●10 govs, two ministers, battle for tickets
●Easy ride for Ganduje, el-Rufai, Lalong, Bello and Bagudu
●Borno, Lagos, Imo, Rivers, others as battleground states
The battle for the 2019 general elections practically begins tomorrow as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) kick-starts its primaries with that of the governorship in the 29 states, where gubernatorial elections will hold. The states are Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kano, Imo, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Gombe, and Abia. However, the exercise is unlikely to hold in Kwara as the APC National Working Committee (NWC) is yet to screen aspirants for its governorship ticket in the state as at press time yesterday.
Governorship elections will not hold in Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states in the forthcoming general elections. A total of 154 aspirants are contesting for the party’s governorship tickets in the 28 states that have been cleared for primaries. Borno State tops the list with 21 aspirants. It is followed by Taraba State with 11 aspirants, while Nasarawa State has 10 aspirants. Imo, Zamfara, Gombe and Ebonyi States have nine aspirants each.
Ten serving APC governors are contesting the primaries for return tickets. They are Jibrilla Bindow (Adamawa),Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Sani Bello (Niger) and Simon Lalong (Plateau). Of the 10, only four – Ganduje, el- Rufai, Lalong, Bello and Bagudu – are not facing challenges in the party’s primaries. The governors are contesting unopposed for the party’s ticket whereas the other six will slug it out with other contestants.
Two serving ministers – Brig.-Gen. Dan Mansur Ali (Defence) and Usani Usani (Niger Delta Affairs) are battling for APC governorship ticket in Zamfara and Cross River states. The hope of two others – Aisha Alhassan (Women Affairs) and Adebayo Shittu (Communication) – was dashed as they failed the party’s screening exercise. The mode of primaries to be adopted differs among the states. While some will elected their governorship candidates through direct primaries, others will do their through the indirect option.
The APC NWC had on Tuesday released its approved mode of primaries for 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory for the governorship primaries earlier scheduled for today, but was shifted by 24 hours. According to the party, the direct method, which involves all registered card carrying members of the party; and the indirect mode where elected and statutory delegates take part, will be used.
The states that are to elect their governorship candidates via the direct method are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kano, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Taraba, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory. States that got the nod to pick candidates using the indirect mode are Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto and Yobe. The ruling party realised over N3.8 billion from the sales of expression of interest and nomination forms for the governorship primaries. Findings from across the states and data earlier obtained by the newspaper from the national secretariat of APC in Abuja, showed that 171 aspirants paid for the governorship forms. The expression of interest and nomination forms, were sold for N22.5 million.
The battleground states in the APC governorship primaries include Borno, Lagos, Taraba, Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Zamfara, Yobe, Delta, Rivers, Nasarawa and Ebonyi. In Borno State, where 21 aspirants will battle for the sole ticket, it is a fight to finish between Kashim Imam, Prof. Babagana Umaru, Gambo Lawan, Mustapha Baba Shehu, Umaru Kumalia, Muhammad Aba Lima, Kaka Shehu Lawan, Adamu Dibal, Mustapha Fannarambe, Mohammed Jafaru, Baba Kaka Bashir Garba, Mohammed Makinta, Babagana Tijjani, Adamu Alhaji Lawan, Mai Sherrif, Abba Jato, Attom Magira Tom, Umar Alkali, Baba Ahmed Jidda, Idris Mamman Gatumbwa and Abubakar Kyari. In Lagos, it is a tight race as Governor Ambode battles Obafemi Hamzat and Jide Sanwo-Olu for the party’s ticket.
The governor’s second term bid is under threat following the decision of Sanwo-Olu, who is the Managing Director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC), Hamzat, a former Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, to contest the APC governorship primaries. Ambode’s is said to have cut off those who helped me to power immediately he assumed office, among who is, the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Though the governor has continually played down on the rift, Tinubu, remains adamant over his purported opposition to the governor’s return to power in 2019. In Imo State, it is battle of relevance between former political allies turn foes. Governor Rochas Okorocha, who is insisting on the APC ticket going to his sonin- law and Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, would be squaring up against his embattled deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under his administration, Sir Jude Ejiogu and brother-inlaw, Celestine Ololo. Others he would be dueling in the proxy war are Senator Hope Uzodinma, Barr. Chima Anozie, Dr. Chris Nlemoha, Sir Eche Ezenna, Air Commodore Peter Gbujie.
In Rivers State, where the quartet of Senator Magnus Abe, Tonye Cole, Dumo Lulu Briggs and Dr. Dawari George are set lock horns for the party’s ticket, the position of the immediate past governor of the state and Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, will no doubt determine, who, among the aspirants carries the day. In 2015, Amaechi picked Dakuku Peterside, then a member of the House of Representatives ahead of Abe to the surprise of some party leaders who felt that Abe was more experienced, matured and above all, more popular. Again, the senator’s governorship seems to have been dashed with Amaechi’s recent adoption of a businessman, Cole, as his preferred candidate for the 2019 governorship election. The state is among those to elect their 2015 candidates by indirect primaries and Abe, who feels that he may not make it, has threatened to boycott the governorship primaries. He said that he would neither participate in the exercise nor accept the result if eventually the indirect primary was upheld in the state.
Easy ride for Ganduje, el-Rufai, Lalong, Bello and Bagudu
While some of the first term governors of the APC are still sweating to get the nomination of the ruling party for a second term, it is a smooth sail for others ahead of tomorrow’s primaries. The governors, who have sealed their second term tickets are Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Sani Bello (Niger), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi). They are to run as sole aspirants in tomorrow’s governorship primaries.
While El-Rufai, Lalong and Ganduje had no challengers, Bagudu’s only challenger, Ibrahim Mohammed Mera, was disqualified by the party’s screening committee. For el-Rufai, the absence of another aspirant was surprising given the groundswell of opposition against him by some lawmakers and leaders of the party in the state. The governor, whose tenure in office has seen him fight with the high and mighty, especially in his party, was picked by political analysts as one of the state chief executives whose second term ticket may not materialise. In the last three years, el-Rufai has had brushes with Senators Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North) and Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central); Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Hakeem Baba Ahmed; APC gubernatorial aspirant, who lost to him at the primaries in 2014, Isa Hashiru; Amb. Sule Buba and the leader of APC Akida group, Tom Maiyashi. Others are President Buhari’s ally and gubernatorial candidate of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in the 2011 elections, Se’ed Kajuru and leader of the Restoration Group, Tijjani Ramalan, among others. With the long list of enemies within against el-Rufai, it was easy to predict a tough fight for the APC ticket in Kaduna, but that is not meant to be, perhaps, due to the defection of some of the aggrieved APC leaders to the opposition parties. As it is, it’s a roller coaster ride for the former Minister of Federal Capital territory (FCT), but how he would fare in the general elections is another kettle of fish. For Ganduje, his emergence as the sole aspirant for the Kano State APC ticket wasn’t an unexpected development. In fact, political pundits saw it coming immediately his erstwhile political associate and predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Once touted as closest political allies of all time, the battle of wits between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, defied all mediations until it finally culminated to the defection of the former governor from APC. Aside having no opposition, Ganduje also enjoyed the luxury of getting a free nomination form, which was donated to him by a group under the aegis of One-2-tell-10 Association. On the Plateau, Governor Lalong, also does not need to dissipate energy on his second term ticket as it is done and dusted. With little or no opposition against him, safe for the occasional feuds with the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Barr. Solomon Dalung, the battle for the control of APC in the state was not out of control. Although analysts speculated crisis and factions in the state chapter of APC, the crises haven’t politically manifested or so it looks, especially with Lalong emerging unopposed for the big race in 2019. Governor Bello of Niger State is also lucky to be part of the few governors, who may not need to compete for votes in tomorrow’s primary election. Already, the governor has inaugurated a 14-man state campaign committee for his second term bid. The committee is headed by Mallam Yusuf Suleiman, who was the Director of Publicity of the 2014 campaign committee, while Alhaji Abdullahi Arah, Director General, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is to serve as the Secretary. Also on the list of sole aspirants in the APC governorship ticket race is Governor Bagudu of Kebbi State. The governor appears to have mastered the political waves of APC in the state as things appear to be going on well for him. Earlier in the year, Senator Bala Na’Allah from Kebbi South Senatorial District was said to be gearing up to rub shoulders with Bagudu for the APC ticket, but all that fizzled away, when the awmaker saw the domination and influence the governor has on the state’s politics. Aside his larger influence on the party sphere, the gale of defections to the ruling APC by party leaders particularly from two major parties in the state- the PDP and lately the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), may give Bagudu a smooth ride back to the government house in Birnin Kebbi in 2019.
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