Residents of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi go to the polls today as they elect a governor for their respective states.
In the oil-rich Bayelsa State, a total of 16 candidates are jostling for the governorship seat.
However, DAILY POST reports that the incumbent and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Douye Diri, (seeking a second term); former Governor of the State, Timipre Sylva, who is bearing the flag of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Udengs Eradiri of the Labour Party, LP, are the heavyweights in the election.
APC is upbeat to reclaim Bayelsa, a state it won four years ago but its candidate, David Lyon was sacked by the Supreme Court.
Prior to the APC’s then victory, Bayelsa has been a PDP State, a situation that has been consolidated by Governor Diri.
But Diri, a former Senator representing Bayelsa central senatorial district from 2019 to 2020 described himself as a “miracle governor” over the manner he entered the office.
He became governor despite Lyon winning the election with 352,552 votes against PDP’s 143,172 votes.
This time, Diri became the PDP flag bearer for the 2023 election through consensus in April 2023.
The former Minister of State for Petroleum is one of the main contenders for the polls. He ruled the state for four years from 2007 to 2012.
There was contention about the former Minister’s eligibility owing to the argument that he took oath of office twice and had served for five years.
Sylva was disqualified by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on October 9 on the above stated grounds. Reprieve came his way when an Appeal Court in Abuja upturned the ruling of the High Court.
On the other side of the divide is the LP, a party that is harnessing the influence of its presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Peter Obi.
Eradiri, the LP candidate could be said to be highly dependent on the performance of the party in the 2023 elections and this underscores why the party, which has emerged as one of the major oppositions nationally, should not be underestimated.
Eradiri has served in various other political capacities such as the Commissioner for Youth Development and the Commissioner for Environment in 2020, Special assistant on Youths and Sports to the interim administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
He is, however, not in a good working relationship with the executive members of his party in the state, whom he accused of working for the PDP.
In Imo, the current governor, Hope Uzodinma’s term expires on January 14, 2024, while that of Kogi and Bayelsa States had respective terms that expire on January 26, 2024, and February 13 of the same year.
The insecurity-ravaged Imo is one of the two States being controlled by the APC in the South-East.
INEC cleared 17 candidates for the forthcoming governorship election. The major candidates are Hope Uzodinma of the APC, LP’s Athan Nneji Achonu and Samuel Anyanwu of the PDP.
The incumbent governor took over the Imo State number one seat in 2020, following the Supreme Court ruling that nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP and declared him the winner.
He was declared winner despite coming fourth in the election results announced by the electoral umpire.
Uzodinma, who is the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, also enjoys the advantage as the incumbent. However, he is facing challenges of insecurity in the state, with unknown gunmen and other non-state actors taking control of many parts of the state.
The Labour Party candidate had a brief stint at the Senate before being removed by the courts.
Achonu will become Nigeria’s first amputee governor if he comes out victorious on Saturday. A huge advantage for him is the Labour Party’s success in the South-East during the last general elections.
The PDP candidate is well grounded in Imo politics having served as a Local Government chairman and House of Assembly member from 2007 to 2015.
He has served as the National Secretary of the party before picking the form to contest against Hope Uzodinma
He was also a Senator in the 8th National Assembly and lost to Emeka Ihedioha in the party’s primary in 2019.
In Kogi State, North Central Nigeria, Governor Yahaya Bello would be looking forward to handing over power to his anointed candidate, Ododo Usman Ahmed of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who is among the list of 18 candidates jostling for the governorship position.
Other popular faces jostling for the soon-to-be vacant seat in the state are PDP’s Dino Melaye, SDP’s Murtala Yakubu Ajaka and Leke Abejide of African Democratic Congress, ADC.
Usman Ahmed Ododo
The APC candidate is a former auditor-general for Local Government in Kogi. Apart from enjoying the support of the incumbent governor, he boasts of being the only candidate from Kogi Central Senatorial District.
The former Senator won the primary election to become the PDP’s flag bearer in the coming election.
Melaye, who has also served as a House of Representatives member, also contested the governorship primaries of his party in 2019 and lost.
The former lawmaker then served as the spokesperson for the main opposition party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar.
Muritala Yakubu Ajaka
The SDP candidate has served as a deputy national publicity secretary of the APC but left the party after which he became the gubernatorial candidate of the SDP. He has been engaging in an aggressive grassroots campaign in his bid to take over the confluence state.