•Anambra, Kwara, Imo, Kaduna, Kano could be hard nuts
After months of intense preparations, hair-splitting debates, carnival-like campaigns, violence in some areas, jibe throwing, horse trading and compromises which characterise political campaigns, tomorrow is decision day for Nigerians.
Seventy three million, five hundred and thirty-eight Nigerians will go to the 120,000 polling stations located in 8,809 wards across 774 local governments in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja to elect 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives who will form the sixth session of the National Assembly to be inaugurated on June 6.
Though there are 63 political parties contesting tomorrow’s election, the contest is actually among four parties namely: the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Since 1999, the ruling PDP has been dominating the National Assembly with overwhelming majority even though that majority has never translated into harmonious relationship between the executive and the National Assembly.
Since the return to democratic rule twelve years ago, the opposition to the executive has always been from PDP members in the National Assembly.
However, tomorrow’s election may throw up a different scenario. The CPC has made enormous in-roads in the Northwest and Northeast and this is likely to affect the fortunes of the ruling party in those two zones in the North. Specifically, CPC is very strong in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Taraba States. It is going to be a straight fight between PDP and CPC in these states.
On the other hand, the ANPP is strong in Kano, where its presidential candidate, Ibrahim Shekarau, is the out-going governor. With the influence of Shekarau, the party will make a very good showing in tomorrow’s election in the state. Outside Kano State, however, ANPP is not very strong as the party became almost comatose during the tenure of its former national chairman, Edwin Ume-Ezeoke. His handling of affairs in the party led to the exodus of members, led by Muhammadu Buhari who went to form CPC. ANPP’s revival started with the election of the current national chairman, Ogbonnaya Onu but it came too late for the party to be able to make much impact in this election.
In the North Central, the ruling PDP will not have much challenge. It will have no problem picking majority of the National Assembly seats in the zone. The visible presence of other opposition parties in states like Benue and Plateau is not likely to cause any upset for it. In the North, the main backers of President Goodluck Jonathan are from the North Central, and historically, people in this zone, especially in Benue and Plateau States, do not align with parties that are controlled by the Hausa/Fulani. The state that presents a kind of uncertainty in the zone is Kwara, where the patriarch of Kwara politics, Olusola Saraki, is fighting what many see as the greatest political battle of his life.
His defection from PDP to the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), under which platform his daughter, Gbemisola Saraki, is contesting the gubernatorial election, is seen by analysts as capable of adversely affecting the fortunes of PDP in Kwara State. Many candidates of ACPN are lining behind the elder Saraki to see them through the general election beginning with tomorrow’s election.
The Southwest is too close to call. The loss of two states, Ekiti and Osun to ACN and Ondo to Labour Party will no doubt affect the fortunes of the PDP in the zone. Analysts also told BusinessDay that the crisis in Ogun State that led to the exit of the governor, Gbenga Daniel, from the party to the Progressive Party of Nigeria (PPN) may affect the outcome of tomorrow’s election.
Instead of the little known PPN becoming the beneficiary of likely protest votes, the rival ACN may gain, especially considering that Ibikunle Amosun, ACN’s governorship candidate, is a popular candidate and has been campaigning with the national and state assembly candidates.
In addition, the fact that gubernatorial election will not take place in these three states, analysts told BusinessDay, may tilt the balance in favour of ACN.
Lagos has become impregnable for the PDP and it is expected that unless a significant change occurs before the election tomorrow, PDP is not likely to make much impact in the state tomorrow.
With the exception of Edo State, one of the states PDP lost to CAN through the courts, PDP is comfortable in the zone. Analysts don’t expect any change in the voting pattern that has been in place since 1999.
The Southeast as a block is for PDP. It is expected that the ruling party will do well in the zone. There are few exceptions though. In Imo State, Chris Anyanwu is contesting to return to the Senate on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), having lost the PDP ticket to former aviation minister, Kema Chikwe. Anyanwu is from Mbaise, the most densely populated area of the zone. The senatorial election in the zone can go either to her or to Chikwe.
In Anambra State, PDP is in disarray and many former PDP members are contesting on APGA platform. They include Dora Akunyili, former information and communication minister and Joy Emordi both for Senate and Uche Ekwunife for the House of Representatives. Anambra State is a weak link in the PDP chain in the Southeast.
Also many National Assembly members lost out in the primaries and may decide to work against the ruling party.
Given the above scenario, analysts believe that for the first time in 1999, the PDP may find itself in a not too comfortable position after the general elections if it wins the presidential election as it may not control two-third majority in the National Assembly.