiku

IMO

Imo is the only Southeast state currently run by an All Progressives Congress-led government. As the presidential election draws closer, there is the fear that APC may not take it for granted that it would win the race in the state.

This is because of the high level of criticism against the leadership of Governor Rochas Okorocha, a development that was worsened by the fallout of the governorship primaries’ disagreements which led to a major division between Okorocha and the leadership of the ruling party, APC, over the choice of the governorship candidate. While Okorocha had pushed for Uche Nwosu as the party’s candidate, the party finally chooses Senator Hope Uzodinma with the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, as his running mate.

Since then there has been the suspicion that Okorocha, whose choice, his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, had since left the party to fly the flag of another party, may channel all his political resources to ensure his victory during the governorship election.

While this seems most likely, following Okorocha’s decision to remain in APC in spite of the disagreement, there is the possibility that during the presidential election, he may work for Buhari’s victory. If he works for APC during the presidential election, Buhari’s fortunes in Imo would be promoted. But this is rather tricky as it remains to be seen how Okorocha’s supporters in Imo would work with Uzodinma and Madumere’s supporters in that election only to part ways during every other election.

It seems certain that this political puzzle will remain unraveled until the Election Day and as would be expected, until it becomes certain how the estranged former political allies would relate during the presidential election, no one can say for certain how the party’s presidential candidate, Buhari, will fare in the election in the Southeast state.

Incidentally, the uncertainty is not limited to APC. The other leading party, the PDP, can no longer be described as being very strong in Imo as it was in 2015. Although PDP’s strongman, former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, is one of the earliest Igbo political elites to publicly hail the choice of Peter Obi as PDP vice presidential candidate, and to pledge commitment to work for the victory of Atiku, it remains to be seen how popular and united PDP in the state is today. Also, unlike in Abia, where some analysts believe APGA may be persuaded to support either APC or PDP candidate, the political rivalries in Imo may make such a possibility more difficult. As at today, it is not yet certain which of the two leading presidential candidates Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the APGA governorship candidate and his supporters will support. So, the two candidates, Buhari and Atiku may have to rely on the strength of their political parties and their individual popularities for victory.

Whatever may be the case, the picture will certainly not be a repeat of 2015 scenario, where, out of the 702,964 valid votes, PDP, with the cooperation of APGA, garnered 559,185 votes, leaving only 133,253 votes for APC which eventually took the governorship election.

This time, APC and PDP would have to fight hard to win the presidential election.

Verdict: Battleground

EBONYI

Ebonyi State has remained a PDP state since 1999 and there is no definitive factor that suggests there would be a change in this year’s presidential election.

It would be recalled that out of the 363,888 valid votes cast in the state in 2015, PDP, in collaboration with APGA, harvested a whopping 323,653 votes, leaving only 19,518 for APC, which came second.

Since APGA has its presidential candidate for this year’s election, in the person of retired General John Ogbo, PDP may not get the support it got from the party in 2015.

However, even without the support of APGA as a political party, sources said most of the APGA grassroots members may vote for PDP in the presidential election.

Following the clarification mid last year that the argument over positions between old members and new members did not succeed in dividing the party in the state, it seems the major challenge the PDP candidate may have in Ebonyi would derive from the fear that Governor Dave Umahi, who led the Southeast governors to express reservations over the nomination of Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate, may not give the candidates the required support. This is even more, when it is a well-known fact that the PDP governor is a political admirer of President Buhari, the APC candidate.  It would be recalled that just last year, as the political parties were putting final touches to the candidates they would present to Nigerians, Umahi was quoted as saying: “When it comes to presidency, we no dey do party.

“It is the man that will help us to develop this state, that’s the man we will support. But for governorship, national assembly and state assembly don’t go there.

“Nobody will touch it. For presidency, we will negotiate; we will like the person to discuss with our traditional rulers as stakeholders.”

Since that report, there is speculation that Ebonyi may be more complex in the coming presidential election than it has ever been.

The uncertainty over the likely reaction of PDP supporters in the state notwithstanding, there is the feeling that the party still stands a great chance because APC in the state may not have improved so much as to expect any tangible difference in its 2015 performance. It would be recalled that although it came second in 2015, the party, led in the state by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology, got only19,518 votes.

If, as is being alleged, the party’s current efforts to deepen its acceptability at the grassroots have not yielded significant result, then the result of the presidential election this year may not be much different from the 2015 result.

Verdict: Atiku

SOUTH-SOUTH ZONE

BAYELSA

Since 1999, Bayelsa has remained a Peoples Democratic Party state. The state, which produced the last PDP president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, still boasts of PDP faithful at the grassroots.

Out of the 367,067 valid votes cast in the state in 2015, PDP got 361,209 votes, leaving only 5,194 votes for APC, which came second.

However, so much has happened in the state’s political texture since then. For example, the deft competition during the January 9, 2016 governorship bye election, which followed the inconclusive substantive election held on December 5, 2015, confirmed the growing influence of APC in the state.

At the end of the hot contest however, the incumbent governor and the candidate of PDP, Seriake Dickson, emerged the winner.

According to the results announced by Zana Akpaogu, the Returning Officer for the election, Dickson polled 134,998 votes to defeat Timipre Sylva, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress who scored 86,852 votes.

Also, the ruling PDP has been battling with some internal disagreements that have threatened its fortunes in this year’s presidential election. One of the issues that threatened the unity of the party in the state was the automatic return ticket ripples. Late last year for example, some concerned stakeholders of the party in the state had to call on the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, to intervene in the internal crisis rocking the party to protect its chances in the 2019 elections. One of the groups, Bayelsa State PDP Stakeholders Forum (BSPSF), particularly made the appeal in a statement signed by its Chairman, Chief George Amaibi, in Yenagoa.

As Nigeria prepares for this year’s presidential election, PDP’s candidate will depend on the leadership of Governor Dickson, and former President Jonathan whose influence still looms high in this region. The APC candidate, President Buhari, will depend on the diligence of the leader of the party in the state and former governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, and of course on the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.

Verdict: Atiku

RIVERS

As Nigeria prepares for 2019 presidential election, Rivers is one of the states observers will take special interest in. This is because of the complexities that now define the politics of the oil-rich South-south state.

Rivers, which started out in 1999 as a PDP state, became a major APC state under the then governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who governed it for eight years. However, Amaechi’s erstwhile political son, Nyesom Wike’s emergence as the state governor, on the ticket of PDP, not only returned the state to PDP but marked the beginning of an intriguing political rivalry that has held the breathe of Nigerians.

Because Amaechi, the current Minister of Transportation is also the Director-General of Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential Re-election Campaign, the expectation is high that he ought to ensure APC’s victory in the state during the presidential election. Both because of the high offices he currently occupies and the fact that it has become a personal battle between him and his former ally, it is certain that Amaechi will put in all he has to deliver Rivers to Buhari.

Ironically, the same pressure is on Wike to deliver Rivers to PDP. It would be recalled that Wike enjoyed unalloyed support of the former First Family, the Jonathans, when he contested for the office of the governor of the state against the endorsement of Amaechi. This presidential election seems another opportunity for Wike to not only prove that he is now the political leader of Rivers but also to pay back to PDP. Also, some insiders alleged that Wike may be a strong PDP fanatic but he and Atiku are not really on the same page.

These two political leaders and other top politicians like Tonye Cole, Senator Magnus Abe both of APC and the Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Felix Obuah, will play major roles in influencing the result of the forthcoming presidential election in the state.

As it stands however, PDP still remains set to claim the state once again. It would be recalled that out of the 1,565,461 valid votes cast in the state in 2015 Presidential election, PDP garnered 1,487,075 votes while APC got 69,238 votes to come second. It remains to be seen if the figures can change significantly in the coming election even as Amaechi and Wike continue their ongoing epic political rivalry.

Verdict: Atiku

DELTA

Delta has also remained a PDP state since 1999. Given that the party has continued to grow under the leadership of Governor Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, there is likelihood that it would still win this year’s presidential election.

It would be recalled that out of the 1,267,773 valid votes cast in the state during the 2015 presidential election, PDP got 1,211,405 votes, while APC got 48,910 votes. Looking at this figure, one would ordinarily write off any party contesting with the ruling party, PDP, in Delta.

But today, so much has happened in the politics of the state, especially within the opposition APC. For example, the defection of the former governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, to APC last year is considered a major plus for the party.

But informed observers wonder if such gains are enough to defeat PDP leadership in the state and win votes for Buhari?

Also, the disagreement in the APC during the run-up to the primaries may still affect the performance of the party in the forthcoming presidential election. It would be recalled that the faction led by Prophet Jones Erue and loyal to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Chief Great Ogboru had openly opposed direct primaries while the other APC faction in the state loyal to Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Chief Hyacinth Enuha threw its weight behind the state and presidential direct primaries in the state.

It is also clear that apart from influential politicians like Okowa, Uduaghan, Great Ogboru, Omo-Agege and Otega Emerhor, the other top politicians that will influence the result of the presidential election in the state include traditional political leaders in the state like former governor James Ibori and the Igbinedion family.

Verdict: Atiku

EDO

President Buhari will easily garner the majority of votes in the state given the popularity of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress across the state. The APC’s political hold on the state, from the days of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who is now it’s National Chairman, supported by the rave reviews currently being enjoyed by Governor Godwin Obaseki, should work in the party’s favour.

Before the 2015 General Elections, the PDP could boast of  pockets of strongholds in the southern senatorial district of the state, but all that faded with the defeat of the party by APC that year. The death of PDP strongman and former political leader of the state, Chief Tony Anenih, late last year, may have completed the demystification of PDP in a state it controlled for nearly 12 years before Oshiomhole took over.

Also, party chieftains and members of the APC in the state are under pressure to prove that the state belongs to the party that have given them the rare opportunity of producing its National Chairman twice. Former Governor John Oyegun, also from Edo State, was the National Chairman before Oshiomhole replaced him. “The only visible remnants of the opposition PDP in Edo today can only be seriously felt in Oredo L.G.A,” an analyst submitted.

VERDICT: Buhari

AKWA IBOM

The presidential election in Akwa Ibom State promises to be interesting largely due to recent political events in the state. As it stands today, both the PDP and the APC are well rooted in the South-south state. The political division between former Governor Godswill Akpabio and his erstwhile political godson, current Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, has drastically changed the political dynamics of the former PDP stronghold.

According to very reliable political permutations, the PDP and APC will keenly contest for the votes of the people of Akwa-Ibom South Senatorial District. It is unclear who is likely to win the zone between the two leading parties given the parity in popularity of both in the area. “It is too close to call for APC and PDP in Akwa Ibom south because both Governor Udom Emmanuel and Nsima Ekere, the APC candidate, hail from there. The people will obviously be divided in their choice,” an analyst said.

But the APC is most likely to sweep the votes in Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District where former governor Godswill Akpabio is the undisputed leader. The APC chieftain, who is the current senator representing the area, enjoys the support of the people and has a well-equipped, structured and effective political machinery across the zone that is now working hard to deliver the votes to President Muhammadu Buhari. The PDP, since Akpabio’s exit, has no serious presence in the zone.

The Northeastern Senatorial District is another battleground where both APC and PDP will slug it out evenly. But across the state, the APC enjoys more presence given the current assemblage of the main political gladiators in the state within its fold. Before 2015 when he emerged governor on the strength of Akpabio, Emmanuel was an outsider in the politics of the state.

The main age-long players in the politics of the state are former governors Victor Attah and Akpabio, Umanah Umanah, Ekere ( a former Deputy Governor), John Akpan Udoedehe, among others. While all the aforementioned have buried their political differences and are now all members of the APC, Emmanuel is left alone on the other side to battle against them. But the power of incumbency and other factors are expected to also aide him.

VERDICT: Battleground

CROSS RIVER

In Cross River State, the PDP looks good to repeat its 2015 landslide victory in the state in spite of some improvement in the visibility of the opposition APC after the last general election. This, pundits said, is due to two major reasons. First, the APC is currently divided into two factions that has produced two governorship aspirants, namely Usani Usani Uguru (a serving Minister) and John Enoh.

The two factions have failed to reach a peaceful accord in spite of several efforts by party leaders like ex-Governor Clement Ebri and Chief Edem Duke, as well as the national leadership of the party. Instead, the party remained fictionalised and analysts insist this is hurting its chances at the next general election. No doubt, the presidential election will be affected by this too.

Secondly, Governor Ben Ayade and his predecessor, Liyel Imoke, appear to still have their firm grips on the politics of the state. The harmonious relationship between the duo, in spite of insinuations that they have fallen apart, helped the ruling PDP to wax stronger after the last election. Across the state, the governor is also adjudged as having done well. So, PDP looks good to get the votes.

If the crisis within the APC is resolved long enough before the presidential polls, the party may fare better than it will do if it still remains divided. But even at that, it is doubtful if that will help it to upstage the ruling PDP. At best, the APC may come a distant second in the state in the presidential election.

VERDICT: Atiku



2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Hartom

    January 13, 2019 at 1:15 am

    For putting him and his sons on trial, Lamido is staking all his resources to stop APC and Buhari from winning the state.

  2. chimdinma59

    January 13, 2019 at 1:21 am

    All the political parties that are fighting for power in different states what have they achieve people’s lives are a stake every where

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