Supplementary Polls: INEC’s Motive and How The States Stand

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INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The decision by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare the elections inconclusive in mostly states where the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is leading has raised genuine concerns about plausible ulterior motives and raised tension in the country. Some of the election observers have alluded to this in their reports, except in Plateau state.

The current state of these states of North Central, North East and North West with respect to the governorship election and the circumstances that led to the declaration raises more questions than it provides answers.

Such insinuations are what have combined to exacerbate the riveting tension in the run-up to the supplementary polls, already slated for Saturday, March 23, as both parties have aggressively charged up and determined to ensure the states do not slip off their grips.
What this means is that whichever of the two leading parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – that is able to clinch victory might be well positioned for whatever challenge that the 2023 elections eventually throw at them.

There is no debating the fact that the opposition PDP appears a bit more comfortable in at least four of the five states due for supplementary elections next weekend and this is because of the current pictures that the state of play cuts, not only in terms of the chances they stand at the end of the day but more because of the votes they have locked up in their vaults since the last encounter.

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See How The Parties Stand:

In Adamawa, while PDP’s Umaru Fintiri polled 367,471, APC’s Jibrilla Bindow had 334,995. The margin of lead was 32,476, while cancelled votes were 40,988, more than the margin of lead. But juxtaposed with the presidential results, Adamawa may never go away from the PDP except the unthinkable happens, meaning if the elections were conducted time and time again, the PDP still holds the ace in the state.

The situation in Benue State is a rather sensitive one, given some of the issues that shaped and defined both the presidential and governorship campaigns and how they cut deeply on religion and ethnicity – two critical divisive fault lines.

But as at the last election, Governor Samuel Ortom of PDP had secured 410,576, while Emmanuel Jime of APC had 329,022. Unfortunately, the margin was 81,554, while the cancelled votes stood at 121,019, the very reason INEC ordered a supplementary poll. It would not be surprising if at the end of the day, Benue still went the way of the PDP.

There is presently a disturbing calm in Kano State, a situation occasioned by the insinuations that there was a move to subvert the will of the people hence the level of interests it has generated more than any other states and for strategic political reasons.

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Although Kano gave President Muhammadu Buhari its highest bulk votes during the presidential poll, the tide changed dramatically during the governorship election as PDP’s Abba Yusuf polled 1,014,474 to lead incumbent Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC, who scored 987,819. The margin between them was 26,655, less than the cancelled votes of 128,572, therefore necessitating the call for a supplementary election even as many question how such a huge number of votes could have been cancelled.

There is no doubting the fact that both the PDP and the APC understand the importance of Kano, a critical North West state and as such have continued to taunt each other, leaving nothing to chance in the expectation that they would cancel out each other.
Kano is however looking more like a zero-sum game between the two major parties and this is because Governor Ganduje is actually not running against Yusuf, his real challenger is his estranged boss and friend, former governor and Senator, Rabiu Kwankwaso, whose kwankwasiyya movement is ‘another religion’ in the North Western state.

North Central’s Plateau State is about the only state where the ruling APC is slightly comfortable, albeit with a fragile lead. Here, incumbent Governor Simon Lalong of APC maintains a tenuous lead with 583,255 votes while Senator Jerry Useni of the PDP trails closely behind with 538,326. Their margin was 44,929, less than the cancelled votes of 49,377.
Although nothing is given yet in Plateau, the APC still relishes in the understanding that in spite of its delicate lead, Plateau is its own for the taking, an assumption PDP has also dismissed with a wave of the hand.

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The last but not the least of the pack of five is Sokoto, another state of peculiar interests to the two parties. First, it is for its strategic location (North West) and two, for its political relevance in the quest by the two parties to swell their ranks and buckle up ahead of 2023.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP already has in the kitty some 489,558 votes to lead Aliyu Ahmed of APC with 486,145. Again, the margin between them was 3,413, far less than the cancelled votes of 75,403, which observers considered way too high.

The final battle for Sokoto would be very tough, however, and for two reasons. The first is that Tambuwal is running against his former deputy, Ahmed, who fell out with him and second, is the political score he might have to settle with his estranged ally, Aliyu Wamakko.
Overall, while four out of the five states look good for the PDP, nothing is yet cast in stone or can be taken for granted, the very reason that the emerging state of play is not defined by how the parties stand now, but how they hope to stand at the end of the day, when the battle for 2023 takes the centre stage and at the fullness of time.

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