A diffuse set of actions, overt and covert, are taking place across states where inconclusive elections are scheduled to be concluded tomorrow. All the states happen to be in the Northern part of Nigeria, triggering speculations that the notion of declaring an election inconclusive is a perpetuation strategy or a Master plan for domination of the Northern political space as a calculated step towards national ascendancy of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC). Although the APC has rejected such allegations, saying its victory is popularity rating, its critics say the desire for victory behind the strategy of inclusive elections differs remarkably from the situation since 1999.
They are referring to the situation whereby, in 1999, for instance, the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) and the All Nigeria People’s Party, (ANPP) which were the two dominant parties in Nigeria then shared the North ten to nine states respectively. In 1999, while the PDP controlled Kano, Kaduna and Katsina states, the ANPP captured Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states. That was the situation in the Northwest. In the Northeast, the PDP had Adamawa, Bauchi and Taraba states while the ANPP had Borno, Yobe and Gombe. In the Northcentral, the PDP controlled Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa and Niger states while the ANPP won Kwara and Kogi states.
In the 2019 election, the APC which has replaced the ANPP appears prepared to lose only Taraba State and even then, it is said it did so after the election there was turning into violent attacks on certain quarters in Jalingo Town. Meanwhile, only one senatorial seat has been won by the PDP in the entire Northwest out of 21 and that is Southern Kaduna.
It is against this background that actions and inactions are being interpreted or misinterpreted as the case might be in relation to tomorrow’s re-reun in states where the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections were pronounced inconclusive. The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto.
In Sokoto, a lot of activities are taking place, foremost being prayer as an instrument of redemption “of our state”. That is collective prayer to God to stop those perceived to be sold on “if we can’t get it, let’s destroy everything”. Implicated in this statement is the APC by the PDP which is feeling being put under the canopy of militarization and use of INEC. PDP critics point to the posting of a new General Officer Commanding 8 Division in the person of Major-General Hakeem Otiki. The critics do not agree that it could be a routine military posting, saying that if his was a routine exercise, what about Sokoto State having three Commissioners of Police posted there within the past one month. The last one was announced last Tuesday is Mohammed Danjuma Garba. Added to this posting game is a ‘Show of Force’ outing involving the police and the military, officially directed at blocking whoever might be tempted to disrupt the election.
Above all, PDP critics claim that Mrs Amina Zakari, the much talked about INEC Commissioner has been posted to Sokoto to take over as head of an unnamed taskforce. Mallam Ibrahim Milgoma who spoke for the PDP described her posting as a desperate move by the Federal Government through the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC). According to him, Mrs Zakari arrived Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital today, March 22nd, 2019.
In Bauchi State, the major activity observed by Intervention is the internal consolidation by the PDP. It involves the Ali Pate candidate as well as the Senator Abdul Ningi coalitions which have come together with the Bala Mohammed governorship candidacy. The idea is to give his candidature strength and momentum. The assumption is that a challenger who could be leading against an incumbent can win if all the opposition politicians come together. After all, as the strategy goes, the area in contention is just Tafawa Balewa which is taken as a PDP stronghold, being where Yakubu Dogara, the incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives comes from and he has been able to win his re-election.
Kano has been in the news as where inconclusiveness could be a very volatile affair. Various actors, particularly elite camps and a leading NGO have called for calm. It remains unclear how tomorrow’s re-run will end, with each of the incumbent APC and the PDP saying they are set to win the governorship of Kano State.
The situation in Benue State is so fluid that the outcome of the re-run could go either way. Whoever wins might not be surprising although Dr Samuel Ortom of the PDP is in the lead at the moment. Moreover, INEC is just coming up with the information that the total of PVC collected for tomorrow’s re-run is 109. And that they are going to bring materials corresponding to the figure. Since all who collected PVC are unlikely to vote tomorrow, the total number of voters across the state might eventually not be more than one hundred.
The tension is high in Benue State, what with plenty of MOPOL, (Mobile Police) at Otukpo and Makurdi, reportedly on deployment from the Lagos unit. No camp is leaving any stone unturned as a single vote can be decisive. It is a situation in which ‘Ghana Must Go’ bags are flowing.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), for example, had declared three days of fasting, ahead of the March 9th Governorship Election. It was not that a particular candidate should win the election but so that God would favour the best candidate to win.
The factor that appears not to have been factored in all the predictions of the outcome of the election in Benue State is what its students are calling the covert consideration of the return of power to Zone A Senatorial District of the State. The Zone which cannot wait for that to happen is believed to favour the incumbent because if the APC candidate wins, he is sure to spend eight years or two terms. Those who know how these things work are saying that three local governments in the area have already been penciled down: Vandeikya, Konshisha and Kwande. The late Aper Aku as well as the equally late Moses Adasu are from Kwande and Konshisha LGAs respectively but the argument is that Adasu spent just two years while Aper Aku’s tenure is not part of the period since 1999. In other words, the claim is that Zone A has not had its turn and Benue governorship is not about to move to Zone C yet.
The long and short of tomorrow is that all manner of tactics are being deployed, some of them covert. Money power is at work just as new coalitions are forming. What is not clear at all is what the impact of the judgment on the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal might be on all these seven inconclusive elections being held tomorrow. The majority judgment has declared the re-run election in respect of that office in September 2018 is unknown to the law. Except if the prayers or the circumstances are different, there is no how the judgment of the Osun tribunal would not have a ‘domino effect’ of a type.