The wind of change blowing across the country again resonated yesterday in states that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has governed since the return of civil rule in 1999.
Results monitored by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY’s correspondents indicated that Benue, Niger, Jigawa and Katsina have fallen to the winning streak of the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, won the March 28 presidential election against the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.
APC also won 65 out of the 109 seats in the Senate and majority seats in the House of Representatives.
In yesterday’s state houses of assembly and governorship elections, a similar pattern of the “historic change” was seen in the states hitherto considered PDP strongholds.
Although final figures are still being compiled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), our correspondents reported that the APC was “progressively leading” in most of the polling units monitored.
In Niger State, the APC candidate, Abubakar Bello, was jubilant and excited members of the party were seen celebrating across the state’s 25 local government areas.
In Benue, the successes of Senators Barnabas Gemade and George Akume in the National Assembly election also rubbed off on the APC candidate for the state, Samuel Ortom.
Ortom resigned from the cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the state’s number one job. He was maintaining a comfortable lead in 18 of the 23 local governments at press time.
At the Government House polling unit, Ortom scored 145 votes to beat his PDP opponent, Terhemen Tarzoor, who polled 119 votes.
Also at Annunne Market Square Polling Unit in Tarka local government area, the APC polled 324 votes to PDP’s 14 votes.
However, Tarzoor is said to have polled a total of 152 votes at the Ankpa Ward Polling Unit, an area where he grew up, to Ortom’s 150 votes.
Contrary to expectations that PDP’s Jimi Agbaje backed by the non-natives of Lagos State will replace Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, the APC candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode is conveniently coasting home to victory.
Results from the polling units indicated that Agbaje scored higher in Igbo-dominated communities like Amuwo Odofin and Oshodi/Isolo, but he lost by win margins in most polling units of Lagos East Senatorial District and Alimosho which have the largest populations in the state. Ambode was said to be in firm control of at least 15 of the 20 local government areas of the state.
Plateau also surprisingly favoured APC from the unit-by-unit analysis.
In Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha also cast off the state-sponsored rigging of the presidential election against his party, the APC, in the state to launch into an early lead, ahead of closest rivals, Emeka Ihedioha (PDP) and Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho (APGA).
Also, Kaduna State, which had been ruled by PDP for 16 years, had Malam Nasir el-Rufai of the APC ahead of the incumbent governor, Mukhtar Yero, who hinted that things might not work his way.
Shortly after accreditation in Zaria, yesterday, Yero told his supporters and the entire people of state to accept the outcome of the election, whichever way it went.
Similarly, in Katsina, former speaker, House of Representatives and candidate of the APC, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari appeared to cut short the winning streak of the PDP in the state since 1999.
President-elect Buhari was in Katsina on Thursday to attend the final rally for APC’s governorship and state House of Assembly candidates in Saturday’s elections, and he pleaded with the people of his home state to vote for his party’s candidates.
Jigawa has also returned to the APC fold with results indicating that a majority of the House of Assembly seats as well as that of the governor went to APC. The state was governed by the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) before the PDP took it over in 2007.
A similar situation is also playing out in Kebbi State as the APC governorship candidate, Senator Atiku Bagudu, is coasting home to victory and leading the PDP candidate Gen Sarkin Yaki Bello, in most of the local government areas of the state.
Again, Sam Nda-Isaiah Wins Polling Unit
The chairman of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah, won in his polling unit in yesterday’s governorship and state assembly elections in Niger State with a wide margin.
Results of units released so far across the state indicated that the APC was in early lead.
At Nda-Isaiah’s Kofar Danjuma Mainadi polling unit, the APC got 361 votes while the PDP got 100 votes in the governorship election, while in the state assembly election, the APC served the PDP a crushing defeat with 399 votes to 61.
Why My Wife Didn’t Accompany Me To Vote
President Goodluck Jonathan went to polling unit 039, Ward 13 in Ogbia Constituency 3 yesterday without his wife, Dame Patience.
The development was the first time the couple would be the first time the couple would not be voting together since the return of democracy in 1999.
Jonathan had arrived at 1:50pm unaccompanied by Dame Patience. Jonathan explained her absence: “We used different aircraft. She was supposed to be here. And we’ve been expecting her and we hope she will still come.
“The only problem is whether she will meet up with the accreditation period. But, she is supposed to be on her way.”
Jonathan disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists after casting his ballot. Curiously, only his mother, Eunice, accompanied him to Otuoke for the election on Saturday.
The president, however, expressed delight that Nigeria was consolidating her democratic efforts.
He said it was imperative for the citizens to avail themselves of their civic rights every four years that elections are conducted.
“But, I’m quite happy I have done my own civic duty and I expect all of you (journalists) to do the same”, he said.
The First Lady has not also visited her husband’s home state since he lost in the March 28 presidential election to APC’s Muhammadu Buhari.
She was, however, reported to have landed at Okrika, her community in River State, days preceding the governorship and state houses assembly elections.
Losing Election Won’t Deter Us Serving Nigeria
Vice President Namadi Sambo has said that although the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the presidential election, that will stop its members from contributing their quota to the growth and development of the country whether in or out of government.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday shortly after casting his vote at his 011 Swimming Pool road /Police College Gate polling unit of Kabala Doki ward, Sambo said that the precedent set by President Goodluck Jonathan in conceding defeat and congratulating the president-elect should be maintained by politicians in future elections, rather than resorting to inducing violence.
He said, “We always believe in the rule of law and, whether Muslim or Christian, there is always one person that will be a winner. So, whatever the outcome, Mr President has given a very good example by being the first to congratulate the president-elect and I also did the same.
“All of us can contribute to the development of the country, whether inside or outside the government. So, the outcome of the presidential election should be taken in good faith and let’s make Nigeria move forward.
“It is expected that the president has put another standard into the politics of Nigeria and Africa and we believe the standard will be maintained. We are looking forward to all Nigerians cooperating with this administration; even though it will come and go, but Nigeria remains.”
However, on the low turnout of voters, Sambo said, “I cannot say precisely what is responsible for the low turnout, but it happened like that”.
Cancel Votes in Units With Incomplete Records
As Nigerians voted to choose their state governors and House of Assembly members yesterday, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has advised INEC to cancel elections in polling units with incomplete documentation.
Giving his assessment of the 2015 elections in Nigeria, Soyinka, however, rated the exercise slightly above average.
Soyinka spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Nigeria 2015’ live programme from his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State yesterday. The broadcast was monitored in Lagos.
“I think I agree with the generality of people that it’s been slightly above average success. “The organisation (INEC) is not fully to blame for the lapses, because, in certain states, people have just refused to learn to behave democratically,” he said.
He, however, referred to the elections as “one of the best we have had so far”.
On his view on the campaign style of politicians towards the elections, Soyinka said: “The campaign has been intense, sometimes rather distastefully so.
“But, there’s no question at all about the will of the people to make their voices heard and to make sure that democracy is given a fair chance of survival in Nigeria.”
Soyinka also lamented the violence recorded in Rivers State, and called on INEC and security agencies to move against those who attempted to spoil its efforts, saying what played out is an example of what a democratic campaign should not be about.
“We are talking about a state where, from all reports, about 56 people have been killed so far. That is unacceptable; that is barbaric, and the miscreants have got to be absolutely pursued and punished,” he asserted.
He cited reports of missing result sheets at polling units as one that must not be condoned by INEC as it is disrespectful to citizens who had “queued up in the rain.”
He condemned a situation where voters queued all day in the rain and under the sun to get accredited and vote, only for some people to sit down somewhere and write the results.
“They are telling us we are stupid for queuing up. INEC has the responsibility to cancel the result from any polling booth where the documentation is incomplete,” he said.
The Nobel Laureate commended the peace accord signed by the leading presidential candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, saying it was an excellent example.
He, however, took a swipe at the players at other levels of leadership where they made a mess of the peace accord and reduced it to a mere piece of paper
Soyinka cited the example of those who played various roles in the alleged rigging of the governorship election in Ekiti State in 2014, saying it was a display of utter brigandage by people who are supposed to lead Nigerians in various capacities.
He also condemned the seeming silence by the relevant authorities over the allegations against the respective government officials, who took part in what he termed the conspiratorial meeting to rig the Ekiti elections.
Soyinka demanded an investigation into the Ekiti saga, stressing that those found culpable should be dealt with according to law, as a way of making Nigerians believe that the system works for them.
On voter awareness, Soyinka said while the media had been doing a lot in terms of getting Nigerians involved in the electoral and democratic process, INEC should tap into the opportunity afforded by the creative industry to get this message out to the entire populace.
Soyinka listed power, security and unemployment as some of the crucial areas that the incoming Buhari administration should address.
“We need an infrastructural revolution”, he stressed, adding that Buhari should be given one year before being assessed on his performance.
Stay In Your Party, APC Tells Defectors
National chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday advised those defecting to the party to remain in their parties and rather form a formidable opposition to enrich the nation’s democracy.
He opined that the gale of defections by politicians was not good for Nigeria’s political development.
Oyegun, who spoke to journalists in Benin shortly after casting his vote, said, “many opposition party members have defected to the APC just because they lost out, that is not good for political development.”
“One would have advised that opposition members should stay where they are and form a formidable opposition party,” the party chairman said.
He described the governorship and houses of assembly elections as “the most decent, orderly and peaceful” ever conducted in Edo.
Meanwhile, Odigie-Oyegun won the election in his Oredo East Ward 2, Unit 1 Polling Unit, the first time since 1991, when he was elected governor.