The presidential election is a few days away and the battleline is already drawn between President Jonathan, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, and General Buhari, his opposition All Progressives Party challenger. In no zone is the contest between the duo more fierce than the South-west with its about 10.5 million votes. Ordinarily, the South-west is the traditional strongholds of the APC and should be called for the opposition party. But with PDP’s victory in the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State, the recent defection of Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko from Labour Party to PDP and the unusual vigorous attempts to capture Lagos this time, the battle in the zone promises to be tight, even ferocious. WESTERN POST Correspondents across South-west – SAMUEL OGUNDIPE, ADEOLA OLADELE, KOLAWOLE OLAYINKA, DEMOLA ATOBABA and TEMITOPE ADEDEJI- look at the chances of Jonathan and Buhari in the election and give their verdict…
Oyo State has always had a mish-mash of PDP and APC governments (or APC precursor) since 1999. The state set out with Chief Lam Adesina as governor on the platform of Alliance for Democracy but the late Lam lost to Senator Rashidi Ladoja then of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2003. And by 2007, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala had supplanted his boss as PDP candidate no thanks to the 11-month absence of Ladoja from the saddle in 2005 based on his illegal impeachment. Alao-Akala himself could not come back as governor in 2011. With a sitting All Progressives Congress Governor Abiola Ajimobi now on the saddle, Oyo State can easily be called in favour of the APC candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. The performance of the governor, described in some quarters as sterling, particularly in the areas of provision of infrastructure like road network, urban renewal and beautification of cities, is also likely to rub off on General Buhari’s chances in the state. But President Jonathan is also widely expected to do very well in the state. Beside the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin, who will pull his supporters behind Jonathan in the presidential poll, other gladiators of the party who had left PDP in search of tickets to pursue their governorship ambitions like former governor of the state, Alao-Akala, and Mr. Seyi Makinde aka Omituntun and Accord Party Leader in the state, former governor Ladoja, are all united in their support for President Jonathan. The trio have been reported to be saying something like-though we will all battle in separate parties for the governorship of the state, but for the presidential poll we will all work for the president to return on February 14. Also to rally support for President Jonathan in the state is the influential Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who is known not to have hidden his preference and backing for the president. President Jonathan had visited him several times in his palace, including during his controversial visits to select traditional rulers in the country two years ago, and had also met the traditional ruler at Dodan Barracks in Lagos a couple of times.
•Verdict: Its 50-50 for Buhari and Jonathan, though Buhari has a slight edge
In the 2011 presidential election, Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Osun State did things differently from other states controlled by the then Action Congress of Nigeria in the South-west. The party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was alleged to have entered into a late-night pact with President Jonathan. The result: the ACN sacrificed its presidential candidate, former EFCC Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and delivered the South-west to the president. But Aregbesola, then barely a year in office as governor rebelled against the alleged plan. The state voted enmasse for Ribadu, but President Jonathan nonetheless got more than the required 25 percent in the state.
With Governor Aregbesola still in the saddle, having won re-election last August 9, Buhari will carry the day any day in Osun. Aregbesola and APC presidential running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbayo, recently took a charity walk across the state capital, Osogbo. And two weeks ago when Buhari’s campaign train landed in the state, it was to an enthusiastic mammoth crowd. Beside Aregbesola, the APC parades former governor Isiaka Adeleke, now the party’s senatorial candidate for Osun West, former governor of the state and immediate-past Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, and former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola who will all root for Buhari in the election.
To galvanise support for the president in the state are homeboys like PDP National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, governorship candidate in the August 9 election in the state, Senator Iyiola Omisore, and former Youths Development Minister and now PDP senatorial candidate in Osun West, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi. There is also former Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada who is stumping for the president.
•Verdict: Osun seems a save haven for Buhari, but Jonathan will garner his 25 per cent
For President Jonathan, it’s been a long way from 2011 when he enjoyed tremendous goodwill in the state. Most voters in Lagos State then rooted for him in the presidential poll and for Babatunde Raji Fashola of the APC for the governorship. But today, the situation seems to have changed. The president will now have to run on the basis of his performance in the last four years and the verdict of the people about his performance seems unflattering. But President Jonathan still has his footsoldiers in the state like old war horse, former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Bode George, former Works Minister Adeseye Ogunlewe and immediate-past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
A truce has since been achieved between Obanikoro and the PDP leadership in the state over the controversy that greeted the party’s governorship primary election and the former re-united with the party. This may help put a united PDP behind Jonathan. Working together for Jonathan, the trio may achieve a good showing for the president in the state. The PDP is also running on the integrity and good reckoning its governorship candidate Jimi Agbaje enjoys among a large segment of the people of the state, but how that rubs off on Jonathan in the February 14 election is yet unclear. Lagos remains a save haven of the APC and its national leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, still holds the ace. Many had expected Governor Fashola to go for broke after his candidate Supo Shasore lost out in the governorship race. But Fashola is now at the vanguard of the party’s campaigns for the state and federal elections. Only recently he was appointed by Buhari to lead a team to mobilise funds for him in the election.
•Verdict: Jonathan may get a good showing in Lagos, but Buhari is expected to take a clear lead.
Attempts by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to get Chief Buruji Kashamu extradited to the United States to answer for alleged drug charges have failed to decimate controversial politician and Chairman Mobilisation Committee of the PDP in the South-west. Kashamu remains the undisputable leader of the party in Ogun State, where he has anointed a governorship candidate and himself a senatorial candidate. Kashamu is on the rampage mobilising support for Jonathan in Ogun and he has thrown his vast warchest behind the move. Though he seems to have fallen out with Kashamu, former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also canvassing support for Jonathan. The PDP in the state may succeed in getting the required percentage for the president in the election. What role former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole will play in the equation remains unclear, he is not expected to work against President Jonathan, though he remains aggrieved within the PDP in the state. Obasanjo, who at every turn has been criticising President Jonathan and has refused to be pacified, may play a spoiler’s role for the president in Ogun, though of what degree that would be is yet unclear.
APC’s Governor Amosun has been drumming the gospel of Buhari as he traverses the length and breadth of the state canvassing votes for re-election. APC seems fractured in the state with the defection of former governor Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Amosun’s deputy Segun Adesegun and the three senators in the state. Whether Osoba and his cohorts will support Buhari, with whom they have no problem, is yet unclear. Buhari may drink from the superlative performance of Governor Amosun in the state. But though, his running mate Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, hails from the state, how much of influence he would have in garnering votes for Buhari in the state is yet to be seen. Pastor Tunde Bakare who also hails from the state and who was Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 election is not known to have done any better for the general in the state in that election.
*Verdict: Buhari will carry the day in Ogun, but Jonathan will also do well.
The PDP in Ondo State has not remained the same since Governor Olusegun Mimiko defected from Labour Party. To show the level of the crisis rocking PDP in the state, at least seven key leaders of the party, including former governor Olusegun Agagu’s Chief of Staff, defected to APC on the eve of the cancelled PDP presidential rally in the state. The old PDP has refused to accept Mimiko who has quickly grabbed the commanding height of the party in the state immediately he rejoined PDP. The governor has long being an ally of President Jonathan who supported him to win re-election in 2012. It is little surprise that just a few months after returning to the party he had left since 2006, Mimiko emerged Jonathan’s Campaign Coordinator in the South-west. With Mimiko, Jonathan seems assured of a favourable showing. Also, though the old PDP in the state is battling the governor, they are not averse to Jonathan’s return. Mirror Newspaper publisher, Araba Jimoh Ibrahim, is also not in good stead with Mimiko, but he remains a big fan of President Jonathan.
In Ondo, the APC is still struggling to increase its standing from its third place showing in the 2012 election in the state. The party seems to be waxing stronger, but its hold in the state does not seem strong enough for Buhari to carry the day.
•Verdict: Jonathan may lead the way, but Buhari is assured of a good showing.
The way and manner Mr. Ayodele Fayose snatched victory from the jaw of defeat widely predicted for him in the June 21, 2014 presidential election is still a subject of discussion in some quarters in the South-west. Fayose remains a fanatical supporter of President Jonathan to the extent of wishing the president’s opponent, Buhari, dead in a controversial advertorial in two national newspapers last week. The PDP remains united in Ekiti and a united PDP can match APC pound for pound as it was at the rebirth of the country’s renascent democracy in 1999 when the two parties shared equally the state’s House of Assembly members. Fayose remains a rampaging governor. He was said to have recently suspended a Permanent Secretary in the state who failed to turn up at President Jonathan’s campaign rally in Ado-Ekiti. As he did last June 21, Fayose may deliver the state to Jonathan. How he is going to achieve this is yet unclear. In the battle to deliver the state to Jonathan, Fayose will be supported by the minister from the state, Chief Dayo Adeyeye, National Vice Chairman of PDP in the South-west, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, and Senator Ayo Arise among others. As for APC, former governor Kayode Fayemi, Deputy National Chairman of the party and former governor of the state, Chief Segun Oni, and former governor Niyi Adebayo will attempt to get a good showing for Buhari in the state. Attempts to woo former governorship candidate, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, who defected from APC to Labour Party to contest the June 21 election, for Buhari in the election, if successful, may be a plus for the APC candidate.
•Verdict: Buhari may get a good showing but Jonathan may take the state.