•They Are LAGOS, RIVERS & KANO
As the race to Aso Rock hots up, there are 4 main contenders for the Presidency. Over the last few months, 4 top contenders have emerged in the race. They are the 4 presidential candidates everybody is talking about right now.
The 4 are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate; Peter Obi, who is the Labour Party presidential candidate and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, NNPP’s presidential candidate.
Many political analysts have rated these 4 as the top contenders for the job. The reason is simple. So far, they are the presidential candidates that have shown seriousness.
And they are the ones whom political analysts believe will show a great impact in the race.
They have also argued that whoever wants to win amongst them will have to take 3 specific states seriously. These are Lagos, Rivers & Kano. They argue that these are 3 key states that are important in their quest to make a great showing in over 25 states across the federation.
Why take Lagos, Rivers & Kano seriously you make wonder? It is because of the huge votes that will come from there.
This is in line with Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso’s views, a few years back, in an interview, that any presidential candidate who is serious about winning the Presidency must win the 3K Northern states made up of Kano, Kastina & Kaduna. These are the 3 key states up North, that attracts huge votes.
But in the present race, the top 4 presidential candidates have realised the potentials Lagos, Rivers & Kano holds and they are working on winning these 3 states. Interestingly, the 4 of them are strong in these areas.
Daily Trust on Sunday Newspaper also agrees. In a recent analysis, the paper revealed that the top 4 presidential candidates are taking these 3 states serious.
According to Daily Trust, the 4 major contenders for the race-Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP)-have seriously intensified moves to win Kano, Lagos and Rivers States.
The three states, according to Daily Trust on Sunday, are considered battlegrounds as they account for 16.5 million of the 96.2 million registered voters, according to the recent statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Lagos State has 7,075,192 registered voters; Kano, 5,927,565; and Rivers, 3,532,990.
Analysts say the candidates must penetrate these states to win the 2023 presidential election. They say Lagos, Kano and Rivers States were critical and strategic in the country’s presidential poll.
They say there are 7m votes for grab in Lagos.
According to their analysis, in Lagos, the ruling APC and the PDP have renewed their rivalry ahead of the 2023 elections with the opposition vowing to defeat the incumbent.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election in Lagos State by defeating his rival, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar with a 132,798 vote margin in 2019, the APC has promised to consolidate on the 2019 victory and even deliver more votes in 2023 for its presidential candidate.
For the APC in Lagos, this is a battle to finish as this is the first time Tinubu would be on the ballot as a presidential candidate.
To millions of his followers in the state, winning the presidential election will be like an icing on the cake.
Since 1999, the PDP has, to no avail, made several attempts to control Lagos State.
Will the opposition party make a difference in 2023?
Amidst the frosty relationship among PDP chieftains, with some working at cross purposes, especially after the primary that produced Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor, the PDP has vowed to deliver the state for Atiku.
While the former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, has aligned with the G-5 Group led by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, other PDP leaders in the state have pledged their support for Atiku through a rally tagged ‘Umbrella Walk for Atiku’ The rally brought together many leaders of the party.
But, there is the Obi factor in Lagos. In fact. analysts said this had made a prediction of the outcome of the election difficult, considering that Obi also has many supporters in Lagos and the South-West.
The Labour Party governorship candidate in Lagos, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who joined the party after losing his bid to become the running mate to Jandor, has taken the gospel of ‘Obidients’ to his supporters. He is also hoping to leverage on the popularity of Obi to win the election.
The APC has set up a 163-Campaign Council headed by the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; while Senator Ganiyu Solomon,is the Director-General. The Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) has set up a team to deliver 5 million votes to Tinubu, saying this is payback time for him.
There is also the race for Kano’s 5.9 million votes.
In Kano, the ruling APC is hoping for a repeat of the Goodwill it has enjoyed there since 2015 when the state gave a total of 1.9 million votes to the then APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, which represented about 12.5 percent of the total 15.4m votes the APC got in the election.
Although the figures reduced in 2019, the party still won the state with a substantial margin against the major opposition party, the PDP.
However, since the defection of former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso from PDP to NNPP and his emergence as the party’s presidential candidate, the permutations as to which party will have a good outing in Kano have also become more complex, reveals Daily Trust.
Kano, which has the second highest registered voters, according to INEC, with over 5.9m voters, is a strategic state that every leading presidential candidate hopes to win; and if not, at least, secure at least 25 percent of the total votes cast.
In August, Atiku was in Kano, where he received a former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau, to the PDP from the NNPP. For three days, the top shots of the (PDP) relocated to the state and consulted with both the high and low in the state.
Some of the PDP bigwigs in Atiku’s company included his running mate who is the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa; former Vice President Namadi Sambo, the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu and the chairman of its Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin as well as the governors of Sokoto and Taraba States, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Darius Ishaku.
Others included former Governors of Jigawa (Saminu Turaki and Sule Lamido), Sokoto (Attahiru Bafarawa), Kaduna (Ahmed Makarfi), Adamawa (Boni Haruna), spokesperson of Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Team, Senator Dino Melaye and a chieftain of the party and media mogul, Raymond Dokpesi.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that Atiku’s trip to the state and the defection of Shekarau to PDP has gingered the party, which was hitherto enmeshed in crisis.
The APC’s, presidential candidate recognised the importance of Kano earlier than other candidates as he started consultations as far back as 2020. He had a recent 3-day interactive meeting with different religious, political, traditional, business and social groups in the state, where he and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, got the commitment of majority of the groups. This has been seen by political analysts as a deft move to winning the state.
Most recently, Ganduje, while inaugurating the Campaign Council of the APC, revealed that the party would adopt 2 strategies. One, he said, would be for members of the campaign council, spending nights in some local areas, to engage the people of the state. The other strategy, he said, was the set-up of a high-powered committee of women who would visit female voters in all the nooks and crannies of the state to sell the APC manifesto and programmes to them.
Analysts believe the NNPP stands a strong chance in Kano, because the party and its leader appeal to the Youth.
The party was also buoyed recently by the defection of major leaders of the APC to its fold, including a former legislative aide to President Buhari, Kawu Sumaila; a former speaker of the State Assembly. Alhassan Rurum and a former federal lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa, all of whom are from the Kano South Senatorial District.
The Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has visited Kano twice, and on both occasions met with traditional rulers as a move seen to be aimed at widening his acceptability in the state. Insiders say Obi’s strength, mainly lies within the Sabon Gari area of the state, populated by non-indigenes.
There is also the issue of the bloc votes hitherto dedicated to President Buhari, who is no longer on the ballot.
While those in the Kwankwaso Camp believe their leader will automatically ‘inherit’ the bloc votes, APC members believe that Buhari will deliver the bloc votes in Kano to Tinubu.
As for Rivers, Daily Trust says the internal wrangling rocking the PDP and the APC in Rivers State, seems to be working in favour of the presidential candidate of the LP, Obi.
Governor Nyesom Wike’s G-5 feud with Atiku has affected the kick-off of the PDP presidential campaign in the state that has 3.5 million votes.
The crisis rocking the PDP revolves around Wike and 4 other governors, who are members of the party. Spirited efforts by various organs of the PDP to resolve the crisis have yielded no results as Wike’s camp has insisted on the removal of the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu. Wike recently pledged to provide logistics support to Obi and Kwankwaso, and has frustrated every move by Atiku’s supporters in the state, including a former Transportation Minister, Abiye Sekibo and others, from campaigning for Atiku.
A similar scenario is playing out in the APC as the differences between a former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and Tinubu is said to be delaying the presidential campaign’s takeoff of the party in Rivers State.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that while the PDP and the APC are battling with internal wrangling, supporters of Obi in the state have intensified efforts to campaign for their candidate.
Posters and billboards of Obi are now very all over the state. His supporters are holding rallies and have embarked on a door-to-door campaign for the Labour Party presidential candidate.
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