In less than three weeks Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president. As the race becomes more intense a complex mix of factors in different states would shape the eventual outcome. In this piece, Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor, Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor and Sunday Oguntola, present a status report as the race enters the home stretch.
More than at any other period in the history of the Fourth Republic, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on the edge. It is fighting tooth and nail to cling to power in a tight race. There’s no one better qualified to confirm this than National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), who said in London on Thursday that “the emergence of a seemingly viable opposition, as well as the closeness of the race is a clear demonstration of our maturing democracy…”
Investigations by our reporters in various states of the federation indicate that the votes haul from three zones in the North as well as the outcome in the South-West could be pivotal determining the race. In the South-South-South and South-East, the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan retains strong support. However, in-fighting in the PDP in Ebonyi, Imo, Akwa Ibom and even in the president’s home state, Bayelsa, could lead to a significant drop in his share of votes cast.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) is expectedly to perform markedly better in aforementioned two zones than he did in 2011 – benefitting from the bitter fallout of the PDP squabbles and the stronger platform on which he’s running this time around.
If the elections were held today, these are the projected outcome as put together by our editorial team tracking the contest from state to state.
The PDP has lost more ground to the opposition in the last three weeks. Just a few days ago, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Sen. Mohammed Magoro, defected to APC in looks like a political development that has broken the camel’s back.
The tumultuous crowd which heralded Buhari’s visit to Birnin Kebbi signposts an advantage for APC. With ex-Governor Adamu Aliero and other stalwarts of PDP now in APC, a 60-40 victory might be imminent for the opposition in Kebbi.
In spite of the drafting of Senate President, David Mark, Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang and Federal Capital Territory Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed to lend a helping hand to the embattled Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, things are falling apart for PDP in the state.
The climax of PDP’s misfortunes was the defection of Deputy Governor Ahmed Musa Ibeto to APC with 300 others. The defection suggested an undertone of backing by some kingmakers in the state because it came shortly after ex-President Ibrahim Babangida declared support for Buhari.
Apparently hitting back at one of the godfathers, an angry Governor Aliyu said: “They said I went to IBB over those who defected. I have passed the stage of begging anybody…” A 70-30 race advantage for APC is likely here.
The situation of PDP in Kwara State has reached a pathetic stage that about N80million was allegedly budgeted to hire crowd to welcome Jonathan to the state. Jolted by the substantial loss of grip by the party, the new financier of PDP in the state, Hajiya Bola Shagaya and the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Suleiman Olanrewaju Abubakar, had to relocate to Ilorin to start mobilizing the crowd.
Shagaya’s politics and the poor choice of candidates at all levels by the party for the February poll has made it an easy ride for APC so far. In fact, some forces in the Presidency are already reaching out to Kwara’s games master, ex-Governor Bukola Saraki to bend a bit and concede 25 per cent of the total votes in the state to PDP during the presidential election on February 14. It is 80-20 percent in favour of APC in Kwara.
The booing and jeering at the PDP rally on Thursday in Bauchi State showed disenchantment with the ruling party in the state. The administration of Governor Isa Yuguda is said to be owing teachers and civil servants arrears of salaries leading to protest and stoning of the presidential convoy.
The cold war between PDP leaders in the state also led to the heckling of the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed at the presidential rally. Since the PDP did not win the state in 2011, the political dynamics are yet to change – notwithstanding the fact that the national chairman of the ruling party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, hails from the state. The odds point to an 80-20 per cent vote split in favour of APC.
The President and members of his campaign council needed no soothsayer during the week to read the handwriting on the wall that the defection of ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa had not added much electoral value to the chances of PDP.
The likely protest votes by PDP members in the state who are still angry over the outcome of governorship primaries, points to a solidified advantage for APC. Unless the Deputy Governor, Mukhtar Shagari and his faction are appeased, the contest could turn out to be 75-25 in favour of APC.
The alleged poor or slow performance of Governor Idris Wada (occasioned by the indebtedness of ex-Governor Ibrahim Idris administration) has created disenchantment with PDP in the state because of salary arrears. But the ruling party is relying on its usual winning formula of ethnic and religious politics, especially in Kogi East where the Director-General of Jonathan campaign council, Dr.
Ahmadu Ali comes from.
The President realized Wada’s challenges and he has decided to mobilize more forces and loyalists like Sen. Smart Adeyemi, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), oil magnate Jide Omokore among others to secure Kogi Central and Kogi West districts. A 55-45 per cent victory is likely for PDP in Kogi State.
The recent reconciliation of warring PDP leaders and the adoption of a power-sharing formula which resulted in a no-victor, no-vanquished resolution has foreclosed any significant inroad for APC presidential candidate, Buhari who has always lost in the state.
The larger-than-life profile of former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd), the minority politics in the North, ethnic sentiments against the Hausa-Fulani and religious considerations have all combined to weigh against the APC. A 75-25 per cent race to the advantage of PDP is expected here.
Unlike the case between 1999 and 2007, the PDP is battling for survival in Kaduna State to sustain the ‘victory’ it narrowly claimed in 2011 when it took advantage of post-election violence. The persistent insurgency in Southern Kaduna has made the ruling party lose the sympathy of minorities in the state.
Buhari’s recent campaign here was a showstopper. Kaduna is also his base as well as home state of Vice-President Namadi Sambo. The state government is currently controlled by PDP. In 2011, Buhari polled 1, 334, 244 votes to narrowly defeat Jonathan who scored 1,190, 179 votes. APC may win again with a slight margin.
Plateau is one state to watch in the light of unfolding twists and turns by key political actors. A former Deputy Governor of the state, Paullen Tallen, Senator John Damboyi, defected to APC with some PDP stalwarts in protest against the outcome of the governorship primaries. Though APC’s mileage might improve, the equation may still favour PDP because of ethnic and religious politics.
Being a core Middle Belt state, the people of Plateau State are unlikely to vote for an Hausa-Fulani man like Buhari. This is almost like hereditary political culture here. The success of the ongoing reconciliation of aggrieved PDP members is reuniting the ruling party in the state. A 70-30 percent split in favour of PDP is predicted.
The failed bid of PDP for ex-Governor Sani Yerima has proved to be the party’s albatross in Zamafara State where the opposition is still waxing stronger since 1999. Though PDP is trying to improve its electoral fortunes, the APC may retain the state in 80-20 per cent judging by response to the campaign trains of PDP and APC.
The reduced involvement of the Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Gusau (retd) in the politics of the state has sustained Yerima’s political grip on Zamfara.
The emergence of a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as the party’s governorship candidate has polarized and decimated PDP in the state. To pave the way for Ribadu, the state PDP Executive Committee led by Joel Madaki was dissolved.
Other stakeholders have, however, ganged up to work against PDP. The impending loss of the state by PDP made Jonathan’s godfather, Chief Edwin Clark, to openly attack the National Chairman of the party, Adamu Muazu, last Saturday.
Realizing that the political calculation was not adding up for PDP, the Jonathan has ordered the reinstatement of the suspended State Executive Committee to embark on a reconciliation programme. But it might be too late because most PDP heavyweights have either joined APC or the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
This was why Governor Bala Ngilari called for the postponement of the poll in Adamawa State to enable PDP put its house in order. If the ongoing reconciliation in succeeds, it might be 55-45 split in favour of APC. Otherwise, the PDP might not get up to 15 per cent of the votes because Adamawa people are really angry with the party.
It is still too close a match in Benue State between the PDP and APC. For the second time since 1999, the ruling party is struggling to maintain its hold on the state. The defection of PDP bigwigs like ex-Minister Samuel Ortom and Chief Barnabas Gemade, the crisis between Governor Gabriel Suswam and workers, and opposition to imposition of the governorship candidate have made the task difficult for the President of the Senate, David Mark, who is the party’s leader in the state. The race is certainly 50-50 because APC may clinch two senatorial tickets in the state.
Verdict: Too close to call
The incessant clampdown on key opposition figures and the plot to arrest them en masse before the February elections points to some panic on the part of the ruling PDP. The tense atmosphere got to a level that the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan on how the state government was planning to implicate the state’s political godfather, ex-Governor Danjuma Goje. The APC is certainly creating campaign waves in the state and may clinch the state in a 60-40 per cent split.
Going by his continuous lambasting of opposition leaders, Governor Sule Lamido still has his heart in PDP although he may not have faith in the presidential candidate of the party. Until the PDP campaign train hit the North-West, he had basically stood aloof as if he was oblivious of the stakes.
The scenario may be 80-20 in favour of APC during the presidential election because the APC candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has always won Jigawa with or without Lamido’s political structure. But in other stanzas of the February poll, which are local affairs, PDP may win 70-30 per cent.
This is Buhari’s home state and an APC stronghold. Were it not for disagreement among the leaders of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the PDP would have lost in 2011. With its house in order this time around, the opposition is very strong in the state because virtually all the leaders wielding political influence in the state are in support of the APC. Governor Ibrahim Shema is taking everything in his strides to manage the volatile political situation in the state which had been fueled by the PDP’s mismanagement of Buhari’s WASC results. The campaign so far has shown an 80-20 percent outlook in favour of the general.
The unprecedented crowd which welcomed the APC campaign council to Kano during the week was reminiscent of Second Republic politics. It sent jitters through the PDP and the Presidency which tried to make up with another rally to prove that it has earned some mileage too.
The defection of the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, has added much value to the rating of PDP but it is insignificant to dislodge APC from the state. Shekarau appears to be a lone ranger. A 70-30 per cent performance is expected to the credit of APC. So, the president may get the mandatory 25 per cent in Kano State if the party tries to close its divided ranks before the poll.
This is a natural terrain of the opposition even though the Boko Haram insurgency has not allowed parties to embark on aggressive campaigning. Since the First Republic, no ruling party including the PDP, has been able to win the state. This is rooted in cultural history and political belief not to play second fiddle to the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy.
The Boko Haram insurgency has forced the people of the state to yearn for change and oppose PDP. Though a former Governor of the state, Sen. Modu Ali Sheriff defected from APC to PDP, his new party surprisingly dropped him as one of its senatorial candidates.
The twist may cause more headaches for PDP in the state. The permutations point to an 80-20 percent APC victory. The decision of the military to launch a full-scale war in the North-East against Boko Haram any moment from now is seen as a ploy to destabilize Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – making conditions for free and fair voting virtually impossible.
Like Borno, the state remains largely a stronghold of the APC having been in opposition since 1999. A former governor of the state, Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim and other leaders have remained the backbone of the APC in the state and their structure in the last 16 years has proved hard to dismantle.
But the choice of a former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri (who is contesting for the office for the fourth time) as the PDP governorship candidate, may make it a walkover for APC. Barring any improvement by PDP on its past records, the contest can be 70-30 to the credit of APC. But APC leaders have to be circumspect because of the new initiative by the military to launch a massive campaign against Boko Haram insurgents which may displace many eligible voters.
The internal crisis within the PDP over governorship primaries has led to the defection of ex-Minister Labaran Maku to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which poses no threat to the ruling APC. The implication is that the votes of Eggon people, who are desperate to rule the state, will be split between PDP and APGA leaving other ethnic groups to queue behind the opposition coalition, APC which is doing well in the state.
The ill-fated impeachment plot against Governor Tanko Al-Makura by PDP/ presidency and the purported death of Baba Alakyo ( the spiritual leader of the Eggon), and the defection of a former Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu, have compounded the electoral woes of the PDP in the state. A 70-30per cent rating in favour of APC is likely.
The PDP is presently engaged in marathon and hectic campaign to the nooks and crannies of the Federal Capital Territory. The opposition needs to rev up its strategy instead of taking things for granted that people desire change. It is presently a 60-40 percent in favour of PDP in the FCT. APC can fill up the gap with aggressive outreach before the poll because the opposition used to be stronger in Kuje and Kwali Districts unlike the case now.
Akwa Ibom State has always been a stronghold of the PDP. But the state is no longer firmly in the hands of the ruling party. The APC) has swelled its ranks with defectors from PDP. Its governorship candidate, Umana Umana, is the state’s erstwhile Secretary to the State Government (SSG). More and more people are attending his campaigns. There are also 22 aggrieved PDP governorship aspirants that have vowed to be fun spoilers for the party.
However, zonal solidarity with Jonathan as well as well as an incumbent governor with a heavy war chest would tilt the state in the president’s favour.
Had things turned out the way the opposition wanted, there might have been slim hope of a Buhari upset in Cross River. And really things were moving into that direction. The PDP congresses were strongly disputed. It took massive intervention from the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the party to calm frayed nerves.
The governorship primary was another bumpy ride. It pitched long-time allies such as Governor Liyel Imoke and his predecessor, Donald Duke, against themselves. The Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, was also on a collision course with the governor.
Leading aspirants like Mr. Jeddy Agba, were disqualified from the contest, leaving the emergence of Senator Ben Ayade, a mere formality. But the PDP has managed to put its house in order, or so it seems. Agba, who was expected to contest on an alternative platform, has dropped the ambition, vowing to support the PDP and Ayade. President Jonathan is expected to win well in the state.
With 2,537,590 registered voters, Rivers State has the highest voting population in the South-South region. Under normal circumstances, Jonathan would have gone to bed fully assured he had those votes in his kitty. But not anymore. Things have changed drastically since Governor Rotimi Amaechi led supporters to join the APC.
The choice of Dakuru Peterside as APC’s governorship candidate has improved the party’s fortunes in Rivers, eroding the massive support base of the President in his wife’s home state.
But Jonathan’s chances cannot be just written off yet in the state. He has foot soldiers such as PDP’s governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike, on ground. His wife’s kinsmen will also most certainly prefer him to a northerner, all things being equal.
The equations, however, seem to favour Buhari, who has wisely chosen Amaechi as Director General of his campaign. Amaechi has to deliver to justify the confidence reposed in him. This is why the state will be a battleground for the leading presidential hopefuls.
Though things are not at ease with the PDP in Bayelsa State, it is almost taken that President Jonathan will carry his home state. Even if every other states turn against the President, his kinsmen are certain to stick with him, come rain or sunshine.
Governor Seriake Dickson is reportedly uncomfortable with Jonathan who believed to be indisposed to the governor’s reelection bid in 2016. The governor has flushed out elements with ties to Jonathan and his wife from his cabinet. He has also moved against activities of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), the umbrella organisation for Jonathan’s reelection campaign in the state.
Relations between the governor and presidency are at the lowest ebb but they are not expected to have any direct bearing on the voting pattern next month. The voters will certainly pick the son of the soil, Jonathan, over every other person, performance or non-performance.
The only snag is that the President’s home state only boasts 610,373 voters. Even if all of them get to vote, they are not likely to have significant impact in the general direction of the poll.
Ethnic and religious factors could work against any Buhari upset in the state but they also threaten to trim the margin of any PDP victory here. Jonathan will have to stave off mounting opposition against him in the state. The Itsekiri, for exemaple, are angry that the inauguration of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) was unceremoniously abandoned by the president under pressure from former militant leader, Chief Government ‘Tompolo’ Ekpemupolo.
There is also the shoddy handling of the governorship primaries. Even though many believe Senator Ifeanyi Okowo won fair and square, his emergence came at the expense of entrenched interests in the state. The Urhobos are aggrieved the governorship slot was not ceded to them, but a delegation of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) pledged support for Jonathan during a recent Aso Villa visit.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is also said not to be a happy man. He was forced to drop his senatorial ambition for the return of James Manger, an Ijaw man, said to have the backing of Jonathan. His preferred successor, John Obuh, also lost the governorship slot, coming a distant third.
Like Uduaghan, many PDP members in Delta are disgruntled. But many will still root for Jonathan but may play the spoilers in the gubernatorial poll. Buhari would benefit from some protest votes to secure the 25% he needs.
With the APC firmly in control of the state, analysts are predicting its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, might record an upset in Edo.
This optimism is not out of place. Governor Adams Oshiomhole has proven to be in control of the state apparatus. His infrastructural development of the state has won many hearts. The PDP in Edo is near comatose. It operates only in the fringes.
With the APC’s structure waxing stronger in the state, it is expected that Buhari will pull many votes. A 60-40 percent votes split in the presidential poll in favour of APC is predicted.
In Osun State, which is firmly under the control of the APC, Jonathan may find it difficult to get listening ears during his campaigns. Consequently, his performance at the polls will be abysmal, pundits say. The mammoth crowd that thronged the Osogbo City Sports Stadium to receive Buhari last week when he visited the state in continuation of his presidential campaign, according to observers, is a sign of things to come.
This will be no surprise in Osun where, in spite of his good showing in the region in 2011, the President still lost to the ACN by a wide margin. With Governor Rauf Aregbesola still in charge and the PDP declining in status by the day, Buhari is positioned to win massively in the state.
Aregbesola’s convincing victory during last year’s governorship election and the rancor that saw PDP losing two former Governors of the state, Isiaka Adeleke and Olagunsoye Oyinlola to the APC in quick succession will also work against Jonathan in the state. The defection of Adeleke significantly assisted Aregbesola to garner sufficient votes in Osun West Senatorial District during the last August 9 governorship election in the state, as the areas were the strongholds of the PDP. Most likely, it will be an 80-20 situation in favor of Buhari in the February election in this state.
The likely outcome of the election in Ekiti is too close to call. This is because of the current political scenario in the state. During the June 21, 2014 governorship election held in Ekiti State, the APC failed to retain the state, which it lost to PDP. The surprise emergence of Ayodele Fayose as governor of the state is no doubt a boost for President Jonathan and the PDP in the February election. If the preference of Fayose, an unrepentant Jonathan supporter is to count, then PDP will carry the day.
However, the APC is not likely to go down without a good fight in the state given the fact that it is in the majority in the House of Assembly as well as National Assembly members in the state. The fact that it was in charge of the state for four years barely months back, is also an advantage for Buhari. In addition, the reconciliation of Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party in the last election with the APC leadership will give PDP more troubles. Coupled with this is the belief in some quarters that the people of Ekiti will also vote for the progressive party alongside their counterparts in other South West states.
Verdict: Too close to call
Here, the political drama that saw the massive decamping of major political actors from one political party to the other, which started in 2014 and continued into the New Year, will have serious impact on how the people will vote in February.
With the now ruling PDP torn into shreds and the Labour Party no longer in Governor Olusegn Mimiko’s kitty, coupled with a fast growing opposition APC in the same state, pundits say though Jonathan may still do well in the state considering its proximity to his native Bayelsa State and the large presence of Ijaw speaking communities in the oil producing area of the state, he will definitely record a lesser percentage of votes this time.
But with Buhari running on the platform of the APC this time and the general feeling of marginalisation among the Yorubas, his performance in the mainland and other parts of the state are too early to predict. The situation in Ondo is a close race with an unpredictable outcome.
Verdict: Too close to call
President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to kick-off his campaign in Lagos, underlines the pivotal role the electorate in this state would play in determining who wins this election.
The most popular position is that Buhari will outshine Jonathan at the polls in Lagos State. The political base of APC’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the state will naturally support its ruling party. This is because the APC image has continued to soar by the day. Campaigns by the party so far across the state have witnessed huge crowds.
Although the PDP has tried to paper over the cracks that attended its governorship primaries, Buhari is in pole position to get the mandate of the people of the state on February 14 with a 75-25 vote split scenario.
An array of PDP chieftains, including controversial Buruji Kashamu, former party boss, Joju Fadairo and Doyin Okupe, amongst others, are working round the clock to deliver the votes in the state to Goodluck Jonathan. They are no doubt determined to beat the APC to second place in the February election.
But matching the popularity and the wide acceptance of Governor Ibikunle Amosun is a huge task for Jonathan’s men. Consequently, Buhari’s visit to Abeokuta few days back was a huge success that saw the people of the Gateway State trooping out to see him.
An earlier visit by Jonathan also saw a mammoth crowd but the frenzy that greeted the APC rally gave indication of where the votes may go. Amosun’s track record of achievements, especially in the area of urban renewal, which has seen the massive construction of roads and bridges across the state will be an added advantage for his party.
Also, the seeming ‘siddon look’ attitude of people like former Governor Gbenga Daniel, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Jubril Martins Kuye and a host of other aggrieved PDP leaders may work against Jonathan in the state unless something urgent is done.
The indisputable political place of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and his unhidden opposition to Jonathan’s aspiration will also work in favor of Buhari and his party. Expect a 70-30 percent vote split on February 14.
In Oyo state, the tattered state of Jonathan’s party may aid Buhari’s victory. He may likely do far better than Jonathan in the state given the fact that APC is in control of the state. Pundits also say apart from being an APC controlled state, Oyo is a core Yoruba state where the feeling of marginalisation is deep rooted.
Although the likes of Jumoke Akinjide, Jonathan’s Minister from the state, and Senator Teslim Folarin, gubernatorial candidate, are of the opinion that the people will vote for the Presdient in February, indications that this may not be so are numerous. The daily defection of party leaders from the PDP, which started with the exit of former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala remains an issue.
With APC determined to hold on to the state, enjoying the support of all the first class monarchs including Alaafin of Oyo, Soun of Ogbomosho, Olubadan of Ibadan etc, Jonathan may find it difficult getting votes in Oyo.
Since 1999, Abia has remained a PDP stronghold, notwithstanding the brief period when the former governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, in protest against alleged marginalization, floated a rival party, PPA, to which he carried the state machinery to complete his second tenure.
Abia had since returned to PDP and the current governor, Chief Theodore Orji, is a passionate supporter of Jonathan and, as insiders say, a very close friend of the president.
This being the case, there is no doubt that the governor, who is also flying the party’s senatorial flag for Abia Central Senatorial District, is poised to throw his weight behind Jonathan’s re-election and PDP’s victory in all the elections.
Aside utilising the governor’s incumbency factor to win votes for Jonathan, the fact that the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan’s mother hailed from the state, has been maximally utilised to mobilize support for Jonathan in the state.
Jonathan is likely to win the presidential election in Abia but not with 98 percent as was the case in 2011. In fact, most respondents to The Nation’s questions are optimistic that Buhari may get above 20 percent votes here unlike the abysmal 0.31 percent he got in 2011. His reception during his recent campaigns says a lot about current political sensibilities here.
Changing realities have made the political story of Ebonyi State very intriguing. Although a traditional PDP stronghold, which gave Jonathan 95.57 percent of its votes in 2011, Ebonyi State has become a major battle ground in the February 14 presidential election.
Under normal circumstances, Jonathan and his party, the PDP, would have easily cleared the votes here but for the ripple effects from the crisis in the party, which culminated in the political coup that dislodged control of the party from Governor Martin Elechi, the emergence of his deputy as the PDP flag bearer and the decision of Elechi’s men to the Labour Party.
Considering assertions that Elechi had firm control of the PDP political machinery at the grassroots before the coup from Abuja, and that he allowed his men to carry everything to Labour Party, analysts are contending that Labour may not only win the governorship election in the state, but may, in order to prove a point, vote against Jonathan at the presidential race.
Added to this is the increasing strength of the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, where Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu’s influence has come to play.
Bookmakers say any of the two leading presidential candidates can take the prize at the February 14 election, given the depth of bitterness, betrayals, and resolve to pay back.
Verdict: Too close to call.
Enugu State is another PDP stronghold where a Jonathan victory would have been seen as a given. But the rivalry between the outgoing governor, Sullivan Chime, and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, just before the last primaries, dealt a major blow to the party in the state. Insiders said the opposition political parties – especially the APC used that opportunity to make great incursion into the state at the grassroots.
However, following the dramatic reconciliation of the Ekweremadu-led faction of PDP in Enugu and that of Chime, Jonathan’s supporters are optimistic he will still win in the state, where he got 98.54 percent votes against Buhari’s 0.36 percent in 2011.
While it may not be out of place for PDP to be optimistic that Jonathan will win in Enugu, informed observers cannot deny that many interests have been hurt in the pre-election politicking. This includes but not limited to the bitterness of the Senator Ayogu Eze’s camp of the PDP, which some close associates insist is yet to be properly handled.
Added to this is the dynamic campaign of Okey Ezea-led APC, which is poised to serve as a major boost to Buhari’s political fortunes in the state in February. With its Catholic dominated population, there is also the fear in the PDP camp that Father Ejike Mbaka’s recent sermon, may sway some precious votes to Buhari’s box. An 80-20 percent split in Jonathan’s favour is expected.
Though an APGA-led state, Anambra has consistently voted for PDP at the presidential election. In 2011 Jonathan got 98.96 percent of all the votes cast at the presidential contest.
If not for the changing political sensibilities in the South-East zone, one would have predicted the same trend, since APGA, as it did in 2011, is not fielding its presidential candidate but has pledged to queue behind PDP’s Jonathan.
Given that boost, Jonathan will do well in Anambra State. But as the prose master, Chinua Achebe, who hails from this state, wrote in one of his great novels, things are ‘No longer at ease’ here. The political atmosphere is likely to influence the voting pattern, meaning that the opposition will make great impact here during this election unlike what played out in 2011.
The factors that are poised to make the change in February include the Dr Alex Ekwueme factor, the Rev Father Mbaka’s factor and Chris Ngige-led All Progressives Congress’ growing influence in the state. Jonathan is likely to win in Anambra State but Buhari is almost certain to get 25 percent votes here.
Imo State, which used to be a People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) stronghold, is currently an APC state under the Rochas Okorocha -led government. The state boasts of very strong and popular politicians in PDP, who have sworn to ensure a return of the state power to the party. But as former Vice President Ekwueme pointed out in his recent interview, Imo is not isolated in the crisis rocking PDP in the South-East. In fact, the elder statesman was quoted as lamenting that Imo PDP is “not serious.”
Given this scenario and the fact that Okorocha, whose first term scorecard is widely rated very high, is flying the governorship flag of APC for the February elections, there is the likelihood that more than any other South-East state, APC presidential candidate, Buhari is poised to defeat his major opponent, Jonathan in this state.
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