Governor Sani Bello does not relish publicity. He hardly meets with the media. Thus, his government has been under reported. During the last Democracy Day Celebrations, however, he hosted a media parley, where he made a profound statement that, during the 2015 electioneering campaign, he never promised the people anything. Observers have tried to rationalise the governor’s statement by saying that it was strange that a person seeking to hold office as governor of a state had no programmes to persuade voters and yet, he was elected. But, they acknowledged that he only honestly stated the truth. As a result, no one can accuse him of non-performance, as there was a zero yardstick for assessing him. It can be therefore, concluded that he could be re-elected in 2019, if the electorate behave as they did in 2015.
When he assumed office in 2015, he was unable to determine which of his supporters should be appointed commissioners. When he eventually did, he directed each commissioner at the inaugural meeting of the state executive council to submit his or her vision statement to enable the deputy governor work out the vision of the government. It appears Bello did not prepare a blueprint on how he would govern the state.
Nevertheless, Bello has been applauded for reversing the old order of abandoned projects in the state. For instance, he has rehabilitated many schools with perimeter fencing, well-furnished dormitories, new classrooms, laboratories, workshops, libraries and staff quarters. The schools had not been touched since they were built in the last 40 years. The governor had also outlined plans to tackle the issue of lead poisoning for which Niger State was the second state to be affected in the country. There is also plan to establish a mining city in the state.
He has formally declared his intention to run for a second term. There is no challenger within the APC for now. But, the major threat to his re-election bid is the defection of Ambassador Ahmed Ibeto from the APC to the PDP. The former ambassador to South Africa was deputy to former Governor Babangida Aliyu on the platform of the PDP. He joined the APC in 2015, after he failed to secure the party’s governorship ticket. It was gathered that Ibeto would likely emerge the PDP governorship candidate this time around. It was chieftains of the party, it was said, that put pressure on him to resign his appointment and renounce his APC membership, so that he could be the PDP governorship flag bearer in 2019.
The former ambassador was a member of the PDP until the primary election in November 2014; he lost the governorship ticket to Umar Nasko, a former Chief of Staff to Aliyu. He resigned his membership of the PDP along with thousands of his supporters after complaining about the injustice meted to him by the PDP. Ibeto was the vehicle on which the incumbent APC governor rode to victory in 2015 leading his campaign to all the 274 wards in the state.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s first term would lapse on May 29, 2019. He has the right to seek for second term in line with the 1999 Constitution, which prescribes a maximum of two terms for governors. Ambode is a tested administrator with a clear vision to make Lagos State the envy of all. The clamour by various interest groups for his re-election bears eloquent testimony to his excellent performance.
Immediately he assumed office in 2015, he hit the ground running. In his effort to make Lagos work for everybody, he adopted an all-inclusive governance approach, realising the peculiar needs of a complex state.
He rejuvenated the town hall meetings, where individuals are free to express their minds during the question and answers sessions. Such meetings allow the governor to feel the pulse of the people and respond appropriately; taking decisions on the spot and proffering solutions to problems and challenges facing the people. With this approach, projects are demand-driven and with the regular interactions from zone to zone no community or local government is left out.
The governor came up with a blueprint to solve the problem of traffic gridlocks that had defied solutions in the past. He embarked on construction of intra-city roads, fly-overs pedestrian bridges and lay-bys. During the recent state visit by President Muhammadu Buhari, Ambode commissioned 21 border roads that link Lagos and Ogun States. This is in addition to 114 roads he constructed in the 56 local governments and local council development areas last year. He has awarded contracts for the construction of additional 181 intra-city roads to ease transportation in the state. Most of these roads were selected by the Community Development Associations (CDAs). The Oshodi transport inter-change equipped with pedestrian bridges, shopping malls and closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras is nearing completion. With this, Oshodi will be elevated to a first class business district. The Agege Pen Cinema fly-over is scheduled for completion in nine months.
The chances of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom clinching the ticket of the PDP to realise his second term ambition are hanging in the balance. One of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the party, Tehemen Tarzoor, said he would vehemently resist any move to give preferential treatment to the incumbent governor who recently defected to the PDP from the APC.
Tarzoor said he would resist imposition of Ortom. He said: “The issue of bringing a sitting governor and imposing him on us will not work. Let the governor come and struggle with other governorship aspirants. But, if you say go and adopt him, we will go to court. If we are treated as commoners, then we will show our nuisance value to the party; then we will see how it goes.”
An elder statesman in Benue State and retired Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, has said that nothing and nobody can save Governor Ortom from losing re-election in 2019, because of the magnitude of his failure in the last three and half years that he has been in office. He said: “Head or tail, Ortom is bound to lose re-election, considering his abysmal performance and silly arrogance.”
Tsav does not believe that jumping ship from APC to the PDP will make Ortom win his re-election. He added: “Within three years of his administration, Governor Ortom has not been able to pay full salaries and pensions, despite several interventions by the Federal Government and bank loans. He has not initiated, completed nor commissioned any project. His several visits to China have not impacted on the development and advancement of Benue State. Rather, his private businesses and farms are expanding and developing astronomically.”
The retired police officer said Ortom’s conflict with Senator George Akume, his godfather that made him governor in 2015, was a divine intervention to ease the governor out of power. His words: “His clash with his godfather was ordained by God to get Benue State out of the clutches of deceit and evil and we welcome this.
“In 2014, when Senator Akume transferred Emmanuel Jime’s mandate to Ortom, he saw Akume as a good and caring leader. Now, Akume is appalled by Ortom’s performance and wants to correct his mistakes by returning Jime’s mandate to him. But, Ortom now sees Akume as a villain. To us, Akume is not a villain, but a good, fair and just leader.
“Ortom should stop running from pillar to post, but should be prepared to be an inmate to a federal VIP house to join his anti-social, cum deviant colleagues.”
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has bowed to pressure by his supporters to seek a second term mandate. His bid followed a motion by Edward Pwajok to compel the governor to seek a second term at a meeting of the APC stakeholders held in Jos, the state capital. Since then, senior party members have been expressing solidarity for the governor.
At the said meeting, various speakers, including a former Deputy Governor Dame Pauline Tallen, former governorship aspirant, Mr Pam Gyang; former Chairman National Population Commission (NPC), Samaila Makama, paid tribute to Governor Lalong for successfully steering the party away from crisis, following his committee report which gave an amicable solution to the crisis at the national level.
Makama observed that Lalong’s integrity and character has endeared him to the leadership at the national level as a credible leader, stressing that “Governor Lalong represents humility, openness, simplicity and character to demonstrate honesty at all times which has endeared him to Mr President”.
A youth activist, Mr Chikas Kumle, justified Lalong’s second term bid, “because Lalong is responding to the popular demands of Plateau people”. He described Lalong as a listening governor who is passionate about the youths. He commended the governor for sustaining the relative peace in the state, and for employment of teachers, improved infrastructure and promotion of agriculture. He said Lalong’s second term would make the state to fully return to the path of development.
He said: “We the youth leaders from all the ethnic groups in Plateau have come out to unanimously endorse Governor Simon Lalong for another term of four years. This endorsement is premised on 10 key areas of education, welfare, peace and security, youth development, human capital development, agriculture, tourism, health and infrastructure. The governor has demonstrated good leadership qualities, if given another term in office, Plateau will fully return to the state where peace, justice, equity and development will be the order of the day.”
However, leaders of the PDP are said to be putting its house in order to avoid the division that led to the defeat of the party by the APC in 2015. The party is shopping for a strong candidate that could match Governor Lalong in 2019 either from Plateau Central or South.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is the first governor from Delta North Senatorial District since the state was created about three decades ago. He rode to power on the crest of the political influence of the former Governor James Ibori’s. Ibori who hails from the central senatorial district has built a political empire code-named Odidigborigbo, a political dynasty with membership across ethnic, political and regional divide in Delta State. In fact membership of this political group is pre-requisite for those seeking to hold political office in the state. Okowa, his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, and many political big wigs in Delta are said to be members of the dynasty.
Analysts believe that Okowa’s re-election bid will put to test the popularity and political influence of Ibori after his sentence by a court in United Kingdom for money laundering. Against the backdrop that the Delta State chapter of the PDP had lost many party chieftains to opposition parties. The threat to Okowa’s re-election is not within but from outside. There is no doubt that the governor would scale the primaries but the governorship election is in contention.
A group known as Indomitable Youth Ambassadors for Delta (IYAD) have assured that Okowa would get second term in office. The group’s chairman, who is also the Special Assistant to the governor on youth mobilisation, Mr Kennedy Ochei said: “From all visible analysis and works which the governor has done in his first tenure as the governor of Delta State, it is a thing of pleasure to declare that he is the best man for the office”.
Ochei listed Okowa’s achievements to include public schools renovations, free healthcare, provision of power supply in most local governments in the state, road construction, empowerment programme and financial mobilisation for the youth. He said all these achievements just in a few years in office, has given IYAD a driving force and a positive hope for the future of all Deltans.
Similarly, the Delta State chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) has thrown its weight behind behind the second term bid of Governor Okowa. ALGON’s Chairman, Mr Itiako Ikpokpo said the decision to endorse Okowa was informed by his track records since he took over the leadership of the state in the last three years.
He said Okowa has displayed immeasurable magnanimity and sufficient fatherly disposition towards the plight of the local government workers through constant augmentation of local government allocation to enable them pay staff salaries.
However, it may not be an easy ride for Governor Okowa in 2019 because of notable politicians that have left the PDP for the APC in the state, the recent being Uduagha, the immediate past governor of Delta State. The combination of Uduaghan from Delta South and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Great Ogboru from Delta Central would enhance the performance of the APC at the polls.
A former spokesman to ex- President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Ima Niboro, predicted the fall of PDP in Delta State. He said APC would pull off a major upset in the state, where he said millions were yearning for genuine change and were increasingly finding the APC a realistic alternative platform to effect that change.
To the Delta State Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr Oke Idenwe, Okowa is a failure; he has not executed major projects since he assumed office in the past three years. He said “if you compare Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Anambra and Rivers, we have no governor in Delta State because the governor has not performed.
“When he came to office in 2015, the first thing he did was to increase the contract limit which Ibori and Uduaghan maintained during their tenures. Under Ibori and Uduaghan, any project above N50 million must be approved by the state executive council but when Okowa came he increased it from N50 million to N250 million.
“Okowa is running Delta not as an elected governor but as a monarch. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state is shrouded in secrecy. Nobody knows how much is generated in the state. I thought he came to lead but he came to rule. We are part of the people that brought him to power. I regret and apologise to all Deltans for supporting him.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has been overwhelmed by the gale of endorsements for his re-election by different political groups and ethnic nationalities in the state. He is now addressed as “Mr Project” in acknowledge of numerous projects he had embarked on across the state in the past three years.
The leader of Rivers State ex-legislators,Senator Adawari Pepple said the governor deserved second term based on the massive infrastructural development being witnessed by the people of the state. He said “we are convinced by the Governor’s excellent performance and that he should continue to lead Rivers State beyond 2019.
“As a forum, we call on the governor to re-present himself to contest the 2019 governorship election. We believe, he deserves a second term”, Pepple said.
Similarly, the Ijaws in Rivers State have endorsed Wike for a second term in office in line with his pro-Ijaw disposition. A spokesperson of the Ijaw people, Madam Ankio Briggs said Wike deserves another term in office to consolidate on the gains of his first term.
But, the former Rivers State Governor and Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has described as superfluous the popularity claim of Wike in the state. He said PDP won in Rivers in 2015 because they rigged everywhere wrote results and brought army and police to chase APC supporters away. He accused Wike of masterminding election mal-practices under Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.
Amaechi said: “We are sure of winning Rivers State in 2019 because President Buhari will not allow that happen. He will not allow any police man to stop any one from voting.”
He was elected governor in 2015 on the platform of PDP. The people of Enugu State have unanimously endorsed him for 2019 governorship poll based on his performance. All the traditional rulers of the 450 autonomous communities in Enugu State have endorsed him. The royal fathers said their decision was in line with their peoples assessment and endorsement of the governor’s re-election in 2019.
The monarchs said “without a dissenting voice, all especially the religious and members of ecclesiastical orders; the elders; the political class; the professionals; the academic; the self-employed; the pensioners; the working class; the traders; artisans and the youths have continued to extol Ugwuanyi’s virtues and performance in the discharge of his duties.
“All groups of people in Enugu State across political divides have separately approved the performance of Governor Ugwuanyi and have declared him their candidate for the 2019 gubernatorial election.”
In spite of Ugwuanyi’s endorsement, the immediate past governor of Enugu State, Mr Sullivan Chime has said that the APC would win the 2019 elections in the state. Chime boasted that his former party, PDP will be part of history in Enugu State. He said the once vibrant PDP was now dead following the national leadership crisis that engulfed it.
He expressed satisfaction over the defection of notable politicians like former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Senators Jim Nwobodo and Ayogu Eze to APC. He insists that APC is the party to beat in Enugu State in 2019.
The Kebbi State chapter of APC has endorsed Governor Atiku Bagudu for a second term in office. The state chairman of the party, Alhaji Sani Zauro has re-affirmed the commitment of party members to re-election bid of the governor.
According to Zauro, the endorsement was based on the fact that Atiku has fulfilled his campaign promises to the people of Kebbi State. He vowed that nothing would stop them from re-electing Governor Atiku for second term in office, adding that his achievements speak volume to warrant his re-election.
“I speak on behalf of all the party leaders in the state. We have four emirate council in the state and Governor Atiku has touched all emirates in terms of developmental projects. He constructed roads in Yauri, Argungu, Zuru and Gwandu emirates; he renovated schools and health institutions; he created job opportunities through the rice anchor borrower for the teeming unemployed youths.”
Observers noted that the PDP is very weak in Kebbi state following the defection of the former Governor Sa’idu Dakingari and other leaders to the APC. PDP has been in coma in Kebbi.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has boasted that he would be re-elected in 2019. He said 29 political parties have adopted him as their sole candidate for the 2019 polls. He said: “Anyone who tries us would be injured because if the person falls on us, he will be grinded into granite and if we fall on him, he will be grinded into ashes. I and my deputy have accepted to continue this divine work and anyone who tries to terminate it would face God’s anger and might not be there during my swearing-in ceremony.
“No party would take Ebonyi because God has taken it for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Ebonyi would record more than one million votes during the elections as I challenge our opponents to even organise rallies and stop deceiving the people.”
Umahi’s chances have been consolidated by the endorsement of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim. The endorsement has laid to rest the rumours making the rounds that the duo had fallen apart which could threaten Umahi’s chances of re-election in 2019.
At a point, it was rumoured that Anyim had concluded plans with the leaders of the PDP to snatch the governorship ticket from Umahi while in some quarters, it was said that the former Senate President would sponsor another candidate from the opposition party for a total showdown with the governor.
Anyim insisted that Umahi has done well and his second tenure was already guaranteed, noting that the other two zones from the state have taken their turn of eight years each which meant that Ebonyi South would complete their remaining four years.
Analysts say that contrary to Umahi’s pronouncement that there is no strong opposition in the state, his second term bid may face tough opposition from the APC.