Nigeria’s governorship election cycle is supposed to run at the same time. Suddenly, the off-season elections emerged due to litigations and such winners are legally allowed to enjoy the fruit of their tenures completely. Of Nigeria’s 36 states, Imo, Anambra, Kogi, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Bayelsa states fall under the off-season election category and therefore, not included in today’s governorship elections. Of the remaining 28 states, 17 of the governors will complete their two terms by May 25. That leaves 11 incumbents jostling to make it back for a second term. The incumbents seeking reelection are in Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Ogun, Kwara, Oyo, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Zamfara and Gombe, writes Ahammefula Ogbu
Sanwo-Olu looks good to win a second term in today’s election in Lagos State. He has been adjudged cool headed and a team player who has not ruffled any feathers and therefore has the backing of the powers that be. This APC candidate also has the support of the people because of his brilliant performance in the last four years. Already, nine of the governorship candidates in the state have stepped down for him. Notwithstanding, Sanwo-Olu was all over – on the streets, shopping malls and bus stops – canvassing for votes, which may be a plus for him. Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour of the Labour Party, the leading opposition governorship candidate in Lagos State may turn out to be a flash in the pan.
Prince Dapo Abiodun, Governor of Ogun State, is seeking a second term based on his success in the past four years. A soft-spoken man, who has worked to deliver on his campaign promises. Apart from that, he has worked to bring big names like former governor of the State, Gbenga Daniel (who has won a senatorial seat in the just concluded national Assembly election) as well as former Speaker of the House of representatives, Dimeji Bankole among others into the Ogun APC fold. They are expected to work their contacts and followers in his favour.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State is a prominent member of the G5 that rebelled against their party (PDP) over complaints of equity and fairness. He would have had a smooth sail to his second term based on his innovative and developmental strides but now has to contend with powerful forces within the party who may have been aggrieved by his unyielding romance with the G5.
Makinde is adjudged to have substantially delivered and steered the state in the direction of his promise to reduce poverty and create prosperity. This is a plus for him. But he has the APC candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin to contend with today.
After several attempts at trying to govern the state, mother luck smiled at AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State in 2019. That year saw the Otoge slogan wrestle power from the ruling PDP and he realised his dream of becoming Kwara State Governor. However, since assuming office, intra-party squabbles have refused to go away especially with factions loyal to Information Minister, Lai Mohammed and Senator Gbemisola Saraki. Some of the aggrieved APC members have since decamped to the SDP and PDP.
AbdulRazaq’s support base looks strong enough to weather the internal crises of the party. Besides, this governor is getting very little challenge from the opposition candidates in the state. The PDP is dead here.
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has made a success of his poverty reduction efforts and forced down criminality in the state, in addition to ensuring human and physical development. However, the APC candidate will still face stiff opposition mainly from the PDP, LP and SDP. Sule was jolted at the presidential elections when a less known LP won his state. He has since tried to pander to the interest of the voters most of who are settlers but never-the-less, might determine whether he gets a second term or not. Although he has been credited with taking development closer to his people, his failure to develop or provide amenities in satellite towns that spilled from the federal capital territory may hurt his bid due to the huge voter population in the area who feel left out of his developmental programmes. He has however promised to make amends and may retain his seat.
An egalitarian administrator who showed his hands right from the time he was appointed into the state cabinet, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has sustained the steam and may have no rival in getting his second term. Zulum appears born with a development mind mixed with human feelings, so much that he has stood out in various standards of measuring good governance, even when his state has the unenviable record of hosting insurgency of various genres. He will face little or no opposition and is expected to easily get a second term.
He is the governor of Adamawa State, the home state of the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar. An experienced politician, Governor Umaru Fintiri was Speaker and later, Acting Governor when Murtala Nyako was impeached. He faces no serious opposition inspite of complaints that he has been developmentally docile. He however insists that the work his party had done in the state in the past and under him were enough to give him a smooth ride to his second term.
Fintiri claims to have reinvented Adamawa, leaving nothing untouched. Even if he did not match words with action, for the bragging rights of his presidential candidate, his people will do everything to ensure he wins and make Atiku a prophet with honours in his place. This will propel Fintiri to another four years on the saddle.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State exudes confidence that he has worked for his people and openly invites anyone who cares, to contest against him. Gombe has been one of the states ravaged by insurgency but Yahaya made the best out of the situation by attending to the needs of his people especially in physical development as well as in education which makes him one of the incumbent governors that may have a smooth ride.
Gombe being an ardent APC state might be difficult to take by any other party. Support for him right from nomination till date shows he either has the structure of the party in his firm grips or that he is loved by his party and by extension, his people.
Mai Mala Buni
Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State was for almost two years the acting national chairman of the APC. He superintended the APC through its convention and really pulled his weight against all odds. Though people accused him of abandoning his state to rule over his party, it was easy for the referee to award himself a goal and he has the mandate of the party and gunning to emerge governor again today.
Buni brags of having changed the story of the state to such extent that his people would gladly reward him with another mandate. His forte includes timely payment of counterpart funds for education and other forms of development that require his intervention and he particularly worked hard on standardising basic education which later touched on secondary education in what he says is laying solid foundation for the state. Buni took the burdens of fees off parents who may decide to reward him with a second term.
A former Minister of the federal capital territory, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State has distinguished himself in transparency and development, though he was riled against when he was pruning the civil service and removing ghost workers from its payroll. He went further to recover stolen government properties which people saw as working for them.
This governor has tried to work on infrastructure, education and health, so may convince his people of the need to give him another four years to realise his plan of repositioning the state. He may have a smooth sail to his second term as opposition is feeble in the state.
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State ascended the seat when the Supreme Court voided the primaries of the APC in the state leaving his of the then PDP with the prize. Matawalle, who had vowed not to dump the party that brought him to power was to later eat his words and jump ship with the mandate. That action, which was a calculation to preserve his second term, has now become his albatross. His tenure has seen continuous squabbles with his party members as his crossover led to the displacement of people who had been sustaining the party while he was in PDP. If the APC leaders in the state are able to sort out their problems, Matawalle may well have a second term.