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2019 Guber Election: Who Wears the Crown?

…Lagos, Imo, Ogun, Kwara, Sokoto…Hotbeds of Contest

By Eric Elezuo

The die is cast! After many months of campaigns and debates, Saturday, March 9, 2019 is eventually here and we are set to have new Governors in at least eight of Nigeria’s 36 states. In all, 29 states will witness Gubernatorial election. The states like Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Imo, Zamfara, Gombe, Nasarawa and Oyo will surely have a new governor as their today’s incumbent will be ending their tenures on May 29, 2019.

But, Kogi, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Bayelsa, Anambra and Ondo will not be participating in the governorship elections as their present governors are yet to use up their four years tenure. However, House of Assembly election will hold in all 36 states of the Federation

The March 9 date became sacrosanct after INEC made an unceremonious shift in the date of the Presidential and National Assembly elections originally billed for February 16, 2019 to February 23, 2019. The shift affected the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections which was originally earmarked for March 2. But baring any last minute unforeseen circumstance, the day has finally come.

The governorship elections are much more local and grassroot in outlook and as such is expected to draw a lot of intrigues.

Again, most prominent politicians, who lost out in the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections will seek to redeem their image and political future with today’s elections. Among such gladiators are Senate President, Dtr. Bukola Saraki, Senator Abiola Ajumobi, Senator Godswill Akpabio among others.

There are also sitting governors whose seats are likely to be pulled from under them because of stiff opposition from contesting rivals, and they wouldn’t want that to happen. As a result, it is an all out war in various states of the federation.

Another category of jittery sitting governors are those believed to have failed in their stewardship in the last four years as well as those who have backlog of issues including corruption charges and sectionalism following them. Some of them may include Governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State among others.

There are also outgoing governors who are finding it difficult to install their preferred and anointed replacements following either public or party outcry. The governors of Imo and Ogun states, Rachas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun respectively are in this category.

In this regard, some states to watch include Ogun State where the incumbent is supporting a candidate and party other than his own. The same scenario is also playing out in Imo State. There is also Kwara State where the philosophy of O TO GE is bent on playing itself out completely with this Saturday’s election. Opponents of the Senate President are bent on retiring him completely from politics. This is even as he is playing his last card to clutch at straws to save his political future. If the governorship seat should fall for the All Progressives Congress (APC), Saraki will by all means go into oblivion and obscurity for another four years.

Here is a blow-by-blow account of battle ground states and the men that may wear the coveted crown.

In Lagos State, the Centre of Excellence, two gladiators from the two mega parties, among many others, are set for battle.

They are: Mr. Jimi Agbaje of the PDP, who is making a third attempt at the Lagos governorship seat, and  Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, an insider and technocrat, who has within a short spell of time garnered accolades, goodwill and acknowledgement.

Born on June 25, 1965, Sanwo-Olu is a graduate of the University of Lagos, as well as the London Business School, Lagos Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Prior to his gubernatorial ambition, he was the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos State Property Development Commission (LSPDC), and had been Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, acting Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget and Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions

Sanwo-Olu is widely regarded as a public sector expert in human resources and policy formation,  a power sector consultant per excellence, an astute banker, a compelling public speaker and an inspirational leader.

Born on March 2, 1957, Jimi Agbaje, on the other hand is a private sector practitioner, who founded his own company, JAYKAY Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company Limited and was Managing Director until 2005 when he decided to venture into politics.

Among many prolific assignments he had undertaken, Agbaje also sits on the Board of other organizations including Oakwood Park Ltd, Atlantic Hall Secondary School Epe, Jimi Agbaje Outreach (a project dedicated to helping the less fortunate) and has served as business mentor at Fate Foundation

In Lagos, a certain O TO GE is also playing out silently, and the ruling party, APC, is on edge, not knowing what the elections portend. With the minute number of votes with which the party defeated their bitter rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is obvious that the election can go either way.

A lot of Lagosians have it at the back of their minds that decisions concerning the state is a function of one man, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and sees Saturday’s election as a perfect opportunity to bring the hegemony to a glorious end. This explains why the PDP’s candidate, Jimi Agbaje’s slogan, is ‘freedom for Lagos’. Much as the APC candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is known to be a thoroughbred technocrat, there are fears in every quarter that he will be solidly controlled by the Tinubu factor, which single handedly picked him. His victory will ensure a sustained grasp on Lagosians and Lagos state resources by Tinubu. This, most Lagosians are aversed to.

But considering the resources and outreach efforts made by Sanwo-Olu and the campaign of fear unleashed on most voters, notably of Igbo origin, the APC camp may just carry the day by a few number of votes. This is as even Agbaje of the PDP is not doing much to reach out to voters, and only makes a political appearance when elections draw near.

In Ogun State, the contest is rather stretched – accommodating varieties of political giants from diverse political parties.

Akinlade is a 49 years old Political Science graduate of Lagos State University. He is representing Egbado South and Ipokia constituency in the House of Representatives.

Akinlade’s emergence in the governorship race is a direct prompting of the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. He had to decamp to the APM when his party, the APC denied him ticket in the primary election.

A founding member of the PDP, and the managing director/CEO of Heyden Petroleum Ltd [HPL], one of the largest indigenous players in the downstream, midstream, and upstream oil and gas industry in Nigeria, Dapo Abiodun is the flag bearer of the APC.

He has manifold experience in both the private and public sectors. He has served as a member of various presidential committees and organisations, including the Presidential Think-Tank in 2001, appointed Chairman, Oil and Gas Committee, Ogun state in 2009, chairman, Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) in 2012 and also appointed chairman, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in 2018.

The Ogun contest will bring to a close the stretched days of mudslinging and character attacks as well as intense drama hitherto exhibited by the players. This is one state which parades a roll call of very important personalities as contestants including the incumbent governor’s anointed candidate, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), Kashamu Buruji, who has been abandoned completely by his party, the PDP, Nasiru Gboyega Isiaka of African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Dapo Abiodun, standing for the ruling APC. While Governor Amosun and Ladi Adebutu are rooting for Akinlade, the duo of former Governors Olusegun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel are rooting for Abiodun.

In Oyo State, the contest is between the duo of PDP’s Seyi Makinde and APC’s Bayo Adelabu, supported by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who is still licking the wound of rejection at the polls as he lost his bid for senatorial seat.

PDP’s Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde who was born on December 25, 1967 is making a second appearance after a failed attempt in 2015 with SDP. He is an Engineer and a subject matter expert on fluid and Gas Metering as well as the Group Managing Director of Makon Group Limited; an indigenous oil and gas company in Nigeria.

He established his first oil and gas private business called Makon Engineering and Technical Services, (METS) at the age of 29 in the year 1997, after earning years of work experience with international oil and gas companies.

His rival, Adelabu, who was born in 1970, started his career with PriceWaterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), an international firm of Chartered Accountants and Management Consultants. During his seven years with the firm, he led and managed various audit and consultancy engagements for large banks and non-bank financial institutions within and outside Nigeria.[9]

He was on secondment to the Central Bank of Nigeria for one year in 1999 when he led the finance team on the CBN re-engineering and corporate renewal project tagged “Project EAGLES”. He left the firm in year 2000 as an Audit Manager and Senior Consultant to join First Atlantic Bank as the Financial Controller and Group Head of Risk Management and Controls. He was later promoted to Chief Inspector of the Bank in 2002 and Group Head of National Public Sector Business in 2003. He is the immediate past Deputy Governor of the Central Bank

In this election, Ajimobi is fighting to enthrone Adelabu, if not for anything, to rescue his drowning political life. His bid is supported by the return of former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala to the APC.

But the PDP’s alliance with other gladiators in the state, such as Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Chief Femi Lanlehin and others to oust the APC from the state, arguing that the emergence of Adelabu will be a third term for Ajimobi is making waves for Engineer Makinde of the PDP. The battle promises to be tough and full of intrigues.

In Imo State, nobody should be in a hurry to write Okorocha and his son-in-law, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu off. This is because all those who wish to see the end of the incumbent governor are in separate parties contesting the same governorship seat. Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Re[presentatives, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, is fighting from the PDP; Senator Hope Uzodinma fighting from the APC just as former governor Ikedi Ohakim is with the Accord Party, AP. They all want to defeat Okorocha’s stooge in the Action Alliance (AA).

Political pundits believe the fight could have made meaning if the opposition including APC has a united front. They think Okorocha and his son-in-law may just effortlessly carry the day. But that is left for the Imo citizens to decide.

In Akwa Ibom State, the super weight politician, whose activities of whatever kind, is nowadays preceeded with the tag ‘uncommon’, Senator Godswill Akpabio, will also be fighting a battle of his life. He is pitched against his godson, Governor Udom Emmanuel, using his sponsored candidate, Nsima Ekere.

Born on July 11, 1966, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel’s story is that of grass to grace. It is the story of a Sunday school leader at United Evangelical Church (QIC) (formerly Qua Iboe Church) who rose to become a bank director, and then to governor.
Emmanuel, a 1988 graduate of the University of Lagos, served as an audit manager of Price Waterhouse Coopers. He is an associate of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria. He served as chief financial officer of Zenith Bank Plc.

Emmanuel qualified as a Chartered Accountant and trained with Price Water house Coopers. He also served as group head of Income Optimization, Financial Control & Strategic Planning Department at Zenith Bank.

Nsima Udo Ekere, who was born on May 29, 1965, is a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)

He has chaired the Akwa Ibom State Emergency Management Agency and simultaneously as Chairman of Ibom Power Company, the independent power generating company owned by Akwa Ibom State. He is supported by ex-Governor Akpabio.

Akpabio’s lost of his senatorial seat to his former deputy, Chris Ekpeyong, consequent upon defecting to the APC, is still a rude shock to him, and he is seeking a resurrection through an APC victory on Saturday.

But emboldened by recent victories in the state, the PDP and Emmanuel are bent on pulling the carpet off Akpabio’s feet, thereby dimming his political light in the state. Whatever happens in Akwa Ibom, Akpabio may not totally be burial as he stands a chance of receiving appointment from the Federal Government.

In Bauchi State, the duo of incumbent governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar of the APC and Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of the PDP, are striving on an equal pedestal. Both parties secured electoral victories during the NASS election and seems to be individually hopeful.

However, while Governor Abubakar may play the Federal might card, the PDP will be relying heavily on Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s clout as well as grassroot bargaining.

In Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who despite decamping to a new party, failed to carry his loyalists along, as they slipped away from him half way. This explains the loss of the party to the APC in the Presidential election. If situation remains the way it was on February 23, 2019, Tambuwal may just kiss his seat goodbye to Ahmed Aliyu of the APC.

In Kano State, there is a governor who is coming to the election with a backlog. He is Abdullahi Ganduje. He was caught on tape collecting bribe in dollars from a contractor – an allegation he has since denied and backed by the Presidency.

If Kano people remembers, Ganduje may just be another incumbent that lost his seat. Again, the Kwankwaso angle which necessitated the lifting of PDP votes in the presidential election could soring a surprise that may prove decisive, and give Abba Kabir Yusuf of the PDP a desired victory.

In Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s battle to save his political future will be facing a litmus test, with two heavyweights though from separate parties are giving him a run for his money. Ikpeazu, from feelers from the Abians, has performed abysmally, and that raises the goose pimples that gives PDP sleepless nights.

But his opponents, who are operating from different camps, may just make it easy for him to return to power after thge may have shared their votes. The duo of Uche Ogah of the APC and Alex Otti of APGA only need an alliance to oust the incumbent. This they did not do. This they may regret after Saturday.

In Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike uhuru is not yet as his arch rival and Transport Minister, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi, has pitched tenth with another party as the courts barred APC from fielding candidates.

But the camp of Wike believes that Amaechi is fighting a loss battle as the election is just a formality since the Rivers people has settled behind Wike. Barring any form of crisis, the results of the election is supposed to reflect the will of the people.

In all the states, tension stands erect, and only the unbiased refereeing of the election umpire, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, and his team, can determined who the people’s choices really are.

Below is a list of the main gladiators:

Delta State
Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa (PDP)
Great Ovedje Ogboru (APC)

Abia State
Ogah Uchechukwu Samson (APC)
Alex Otti (APGA)
Okezie Victor Ikpeazu (PDP)

Adamawa
Mohammed Umar Jibrilla (APC)
Umaru Ahmadu (PDP)

Akwa Ibom
Nsima Udo Ekere (APC)
Udom Emmanuel (PDP)

Bauchi
Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar (APC)
Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed (PDP)

Benue
Emmanuel Jime (APC)
Samuel Ortom (PDP)

Borno
Baba Gana Umara (APC)
Mohammed Alkali Imam (PDP)

Ebonyi
Sunday Ogbuoji (APC)
David Umahi (PDP)

Enugu
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (PDP)

Cross River
Ben Ayade (PDP)
Owan Enoh (APC)

Gombe

Mohammed Yahaya (APC)
Nafada Usman Bayero (PDP)

Imo
Hope Uzodinma (APC)
Ihedioha Emeka (PDP)
Uche Nwosu (AA)

Jigawa
Mohammed Abubakar (APC)
Aminu Ibrahim Ringim (PDP)

Kaduna
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (APC)
Isa Mohammad Ashiru (PDP)

Kano
Ganduje Abdullahi Umar (APC)
Abba Kabir Yusuf (PDP)

Katsina
Aminu Bello Masari (APC)
Garba Yakubu Lado (PDP)

Kebbi
Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (APC)
Isa Mohammed Galadu (PDP)

Kwara
Abdulrahman Abbulrazaq (APC)
Razak Atunwa (PDP)

Lagos
Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu (APC)
Jimi Agbaje (PDP)
Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi (ADP)

Nasarawa
Audu Sule (APC)
David Emmanuel Ombudagu (PDP)

Niger
Sani Abubakar Bello (APC)
Umar Mohammed Nasko (PDP)

Ogun
Adedapo Abiodun (APC)
Buruji Kashamu (PDP)
Isiaka Nasir Adegboyega (ADC)
Akinlade Adekunle (APM)

Oyo
Adelabu Adebayo Adekola (APC)
Oluseyi Makinde (PDP)

Plateau
Simon Lalong (APC)
Jeremiah Useni (PDP)

Sokoto
Ahmed Aliyu (APC)

Aminu Tambuwal (PDP)

Taraba
Abubakar Danladi (APC)
Darius Ishaku (PDP)
Alhassan Aisha Jummai (UDP)

Yobe
Mai Mala (APC)
Umar Iliya Damaggum (PDP)

Zamfara
Idris Mukhtar Shehu (APC)
Bello Mohammed (PDP)

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