The 2023 general election is in few weeks from now and the presidential race keeps waxing stronger. The three popular candidates, have conquered different states.
Any of the three leading candidates, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP)s Peter Obi can win Taraba, depending on their level of mobilization in the heterogeneous state.
Certain factors such as political leaning of the state, popularity of the various presidential candidates, personality of the governorship candidates, religion and ethnicity will come into play in determining who wins Taraba State.
Traditionally, Taraba has been a stronghold of the PDP. The PDP has has a firm grip on the state. It has consecutively won both the governorship and presidential elections since the return of democratic rule in 1999. As a matter of fact, Taraba, known as the ‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation,’ was the only PDP State in the North-East from 2015 to 2019 when Bauchi joined the fold. The prevailing situation this time is however different. As the 2023 presidential election is concerned, the state can fall to any of the political parties.
In the 2019 polls, Atiku of the PDP scored 374, 743 votes to emerge winner while President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC polled 324,906 votes to be second. Out of the total 1,777,105 registered voters in the state, 777,105 eligible voters in Taraba state were accredited, while 741, 564 votes were cast. Total number of valid votes was 712, 877. About 28, 627 votes were rejected.
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It would have been an easy ride for Atiku Abubakar to consolidate his winning streak in Taraba, given the fact that the governor, Darius Ishaku is PDP. But the party in the state appears not to be happy that Atiku from the north instead of a southerner emerged as the party’s presidential flag bearer.
Even though the PDP governorship candidate in the state Lt . Col. Agbu Kefas (rtd), is battling to defend his ticket against Jerome Nyameh at the Supreme Court, it wouldn’t have affected the support of Atiku. But the scenario in Benue is now applying in Taraba a bit. The PDP candidates in Benue and Taraba are campaigning for themselves , not for Atiku. Although Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, alongside Nyesom Wike and other G-5 governors have publicly rejected Atiku’s presidential candidacy,Governor Dairus Ishaku of Taraba state has kept mute. His silence and perceived lack of enthusiasm is being interpreted in many ways in the state.
The Labour Party’s candidate Peter Obi has been harvesting a new crop of supporters from the traditional voting population in Taraba. A lot of support groups are springing up by the day. So far, Obi is the only candidate who has staged a rally in Taraba State with an entire youthful supporters showing up. Earlier in August 2022, the ‘Obidient Movement’ successfully conducted a million man march in Jalingo to the astonishment of many. Taraba , being a Christian dominated state, the factor of religion is paving the way for Peter Obi who is trying to poach the votes of the ruling PDP in the state . This will adversely affect Atiku if Obi succeeds .
Tinubu’s success in Taraba greatly depends on the success of Senator Emmanuel Bwacha who is the APC candidate in the state. Bwacha had defected lately from the PDP to clinch the gubernatorial ticket of APC against all odds. This led to a large number of APC supporters moving to NNPP with Professor Sani Yahaya who is the governorship candidate. Also, one of the governorship aspirants, David Sabo Kente (DSK) and many of the party bigwigs are at daggers drawn with Bwacha over the May 26, 2022 APC governorship primary poll.. Kente has vowed to work against the party in the state. The APC has strongholds in the Taraba Central zone and in some parts of northern Taraba. How the intra-party squabbles are resolved would determine Tinubu and APC’s chances in the state next month.
Despite the backing of a former National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau for PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, there are strong indications that APC may retain its grip on Zamfara State as it did in the 2019 presidential poll. The party garnered 438,682 compared with PDP’s 125, 423. APC is in good stead because its intra-party crises have been resolved. All the major players in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), which ruled the state for many years, have reunited and are in APC .
The heavyweights in Zamfara include ex-governors Abdulaziz Yari, who was initially at odds with the incumbent governor, Bello Matawalle , Ahmad Sani Yerima and Mahmud Shinkafi. Others are Sen. Kabiru Marafa, a former Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, ex-Minister Bashir Yuguda, and Hassan Sahabi,
The chances of APC have been buoyed by the performace of Governor Matawalle, who in spite of security challenges, has made a mark. The governor is a chief marketer of the party. In the health sector, Matawalle has performed creditably. Apart from providing 145 primary healthcare centers, the governor has engaged over 500 health workers and about 150 medical doctors. He also completed Shinkafi Referral Hospital which had been in the works since 2009.
The pillar of the PDP in the state is a former National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau. He is campaigning seriously for Atiku . The opposition party is , however, just getting its acts together after a reprieve for its governorship candidate, Dauda Lawal from the Court of Appeal in Sokoto. The court last week affirmed him the rightful governorship candidate of the party.
Despite Gusau’ s effort , PDP’s structure is weak in the state. It is contending with intra-party stress , lack of cohesion in the State Executive Committee(SEC), suspension of some key officers, defection of its Women Leader to APC; local government chapters’ chairmen working at cross-purpose with the State Executive Committee .
The opposition is coming late into the race in Zamfara State.
A major problem in the state is insecurity . Many residents of the state have been abducted by insurgents. The abductees are in captivity . Will this affect the turnout of voters in the state ? Zamfara is one of the four of the seven states in the North-West affected by banditry.
APC is very formidable.
Vote cast – 803,755
Valid Votes – 756,605
Void votes – 47,150
APC – 581,552
If all hands are on deck, the odds favour the All Progressives Congress (APC) more than the factionalised in Kebbi State. APC had in 2019 presidential election dusted PDP with 581,552 to 154,282.
The current situation has shown that APC may still have the upper hand because its choice of governorship candidate, Idris Nasir (Kauran Gwandu) from Gwandu Emirate, was a clincher. Nasir’s profile as National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers(NUT) has endeared him to many people in the state. He is a popular grassroots man.
The ruling party is united and stronger with the clouts of the Governor Atiku Bagudu, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami(SAN); ex-Governor Usman Dakingari, a former President of Miyyeti Allah, Kiruwa Zuru; a former Chairman of PDP in the state, Bashir Shehu and a former member of the Board of Trustees of PDP, Sani Zauro. Bagudu, described as a strategist, has also done well to the admiration of the poor, especially farmers.
But, the spirit of APC in Kebbi State is Malami, who has impacted and earned huge followership in the four emirates: Gwandu, Yauri, Argungu and Zuru. “Whether you like it or not, Malami’s influence is huge such that he cannot be ignored.
“The AGF actually conceded the governorship slot to Bagudu in 2015 on a platter of gold,” a reliable source added.
The opposition party is torn apart by the rivalry between a former Minister of the Federal capital Territory, Sen. Adamu Aliero and a former Minister of Special Duties, Mallam Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN). While Aliero is on his own, Turaki is in collaboration with PDP leaders like a former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, Gen. Bello Sarki Yaki and other bigwigs. A former Acting National Chairman of PDP, Mohammed Haliru Bello, is on the same page with the PDP governorship candidate, Gen. Aminu Bande. A former Senate Leader, Yahaya Abubakar Abdullahi, is also in his own world fighting for survival.
A source said: “PDP is in disarray in the state because Aliero wants to be in charge and other leaders are resisting his larger-than-life mien.
“The loss of senatorial tickets by Aliero and Yahaya has been humbling and a major setback for Aliero and PDP in the state. These leaders are distracted and their followers confused.
“Although all the factions may come together to rescue Atiku Abubakar but there is no direction for the members and supporters of the opposition party at present in Kebbi State.”
The election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is difficult to predict at this time because its political shape has changed with the emergence of Mr. Peter Obi as the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.
The PDP has always had the upper hand in terms of poll results in the FCT.
This development is due to the predominant Christian population in the Centre of Unity.
In 2019, Atiku won the election in the FCT with 259,997 votes against 152, 224 by President Muhammadu Buhari of APC.
In addition, the results of the last Area Council elections in the FCT showed that the six chairmanship seats were evenly shared by PDP and APC, notwithstanding the fact that FCT is the nation’s seat of power and government notwithstanding.
PDP won the chairmanship slots in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Kuje, Bwari Area Councils while APC took over Gwagwalada, Kwali, Abaji.
Election in FCT at any time is unique because unlike Nigeria’s 36 states, the territory has no governor but it is run by a minister who is appointed by the president of the country.
Also, unlike in the 36 states where state electoral commissions organise the council elections, the FCT council election is statutorily conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It is a tight race despite PDP’s ambition to reenact its winning ways with the presence of chieftains like the Chief Whip of the Senate and Senator representing FCT, Philip Aduda and three of its Chairmen in AMAC, Bwari and Kuje, and two PDP House of Representatives members representing AMAC/Bwari and Abaji/Gwagwalada/Kwali/Kuje Federal Constituencies.
However, the challenge presented by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, may upset the results of t the February 25, 2023 presidential election, thereby denying the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar victory.
It is a two-horse race in FCT between APC’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku. The chances of Obi still appear remote. His influence is high in AMAC but low in the remaining five area councils of Gwawalada, Kuje, Bwari, Abaji and Kwali.
The Christianity factor and thick Igbo population may affect PDP’s votes in the territory.