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Big losers in 2019 polls and their shortcomings

Bukola Saraki

The 2019 general election have posed yet another episode in the history of elections in Nigeria with myriad of upsets.

However, it is intriguing that some of the big political heavyweights that were humbled in the elections would have a rethink as to the variables that led to their defeat. Some analysts posit that there are multiple reasons the voters exercise their choices the way they did in this democratic dispensation. Others differ on the grounds that some of the losers were not necessarily rejected by the masses but are victims of multiple conspiracies.

Leading the pack of heavy losers in the polls was President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. The maverick politician had served as a two-term governor of Kwara State and later secured a seat in the Senate. He became President of the Senate in June 2015 after outsmarting bigwigs in his party who had plotted to stop him.

He later defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to avoid what many called the ‘hammer’ of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during the primaries. But his defeat in the February 23, National Assembly elections, by a relatively known Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the APC for the Kwara Central Senatorial zone, left pundits wondering how the mighty had fallen.

His quest to install one of his acolytes, Rasak Atunwa, as governor in Kwara also failed as Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq of the APC clinched the governorship title. Most of his allies in the PDP, who contested the elections in both the federal and state assembly elections, were beaten as the APC swept the entire seats.

Saraki was instrumental to the birth and formation of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of about five political parties. His contributions were immense, which helped catapult the APC to Presidential power in 2015, having dislodged the then ruling PDP. He however, had to battle multiple forces after he emerged President of the Senate. He was fought all the way both at the courts and by the Executive and the APC leadership but he triumphed. But he has failed to triumph over the will of the Kwara people, who were allegedly manipulated to unseat him in the ‘O to ge'(Enough is enough) movement.

Joesph Eva, a Niger Delta activist, blamed Saraki for his own misfortune. Eva appeared on a recent programme of one of the TV stations, saying that Saraki was “distracted by the presidential campaign of the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar” and forgot to do his own battle at the grassroots in Kwara.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was elated by Saraki’s defeat described February 23 as “freedom day” for Kwara State, following the ‘collapse’ of the once thriving Saraki ‘political dynasty’.

In Oyo State, the Governor and candidate of the APC for Oyo South Senatorial District, Abiola Ajimobi, also failed to secure the Senate seat during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. The political tsunami that hit Ajimobi allegedly dazed him, that he described the outcome as “unfortunate.” His political fortunes further deteriorated when the people of Oyo rejected his anointed candidate, Adebayo Adelabu to succeed him as governor. The Oyo people instead chose Seyi Makinde of the PDP.

The fall of Ajimobi was attributed to what some pundits described as alleged ‘poor performance”.

In Gombe State, the quest of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of the PDP to secure Senate seat of Gombe North also failed as he was defeated by Alhaji Sa’idu Alkali of the APC in the February 23 National Assembly elections. Dankwambo struggled yet again to ensure that his party, the PDP clinched the governorship seat but failed as the PDP candidate, Usman Nafada, lost the seat to the APC candidate, Inuwa Yahaya.

It is difficult to point at the main reason Dankwambo failed in Gombe even when he was said to have done well in the state as a two-term governor. However, a close ally of the governor suggested that the Buhari and the APC effect had penetrated Gombe such that there was no resistance against the broom party.

Perhaps, the most intriguing defeat of the entire elections was that of former Minority Leader of the Senate, Goodwill Akpabio of the APC, who after his boastful outbursts with a ting of threat to his people, lost Ikwa Ibom North-West senatorial seat to former Deputy Governor of the state, Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP. It was a double jeopardy for the one-time PDP senator as his quest to reclaim his ‘mandate’ in court, was quashed as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting at the Apo, Abuja Judicial Division struck out a post-election matter instituted by Senator Akpabio, following his defeat by Ekpenyong.

Akpabio’s defeat was made total as the APC candidate in the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, Isima Ekere was beaten by the incumbent Governor Emmanuel Udom, of the PDP. Isima in the process lost his lucrative job at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Akpabio, former Senate Minority leader, defected last August from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the Senate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) under which he sought reelection ticket.

From Benue State comes another upset. A ranking Senator representing, Benue North West Senatorial District, George Akume, was shown the way out by the people. Akume, who was a former Governor of Benue state, contested under the APC but he was defeated by Orke Jev of the PDP. BDSUNDAY gathered that Akume lost the Senate seat because the people had wanted to respect a zonal arrangement that favoured his opponent.

A source however, told BDSUNDAY that the APC had become a dreaded party in the state, which is associated with President Muhammadu Buhari, who the people feared had allegedly allowed the Fulani herdsmen to kill and ravage Benue communities.

“The people became disillusioned by the APC lack of will to protect them against the rampaging herdsmen. So the people were led by Governor Samuel Ortom, and they sought refuge in the PDP. So any politician in Benue associated with the APC runs the risk of being abandoned by the people. That was why Akume failed,” the source said.

Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed, told BDSUNDAY on Friday that Akume was a victim of conspiracy. He said: ” Akume is a fine and civil senator and very well educated too”, adding that the voters were ‘ induced’ to vote against him.


Innocent Odoh, Abuja

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