APC consolidates status as ruling party | Independent Newspapers Limited
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APC consolidates status as ruling party

Posted: Apr 13, 2015 at 1:44 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Sweeps Kaduna, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue •As PDP retains Enugu, A’Ibom, Ebonyi  •INEC notes 66 cases of violence in Ondo, Rivers, others •No political victimisation, Lagos gov-elect assures

By Austin Oboh (Politics Editor) and Ekene Okoro Snr. Correspondent, (Lagos)


Emerging results of Saturday’s governorship poll in 29 states across the country appeared to have confirmed the status of opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) as Nigeria’s new ruling party, after 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the saddle.

Going by results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday night, as well as unofficial figures, the APC may already have 20 parties in its kitty.

Buhari and Osinbajo

Buhari and Osinbajo celebrating presidential victory

When this becomes official, the PDP will play second fiddle in both the executive and legislative arms of government at the centre, when President Goodluck Jonathan hands over to President-elect, Mohammadu Buhari on May 29.

This is the first election that has seen any party vigorously challenging and displacing the PDP since the advent of the fourth republic in 1999.

The 2015 election also produced another first in Oyo State, where Senator Abiola Ajimobi, becomes the first since the days of Chief Bola Ige of the old Oyo State (now Oyo and Osun) in the second republic, to be elected for a second-term in a state which boasts of an array of one-term governors.

Official results so far published largely indicate a replication of the voting pattern in the presidential election, although with some minor differences.

One thing that is bound to change, going by results being released so far, is a situation where the PDP controls 21 states, the APC 14 as is the situation at the moment.

This arrangement is about to change as the APC improves its presence in the North and South-West with control of about 17 states, going by results still being collated as at press time.

In Lagos State, the nation’s commercial hub, estimated at a GDP of about $92 billion, was one of the most contested in the election. The APC candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, scored 811,994 to beat his closest rival and candidate of the PDP, Jimi Agbaje, who garnered 659,788 according to the Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole.

Agbaje, just like President Jonathan did for the Presidential election, soon after called to congratulate Ambode.

“I just made a phone call to congratulate Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress,” Agbaje was quoted as saying in a statement by the Director of Media and Publicity of his Campaign Organisation, Felix Oboagwina.

Oboagwina said this was all that would be said at the moment.

Meanwhile, in an acceptance speech on Sunday night, after being declared winner of the election, Lagos State governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode, promised to devote himself to greater prosperity, growth and development of the state on assuming office as the 14th governor.

Speaking at the party’s state secretariat, he promised to run an all-inclusive government and ensure no one is victimised, thanking Lagosians for voting en masse for him said.

“The people of Lagos have demonstrated that it is not about ethnicity, or religion but about a common desire to enthrone good governance.

“Lagos under my watch will not discriminate. It has not in the past. It has not in the present. Not even in the future. There will be no political victimization.

“In your collective wisdom you refused to reward a party that failed at the national level by giving that party the stewardship of our beloved Lagos.”

Continuing, Ambode said: “Our state government and the Federal government will be one vision, one mind and one accord and that is to govern you wisely not rule over you rudely.

“Lagos will enjoy optimal development and growth through APC working in tandem at the state and federal levels. This cooperation and enhanced policy harmony will surely pay handsome dividends.”

Similarly, Imo State Governor and APC candidate, Rochas Okorocha, maintained the lead in the results from 20 of 27 local government areas released as at press time. The PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, has however indicated intention to contest the result.

The APC Tsunami was also felt in the North as INEC declared the party’s candidate in Bauchi, Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar winner of the governorship election.

Abubakar, a former National Commissioner in charge of Legal Services at INEC, won in 19 of the 20 local government areas of the state.

According to the state Returning Officer, Prof Mohammed Kabir Faruq, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Abubakar scored a total of 654,934 votes to beat election.

He defeated the ruling PDP in Tafawa Balewa, the home local government of its National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, and that of the candidate in Saturday’s election, Mohammed Auwal Jatau, Zaki LGA.

Perhaps, the most outstanding result as at Sunday was the victory of former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister and APC candidate, Nasir el-Rufai, who defeated 14 others, including incumbent Gov. Mukhtar Yero who contested on the platform of the PDP.

The state’s Returning Officer, Prof. Jafar Kaura, said El-Rufai won with 1,117,635 votes, the highest so far by any candidate, to defeat Yero, who secured 485, 833 votes.

Pioneer anti-graft Tsar, Nuhu Ribadu, who left the APC for the PDP last year, lost to APC’s Umar Jubilla – a loss that observers said would considerably affect his political career for a long time to come.

However, in the North-Central state of Plateau, the PDP had a slight edge in the 15 LGs areas declared. Counting for the remaining two council areas were shifted till today. But as at press time, the PDP had garnered 439, 547 to the APC’s 419,607.

But in Benue State, a PDP stronghold and home state of Senate President, David Mark, Samuel Ortom, former Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, and APC’s candidate, defeated PDP’s Terhemen Tarzoor, to emerge governor-elect.

Down south, the PDP was reported to be on the lead in states of the South-South and South-East as it did in the presidential poll.

In Ebonyi, for example, the deputy governor and PDP governorship candidate, Dave Umahi, emerged winner, according to the State Collation Officer and Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, who declared that Umahi met all the constitutional requirement after scoring a total of 289,867 votes to beat Okereke Nkwegu of the Labour Party (LP), who got 124,817. The APC’s candidate, Senator Julius Ucha, came a distant third with 27,583.

Also, INEC declared Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of the PDP governor-elect in Enugu State, after polling 482,277 votes, while his main opponent, Okechukwu Ezea of the APC garnered 43,837.

But in a post-election press conference at his campaign office on Sunday, Ezea, who was flanked by his running mate, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, described the election as a charade. He noted that the exercise was marred by serious violence, ballot box snatching, intimidation and harassment of APC agents.

He also alleged that the PDP and Ugwuanyi imported over 5000 thugs into the State, especially in Nsukka area where they had a field day, operating under the protection of policemen drafted from Enugu Government House and the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

As contentions built up in Abia, the electoral body was unable to announce results in the state on Sunday.

But in the neighbouring Akwa Ibom, PDP’s flag bearer, Udom Emmanuel, won the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State with a massive margin of 996,071 votes. His closest opponent, Umana Okon Umana, of the APC scored 86,805 votes to come second.

But Mr. Umana had earlier in the day rejected the results alleging massive irregularities, just as a elections did not hold in many polling centres across the state.

As the results of the governorship and House of Assembly elections was being collated by INEC in Uyo, the state capital on Sunday morning, thousands of APC supporters and leaders of the party in Akwa Ibom State embarked on a peaceful protest to INEC office lamenting alleged gross irregularities perpetrated by the PDP.

The APC supporters displayed placards bearing their grievances such as: “No election in Akwa Ibom State,” “Akwa Ibom Election, the height of impunity,”  “INEC must cancel election in Akwa Ibom State, “ “ Election without result sheets.” Others read, “Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State must be sacked,” “PDP paid thugs to pack all election materials.”

In Edo State, where the earlier postponed Edo South senatorial election was postponed to Saturday, House of Representatives Minority Whip, Samson Osagie of the APC lost to PDP’s Matthew Urhoghide who polled 139,784 votes against Osagie’s 117,759 votes

In Rivers where the results have been condemned by international observers, the PDP’s Nyesom Wike, reportedly won the election, which the state governor and APC stalwart, Rotimi Amaechi, had on Saturday described as sham.

Meanwhile, INEC on Sunday released a report on the polls across the country, which it said indicated significant success despite some of the incidents it cited. According to the commission, a general assessment shows that the elections went very well across the country.

It said that according to preliminary reports, 88.9 per cent of polling units opened for accreditation between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. across the country while only 5.2 per cent were yet to open as of 1 pm. Also, 73 per cent of the polling units had commenced voting by 2.30 p.m.

It said: “The process of accreditation with Smart Card Readers was also successful in a majority of the polling units.

“Initial challenges were recorded in Edo and Abia states, but the technical teams deployed to support the states were able to resolve the issues in a timely manner.

“Overall, many parts of the country remained relatively peaceful during the elections.”

The statement by Kayode Idowu, spokesman to Prof. Attahiru Jega, the commission said, however, that some states recorded violence, the most affected being Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi and Ondo States.

He continued: “INEC’s records show that there were 66 reports of violent incidents targeted at polling units, the Commission’s officials, voters and election materials.

“These were in Rivers State (16 incidents), Ondo (eight), Cross River and Ebonyi (six each), Akwa Ibom (five) Bayelsa (four), Lagos and Kaduna (three each), Jigawa, Enugu, Ekiti and Osun (two each), Katsina, Plateau, Kogi, Abia, Imo, Kano and Ogun (one each).

“The Commission is investigating these incidents and will do everything within in its powers to bring culprits to justice.”

The Commission, which reminded stakeholders that the process was still ongoing, further called on any aggrieved persons or groups to seek redress at the Tribunals.