In line with the Electoral Act 2022 which directs all campaigns to end 24 hours before any election, the Governorship and House of Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and a host of others are in a last-minute push cum battle to win the polls Saturday.
Section 96 (1) of the Act says: “A person, print or electronic medium that broadcasts, publishes, advertises or circulates any material for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular political party or the election of a particular candidate over the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, handbills, or any print or electronic media whatsoever called within twenty four hours immediately preceding or on polling day commits an offence under this Act.”
With this Act, parties and candidates are expected to round off their campaign activities 12.00 midnight Thursday.
Ahead of that time, however, horse-trading and political networking in form of alliance, re-alliance and scheming have become common place among candidates and political parties from Lagos, Gombe, Taraba, Bauchi to Kwara, Nasarawa to Ebonyi among others.
In Lagos state, the stake is high among the APC governorship candidate, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his LP candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and Abdulazeez Adeniran (Jandor) of the PDP, with groups and prominent individuals drumming support for their choice candidates.
Canvassing support for the governor at a virtual summit Wednesday in Lagos, the Diaspora Organisation for Sustainable Development (DOSD), said a second and final tenure for Sanwo-Olu would guarantee further development for the state.
The summit had in attendance residents of the state, members of the civil society organisations, professionals and APC members.
Addressing the audience from the United States of America through a zoom meeting, leader of the group, Dr. Emmanuel Dada, said the summit was called to address the shortcoming noticed in the February 25 presidential election during which LP won the state.
In his speech read by Comrade Ajayi Taiwo, Dada noted that there was the need to reverse the outcome of the poll and win a big one for Sanwo-Olu and all the APC candidates for the State House of Assembly positions.
The assignment, he said, required some sense of urgency to prevent the state from falling into the hands of inexperienced people who lacked knowledge about governance.
“We are all here today that going forward, you should mobilize your friends, your neighbors, and all the youths within your reach to go out on Saturday, March 18th and use their PVCs to vote en-mass for Gov. Sanwo-Olu and turn the tide favourably towards progressive APC.
“In all, we have won. Lagos since 1999, in spite of her shortcomings, remains the model of sustainable development in Africa.
“There is none among the 36 states of the Federation that is as developed as Lagos State. In terms of security, protection of the dignity of labour and human rights defense, Lagos is miles ahead of many of the 36 states.
“We must never allow these gains to fizzle out. We must defend it. We must protect it. We must cherish it. You will not know the value of what you have until you lose it.
“Since 1999, the battle had been tough. Reactionary elements using several fronts, wanting to take Lagos by all means necessary including violence.
“Lagos held the adversaries and the world stood in awe at the energy and determination of our people against domination,” Dada said.
He said the LP took advantage of the shortcomings arising from EndSARS protest, to sway the youths to its side, reassuring that no political party cares more for their welfare better than the APC.
“Nothing can be further from the truth that the real friend of the youths that cares for your future and that cares for progressive governance is APC. APC is not a perfect political party but the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT), will be an excellent president that will put Nigerian youth’s interest and gainful employment as one of his priorities in governing Nigeria vis-à-vis similar goals of Governor Sanwo-Olu for his second term when elected,” he further said.
Vivour our best – Bode George, others
Endorsing the -Rhodes-Vivour candidature, a PDP chieftain, Chief Olabode George, former Deputy Governor of Lagos state, Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor and Mrs. Onikepo Oshodi, rejected what they called the “divisive politics of annihilation of innocent Nigerians.”
George, who spoke at a media briefing organised by members of a socio-political group, Omo Eko Pataki, expressed the group’s concern over the alleged threat of violence against non-APC members during Saturday’s poll.
The PDP leader, who spoke in his capacity as leader of the group, called of people of Lagos state to vote out the APC administration.
He said: “We have called you here today (Monday) on the auspices of the Omo Eko Pataki, a concerned vanguard of true born and bonafide Lagosians, to brief you on issues of salient national importance as we head towards the final lap of the 2023 general elections.
“It is expedient for us as major stakeholders to let Lagosians, Nigerians, and the international community be aware of developments both in the aftermath of the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections as well as raise some pertinent concerns about the governorship, and the state Assembly elections scheduled for this Saturday, March 11, 2023.
“For the avoidance of doubt, a particular video has gone viral, on social media, which showed a weird character, suspected to be one of the agents of the state, threatening fire and brimstone against anybody, particularly of the South-East extraction (Igbo), to dare come out on Election Day to vote for the Labour Party.
“In the words of the agent in the video clip, ‘It’s either Sanwo-Olu or nothing in Lagos.
“To this disposition, we, the Omo Eko Pataki, say it is the most heinous crime against humanity in this 21st century, and condemn such in its entirety.
“We reject this divisive politics of annihilation of innocent Nigerians which seek to create anarchy and provoke the anger of the citizenry. We wish to remind all the non-Lagosian agents of the Lagos State Government that Nigerians had always lived together in peace, irrespective of any political party in power.”
On the LP candidate, George said: “We wish to inform Nigerians about the heinous plan to secretly eliminate the Labour Party governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the latest move by the Lagos occupiers to take him out of circulation before the election on Saturday.
“We, hereby, warn that, should anything happen to this vibrant bonafide Lagosian whose fate has thrown up to free our dear state from the stranglehold of marauders, Nigerians should know who to hold.
“All these he does by compromising all agencies and organs of state, including the electoral commission itself. We also call on INEC to ensure the use of transformational BVAS regime for the transparency of the exercise, a departure from the February 25 archaic system, where result sheets were moved manually from polling units.”
…Igbimo Omo Eko too
Similarly, the Lagos Indigenes Congress (Igbimo Omo Eko), a network of Lagos bonafide indigenes across the former five regions of Lagos, has affirmed that the LP candidate is a bonafide son of a reputable family in Lagos Island.
“We say without mincing words that he is a true son of Lagos and indeed one of us.
“The impression trending that one of our gubernatorial candidates Gbadebo Rhodes- Vivour is an Igbo because he has an Igbo mother, is a wicked political campaign strategy meant to take political advantage.
“Gbadebo is a true son of Lagos born into a reputable Lagos Island family. So many of our political leaders today are married to people from other tribes: Chief Bode George married from Delta, so also is Senator Bola Tinubu married from Delta and that does not change their identity or their children’s identity.
“Gbadebo is like many of our children born and trained abroad. This cannot in any way vitiate their identity. It should be added advantage,” the group said in communiqué signed by Dr. Olusola Bamgbowu, in Lagos at the end of its emergency meeting.
Igbimo Omo Eko, while giving the warning, noted that the scar of the #EndSARS imbroglio was still very visible in Lagos as the state government was still grappling with rehabilitation of the victims using very scarce state resources.”
And in Taraba, the PDP Wednesday advised voters in the state not to waste their votes on the APC because the party has no validly nominated candidate for the rescheduled Saturday March 18, 2023 governorship election.
The party hinged its position on the Judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on February 1, 2023 in suit No SC/CV/1564/2022.
In a statement by the PDP National Secretary Debo Ologunagba in Abuja, the party said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the good people of Taraba State and the general public are invited to note that the import of the judgement of the Supreme Court is to the effect that the APC cannot validly field a candidate in the March 18, 2023 governorship election in Taraba State, having failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 with regards to the conduct of its governorship primary in Taraba State.
“Specifically, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the provision of Section 84 (13) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which provides that;
“Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.”
Quoting the Supreme Court, judgement he said: “Section 84 (13) of the Electoral Act is quite clear on the effect of failure to comply with the provisions of the Act and the Guideline of a Political Party in the selection or nomination of a candidate for election. Its Candidate shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue”.
“The implication of the Supreme Court’s Judgment therefore is that INEC is effectively restrained from accepting or recognizing any governorship candidate from the APC for the March 18, 2023 Governorship election in Taraba State.
“INEC must therefore be guided by the hierarchy of courts in Nigeria and the finality of the pronouncements in the Judgment of the Supreme Court on any issue or subject upon which it has ruled, ordered or given judgement.
“The people of Taraba State must note that any vote therefore cast or credited to the APC in the March 18, 2023 Governorship election in Taraba State will be treated as wasted vote.,“ the party said.
Obi leads Plateau campaign
Also in Plateau, the LP presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, Wednesday, led the campaign train of the governorship candidate, Patrick Dakum.
“I have just arrived in Jos to thank the OBIdients, and urge them to come out en masse to support LP candidates,” Obi tweeted.
“I use Patrick Dakum, our Governorship candidate as my point of contact in wishing the State Assembly candidates a great success on 18th March.
“We remain committed to reclaiming our stolen mandate and turning our focus to true nation-building,” Obi said.
In Gombe state, some five political parties are teaming up with the Action Alliance (AA) gubernatorial candidate in the state, Brigadier-General Nuhu Miller (rtd), to tackle Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of the APC at the poll.
The state executives of the parties, who made this disclosure Wednesday, said the leadership of their parties had directed all five of the parties’ chairmen and executives to collaborate with the AA’s governorship candidate in the interest of sound governance.
They said the AA candidate was the best to lead the state as governor, which is why the alliance decided to support him.
“We have also scrutinized the gubernatorial candidate and found him to be more reliable, competent, capable and have the needed integrity to drive development in the state that will help improve the wellbeing and welfare of the good people of the state.
“Our interest is solely based on his profile that we have duly analyzed and found him politically-worthy amongst other candidates in the state.
“We call on our supporters across the state to pull all grassroots supports for the AA gubernatorial candidate, retired Brig-Gen Miller to ensure his victory come Saturday,” they said.
…APC raises the alarm
But the Gombe State Campaign Council (GSCC) of the ruling APC has alleged plot to embark on smear campaign against Governor Yahaya by the opposition parties. A statement by the campaign spokesman, Ismaila Uba Misilli, said: “It has come to the attention of the GSCC of the APC that some unscrupulous elements in the opposition parties in the state have concluded plans to come up with concerted smear campaigns against Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, who is the governorship candidate of our party.”
“We have credible intelligence that those opposition elements are working in cohort with their paymasters to dish out outright falsehood against our candidate and other party chieftains as part of their last attempts to hoodwink the Gombe electorate who have since made up their minds to reelect Governor Inuwa for a second term,” Misilli said.
He said: “We wish to reiterate that Governor Inuwa Yahaya remains resolute and deeply committed to continue with his good governance that will ensure a better Gombe for all the people of Gombe State and beyond. On this, his resolve remains unwavering.”
“We call on the general public not to give in to the opposition’s hateful political propaganda and campaigns of incitement that threaten our peaceful coexistence.
“Gombe is reputed for its political non-violence, tolerance and stability. We must therefore approach elections as a family affair, devoid of rancor, ill-will and bitterness.”
From Kwara state, the leadership of Labour Party (LP) has agreed to an alliance of sort with the PDP governorship candidate, Alhaji Abdullahi Yaman Abdullahi ahead of the poll.
Addressing journalists in Ilorin, the state LP governorship candidate, Basambo Abubakar, said the development was targeting unity government after the poll.
“The LP in Kwara State has decided to align political forces and work together with the PDP in the March 18 governorship elections in the state in the hope of forming a unity government after the governorship election victory.
“The union is expected to birth a collective dream for a prosperous Kwara State,” he said.
Countering Abubakar, however, the state chairman of the party, Kehinde Rotimi, disowned the arrangement, saying the party was mourning its loss at the presidential poll.
Rotimi said: “We are here to set the record straight. The Labour Party is a political party with an ideology, based on social justice and equality. The Labour Party had not adopted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Kwara State, Shuaib Yaman Abdullahi, as said by Basambo Abubakar. He has no authority to issue such statement on behalf of the party.
“We are in a very sober mood right now because of our presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, who was massively voted for by Nigerians, but the Nigerian system came into being as usual. Currently, he’s challenging the result of the election in court. So, it’s morally wrong for us to come out and say we’re adopting another party for the governorship election against the wishes of our presidential candidate.
“So, we are not adopting PDP candidates under any guise. Whoever has done so, has done so at his own risk.”
Hope not lost- Atiku
In all of this, the PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said all hope was not lost and charged Nigerians not to give room for apathy in the March 18 governorship election.
In a statement, Wednesday, he also also charged his supporters across the country to vote for PDP’s candidates for governors and state house of assemblies.
The statement read in part: “I truly appreciate your resilience, tenacity, and courage. It is indeed heart-warming that you have faith in rescuing and rebuilding our great country, as envisioned by our great party, the PDP.
“As attested to by both local and international observers, the result of the February 25 presidential election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission was grossly tainted and did not reflect the will of the electorates. You all have demonstrated this blatant injustice through different mediums. And for that, I thank you again for your non-violent conduct despite the provocations.
“Indeed, what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did in announcing the manipulated result was a clear breach of not only the 2022 Electoral Act but also its guidelines which the electoral commission had repeatedly claimed would uphold the standards we had seen in the Osun and Ekiti elections. The INEC Chairman further ignored calls for a review of the process in line with the amended law.
“My fellow citizens, all hope is not lost. You must never give in to apathy. I assure you that the electoral fraud perpetrated by INEC will be reversed in due course as I champion the cause to reclaim our mandate.
“We, as citizens, must continue to show resilience in the defense of our democracy and in the exercise of our rights to vote. As the March 18 Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections beckon, I urge you as patriotic citizens of our dear country to come out in your numbers to cast your votes. That is one of the ways you can use to demonstrate against the sham of an election on February 25.
“As you cast your votes peacefully this Saturday and in observance of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines, be sure to do so for the candidates of the PDP, the only truly national party, for a greater and prosperous Nigeria.”
The scenario playing out in Bauchi state reveals former Speaker Yakubu Dogara of the PDP may be backing the APC governorship candidate, Ambassador Abubakar Saidque, the immediate past Chief of Air Staff.
Dogara, who, at a time, was seen with the APC governorship candidate, said he was still within the party.
“It’s complicated. I am supporting candidates, not parties,” he had said.
During the just concluded National Assembly election, the former speaker reportedly helped APC’s Jafaru Gambo Leko, to win a House of Representatives seat in the state.
Tweeting after Leko’s victory, he said: “They procured thugs to attack us and stole BVAS from some polling units, but regardless, a protégé of the one they wanted to forcibly retire will succeed him.
“We took a righteous stance based on justice, fairness and accommodation for all regardless of tribe/creed and the God of justice showed up.”