For the first time in many years, the forthcoming governorship elections appear unpredictable.
This is as some State governors seeking reelection or who have positioned their preferred successors, are in a panic mode ahead of the March 11 gubernatorial election.
The development is a fallout of the shocking performance of the opposition, especially the Labour Party, LP, at the just concluded February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
Going by the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections last week, many governors are worried as the outcome of elections is now unpredictable. The Labour Party, against all odds, beat sitting governors as well as tested politicians who hoped to join their former colleagues in the National Assembly.
Notably, the Labour Party was brought to the limelight by its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who joined it barely eight months before the election and propelled the ‘obedient movement’.
Before the February 25 presidential election, the LP was believed to be incapable of making inroads in some of the States it won.
However, the party made a giant stride winning twelve states, including Lagos State, an All Progressives Congress, APC, stronghold, to the shock of many.
Data from the election results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, showed that about twelve governors lost their states to opposition parties, including the LP during the presidential election.
It was eported how governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Ben Ayade (Cross River); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos); Simon Lalong (Plateau), and others lost their states to the opposition.
Should the trend which played out in the February 25 presidential election repeats itself in the gubernatorial election, some state governors may not get a second term or produce their successors, a probability breeding fear and anxiety in some of them.
The LP recorded great success in Enugu in the presidential and National Assembly election as it clinched seven out of the eight seats of the House of Representatives for the State. It also won one of the three seats in the Senate.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, a candidate in the election, was roundly defeated by the candidate of the Labour Party, Okey Ezea, in the contest for the highly coveted seat of the Enugu North senatorial district.
The development has since unsettled the entire political structure in the State.
The PDP-led government in the state was alleged to have recently met with the Catholic church leaders in the state, appealing for support for its candidate, Peter Mbah.
Meanwhile, the LP candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, whom PDP supporters see as a threat to the candidate, is seriously hoping to leverage on Obi’s votes.
A chieftain of the LP in the State, Hon Malachy Okey Onyechi, said the party would come out top in the gubernatorial election just as it did in the presidential poll.
Onyechi, who is also his party’s State House of Assembly candidate for the Nsukka West Constituency said Edeoga represents fresh air for Enugu people and would work to salvage the State from decay.
”We don’t have any fear regarding the upcoming election; we will come out on top just as we did in the presidential election. Our candidate represents fresh air for Enugu people,” he said.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State is seeking a second term. However, the outcome of the presidential election in his State was less than what he expected.
Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, defeated the president-elect, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos.
LP was also able to clinch four seats in the National Assembly.
Days after the presidential election, there has been a lot of intrigues aimed at currying favour from the Igbos, who supposedly possess the most significant block votes after the indigenous people of the State.
There are fears among the APC camp that Igbos might vote for the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour.
Unsettled by the development, a chieftain of the APC, Femi Fani-Kayode, recently said that the party would not allow Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party, to hand over the State to Igbos.
Fani-Kayode claimed that Yorubas and Igbos were tortured in the Southeast during the presidential election.
In a series of tweets, he also alleged some Igbos were killed in the Southeastern part of the country for voting for Bola Tinubu.
Meanwhile, the gubernatorial candidate of PDP in Lagos, Abdul-Azeez Adediran (Jandor), said Igbos deserve protection and respect for their enormous contribution to the development of the State.
Adediran made the remarks at a town hall meeting with an Igbo group, Ndigbo Na Lagos Bu Otu, in Surulere on Sunday.
“Appreciation of Lagosians of the first order who understand that all Igbo people in Lagos are one of those who have contributed immensely to our prosperity in the State of Lagos,” he said.
Not leaving anything to chance, Sanwo-Olu’s government, apart from meeting with Igbo stakeholders in the state, has also released impounded vehicles free to their owners. These overtures are believed to be targeted at garnering votes.
However, a prominent member of the APC in the State disclosed that his party has made plans on how to win the election. He said a pact has been reached with some ethnic blocs in the State, taking into consideration its lapses during the last election.
”I can’t reveal everything to you. It’s a game plan perfectly drawn. We as a party have really learnt our lesson from the last election. It’s going to be a smooth one,” he said.
The Labour Party, LP, has become a beautiful bride sought after by the duo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the State.
Recall that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, vice presidential candidate of the PDP, failed to deliver his State to the party.
Okowa had since taken the campaign to religious leaders seeking support for his candidate, Sheriff Oborevwori.
Recently, LP in Delta disassociated itself from rumours making the rounds that it was negotiating with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa ahead of the March 11 governorship election in the State.
The LP State Chairman, Tony Ezeagwu, in a press statement on Monday in Asaba, said there was no truth in the rumours.
He said the supporters of the party in the State remained resolute in their determination to win the governorship election and would never divert their support to any other party.
However, some supporters of Peter Obi in the State have pledged to work with the APC candidate, Ovie Omo-Agege, during Saturday’s governorship election.
A Coalition of Obidients Movement in Delta Central, Ochuko Edafe, claimed ‘Obidients’ vote for individuals and not parties.
“We, Obidients, follow the footsteps and watch the character of our principal, His Excellency Mr Peter Obi, and when we came down home to our State, Delta, we decided we are going to look out for the same character and among all the people running for Governor of Delta State.
“His Excellency, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has those qualities and character, and as you can see, he is a man of the people who is ready to meet with the people anytime,” he said.
Only a few supporters of Peter Obi would be happy with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers. Many of them believed he worked against the interest of their presidential candidate in favour of Bola Tinubu of the APC.
It has been alleged that Wike has been making moves to appease some Igbo groups to ensure his candidate, Siminialaye Fubara, succeeds him.
He has intensified efforts to woo some of the Obi’s supporters with mouth-watering promises to deliver his candidate.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has called on the people to be prepared and speak in one voice during the March 11 Governorship election, just as they did at the presidential polls.
Eze called on Igbo residents in Rivers State to ignore any invitation to meet with Governor Wike for any reason whatsoever.
He claimed Wike deployed every apparatus of the State within his disposal to render useless every legitimate effort made at ensuring that the result of their franchise was reflected in the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.