Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
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For all practical purposes the 2019 general elections are over, save for a few places where they are declared inconclusive by the umpire, INEC – Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Kano, Plateau, Benue states. The PDP is leading in all of these places but since the final tally are not concluded, the table may yet turn. Recall last year’s Osun state gubernatorial poll that was feared to be going the other way but which the ruling party later won after conclusion of the initially inconclusive election. I foresee a similar scenario playing out in some of the aforementioned states. Indeed the results released so far show that some of them are too close to call. Yet they are very important states – Sokoto, seat of the caliphate; Kano, commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria; Plateau, regional capital of north central zone; Adamawa, home state of the main opposition presidential candidate.
Among the big winners of this election apart from President Muhammadu Buhari is Kaduna state governor Mallam Nasir el Rufa’i and APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. The victory of President Buhari as well as the defeat of both suspended Governors Rochas Okorocha’s and Ibikunle Amosun’s protégées should strengthen Chairman Oshiomhole’s disciplinary hands somehow. In insisting that governors cannot have it both ways — choosing for the party who should succeed them upon expiration of their tenures as well as having an automatic senate candidate ticket – Oshiomhole apparently wants to put an end to the era where state governors consider themselves to be tin gods, laws unto themselves, alphas and omegas of their parties at the state level, appropriating virtually everything to themselves. Since their ‘godsons’ were defeated ( running under another party in contrast to APC’s official candidates) both governors’ countenances have become somewhat subdued as against their usual convivial nature. Amosun’s PDM candidate was trounced by his APC counterpart while Okorocha’s preferred successor lost to the PDP.
In fact the entire south east zone, except Anambra state is now under the grip of PDP. For this, the PDP in that zone is also a winner of these 2019 elections as the heartland of Igbo nation (Imo state) is now covered by the umbrella. Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state is now a lone ranger so to speak. Again, the results show that Obiano is a local champion literally as his APGA party won no national assembly seats in Anambra, winning only majority seats in the state house of assembly; which makes one wonder, what is the point of APGA fielding a presidential candidate in this general elections? To act as a spoiler? By getting re-elected even with a Muslim/Muslim ticket, El Rufa’I has somehow demystified the role of religion. The first to do so was late Chief Moshood Abiola when he and Babagana Kingibe as his running mate, won the annulled 1993 presidential election organised by military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida. Having now proved not to have any negative backlash as such, one suspects that some others may want to also try it even for the 2023 presidential polls.
Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is proving to be the only ‘godfather’ solidly on ground and not shaking at all. Despite fears in some quarters, (apparently because of the presidential results), his APC won everything in Lagos comprehensively. Although the southwest zone lost Oyo state to the PDP, Kwara with a significantly large yoruba population is now truly in the progressive fold with Tinubu’s man (no pun intended), Lai Mohammed playing a significant role in bringing about the O to ge movement that cleared everything there. Generally, there were no major upsets in the south west, except for Oyo state; ditto the south east as APC’s loss of Imo was expected. We have to wait till all the inconclusive results are concluded to know whether there are other major upsets in the north apart from Kwara and Gombe states. So far however, on May, 29, 2019 we shall have APC governors in all south western states, except Oyo; all five south eastern states’ governors minus Anambra will be PDP; Bayelsa, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Delta chief executives remain PDP while that of Edo is APC and Rivers’ position is currently uncertain as INEC has suspended the process indefinitely there. Save for the inconclusive elections in Plateau and Benue States, the other four states in the north central zone are controlled by the APC. Borno, Yobe and Gombe states were won by APC, two other states in that north east zone have inconclusive results while collation was still ongoing in Taraba state as at time of writing this. Expectedly APC cleared all the seven states in the north west except Sokoto and Kano where final results are yet to be declared as I write.
The flip side of these elections is the violence recorded. Granted that they were seemingly isolated, they are nonetheless, worrisome for their fierceness. Altogether some 58 persons are reported to have lost their lives. These include unpardonably, policemen and soldiers. Rivers State remains a conundrum sadly. The major contender, APC was not on the ballot, yet Rivers still flared up into a conflagration of sorts. The next election cycle in 2023 should be digitized by all means to reduce instances of ballot box snatching, stuffing and other electoral violations that lead to breach of the peace and violent deaths. Now that the elections are over, we should now stop all forms of hate speeches and insults that reigned supreme online. Our politicians including officials of the two major political parties should tone down their mudslinging on each other.