2023: APC Set For Governorship Primaries

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is set for tomorrow’s governorship primaries across the country to pick its flag bearers for next year’s election. Correspondents give an overview of what is likely to transpire during the governorship primaries. BISI OLADELE (Ibadan), ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE (Kaduna), ADAMU SULEIMAN (Sokoto), AHMED RUFA’I (Dutse), KOLADE ADEYEMI (Jos), ADEKUNLE JIMOH (Ilorin), UJA EMMANUEL (Makurdi), JUSTINA ASISHANA (Minna), BASSEY ANTHONY (Uyo), DAMIAN DURUIHEOMA (Enugu), OGOCHUKWU ANIOKE (Abakaliki) and SUNNY NWANKWO (Umuahia) report

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will be holding its governorship primaries in 28 out of the 36 states of the federation tomorrow. Eight states do not hold governorship elections during the four-year election cycle. The following is the likely scenario in some of the states warming up for the contes

Lagos:

There is no serious contest for the party’s ticket in Lagos State, as incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has secured the endorsement of the state’s Governor Advisory Council (GAC) for a second term in office, after months of speculations. The GAC is a very influential body headed by the APC National Leader and presidential aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. It is the highest decision-making body of the APC in the state and it is made up of past governors, deputies, speakers of the House of Assembly, and selected key party stalwarts.

Though Tinubu had indicated that endorsement does not translate to an automatic second term ticket for the governor, tomorrow’s governorship primary is more or less a mere formality, as there are no serious challenges to his aspiration.

Oyo:

Two aspirants are considered as major ones among those jostling for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in tomorrow’s governorship primary. They are Chief Bayo Adelabu and Sen. Teslim Folarin. Others that are unlikely to cause any upset are Hakeem Alao and Dr Azeez Adeduntan.

Adelabu was the candidate of the party in the last election. He polled 357,000 votes but was roundly defeated by incumbent Governor Seyi Makinde of the PDP who polled over 510,000 votes. But Adelabu has been emphasizing that he has gathered more experience, stressing that what happened during the last general elections was the will of God. A former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adelabu is a successful banker, finance expert and investor.

The other major contender is Folarin. He served as a two-term senator on the platform of the PDP. He defected to the APC in 2018 and picked the senatorial ticket with the influence of the then Governor Abiola Ajimobi. He worked with the Ajimobi political family until the former governor’s demise. Since then, he has deplored his astute political experience and tact to take over the control of the party.

Folarin who is now a third-term senator is leveraging on his wide contacts in Abuja to have an upper hand over the other group. He has the backing of virtually all former PDP members in the party in addition to some ‘aboriginal’ progressives joining his team because he now holds the ace. But the senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District can not go to sleep, believing the primary will be a walk-over. The faction headed by the famous Pa Abu Gbadamosi, and to which Adelabu belongs, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure victory at the primary.

 

Kaduna:

In Kaduna State, a crisis is brewing ahead of tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) APC governorship primary, as the ruling party is set to elect the anointed Senator Uba Sani, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s favourite choice as the party’s governorship candidate.

Of the seven aspirants that had earlier indicated an interest in succeeding Governor El-Rufai, The Nation learnt that only three returned their nomination forms. They are Sen. Sani, Alhaji Sani Mohammed Sha’aban and Alhaji Bashir Abubakar.

The remaining four aspirants did not purchase the nomination form. They are Deputy Governor Hadiza Balarabe; the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Alhaji Bashir Jamoh; former chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Mohammed Mukhtar Abdulllahi; and former National Commissioner in National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Abdulmalik Durungwa.

Their decision to drop from the contest may not be unconnected with the earlier anointment of Uba Sani by Governor El-Rufai who calls the shot in the Kaduna APC. A clear indication was that of Muhammad Sani Abdulllahi (Dattijo), who dropped his governorship aspiration for the senatorial race after losing out during the El-Rufai caucus meeting that anointed Senator Sani.

However, the duo of Alhaji Sani Mohammed Sha’aban and Alhaji Bashir Abubakar who kicked against the endorsement of Uba Sani as the party’s consensus candidate are already crying foul that they are skewed out of the party’s primary.

Sha’aban, a former House of Representatives member and founding member of the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), one of the parties that merged to form the APC, is aggrieved that as the first governorship aspirant to obtain the nomination form he ought to have been carried along in any party meeting aimed at anointing or endorsing an aspirant.

Abubakar, a retired Assistant Controller-General of Customs said a different power bloc that anointed Senator Sani has been skimmed out of the party’s delegate election. He alleged that there is a plan to rig him and Sha’aban out of tomorrow’s primary.

As it is, Senator Uba Sani who currently represents Kaduna Central in the National Assembly stands the brightest chance of picking up the party’s governorship ticket.

 

Sokoto:

In the Sokoto State chapter, no fewer than seven aspirants are jostling for the party’s ticket. They are Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir (Sokoto East), Abdullahi Balarabe Salame (Sokoto East), Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi Gumbi (Sokoto North), Senator Abubakar Umar Gada (Sokoto East), Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto (Sokoto North), Ambassador Farouk Malami Yabo (Sokoto South) and Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman (Sokoto East).

Senator Gobir, who is in his second term at the Senate, is seen as a strong contender for the party’s ticket. He has vast political experience built within the short space of his political career.

 

Jigawa:

Eight aspirants are going to participate in tomorrow’s primary in Jigawa State. The aspirants are Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nakudu, Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, Malam Umar Namadi, Faruk Adamu Aliyu, Ahmad Mahmud Gumel, Sani Husaini Garungabas (SAN), Alhaji Ahmed Rufa’i Zakaria and Allah Abba Muktari Muhammed.

Muhammad Sabo Nakudu’s aspiration may be marred by the fact that he has not appeared in the public in the last couple of years; a development that has whittled his popularity in his constituency and the state at large. The senator who represents Jigawa Southwest senatorial district has been nursing the ambition to govern the state since 2003.

The second aspirant on the list, Senator Hadejia is relatively popular. He represents Jigawa Northeast at the National Assembly. The traditional title holder in Hadejia Emirate had earlier served as deputy governor for four years. The fact that his zone, Jigawa Northwest has never governed the state could also be an advantage for him. But, his major challenge is that he is not being a grassroots politician. For instance, his Western orientation alienates him from the populace and makes him more of a stranger among the people.

Of all the aspirants, Deputy Governor Umar Namadi appears to have the brightest chances of clinching the ticket because of the belief that his boss is favourably disposed to handing over power to him. Namadi has loyal to the governor and the party. He has also been very gentle and humble in his relationship with other politicians, civil servants, the business community and the people generally. The fact that he is also from Hadejia, which is favoured to produce the governor because it has never done so in the last 30 years, is also another factor in his favour.

The next aspirant, Faruk Adamu Aliyu is not new to the governorship contest in Jigawa. Adamu Aliyu is a fearless mobilizer and strong grassroots politician. He is a close confidante of President Muhammadu Buhari. He contested for the ticket of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011. But, many believe is not on good terms with Governor Badaru Abubakar.

The others equally stand a fair chance of picking the ticket. Ahmad Mahmud Gumel, for instance, was a two terms deputy governor on the platform of the PDP from 2007 to 2019. He dumped the party for the APC immediately after the 2015 presidential election.

Sani Husaini Garungabas (SAN) is the immediate past attorney-general and commissioner of justice. The next aspirant on the list, Alhaji Ahmed Rufa’I Zakaria is a prince from Kazaure Emirate and a special adviser to President Buhari on infrastructure, while Allah Abba Muktari Muhammed is a biological son of the late Air Vice Marshal Muktari Muhammed.

 

Plateau:

The aspirants taking part in the governorship primary in Plateau State are Dr. Patrick Dakum, Dr. Sarpiya Danyaro Dakul, David Victor Dimka, Garba Pwul, Sunday Garba Biggs and Nantawe Yilwatda. Even with few days to the party convention, the state party executive cannot make available the list of the contestants which heightened the suspicion that the party leadership is playing along with the governor’s interest.

Three political blocs are working to produce the next Plateau governor. These are Governor Simon Lalong’s bloc, former Governor Joshua Dariye’s bloc and the G-18 bloc. The governor is believed to be responsible for the resignation of Nentawe, an INEC commissioner, to vie for the party’s ticket. The governor is said to have prevailed on the delegates to vote for Nentawe. If the plot hatched in the government house succeeds, Nentawe could be the likely winner of the primary.

But, other stakeholders equally believe that Deputy Governor Sunni Tyoden should get the ticket as a reward for his loyalty to Governor Lalong. This group of people has been rooting for the deputy governor. But, his chances are very slim, because everyone, including the delegates, is aware of his principal’s preferred candidate.

The third group is the one loyal to Dariye and it is backing Dr Patrick Dakum for the ticket. Dr Dakum was a member of Dariye’s cabinet between 2003 and 2007. He stands a good chance, based on his attachment to the Dariye political bloc. Even though he had been incarcerated in Kuje prison, the former governor exerts a considerable influence in Plateau politics.

Dakum may have also received the endorsement of the G-18 bloc, a new political bloc that is made up of the 18 APC governorship aspirants that are protesting the alleged imposition of Nentawe by the governor. The G-18 has lately resolved to pick one of them as a consensus candidate to face the governor’s preferred choice at the convention. If the group carries out its threat, then the race is likely to be a two-horse race between Dakum and Nentawe.

The trio of Nentawe, Dakum and Tyoden are from Plateau Central senatorial zone, which is favoured to produce the party’s governorship ticket, going by the subsisting power rotation arrangement in the state. Nentawe is from Kanke Local Government, while Dakum and Tyoden are from Pankshin Local Government and Mangu Local Government respectively.

 

Kwara:

Ahead of tomorrow’s governorship primary in Kwara State, the sole aspirant of the party remains Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. From all indications, the delegates will merely affirm his candidature at the primary.

It’s a no-brainer; the Kwara chapter’s executive members are his yes-men. Scores of aggrieved members loyal to Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed have already defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Many influential stakeholders, such as the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, have been urging Governor Abdulrazaq to seek another term in office. The endorsement is hinged on his performance in the last three years.

 

Benue:

As reported by The Nation two weeks ago, the chapter is likely to adopt the consensus option in the selection of the party’s candidate. The Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume gave this indication during a retreat in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recently.

In line with the pronouncement, the Benue State APC has announced its decision to zone the ticket to two intermediate areas, Jechira and Zone C. A statement by Paul Biam on behalf of the Benue State APC Governorship Zoning Committee said the resolutions were a fallout of the retreat.

Biam, who is the party’s secretary, said the committee has reviewed all issues involved and has come to the conclusion that Zone C has never produced a governor since the creation of the state. Therefore, the Kwande intermediate area in Zone A has been advised to sheathe their ambition to allow Zone C to take a shot at the position.

 

But, the Kwande APC stakeholders have rejected the stand of the committee, insisting that some of their aspirants have purchased the governorship nomination forms and are ready for the primary.

Thus, seven aspirants are gunning for the party’s ticket. They are Chief Barnabas Gemade, Chief Mike Aondoakaa, Hycinth Alia, Terwase Orbunde, Professor Terhemba Shija, Terlumun Ikya, and Chief Steven Lawani.

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Orbunde was until September the Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom. He resigned and declared for the governorship position on the platform of the PDP. However, since the PDP’s zoning arrangement did not favour him, he immediately resigned his membership of the party and joined the APC to realise his ambition. Orbunde’s chances are bright. He hails from Kwande Local Government Area. A former member of the House of Representatives, he is a grassroots mobilizer who is well-grounded in Benue politics.

Aondoakaa is a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. He is from Ushongo/Kwande political bloc, which is not favoured by zoning. He is not bothered about the Benue APC leadership’s position to zone the governorship ticket to Jechira. He said the contest for the governorship position should be about capacity and experience to take Benue State to greater heights.

Gemade needs no introduction; he was a former national chairman of the PDP, Minister of Works and Housing and senator representing Benue Northeast senatorial zone at the National Assembly. The zoning arrangement in the APC favours Gemade’s aspiration. He hails from Jechira, Konshisha Local Government Area.

Lawani is the most experienced of the lot. He has served as deputy governor for eight years under the then Gabriel Suswam administration. Zoning also favours him because he hails from the Benue South senatorial zone, which is yet to produce the governorship position since Benue State was carved out of Plateau State on February 3, 1976.

Prof. Terhemba Shija, 61, was a member of the House of Representatives in 1992. He was also a former commissioner. He is believed to have consulted widely among party stalwarts and is well-positioned for the ticket.

Paul Terlumun Ikya is a 43-year-old business consultant and economist. He is another very strong contender for the ticket. He started quite as early and has been vocal with his plans.

Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia is a Catholic priest. Little is known about him, except that he conducts a monthly healing mass which usually attracts many worshippers. Since he joined the governorship race on the platform of the APC, the fiery priest has attracted large followership. Though pundits say his followers have no political base or electoral value, as they are populated by mostly youths and ‘okada riders’.

Herman Hembe is a member of the House of Representatives representing the Jechira Federal Constituency, comprising Konshisha and Vandeikya local government areas. He is an experienced politician; he is currently concluding his third term in the lower chamber of the National Assembly. The youthful Hembe is one of the leading aspirants that is highly favoured to pick the ticket.

 

Niger:

Indications are that the competition for the APC governorship ticket in Niger State is going to be a tough one, as the House of Representatives member representing Chachanga Federal Constituency, Umar Bago squares up against the publisher of Blueprint Newspaper, Idris Malagi and Deputy Governor Ahmed Ketso for the party’s governorship ticket.

Out of the 10 aspirants in the race on the APC platform, the three of them are considered favourites. While Ketso may have a little edge over the others because of his position as the deputy governor, he does not have the political clout that Bago and Malagi have. This may be why he goes about without much noise like the other two. He is not a crowd puller like the other two leading aspirants and has been going about his campaigns quietly without any pomp and ceremony.

The battle will be fierce between Bago and Malagi, as both have shown that they have the money to throw about; they have tried to outdo each other in trying to meet the needs of the APC in the state.

One of the weaknesses Malagi has is the fact that several people claim not to know about him before the election campaign; they claim that he has not been a “peoples’ man” which Bago is. Malagi has tried to outdo his co-aspirants by his show of wealth which he has used in buying vehicles for the APC, paying the rents of their offices and donating foodstuff to all executives of the party.

Bago also has shown that he has the wealth to show. A grassroots politician, Bago attracts the crowd wherever he goes. Not only does he command the crowd, he knows how to control them to ensure they do not turn into a nuisance. The majority of the youths, it is said, are by his side, especially as he is young and knows their needs.

 

Akwa Ibom:

No fewer than seven persons have indicated interest to contest the governorship of Akwa Ibom State on the platform of the APC. One major determining factor considered in the race for the Akwa Ibom governorship seat is zoning or power rotation. The number one political seat rotates among the three senatorial districts of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket.

Eket senatorial district is currently doing its turn in the incumbent Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP whose tenure will run out May 29, 2023. The senatorial district to take the next turn will be Uyo. Little wonder almost all the aspirants from both the APC and PDP are from the zone.

The aspirants in the APC are the immediate past national caretaker secretary of the APC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, a former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang and Professor Chris Ekong. Others are Akan Udofia, Austin Utuk, Uduak Udoh and Larry Esin.

Akpanudoedehe is a household name in the politics of Akwa Ibom state. He cannot be wished away in the governorship race. He touts himself as one of the founding fathers of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which later transformed into the APC in 2015.

He contested against former Governor Godswill Akpabio on the platform of defunct ACN in 2011. Akpanudoedehe has a large cult following in the APC, and he is hoping to muster this to his advantage.

However, his weaknesses are as many as his strengths. For instance, Akpanudoedehe is gradually losing grip of the party to Senator Godswill Akpabio whose faction produced the state executive led by Obong Stephen Leo Ntukekpo as chairman. Those who know him very well say Akpanudoedehe is not good at rewarding loyalty. This singular blight of his has caused him to lose many of his supporters to Akpabio.

It is unlikely that he will win the party’s ticket with Akpabio having control of the party structures in the state.

His closest challenger, Senator Ita Enang is a seasoned politician. His foray into politics and public life precedes the birth of Akwa Ibom State in 1987. His name rings a bell. Enang is arguably the most experienced politician/legislator the state has ever produced. He is also the greatest beneficiary of politics in the state, having risen from being a counsellor to the Senate.

However, he does not have political structures and this may not be unconnected to his frugal nature. Pundits believe he will not have the political courage to deploy resources to fund his campaign.

Professor Chris Ekong is a known name in the politics of Akwa Ibom State, having served as commissioner in previous administrations of Obong Victor Attah and Godswill Akpabio. He is popular among youths because he positively touched their lives during his tenure as commissioner for youths and sports. However, little is known of his financial strength to fund his aspiration to fruition.

Austin Utuk is a newbie in Akwa Ibom politics. Though from a wealthy family, he is not likely to make any appreciable impact as far as the race for the APC governorship ticket is concerned.

The next aspirant, Uduak Udoh is the party’s secretary. He is relatively unknown in Akwa Ibom politics. He contested for the House of Assembly ticket on the platform of the APC during the last general elections and lost. He doesn’t have structures but is rumoured to be an Akpabio’s man.

 

Enugu:

Chief Geoffrey Nnaji is the only aspirant in the race for the party’s ticket. This is because other aspirants who had earlier indicated an interest in the race dropped out at the last minute. Nnaji, popularly known as Nwakaibie, hails from Amugo-Agu Village, Amugo Autonomous Community, Akpugo, Nkanu West Local Government.

 

Ebonyi:

In Ebonyi, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Ogbonnaya Nwifuru may likely clinch the party’s governorship ticket, barring any last-minute change of mind on the part of Governor David Umahi. The governor recently anointed Nwifuru as his preferred choice to succeed him; a decision which has pitched the governor against the founding APC members in Ebonyi, known as Old APC members.

Nwifuru hails from the Izzi clan in Ebonyi North senatorial zone. The zone last held the position between 1999 and 2007 through Sam Egwu.

Also in the race is Senator Julius Ali Ucha who hails from Ebonyi Central. He is the consensus candidate of the Ezza clan, another majority clan that has never produced a governor. Ucha, who has a large following, especially in his zone, also kicked against the anointing of Nwifuru.

Another strong contender is Edward Nkwegu, who is from the Izzi clan like Nwifuru. He is a friend of Governor Umahi, even though he contested against the latter in the 2015 election.

Umahi may decide to back him to clinch the party’s ticket, as a plan B, if the opposition to Nwifuru’s candidacy becomes too much to contain. Umahi appears to have control of a majority of the delegates and will play a major role in who gets the party’s ticket.

 

Abia:

In Abia State, four aspirants are eyeing the APC ticket. They are Dr. Alex Otti, Paul Ikonne, Uche Ogah and Obinna Oriaku.

Dr. Otti, a financial expert was first runner-up in 2015 and second runner-up in 2019 governorship polls respectively. He is no pushover in Abia politics. While his consistency counts for him, the question of the political bloc he comes from has been a major issue that he and his media team would keep dissipating energy to clear, except Abians chose to vote for competence rather than the power rotation arrangement basis. Going by zoning, aspirants from Abia North have the upper hand to clinch the ticket.

Observers also believe the next aspirant, Paul Ikonne does not have the political network or reach needed to fly the party’s flag in next year’s election. Ikonne is the incumbent Executive Secretary of the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) and a foundation member of the APC in the state. He vied for the party’s governorship ticket during the last general elections but failed to get it.

Ikonne’s father, a revered traditional ruler, it was gathered, was the only traditional ruler that not only received but gave President Buhari, then APC presidential candidate, an Igbo chieftaincy title, despite pressure from the state government to stop the visit and the traditional chieftaincy conferment. Ikonne may want to leverage his father’s relationship with the president to clinch the APC ticket.

This is not the first time Uche Ogah, the Uturu-born former Minister of State for Mines would aspire to govern the state. The closest he came was during the last general election when he was the first runner-up to the incumbent governor in the PDP primary.

It is expected that Ogah could use his relationship with the Federal Government, having served in the Buhari cabinet to get the ticket.

Obinna Oriaku is the immediate past Commissioner of Finance. He served the incumbent Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration for the first four years of the administration. Under his watch as the commissioner, Abia plugged several financial leakages and uncovered the alleged rot in the education sector, among other sectors.

He is counting on his age and experience in government and the financial sector to lead the state if given the chance to emerge as the party’s candidate during tomorrow’s primary.

 

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