Gov poll: APC, PDP in fierce battle for Lagos, Benue, others

National Chairman, APC, John  Oyegun  and National Chairman, PDP, Adamu Mu’azuThe results of presidential and parliamentary elections have spurred the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party to go back to the drawing board ahead of Saturday’s governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.

There were strong indications on Saturday that the two political parties had been meeting stakeholders in states, where they were head-to-head in the March 28 presidential poll.

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that intense house to house campaigns were being carried out in Lagos, Benue, Nasarawa and Adamawa states, where the differences between the two parties were not wide in the presidential election results.

According to the results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday, the APC got 792,460 votes in Lagos State, while the PDP had 632,327 votes.

In Benue State, the APC polled 293,296, while the PDP had 253,134. In Nasarawa, the APC got 236,838 votes and the PDP had 273,460 votes.

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that besides house-to-house campaigns, the two parties would, this week, meet, community leaders in many states to address low turn-out of voters experienced during the presidential poll.

In Lagos, for example, out of 3,767, 647 people that collected their permanent voter cards, only 1,678,754 were accredited for the presidential poll.

In Benue State, 1,607,800 voters collected their Permanent Voter Cards, but only 754,634 turned up for the presidential election.

In Nasarawa, 1,222,054 people got their PVCs, while 562,959 were accredited for the presidential poll.

An APC chieftain, who confided in SUNDAY PUNCH, said, “We are confident of winning governorship elections in Lagos, Benue, Nasarawa and Adamawa. I won’t disclose all our game plans. What I can tell you for now is that we will work on the low voters’ turnout recorded across the country during the March 28 elections.”

The PDP national leaders had on Thursday met with its 36 governorship candidates in Abuja, where it was gathered that they were directed to also work on low voters’ turnout

“We will close the gaps between us and the APC in Adamawa and Benue. We are confident of winning the two states and Kaduna, which we lost in the presidential poll,” a member of the PDP’s National Working Committee, who pleaded anonymity because he was not permitted to speak with the media, said.

Our correspondents gathered that the APC planned to control at least 25 states after Saturday’s governorship poll.

They include Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun in the South-West. In the South-South, it was learnt that it was hopeful of winning Rivers State, in addition to Edo, which it currently controls.

The opposition party is targeting to triumph in five North-Central states of Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue and Niger where governorship elections will be held on Saturday.

The APC, it was learnt, planned to win all the seven states (Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa) in the North-West and the six in the North-East (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba).

It was gathered that it was working to wrest the control of Ekiti, Ondo and Nasarawa states Houses of Assembly from the PDP. Governorship elections will not hold in the three states on Saturday.

For the PDP, besides Ekiti and Ondo, which it controls in the South-West, and Kogi in the North-Central, our correspondents learnt that it was targeting 21 more states, making it 25.

Its focus for governorship poll, it was gathered, include, Lagos, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Imo, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kwara, Kaduna, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno and Kebbi states

Investigations revealed that the PDP was working to seize the control of the Edo State House of Assembly from the APC.

In Ondo State, for instance, the APC has reached an accord with some notable members of the PDP in the state to ensure its candidates win the House of Assembly election. There will be no governorship poll in the state.

The accord was reached on Friday at Igbotako, the home of Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, a PDP stalwart in the state, who convened the meeting.

In Ebonyi, opposition parties were said to be holding secret meetings with Governor Martin Elechi for a possible merger against the PDP ahead of Saturday’s election.

A reliable source within the government told SUNDAY PUNCH that the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the Labour Party and the APC were expected to collapse into one party to possibly defeat the PDP.

In Lagos, the APC is meeting with several Igbo groups in order to garner their support ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.

Our correspondent learnt that during the presidential elections, areas dominated by Igbo voted massively for the PDP.

The local governments won by the PDP were Oshodi/Isolo, Ajeromi/Ifelodun, Ojo, Amuwo Odofin and Surulere.

In Anambra State, indications emerged that some members of the PDP and the APGA may be planning to defect to the APC following the announcement of the APC as winner of the 2015 presidential polls.

Don’t be discouraged, Mua’zu begs PDP members

On Saturday, the National Chairman of the PDP, Adamu Mu’azu, appealed to members of the party not to be discouraged by the outcome of the presidential election which the party lost to the APC.

He said this week’s governorship election would certainly provide the party a soft-landing after conceding the presidency to the APC.

Mu’azu asked them to pick up “the pieces and ensure that we return quickly to our old winning ways.”

Mu’azu added that there should be no room for voter apathy, which he said was a major factor that made the PDP lose the presidential election.

He said, “While our opponents were savouring their famous victory, we should outflank them and corner at least two-third of the states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Our target in this remaining election should be to retain our present states and then sink our teeth into the heart of our political opponents and show that their presidential victory is nothing more than a one-off that won’t be repeated in a long while.”

The PDP chairman said he had reminded the party’s governorship candidates that “one thing that won’t happen in this race is the so-called bandwagon effect. The reason is simple. Our party is used to bouncing back whenever we experience a setback.”

He added that the PDP in the past 16 years of democracy had maintained fair play consistently, which he said the APC admitted in its response to President Jonathan’s speech conceding to President-elect, General Muhammdu Buhari.

He said members of the PDP must turn out in large numbers on Saturday.

We will leave no stone unturned to retain our states and win more — APC

On its part, the APC said it would leave no stone unturned to ensure that it not only retains the states it currently controls but also win states under the control of other political parties, especially the PDP.

National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH in Abuja on Saturday.

He was reacting to Mu’Azu’s pronouncement that the PDP would win Saturday’s elections in order to return to its winning ways.

Mohammed said the APC was poised to consolidating on the successes it recorded at the polls last week by securing a majority of states in order for the party to deliver on its promises to Nigerians.

Reacting specifically to the plot by the PDP to “capture” Lagos, Rivers and Imo states, Mohammed said, “The three states, being states we already control, let it be known that we will leave no stone unturned to ensure they remain within our fold.

“All we are asking for is that the security forces should be neutral and we insist that card readers must be used because we will not tolerate the massive rigging that characterised last week’s elections in Rivers and Imo states.

“We will not accept the killing of our supporters as was the case in Rivers. We are not afraid of meeting any party at the polling booth, we only insist that electoral laws be obeyed and all parties play by the rules.”

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