By Umar Muhammad Puma
Director of Strategic Communications, President Muhammadu Buhari 2019 Presidential Campaign, Festus Keyamo said latest defections by some National Assembly members and the Governor of Benue State will not harm the re-election of President Buhari in 2019 general elections.
Keyamo, in a statement issued yesterday, also said even the much-rumoured two more Governors planning to move from the APC eventually happen, the move will not affect the President’s chances.
He explained that the President won with large margins, without the support of those States governors and members of the National Assembly who moved recently to join the opposition party.
“We are all witnessing the significant gains Mr. President is making in several places where he lost in the past, notably in the South-South and South-East. From the demographics we have now, the historic figures and the present realities that we know, these defections will have little or no impact on the chances of Mr. President’s re-election.”
He further explained that twelve States of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Niger, with over 30 million registered voters, are states the President had consistently won with considerable large margins in past elections, especially in 2011 and 2015.
He said the President has achieved that despite the fact that most of those States were being controlled by political parties other than his own.
“In 2011, when the President was in CPC, despite being States with sitting opposition Governors, National Assembly Members, State Assembly Members and Local Government Chairmen, the President posted close to eleven million votes against all odds, defeating all his rivals in these twelve States mentioned above.
“In 2015, despite the majority of these States being in opposition after the merger that formed the APC, the President posted close to eleven million votes again in these States, with PDP not scoring up to twenty percent of the votes in most of these States.
“It is instructive that in these election cycles there were presidential candidates of Northern extraction (e.g Shekarau and Ribadu in 2011). Besides, Kaduna had a sitting Vice President in both elections.”
The Presidential Campaign Director of Strategic Communications expressed confidence that any defection within these States would have little or no consequence on President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances, as he had always won those States, irrespective of the Party in power in those States.
Citing Kano, in the 2011 Presidential election, Keyamo said President Buhari scored One Million, Six Hundred and Twenty Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Three (1,624,543) votes as CPC candidate, while in 2015, he had 1,903,999 One Million, Nine Hundred and Three Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine (1,903,999) votes as APC candidate.
“The vote difference of about Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand (280,000) votes may be attributed to elements of ANPP, negligible ACN and Senator Kwakwanso, then Governor of the State that came into APC.
“Today, the President’s popularity in these States has increased due to the fight against Boko Haram which has been largely successful. So, he should expect more votes from these strongholds.”
Kiyamo added that states like Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Kwara, Kogi, Adamawa and Benue are States the President lost in 2011 but won in 2015; noting that the five South-Western states with registered voters strength of more than 14 million out of the about 20 million voters in these nine States, are being controlled by the APC, while Ekiti will join the team before the 2019 election after Governor Kayode Fayemi is sworn in for a second term in office.
He concluded that, “All the political gladiators in those South-Western states that helped to tilt the election in favour of the President in 2015 are still solidly with him and more have joined. The entire defunct CAN structures that moved into APC are solidly behind the President.”