Nigerians will go to the polls to elect governors in 28 of the country’s 36 states today, as well as 993 lawmakers who will represent constituencies in the state houses of assembly.
The governorship and state assembly elections are being held a week later than initially scheduled after a court judgement forced the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move it forward.
Eight of the 36 states, namely, Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Osun and Ondo, have their governorship elections off-season due to litigations and court judgements.
The 28 states where governorship elections will hold today are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River and Delta.
Others are Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
Eleven serving governors are seeking re-election while 17 outgoing ones are in the final weeks of their constitutional two-term limits of eight years, having been sworn in on May 29, 2015.
11 governors seeking re-election
Those seeking re-election are Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State of the PDP (North East). He is in the race alongside 14 other candidates, including APC’s Senator Aishatu Dahiru, popularly known as Binani; Dr Umar Ardo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Labour Party’s (LP) Mustapha Madawaki.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State (North East) is also seeking re-election on the platform of the PDP. He is in the contest with 13 other candidates, including Senator Halliru Jika of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), as well as APC’s candidate, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Nigeria’s immediate past Chief of Air Staff.
Also seeking re-election in the North East geopolitical zone is Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State. Zulum is contesting on the platform of the ruling APC, alongside 11 others, including PDP’s Mohammed Jajari and LP’s Goni Abdullahi.
Still in the North East, Governor Muhammad Inuwa of Gombe State, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the APC, will be slugging it out with 13 others, including PDP’s Muhammed Barde and LP’s Amuga Esau.
Governor Mai Mala Buni, who served as caretaker national chairman of the APC, is also seeking another term as governor of Yobe State. He is in the race alongside 10 other candidates like PDP’s Shariff Abdullahi and NNPP’s Umar Garba.
In the North West, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State is in the race seeking re-election with PDP’s Dauda Lawal, LP’s Ahmed Yahuza and 11 others.
In the North Central, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State is seeking a return to office on APC platform with PDP’s Abdullahi Yaman, LP’s Abubakar Kabir and 11 others.
In Nasarawa, Governor Abdullahi Sule of the APC is in the race with 13 others, including LP’s Ewuga Joseph and Mohammed Alfa of the Social SDP.
In the South West zone, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC will be slugging it out with 15 co-contestants, including LP’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and PDP’s Olajide Adediran, also known as Jandor.
Similarly, Governor Dapo Abiodun is in the race for a second term bid with 12 others, including PDP’s Ladi Adebutu, as well as Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Also, the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde is seeking re-election with 15 others, including LP’s Akinwale Tayo, as well as a serving senator, Teslim Folarin of the APC.
States where new governors will emerge
Fresh governors are certain to emerge in 17 other states, where the governors have served out their two terms. The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto and Taraba.
Of the 17 outgoing governors, 9 contested in the senatorial election of February 25, but seven failed in their bids to move over to the Senate. They are: Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).
All set for today’s polls
Situation reports from our correspondents indicate that all is set for the conduct of the governorship and state assembly polls today.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that ahead of today’s exercise, security operatives deployed to states were placed on red alert to abort any threat to the polls.
Sensitive and non-sensitive materials were also deployed to the states by the INEC.
In Lagos, INEC said it had on Wednesday distributed sensitive materials to all the 20 local government areas in the state, even as the state police command assured residents of impartiality in terms of providing security.
In Ogun State, candidates from 12 political parties have been cleared to contest for the gubernatorial poll holding across the 20 council areas of the state.
On Wednesday, INEC commenced distribution of sensitive materials across the state, just as the commissioner of police in the state, Frank Mba, has assured the residents of adequate security during and after the elections.
While warning politicians and their supporters to play by the rules of the game, Mba said the command had placed restriction on human and vehicular movements on roads and waterways across the state.
Similarly, INEC had distributed materials for the conduct of today’s polls in Rivers State, while one Deputy Inspector General of Police, one Assistant Inspector-General and five commissioners of police were deployed for the elections.
The AIG in charge of Rivers election, Kayode Egbetokun said that full deployment had been done for the governorship election, saying that the police would deal decisively with anybody that would foment trouble during the elections.
He said the police were fully prepared and would give a level-playing field to all the candidates and urged Rivers electorates to come out and vote for the candidates of their choice.
In Yobe, INEC said it was ready for the conduct of today’s polls while the state police command warned potential troublemakers to rethink and desist from any act of violence, saying any such attempt would be met with stiff resistance.
The state public relations officer of the command, DSP Dungus Abdulkareem, stated this while briefing newsmen in Damaturu.
He said the command had asked political parties to warn their supporters to desist from any act that would be detrimental to the successful and peaceful conduct of the elections.
In Kano, the electoral umpire said residents had nothing to worry about as it relates to its preparedness to give them a credible, free and fair election.
The spokesman for the INEC in Kano, Ahmad Maulud, told Daily Trust Saturday that all the sensitive materials had already been moved to the 44 local government areas.
“All the materials for the elections would be moved to 484 registration areas yesterday (Friday) while all the ad hoc staff were mobilised to sleep at their RAs Friday night so that as early as 6am today they would start moving to their polling units.
“I want to assure you that by 8:30am today, we are going to start elections in all the 11,222 polling units in Kano State,” Maulud said.
Similarly, the spokesman of the Kano State police command, SP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, in a statement assured of adequate security, saying there would be restrictions on movement on the election day.
In the same vein, INEC and the police command in Ekiti State said that adequate human and material resources had been deployed to all the nooks and crannies to ensure free, fair, credible and safe elections today.
The state commissioner of police, Mr Ajala Ayoola, assured residents of the command’s readiness to ensure the protection of their lives and property before, during and after the elections.
He assured that the command was working in synergy with other relevant security agencies and INEC to ensure hitch-free elections.
Also, the Taraba State police command assured of adequate security for today’s governorship and state assembly elections.
Police Commissioner Suleiman Amodu said he met with leaders of all political parties and those of religious bodies, and assured that adequate security arrangement was put in place to ensure violent-free election in the state.
In Borno, INEC said it had distributed sensitive materials for the conduct of today’s governorship and state assembly elections to the 27 local government areas.
The materials, which were kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Maiduguri, were distributed under the supervision of Resident Electoral Commissioner Mohammed Magaji Ibrahim.
He said that difficult-to-reach areas like Marte, Monguno, Hawul and Shani had also received sensitive materials since Thursday.
On his part, the state commissioner of police, Audu Umar, warned all VIPs’ aides and escorts to refrain from accompanying their principals and other politicians to the polling booths, adding that violation would attract stringent disciplinary measures.
In Kaduna State, about 16,000 police personnel have been deployed to secure all the polling units and collation centres for today’s elections.
The command’s public relations officer, DSP Mohammed Jalige, said the police commissioner on election duty, CP Sunday Babaji, had ordered strict enforcement of the restriction of human and vehicular movements into and within the state in compliance with the directives of the Inspector-General of Police.
In Jigawa, INEC assured residents that the commission was fully prepared for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Muhammad Lawal Bashar, while briefing newsmen said, “We are fully prepared for the conduct of the elections and we have taken steps to address some challenges in the previous elections.”
In Niger State, sensitive electoral materials, including ballot papers and BVAS had left the Minna branch of the CBN for Registration Area Centres for onward distribution to the polling units across the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ahmad Yushau Garki, said a total of 21, 038 ad-hoc staff were engaged in the conduct of today’s elections.
In Oyo State, INEC said it had distributed sensitive materials to each of the 33 local government areas in the state.
The distribution exercise began on Wednesday at the premises of the CBN, Ibadan branch, located in Dugbe.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr Adeniran Tella, supervised the process, which was witnessed by representatives of different political parties, security agents and other stakeholders.
Politicians devise new vote-buying methods – CDD
Amid the preparations for the elections, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has raised the alarm that politicians were devising new and creative strategies to engage in vote trading.
In its pre-election press conference on Friday, CDD said although vote trading was less prominent during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, politicians had devised new modes of vote-buying.
“Vote trading was less prominent during the presidential election. But more creative, food and material goods replaced cash in many instances, a practice that will be a feature of closely contested polls in Sokoto, Delta, Rivers and Zamfara states.
“However, this is in tandem with presidential races where vote trading is often limited when compared to governorship which has seen vote trading feature prominently in successive elections. We encourage citizens to make their decision based on choice and not in exchange for goods or cash,” the report stated.
The report was jointly presented by the chairman, CDD-EAC, Professor Adele Jinadu; the executive director, CDD, Idayat Hassan; member, CDD-EAC, Mrs Ladi Bala; member, EAC, Prof Victor Adetula, and the executive director, CISLAC, Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani.
Contributions by Fidelis Mac-Leva & Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Peter Moses (Abeokuta),Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Habibu Idris Gimba (Damaturu), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti), Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Hamisu Kabir Matazu (Maiduguri), Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna), Ali Rabiu Ali (Dutse), Anibaba Bushrah Adenike (Ibadan) & Abubakar Akote (Minna)