After the March 9 governorship elections across the country, the polls in six states – Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto – were declared inconclusive.
Clause 34 (e) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Regulation and Guideline for 2019 General Elections stipulates that supplementary elections will be held “where the margin of lead between the two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the Polling Units where elections were not held or were cancelled…”
In each of the six states the margin of lead between the leading candidates is less than registered voters at the polling units where election was cancelled or postponed for reasons such as overvoting, violence or the failure of smart card readers.
Here, we project how the supplementary election battle in each of the states will be fought and won.
In Adamawa, the margin of lead between the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Fintiri, who scored 367,471 votes and that of his closest rival, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Jibrilla Bindow, who scored 334,995 votes, is 32,476 and less than the number of registered voters in 44 polling units where the election did not hold or was cancelled, which is 40,988.
In order to upstage Mr Fintiri, the APC candidate will require a miracle on the same level as squeezing water out of a rock. What is more, the percentage of voters’ turnout in last Saturday’s election in the state was less than 50 per cent.
For Mr Bindow to upturn Mr Finitiri’s lead he has to first pray for a turnout of at least 70 per cent. He then has to hope that every single voter who cast his or her vote on the day cast it for him. This appears a mathematical impossibility.
Thus, PREMIUM TIMES can confidently predict that at the end of the supplementary election, Mr Finitiri of the PDP will emerge winner, and would be declared governor-elect of the north-east state.
In Bauchi, the path to deciding who is eventually returned as governor of the state is a still a bit fussy. The result of an entire local government, Tafawa Balewa, was cancelled because the local government collating officer, did not record the result in the right form. The collation of results in the local government was disrupted after thugs snatched the result sheet.
The state’s returning officer subsequently refused to accept the result because, as he claimed, the collation officer did not get his approval as stipulated in the guideline for the election before documenting the result in another form.
After the collation of 19 local governments out of the 20 in the state, the APC is trailing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Bala Muhammed, with 4,059 votes. The APC scored a total of 465,453 votes against the PDP’s 469,512 votes.
According to the results announced at the Tafawa Balewa collation centre, which was rejected by the returning officer, the PDP also has a healthy lead there. It scored 40,010 votes against the APC’s 29,862 votes.
PREMIUM TIMES has learnt that INEC intends to regenerate the result for the local government using duplicate result forms from the polling units and ward collation level. If this is done, PDP’s lead in the election will increase to 14,207 votes.
Although this still falls short of the 45, 312 votes cancelled in the election but with a turnout rate of 45.4 percent, and the margin of voters scored in the March 9 election by both parties, it is very difficult for the APC to score enough votes in the supplementary election in the state to upstage the PDP. We project Mr Mohammed of the PDP to emerge governor-elect.
Similarly, in Benue the PDP has an unassailable lead. Although the result of the election was declared inconclusive, the incumbent, Samuel Ortom of the PDP, who scored 410,576 votes has a lead of 81,554 votes over Emmanuel Jime of the APC who scored 329,022 votes.
However, the election was cancelled or could not be held in polling units with a total of 121,019 registered voters. Thus, in line with INEC’s guideline, the election was declared inconclusive because the margin of lead between the APC and PDP was less than the number of cancelled votes.
Again, here, we believe the election has slipped through Mr Jime’s fingers. The voters’ turnout in last Saturday’s election in the state was 33 per cent. If the turnout remains the same, only about 40,000 voters will be out to vote during the supplementary election. This is less than half of the margin of lead. Even if the APC won all the votes to be cast on the day, its number will still fall short of the votes required to defeat the PDP.
While the supplementary elections in Adamawa, Bauchi and Benue seem set to go PDP way, the APC has similarly secured comfortable lead in Plateau State. Other things being equal, the incumbent, Simon Lalong, seems ready to clinch a second term in office.
Mr Lalong, who scored 583,255 in last Saturday’s election, has a margin of 44,929 over the PDP candidate, Jerry Useni, who scored 538,326.
But the number of cancelled votes being just 49,377, Mr Useni, a former army general, can only wish for close to 100 per cent turnout of voters and with all the voters on the day voting for him. This is a wish similar to passing a camel through the eye of a needle. Mr Lalong will win this one.
This is where the real contest is. Although the PDP occupies the high ground in this contest, its lead is but just a mound rather than a mountain. In Saturday’s gubernatorial election, its candidate, Abba Yusuf scored 1,014,474 votes against the 987,819 votes scored by the incumbent governor and candidate of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje. That keeps the margin of victory between both top candidates at 26,655 votes.
However, the number of cancelled votes in the state is 128,572 votes, which leaves the rerun wide open for any of the candidates. Another testament to why the supplementary election in the state can swing either way, is that 128,572 cancelled voters are spread across half of the 44 local governments of the state.
Results from last week election revealed that the two parties seesawed in the number of votes garnered. In some local governments the difference between them were as little as a couple of hundred votes. There is no indication that this trend will not continue on March 23, when the supplementary election will be held.
However, the momentum seems to be shifting towards the opposition party, who which was roundly dismissed by analysts following its abysmal showing during the presidential election where it only scored only 21 per cent of the votes cast while the APC scored 79 per cent.
But the ruling party, as it is often the case in Nigeria, will be banking on the oft-mentioned “federal might”. Apparatuses of the state under the direct control of the government at the centre, such as the police and the military, may act in a manner that favours the incumbent in Kano.
This may however not be exactly true. Insiders at the APC headquarters and the presidency say the party and President Muhammadu Buhari remained irritated by the corruption allegation against Governor Ganduje and are not really enthusiastic about helping him in any way. So this race remains open, and can go either way. Although it is more tilted towards the PDP at this point.
Just like in Kano, Sokoto is another electoral contest that is too close to call at this time. Incumbent Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the PDP scored 489,558 votes while his main challenger, Aliyu Ahmed of the APC scored 489,145 votes, leaving just 3,413 votes between them. According to INEC the number of cancelled votes in the state is 75,4003.
The commission also announced that the votes are spread among 136 polling units in 22 of the 23 local governments in the state.
The results from last week’s elections shows that both parties ran neck-to-neck. But unlike most states, the incumbent was the underdog in this race and the opposition is kicking itself for underestimating him.
Mr Tambuwal, after defecting to the PDP in order to pursue his presidential ambition, lost some of his local support, especially that of the de-facto godfather of Sokoto politics and a former governor of the state, Aliyu Wamakko.
The APC in the state draws most of its support from the influential Mr Wamakko and many analysts did not give the PDP a chance until it managed to secure a respectable portion of the votes during the presidential election.
The supplementary election may, however, offer the APC an opportunity to rouse itself from slumber and re-strategise for a better outing. The race remains too close to call.