Three days before the March 18 governorship and state assembly polls, governors, parties, candidates and other critical stakeholders were locked in an intense battle for 28 governorship slots and 993 legislative seats, yesterday.
The massive push by the various politicians to get the upper hand at the polls has led to a reign of alignments, re-alignments, endorsements and high-wire intrigues across the states.
In Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who on Monday got the endorsement of nine political parties, yesterday received the backing of Accord and Oodua People’s Congress, OPC. In essence, Sanwo-Olu has the support of 10 of the 18 registered political parties now.
In Oyo, the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Governorship Candidate, Michael Lana, stepped down from the race and endorsed Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In Ogun, a PDP House of Assembly candidate for Abeokuta South 1 Constituency, Solomon Enilolobo, backed the second-term ambition of Governor Dapo Abiodun of the APC.
However, in Kaduna, the Labour Party, LP, declined to align with PDP and insisted that its candidate will run and win the race to succeed Governor Nasir el-Rufai just as the De-registered Political Parties of Nigeria, Kaduna State chapter declared their support for the APC Governorship Candidate, Senator Uba Sani.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 14 governorship candidates including Pastor Umo Eno of the ruling PDP and Obong Akanimo Udofia of the APC have signed a peace accord ahead of the Saturday elections.
Why we endorsed Sanwo-Olu, APC candidates — Accord
The leadership of Accord in Lagos State, endorsed Governor Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, for re-election and all APC candidates in Saturday’s polls.
Lagos State Chairman of Accord, Dele Oladejo, who declared the endorsements at a media briefing in Ikeja, based the decision on Sanwo-Olu,’s performance in office since 2019.
Oladeji said members of the party across the state have been told to work for the re-election of Sanwo-Olu, adding that the party will also ensure the victory of APC House of Assembly candidates in Lagos.
Also, President of the OPC, Otunba Wasiu Afolabi, at a briefing in Lagos, declared the group’s support for Sanwo-Olu.
“Today, OPC declares its total support for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. We believe that in these past four years, Governor Sanwo-Olu has made an enormous impact on the landscape, the life and the governance of the State of Excellence. His undeniable performance dictates that he should be allowed to continue in office for another four years so that he will further advance the lofty and people-oriented projects and programmes he has begun since 2019,” he said
Afolabi also noted concerns over the breakdown of law and order during the polls and vowed that the OPC wll fight against electoral violence.
“OPC will do everything to uphold these constitutionally-guaranteed rights and will not fold its hands while anybody or group of persons deprive anyone of these rights.
OPC will not tolerate electoral violence. We strongly advise that if there is anyone who has any plan to disturb the peace or prevent citizens from exercising their freedom of franchise for candidates and political parties of their choice, such a troublemaker should kill that plan,” he said.
SDP candidate steps down for Makinde
In Oyo, Lana, the SDP governorship candidate, said he was stepping down for Makinde because some of the leaders of the SDP in Oyo had sold out for a pittance and declared for the opposition without the consent of other stakeholders.
According to him, as a result of that action, other stakeholders decided to take a decision that will be in the best interest of the neglected, aggrieved party members, the candidates and the generality of the people of Oyo State.
He concluded that after several consultations, the party stakeholders resolved to align with Governor Seyi Makinde of the PDP.
The statement read in part: “During my radio interview on Lagelu FM, last Saturday, the 11th day of March 2023, I duly informed the members of the public that whatever step I would take would be determined by the decision of all candidates especially the House of Assembly candidates of the Social Democratic Party of which I am the governorship flag bearer.
“We have also consulted widely. We have talked with some national officers of the party and my supporters among the trade unions, traditional rulers, market associations and religious bodies.
“As you are aware, in almost all radio interviews I attended, I was asked whether, as it had become the habit of this party, I too would step down at the end of the day. Believing I was in the midst of ideologically sound members, and knowing myself, as a principled person, I always answered in the negative.
“I believed fervently that my gospel of preaching issues and ideas would earn me the victory that the people of Oyo State deserve.
“However, events of the past few weeks proved me wrong. Some people believed only in money politics and victory by vote-buying. In fact, I became persona non grata, the moment some people within the party realized that monies sourced solely for the purpose of electioneering would not be shared among them.
“After several consultations, we resolved that the best thing for Oyo State right now is to align ourselves with a really progressive candidate. We were in fact captured by an emotional statement by a 70-year old woman who said Governor Seyi Makinde not only paid her pensions promptly but also took care of the aged women and men during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“This is the trait of a person that has set out to write his name in history and ensure upliftment of the downtrodden in our state.
“After discussing with him, we decided that Engineer Seyi Makinde needs help from all capable hands within and outside the state to achieve his dreams for our state and we have resolved to assist him in doing this.” “We have therefore resolved to inform all our teeming supporters to vote massively for Seyi Makinde of the PDP on Saturday 18th March 2023 and get him re-elected as Governor of Oyo State.”
Why we won’t align with PDP in Kaduna — LP Campaign Council
In Kaduna, the LP has reiterated that its governorship candidate, Mr. Jonathan Asake will not step down for his PDP counterpart, Mr Isa Ashiru Kudan as was insinuated.
Addressing a press conference in Kaduna, Coordinator of the LP Presidential Council in the state, Malachiy Gwatiyap, said the LP’s candidate will contest the governorship election and coast to victory.
He said: “It has come to our notice that some groups of desperate politicians in the PDP, who are due for retirement but are bent on clinching power at all costs are into a campaign of calumny against the Labour Party. They have used false propaganda against our candidate, Jonathan Asake and it failed; they have deceived some Christian clergy into believing that the Labour Party has agreed to work together with PDP in order to defeat the common enemy (the APC); they have accused our candidate of being sponsored by the APC all in a bid to discredit us before the people.
“This particular antic is not only false but also an attempt to insult the person and character of our candidate. We want to state clearly that none of these accusations is true.
“It is known by all that our candidate in person Jonathan Asake is the only candidate that has no case to answer in any court of law whatsoever. Our candidate’s qualification and certificates are not in question. Our candidate has acquired experience as a one-time lecturer, vibrant and vocal legislator at the National Assembly, adviser to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“The PDP should stop the manipulation and conspiracy of dragging respectable elders and statesmen to prevail on our candidate to negotiate with them. Such an act is manipulative and shameful of a party claiming good intentions. Jonathan Asake will not step down from the race. He is in the race to win, just as all Labour Party contestants for the State House of Assembly.”
De-registered parties back APC’s Uba Sani
Meanwhile, the Amalgamation of De-registered Political Parties of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter has declared their support for the APC Governorship Candidate, Senator Uba Sani.
Secretary of the forum, Amb. Matoh Hyugene Yakubu, told reporters at the NUJ Secretariat, Kaduna, that they took the decision after wide consultation with members and a network of stakeholders and opinion leaders.
According to him, Senator Uba Sani is a civil society activist, a crusader for social justice, an award-winning (ICPC certified) anti-corruption crusader, and a high-performing senator..
“These wide-ranging consultations provided us the mandate to make the declaration of support in this press conference. We are disturbed by the negative signals coming from some political parties who have decided to create a political gimmick they called the “Muslim-Muslim” ticket.
“This phrase is a coinage of the opposition in Kaduna State, the APC only gave voice to our women who have been kept in the back-yard for a long; and for the last four years, the performance of Kaduna State women in governance is clear for everyone to see.
“We state clearly that the combination of Sen Uba Sani and Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, is a strategic strike at the political balancing act.
“We the Amalgamation of de-Registered Political Parties Kaduna State chapter, on behalf of our teeming membership in the 23 LGAs, wards, and communities, on this 14th day of March 2023, do hereby declare that we wholeheartedly endorse the candidature of Senator Dr. Uba Sani of the APC as the preferred choice for the Governor of Kaduna State in the election slated for March 18, 2023.”
PDP, APC, 12 others sign peace accord in A/Ibom
In Akwa Ibom, 14 governorship candidates including Pastor Umo Eno of the PDP and Obong Akanimo Udofia of the APC signed a peace accord before stakeholders, yesterday. The 2023 election signing of Peace Accord and stakeholders’ interaction was organised by the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, Akwa ibom State command.
Other candidates at the ceremony held at the Police headquarters Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, were Senator John James Akpanudoedehe of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Mr. Iboro Otu of African Action Congress (AAC), Senator Bassey Akpan of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Mr Peter Udoh of Labour Party (LP), and Eyo Ekong of the Allied People’s Movement (APM).
Others were Emem Koffi of the Accord Party, (AP), Obong Ita Ekpo of APGA, as well as the candidates of Boot Party,(BP) Social Democratic Party, (SDP) and Zenith Labour Party(ZLP)
Also Heads of Security agencies in the state, State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), State Chairman of NUJ, representative of Traditional rulers, State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) as well as State Chairmen and representatives of political parties were among stakeholders that witnessed the ceremony.
Addressing the candidates earlier before signing of the peace pact, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Olatoye Durosinmi appealed to them to partner with security agencies to ensure fair, free and credible elections.
Similarly in his brief remarks, the Resident Electoral Commissíoner in the state, Dr Cyril Omorogbe, who was represented by the Admin Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbodu called on all the candidates and their supporters to embrace peace.
Meanwhile, YPP Governorship Candidate, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, who spoke at the event, urged security agencies to ensure hitch-free polls.
“I am committed to a peaceful Akwa Ibom State. My presence here today clearly shows that we can only succeed to achieve our set targets when we have a peaceful society to lead the people and I can assure you that beyond our victory this weekend, we will build on new foundations in various sectors that will build a renaissance in all sectors of the Positive Impact Agenda for our people,” he said.
Aggrieved APC members unite for Emenike in Abia
In Abia, aggrieved members of the APC resolved to end their bickering and ensure the success of their Governorship Candidate, High Chief Ikechi Emenike, at the pol.
Across several local governments in Abia South zone, leaders of the dissident groups announced that they have collapsed their parallel structures to join hands with the party’s governorship candidate, Emenike.
In a communique signed by all the ward chairmen in Aba South Local Government, the aggrieved party members under the aegis of integrity group, comprising factional ward chairmen and other executives said that they have resolved to embrace unity.
They pledged “to work harmoniously to ensure the success of the party in the forthcoming governorship/state assembly elections,” adding that “the interest of the party is paramount and supersedes any personal interest.”
While welcoming the estranged party members back, Emenike assured them that their status as members of Abia APC has not diminished in any form.
“We are all APC members. What unites us is greater than what divides us,” he said, adding, “I want all of us to forget the past disagreements in the party and let us work together for the interest of our party,” he added.
PDP Assembly candidate endorses Abiodun
Meanwhile, the Ogun State House of Assembly candidate for Abeokuta South 1 State Constituency on the platform of the PDP, Mr Solomon Enilolobo, has shelved his ambition and declared support for the second term ambition of Governor Abiodun.
Enilolobo, who announced his stepping down from the House of Assembly race scheduled for Saturday, who led his supporters to the Iperu-Remo residence of the governor, to decamp to the APC, said PDP in Ogun is not only lawless but also has total disregard for the rule of law.
He said: “PDP is a sinking ship, its wake has been concluded and will be finally laid to eternal rest on Saturday, March 18.
8 parties meet to adopt AA candidate
Similarly, about eight political parties have reportedly begun moves to form alliances. It was gathered that the parties may adopt the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, Dr Samuel Adeyemi as the consensus candidate in the state.
The parties which are members of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee and Conference of political parties have reportedly held a closed-door meeting in Abeokuta on the plan to adopt a Governorship candidate.
Apart from the APC, the PDP and African Democratic Congress, ADC, 10 others were reported to be forming alliance with AA, APC, PDP or ADC in the state.
A source in the meeting held, yesterday, disclosed that the parties would unveil their consensus candidate on or before Thursday.
The source, which spoke in confidence, also declined to mention the parties involved in the new move.
Confirming the meeting, a chieftain of the AA in the state, Dapo Adeyemi said about eight political parties were already in talks with the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance.
Asked to disclose the parties involved, Adeyemi declined and said: “The leadership of AA has just finished speaking with some of the opposition parties, about eight of them.
“We just finalized a meeting with them and we are hopeful, because of the programmes of the party and the fact that the candidate is someone to be reckoned with.”