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Six Nigerian governors in the rerun battle to retain office for extra four years
20. March 2019 at 09:01
The supplementary poll is perceived to be a second chance for the embattled Governors who lost in the first contest although analysts posit that the supplementary may not affect the earlier announced results.This reporter takes a cursory look at the political background of the six governors, their opponents and some events that shaped their fate.

With the declaration of inconclusive governorship elections and the announcement for supplementary polls in some states by the Electoral Commission, six incumbent Governors are in the contest to remain in office for another four years. Following the governorship and state house of assembly elections of March 9, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared 6 states governorship election inconclusive and fixed a rerun for March 23.

The supplementary polls will take place in some parts of Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Sokoto, Benue and Adamawa. According to the Commission's guideline, the number of cancelled votes out weighed the margin between the two leading contestants such that the results of the votes can affect the final results and determine the fate of the winner.

Many opined that the declaration was a manipulating attempt by the ruling APC because most of its governorship candidates in the affected states were defeated with the exception of Plateau state. The Electoral Commission is yet to release the polling units where the rerun will take place. Notwithstanding, as Nigerians in the affected places go to the poll, the incumbent governors' fate of retaining power will be decided on March 23.

The supplementary election is perceived to be a second chance for the embattled Governors who lost in the first contest although analysts posit that the supplementary may not affect the earlier announced results. This reporter takes a cursory look at the political background of the six governors, their opponents and some events that shaped their fate.

Abdullahi Gaduje of Kano

In a keenly contested election in Kano, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Abba Yusuf, defeated the All Progressives Congress Incumbent Governor, Abdullahi Gaduje as PDP polled 1,014,474 while APC polled 987,819. Although the APC led in 28 out of the 44 local government areas, the number of votes garnered was not enough to challenge that of the PDP which won in the remaining 16 decisive local government areas. 

The cancelled votes across 22 local government areas including Gama ward of Nasarawa local government turned out to be 141,694 votes, which is higher than the difference of 26,655 votes. Analysts have attributed the tight contest to the corruption allegations against the incumbent Governor which surfaced some months ago. In October last year, Mr. Gaduje was caught on camera receiving kickback of 5million dollars from contractors. The video, which was published by Daily Nigerian, revealed the governor receiving bundles of dollars and putting them into his white dress known as ‘babanriga’ in the northern part of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the seven-member committee set-up by the Kano State House of Assembly to investigate the alleged bribery video clips against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje vowed to continue with the assignment despite the court order which stopped the committee from investigating Mr Ganduje. During this period, Nigerians mounted pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to call for the probe of the sitting governor, who as a result of the scandal was nicknamed 'Gandollar'. Groups and Civil societies also clamoured that Mr. Gaduje be marked by the anti-graft agency for corruption case. 

However, in few days to the supplementary poll, Mr Ganduje’s senior special assistant on urban beautification, Hashim Dungurawa, resigned his appointment. He tendered his resignation to the secretary to the governor’s office on Thursday but did not state any reason for the resignation in the letter. On the other hand, the PDP candidate, Kabir Abba-Yusuf, is the son-in-law to the former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who dumped the All Progressive Congress last year after losing the Presidential primaries to Buhari. Mr. Yusuf served as a Commissioner in Mr. Kwankwaso's cabinet. His loyalty to the former governor earned him the support of the Kwakwansiya Movement, a prominent group in the state.

Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto

Seeking re-election, governor Tambuwal polled 489, 558 votes while his closest rival and former deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored 486, 145 votes last Saturday. However, because the 75,403 cancelled votes in 136 polling units was higher than the 3, 413 margin difference between Tambuwal’s score and that of the APC candidate, the commission declared it inconclusive.

While he challenged the decision of INEC, Mr. Tambuwal said that the commission had not communicated the reasons for cancellation of votes in the 136 polling units. In the last two years, Governor Tambuwal has been floating between the two major parties. He won the 2015 governorship election as an APC flagbearer but contested last Saturday poll under the aegis of PDP.

 The Governor, who joined the ruling party in 2014 after renouncing his membership of PDP, left the ruling party to the Peoples Democratic Party, alongside 18 members of the State House of Assembly in 2018. In a report before his defection, he alleged that "the APC had been transformed into a sanctuary for the corrupt and into a rigging machine that has been unable to enthrone good governance."

His criticism of the APC was notable to the point of dismissing the state Commissioner for Information, Bello Muhammad-Goronyo, following his defection to the All Progressives Congress. Meanwhile, PDP's Ahmad Aliyu, a deputy governor, who resigned from office to contest against his former boss, broke the followership of Mr. Tambuwal in the governorship election.

Also, the opposition enjoyed the backing of a former governor and serving senator, Aliyu Wamakko, who used to be a “godfather” to Mr. Tambuwal until his defection to the PDP. Mr Tambuwal headed to the poll on Saturday without the support of his godfather that was instrumental to his victory in 2015.

Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi

Incumbent governor Mohammed Abubakar of APC lost to the opposition after polling 465,453 votes while Bala Mohammed of PDP scored 469,512 votes. The PDP candidate, Bala Mohammed, was in the lead after results of 19 LGAs were collated, with the incumbent governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar of the APC, trailing behind with a margin of over 4000 ballots.

Meanwhile, the results of a local government, Tafawa Balewa, with over 70,000 registered voters was nullified because the Returning Officer, Dominion Anosike was intimidated and harassed while collating results. In the contentious Tafawa Balewa LGA, the PDP had scored 40,000 votes against the APC’s 29,000, putting the PDP ahead with about 15,000 votes.

Mohammed Abubakar, a jurist-cum-governor was appointed a member of the National Judicial Council, in 2015 and won the 2015 Governorship election of Bauchi State, Nigeria on the platform of APC. It is not surprising that Mr. Abubakar who won the 2015 election, defeating the PDP candidate by over 370,000 votes, managed to come second in the 2019 poll.

It should be noted that the local government results cancelled was from Tafawa Balewa, the constituency of Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the green chambers. Mr. Dogara who defected to PDP from the All Progressives Congress in 2018, and the PDP governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Bala Mohammed had accused the governor of incompetence. The speaker also alleged Governor Abubakar to have diverted public funds to the tune of N400 billion from May 2015 when he assumed office to date.

As Tafawa-Balewa appears to be one of the strongholds of the PDP, since Speaker Yakubu Dogara is from the area, analysts have concluded that Mr. Bala Muhammed has a greater chance of winning. Mr. Bala was the federal law maker representing Bauchi Souh in the red chamber from 2007- 2011. He was also appointed Minister of FCT (Federal Capital Territory) when Acting President Goodluck Jonathan announced his new cabinet.

Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa

The Adamawa state Governor, Jibrilla Bindow of the All Progressives Congress was also caught up in the web of inconclusive election as Umaru Fintiri of PDP scored 367,471 votes, while the incumbent governor, Jibrilla Bindow of polled 334,995 votes.  Results as announced show that Mr. Fintiri led with a margin 32,476. Following the principle of the margin lead, the slim difference of 32,476 votes was lesser than the 40,988 ballots cancelled because of various infractions in some polling units.

After the APC controversial primaries in the state, Governor Bindow was alleged to have forged his secondary school certificate, thereby prompting a rights group, Global Crusade Integrity Network (GICN) to file a case against him before an Abuja Federal High Court in September last year. Had the move by the group to get the governor indicted succeeded, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s in-laws, popularly known as Modi, who emerged the first runner-up in the primaries would have been a replacement.

Mr Bindow, a career business developer, represented Adamawa North Senatorial District from 2011 until 2015 when he ran for governor. He has not been stable with a political party for he went to the Senate under the PDP but switched parties when he observed in 2014 that the political atmosphere in the party did not favour his governorship ambition. In a recent analysis, Mr Bindow’s performance appeared tailored towards his success from 2015. While he did well in the metropolitan Yola North and Yola South Local Government Areas, he was trounced in rural settlements like Lamurde and Hong.

Mr Fintiri, a former state lawmaker who served briefly as an acting-governor in 2014, appeared to be capable of displacing Mr. Bindow with a surprising performance in the Saturday poll. The votes gathered negate the pre-election analysis that he seemed not be fully prepared.

Samuel Ortom of Benue State

Unlike some other governors, who challenged the decision of INEC in the governorship election, Governor Ortom of Benue State, says he is confident of victory in the supplementary polls after leading his opponent, Emmanuel Jime of PDP with 81,554 votes. INEC said its declaration of inconclusive election was based on statistics. The commission stated that 121,011 electorates were either not able to vote or election did not hold in their areas.

Mr. Ortom contested in 2015 under APC but dumped the party in 2018 over allegations of exclusion of stakeholders and senators in the party's affairs and the complacency of the federal government during the herdsmen attacks in the state. Also, his resignation from the party was not unconnected with the friction between him and the APC leader in the state, Sen. George Akume, who alleged the Governor of low performance.

In the eye of the storm, Mr. Ortom was served impeachment notice by Eight lawmakers under the All Progressives Congress who sat to impeach the governor. The process was halted by the federal lawmakers who declared it null and void. Meanwhile, the resignation of Mr. Ortom of the party boosted the performance of the opposition PDP in the state. This reflected in the Presidential election as the PDP candidate, Abubakar Atiku polled more votes than President Muhammadu Buhari and the three senatorial seats were scooped by the PDP candidates.

Mr. Jime of APC represents Makurdi/Guma federal constituency in the green chamber of the National Assembly. He is as well the Chairman of the House ofFes of the salary bailout from the Federal Government. His opponent, Mr Useni was elected Senator for the Plateau South constituency of Plateau State, Nigeria in the 2015 national elections under the People's Democratic Party (PDP) platform.

Cite This Article As: Alfred Olufemi. "Six Nigerian governors in the rerun battle to retain office for extra four years." International Youth Journal, 20. March 2019.

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