While the rest of the country will be electing their governors and state assembly members, for the people of the Federal Capital Territory it will be chairmanship and councillorship elections into the six area councils and 62 wards. Taiye Odewale examines factors what may shape the outcome of the local contests.
FCT’s unique election
Aside December 1998 when elections were conducted for the available Chairmanship positions across the 774 local government councils in the country and Councillorship positions across the 8, 809 wards by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) preparatory to the commencement of 4th Republic in May 1999; there has been no time FCT area council elections coincided with general elections in the country.
The coincidence this time around, has to do with the fact that being three years tenured offices, the tenure of 68 elected political office holders at that level will end on the 20th of May this year, having been sworn into offices on 20th of May, 2016 after emerging victorious in the area council elections conducted in April that year.
PDP stages comeback
Traditionally, the FCT, based on outcomes of elections conducted by INEC since December 1998, has always been one of the strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), the party that ruled the country from 1999 to 2015.
But the hold of the party on FCT changed in the 2016 council elections it lost the chairmanship positions of the six area councils and 45 out of the 62 councillorship positions to candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in April 2016. This was barely a year after losing the presidency of the country to Muhammadu Buhari of the APC in March 2015.
However, the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections conducted penultimate Saturday, gave a picture of the PDP staging a comeback on its hold on the Territory by not only winning the presidential election with wide margin but also clearing all the three available seats in the National Assembly for candidates of the party, i.e., the only Senate and two House of Representatives seats.
Statistically in the election the PDP in the presidential poll dusted the APC with 107, 773 margin of victory by polling 259, 997 votes against 152, 224 votes garnered by the APC, this is apart from winning all through, in all the Six area councils in the House of Representatives, senate and presidential elections.
Expectedly the victory has boosted the chances of the 68 PDP candidates in winning the area council election this Saturday, particularly in Bwari and Abuja Municipal Area Councils (AMAC) where 70 percent of voting strength of FCT lies.
However, while in AMAC the massive votes PDP garnered in the presidential and National Assembly elections may not translate into victory for its candidates in the area election due to indigeneship and non-indigeneship factor by their chairmanship candidates, it will surely be in Bwari area council where chairmanship candidates of both the PDP and APC are not only FCT indigenes but Gbagyis.
In AMAC for example, while the PDP has former chairman of the council, Princess Vivian Anazodo as chairmanship candidate, the APC has the incumbent chairman and indigene of the FCT, Hon Abdullahi Adamu Candido, as candidate.
While Anazodo of the PDP will be counting on fellow none indigenes to vote massively for her in the election, Candido will be doing same among the various indigenous groups within the area council from Gbagyis, to Gbandara, Koro etc.
But in Bwari area council (BAC), it will be an epic battle between the incumbent chairman, Hon Musa Dikko, of the APC and his main challenger, Dr John Gabaya of the PDP.
While Dikko, a Gbagyi man hails from Kubwa village in Kubwa ward, Gabaya hails from Tokulo in Igu ward.
Though Dikko being an incumbent executive chairman is ordinarily expected to have the edge over Gabaya in the contest but his incumbency, going by realities on ground, is more of liability to him than asset in the contest. He has, like most public office holders in the country, got his fingers burnt in one way or the other within the last three year.
For instance, the Hausa/Fulani Community in Bwari town spreading across Bwari Central and Kuduru wards are not happy with him over incessant clashes between their youths and those of the Gbagyis, since December 2017.
Leaders of both communities felt that Dikko in his capacity as executive chairman of the council he should have resolved the crisis diplomatically and not worsening it by wrongheaded policies and actions.
Even Gbagyis of the same specie with Dikko in Kukwaba and New Maitama in Kubwa ward, are not happy with him for not making any concrete effort within the last three years to convince authorities of the FCT Administration ( FCTA) to give them title documents of the various houses they were relocated to from the town, during the Ibrahim Babangida military regime in the 1980s.
Little wonder that before the presidential and National Assembly elections when Senators Philip Tanimu Aduda, Hon Micah Jiba and Dr John Gabaya came to campaign in Kukwaba, a PDP chieftain and leader of the Gbagyis in the area, Hon Abdullahi Sakanbowaton popularly known as Abuja, told them that what the Gbagyis in the area want are title documents of the houses allocated to them by FCDA decades ago.
“Though the incumbent chairman is one of us, but we are not aware of any concrete efforts he has made in that direction within the last three years, the very reason we are saying it loud and clear to the chairmanship candidate of our party, John Gabaya, to collaborate with our senator and members in the House of Representatives in getting it done for us when eventually voted into office”, he said.
It’s for PDP
In a telephone conversation with Gabaya, the PDP chairmanship candidate in BAC on Tuesday, he said victory will surely be his in the election as clearly demonstrated by voters penultimate Saturday during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Voters in Bwari area council and by extension, FCT, have spoken with their votes in the last election that PDP is their party.
“In that election, the PDP candidates clinched all the available three seats. The same way, by the Grace of God on Saturday, they will troop out and vote for me and other candidates of the party in the area council election”, he enthused.
No, it’s ours-APC
But his counterpart, Hon Musa Dikko countered him in a separate telephone conversation by saying the peculiarities of the council elections are different from that of the presidential and National Assembly elections.
According to him, while high number of voters mostly none indigenes used to troop out to vote in the presidential and National Assembly elections, that has not always been the case with council elections.
“Area council elections are shaped and largely determined by factors that are local and peculiar to each of the six area councils and 62 wards which I know will favour me on Saturday, having done my home work very well especially after the presidential and National Assembly elections”, he posited.