President Buhari’s ruling All Progressive party (APC) appears to be losing grip to its main party rival—the People’s Democratic Party–in the keenly contested 2019 governorship elections.
The candidates of the opposition PDP were announced winners in both Imo and Oyo state, which were previously won by the ruling APC in the 2015 election, after former president Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat in the presidential race.
So, of the 23 governorship sets controlled by the ruling party after the 2015 gubernatorial elections, its main opposition party has so far broken into two, and might expand further when the six states that were declared inconclusive by the Independent Electoral Commission hold rerun polls.
“The opposition party is gaining strength because people see it as the alternative choice to the four years misrule by the ruling party,” said Yinka Odumakin who is the National Secretary of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba cultural group. “Even with the intimidation, you could still see the PDP winning some more states.”
The INEC has so far announced results for governorship candidates in 23 states across the federation, while it declared a rerun in six other states and an outright suspension in Rivers. In most of the states, the electoral processes were marred by voter’s intimidation, killings, ballot box snatching, among others. The main opposition party described the decision by the independent body as a plot to rob it of victory.
The states where elections were declared inconclusive include Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau, Benue and Sokoto. The PDP lost all but Benue and Sokoto states to the APC in the 2015 governorship election.
However, the results announced so far from the six states declared inconclusive had put the PDP on an early lead. It is not clear what will eventually happen when the electoral body organises a rerun within 21 days.
“It is clear, going by statistics from the elections that the PDP is gaining strength gradually, breaking dominance in areas where they lost ground previously in 2015,” Gbolahan Ologunro, an equity research analyst at Lagos-based CSL stockbrokers said on phone.
Both parties have so far shared the states—leaving out the remaining 89 registered parties with nothing to cheer– coming from the governorship results announced in the 23 states, with the ruling party winning 13 states while the main opposition party so far won about nine states.
In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari after a coalition with the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), broke the record of being the first ever opposition candidate to oust a sitting president in an organised democratic poll in the continent’s most populous nation.
Since that time, Buhari’s APC became the majority, winning more states, stripping out the victory enjoyed by the PDP since 1999, as the latter battled with massive defections that rocked the party in 2015. Prior to 2015, the PDP controlled 23 states, where its candidates served as governors.