The year 2019 was full of political activities because it was an election year. The incoming 2020 also promises to be interesting, as some key issues are likely to shape politics during the year.
The year 2020 will be decisive for some states where governorship elections are expected to hold during the year. The states are Edo and Ondo States. Besides, the debate over who succeeds Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State in 2021 will equally commence in the year. President Muhammadu Buhari is also expected to appoint a new chairman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The people of Edo State will go to the polls in August 2020 to elect a new governor to direct the affairs of the state for another four years. The election will be interesting because the two major political parties: the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are currently experiencing internal squabbles.
For instance, a crisis of confidence is tearing the Edo APC apart as the count-down to the next year’s governorship election begins. The issue of a second term for Governor Godwin Obaseki has polarised the party. The governor and his predecessor in office who happens to be the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole are no longer seeing eye-to-eye, raising fears over the chances of APC in the high-stakes governorship election scheduled for August next year.
Amid the internal wrangling, Obaseki has declared to seek re-election. He made the pronouncement with a bold statement that it was not “negotiable” because according to him, he was deserving of it.
The governor said: “I have said it clearly and I told my cabinet members that the second term for me is non -negotiable. I am demanding it because I deserve it and I think I have earned it. We need to have it so we can continue what we are doing today.
I want to assure you that this is a fight in which we will prevail. We will fight and succeed if anybody thinks I will back out, he must be daydreaming because it is not my fight, it is a fight for the right purpose. I am not going to back off because I know victory is sure.”
But that did not go down well with his opponents within the party, particularly the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a group that is loyal to Oshiomhole. The group had vowed to ensure that Governor Obaseki would not return for a second term. The movement accuse Obaseki of deception, alleging that he did not do well over three years into his administration and that he attempted to damage the party’s brand by giving the Edo people the impression that he was doing well.
The EPM declared that some of its members would contest in the next governorship election to ensure the end of Obaseki’s administration after his first term in office.
In the midst of it all, the PDP governorship candidate in 2016 election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has defected to the APC. To the EPM, Ize-Iyamu’s defection will increase the chances of the APC winning the election. But the Obaseki group believes the entry of the former PDP chieftain into the APC by the Oshiomhole group destabilise the party ahead of the 2020 governorship election.
Analysts say the success or otherwise of the APC reconciliation committee set up at the national level to douse the crisis in Edo State will determine the fate of the party in the 2020 election.
For the PDP, the exit of Ize-Iyamu and his supporters has depleted its membership ahead of the governorship election. Besides, there is disagreement among the party chieftains over the tenure of the party’s executive in the state.
A group led by the former Governor Lucky Igbinedion met with the PDP national leadership and raised the issue about the tenure of the party’s executive. They wanted to know when the tenure will end and how soon they will have a congress because they wanted to go into the next election as a united body.
PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan said the party would look into the records because, “We want the party united before the 2020 election so that they can win”.
Ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, various political parties have started strengthening their systems and structures. But analysts are of the view that it will be a straight fight between the ruling APC and the main opposition party, PDP. The aspirants on both sides have started strategising ahead of the party primaries for parties tickets.
The PDP was the ruling party before it was dislodged by the APC in 2015. The struggle for the party’s ticket split the party. Former Governor Olusegun Mimiko backed his former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Tayo Jegede (SAN) to emerge as governorship candidate. But those opposed to Mimiko’s choice fought against what they described as imposition of Jegede on the party. As a result, a parallel convention was held and two governorship candidates emerged in Ondo PDP.
While Jegede emerged as the candidate of Mimiko’s faction, a business mogul Jimoh Ibrahim was elected by the opposition group. It was the Supreme Court that finally endorsed Jegede as the PDP flag bearer in 2015. The court verdict failed to restore peace in the party.
The Jimoh Ibrahim-led group worked against the PDP and its governorship candidate which was responsible for the defeat of the PDP. It was even alleged that Mimiko wavered in his support for Jegede a few weeks to the election.
Since then, things have been falling apart at the party.. What complicated the PDP problems in Ondo was the defection of Mimiko to the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). There has been no recognised arrowhead of PDP in Ondo State.
About 17 aspirants have signified their intention to contest for the PDP ticket for the 2020 gubernatorial poll.. The leading aspirants are the Chairman of the party in the South West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, and the PDP governorship candidate in 2016, Tayo Jegede.
Others are Chief Sola Ebiseni, Senator Boluwaji Kunlere, Otunba Bamidele Akingboye, former Special Adviser on Labour Matters, Mr. Dayo Fadahunsiand former Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Special Duties, Mr. Femi Adekanmbi.
Olafeso described his move to contest governorship election as a rescue mission saying that “the present government of Rotimi Akeredolu is a disaster. The state has lost all that it gained under our former leaders like Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Adebayo Adefarati, Dr. Segun Agagu, and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. We are now witnessing a situation where students are paying from primary school to secondary school. The tertiary institutions are not within the reach of the children of common people.”
Jegede said he had consulted God and He had given him the go-ahead to contest the next election. I see myself as somebody ready to serve. I contested the last election and we knew the result, the following day we went to church to thank God for how far He had helped us. Now, I consulted God Almighty again, I asked if I should go forward on this project. He answered me that I should go ahead”.
However, the PDP Chairman in the state, Mr. Clement Faboyed has promised that the party would ensure a free and credible governorship primary. He boasted that the main opposition party would send Governor Rotimi Akeredolu out of the Alagbaka Government House in 2020.
Faboyode disclosed that PDP was making frantic effort to put its house in order across the 18 local governments in the state, assuring that the party will conduct a transparent and rancour-free primary election that will produce a popular standard bearer.
For APC, the simmering internal crisis is tearing the party apart in the Sun Shine State. This is just the main opposition PDP has been strategically positioning its forces to reap from the lingering crisis in APC.
Against the backdrop of the PDP performance in the last general elections, observers have predicted that the internal crises rocking the APC could not only make it extremely impossible for Akeredolu to get re-elected but also capable of losing the election. The PDP put up an impressive performance in the general elections by defeating APC in the state in the presidential election. Similarly, the opposition party won two senatorial seats and three seats in the House of Representatives.
The leader of APC Unity Forum in Ondo State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi has said APC may lose the governorship election if the national leaders failed to do the right thing.
Olanusi, a former deputy governor in Ondo State and a member of APC Board of Trustees (BoT), said “May God minister to the conscience of APC leadership at the national level, so that they can do what is right. This is what can ensure the party’s re-election in the 2020 governorship election. And this can only be achieved by shutting out Akeredolu. If all the things we demanded at the Heritage meeting are done, I can assure you that APC will do well. Before Akeredolu came, APC gave Buhari over 54 per cent in the 2015 election when PDP was in power at the state and federal levels.
“Akeredolu has killed the party in the state. All state party structures and organs are dead. That is why no meeting of any of the organs holds in the state. It is no longer secret that Akeredolu and his group romanced another party, the Action Alliance (AA). He is vigourously promoting and funding the party. That was the party he used to sponsor candidates against APC in the last general elections.”
But the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde has absolved Governor Akeredolu of anti-party activities. He said the governor had done well and his achievements would earn him a second term in office. He has performed very well. Infrastructural development is obvious across the state and the roads being done by this administration can stand the test of time, he said.
APC stalwart Senator Bola Tinubu led the party leaders in the Southwest to hold reconciliation meeting with the warring factions in Ondo State. One of the demands put before the meeting by the Olanusi group was the dissolution of the party’s executive in the state. The reconciliation meeting didn’t achieve much.
Those who contested against Akeredolu for the party tickets in 2016 are warming up for the 2020 primaries. They include the runners-up in the 2016 primary, Dr Segun Abraham, Senator Ajayi Boroffice and Chief Olusola Oke .
Preparation for the 2021 Anambra governorship election will start next year. Already, stakeholders across the major political parties are busy working round the clock regarding who to support and as well mobilising their supporters.
Those that have so far signalled their intention to participate include Dr. Obiora Okonkwo (PDP), Dr. Godwin Maduka (PDP), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP), Dr George Moghalu (APC), Stanley Uzochukwu (APGA) and Nicholas Ukachukwu (APGA).
Analysts said the ruling APGA will not find it easy in 2021 because PDP is strategising to take over in Anambra. A PDP chieftain in the state said that APGA and the incumbent governor know that they have destroyed all the goodwill the PDP built in the first eight years that guaranteed the second eight years.
APGA won just one House of Representatives seat in the last general elections. It boasts of retaining a formidable grassroots presence in the 177 towns and 21 local government councils of the state, which it said would guarantee the party electoral triumph in the governorship.
Another factor working against APGA was the endorsement of APC by Governor Willie Obiano in the last general elections. The endorsement led to further division within the party, which ended in series of litigations that stalled the APGA’s national convention.
New INEC chairman
A new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission is to be appointed in 2020. It will be a major political decision to be taken by President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming year. The incumbent, Professor Mahmud Yakubu was nominated by President Buhari as INEC Chairman subject to Senate confirmation as a replacement for Professor Attahiru Jega who vacated the office in June 2015. However, Jega handed over to Mrs. Amina Zakari as directed by President Buhari, She served in an acting capacity until Yakubu’s appointment was confirmed by the Senate.
Section 154 (1) and (2) of the constitution empowers the President to appoint INEC chairman and members of the constitution. The Constitution mandatorily says, “the president shall consult the Council of State” and such appointment again “shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate”.
The question being asked is where will the next INEC chairman comes from. The argument is that two northerners have had two consecutive terms, will the president pick a southerner to fill the post. But a lawyer Malam Abdulkadir Uthman punctured the argument thus: There is nowhere in the constitution that mandates the president to choose from a particular region. The president has the right to appoint any Nigerian that is qualified to occupy the office irrespective of where he or she comes from.
Uthman said those calling for the appointment of a southerner to replace Yakubu have forgotten history. He said: “If you look at the records of those that have held the position since independence, you will see that the North had not been fairly treated. The first indigenous electoral commission chairman was Chief Eyo Esua.
Followed by Chief Michael Ani, Justive Victor Ovie Whisky, Professor Eme Awa, Professor Humprey Nwosu , Professor Okon Uya, Chief Sumner Dagogo-Jack, Justice Ephraim Akpata, Mr. Abel Guobadia, and Professor Maurice Iwu in that other. Are they northerners? They are southerners. For the sake of equity, justice, and fairness, the North should produce the next eight INEC chairman.”
Electoral Act Amendment
The Electoral Act amendment will take the centre stage in the legislative agenda of the National Assembly in 2020. The Senate had already consideration of a bill to amend the Electoral Act. The bill has passed the second reading.
The sponsors, Senators Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari said the bill, which has 26 clauses, sought to amend the Electoral Act to strengthen and protect democracy in Nigeria.
According to the sponsors, the bill to amend the Electoral Act seeks to enact a new Section 87 on the nomination of candidates by political parties for elections by prescribing maximum fees payable by aspirants and restricting nomination criteria strictly to the relevant provisions. The bill also seeks to clarify Section 38(1)(a) of the Principal Act which states that : “a person shall be deemed to be qualified for an elective office and his election shall not be questioned on grounds of qualification if, concerning the particular election in question, he meets the applicable requirements of Sections 65, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
On death of a candidate before declaration of result by INEC, the new bill inserts a new provision “to allow the electoral commission to suspend the election for a period not exceeding 21 days while the political party whose candidate died, if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit the name of the new candidate to the Commission.”
The bill also seeks to provide sanctions for giving false information to register a political party and ensure that failure by the INEC and others to comply with any provision of the Act carries adequate sanctions.
It is expected that the issue of e-voting would come up for deliberation during the electoral amendment process. Prominent Nigerians and organisations are clamouring for electronic voting. The Senate has called on INEC to start preparation for e-voting ahead of 2023 general elections. Electronic voting requires that the entire registration, accreditation, vote counting, collation and announcement chain would be done electronically.
The new bill seeks amendment to Section 52 (2) which prohibits the use of electronic voting machine to empower the Commission by adopting electronic voting or any other method of voting with its discretion.
The expectation is that e-voting will go a long way in checking ballot box snatching and disruption of result collation at the various centres. Once the result had been transmitted to the INEC central server at the commission’s headquarters, the ballot papers would no longer be useful for altering results.
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