There are high expectations in the camp of the Labour Party (LP), the pro-workers organisation and the newfound political party effusively loved by Nigerian youths, as the ‘Obidient’ family, as they are popularly known, is yet to win one state more than 72 hours after the March 18 governorship elections.
With the effervescent support garnered by the party’s flag bearer, Peter Obi in the February 25 presidential election, many Nigerians had anticipated that the LP would produce a number of governors having won 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the presidential poll three weeks ago.
However, with the results of 24 out of the 28 governorship elections already announced by the electoral umpire and winners declared, the LP’s hopes to produce a governor or governors hang delicately on two states — Enugu and Abia — which are two of the four remaining states where winners are yet to be declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
APC Wins 15 States, PDP Sweeps Eight, NNPP Gets Kano
As of the time of filing this report, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) won in 15 states, including seven re-elected governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Mai Mala Muni (Yobe), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Babagana Zulum (Borno).
The party also secured wins for eight new candidates: Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Ahmed Aliyu (Sokoto), Dikko Radda (Katsina), Uba Sani (Kaduna), Bassey Otu (Cross River), Mohammed Bago (Niger), Hyacinth Alia (Benue), and Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi).
On the other hand, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) secured eight victories including two reelected governors: Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).
Six first-term governors were also elected on the platform of the opposition party. They are Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom), Siminialayi Fubara (Rivers), Kefas Agbu (Taraba), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), and Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta). In a historic win, PDP’s Dauda Lawal unseated Zamfara State Governor and APC powerbroker in Zamfara, Bello Matawalle. In a similar fashion, Abba Kabir of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) unseated the APC in Kano.
Kebbi, Adamawa Elections Inconclusive
The elections in Kebbi and Adamawa were declared inconclusive by the electoral body while the collation of the results of governorship polls in Abia and Enugu was suspended.
In Adamawa, the inconclusive election result showed that the contest is between APC’s Senator Aishatu Dahiru famously known as Binani who scored 390, 275 while the incumbent, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of the PDP polled 421,524, completely ruling out the LP.
INEC state collation officer, Prof Muhammadu Mele of the University of Maiduguri, however, declared the election inconclusive due to the margin of votes.
He said, “Elections were not held in 47 wards, affecting 69 polling units. So, this gives us a margin of 31,249. The total number of PVCs collected in places where elections were not held amounted to 37,016.”
Mele said “based on these findings and analysis as stated in the electoral laws” where the margin between two candidates is lesser than the total number of collected PVCs in areas where elections were not held, the election is declared inconclusive.
In Kebbi, North-West Nigeria where Saturday’s election was also declared inconclusive, the race is between the two dominant parties – the PDP and the APC.
INEC’s Returning Officer, Prof Yusuf Sa’idu, declared the election inconclusive because there were breaches of electoral laws that led to cancellations of results in polling units within 20 of the 21 LGAs.
Before declaring the election inconclusive, APC was leading the polls with 388,258 votes, as against 342,980 votes polled by the PDP, again ruling out the LP.
The electoral umpire is expected to take a decision on both Adamawa and Kebbi.
Collation Of Results Suspended In Abia, Enugu
Abia and Enugu states in South-East Nigeria are strongholds of Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, also in the South-East geopolitical zone. For the presidential election three weeks ago, Obi got a whopping 327,095 votes in Abia far ahead of the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu who polled 8,914 and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar who got 22,676. In Enugu, Obi swept 428,640 votes far ahead of the APC with 4,772 votes and the PDP with 15,749 votes.
Many Nigerians had expected a similar voting trend and incontestable victories for the March 18 governorship elections in Enugu and Abia states but this has not been so.
On Monday, while the collation of results was ongoing in Abia and Enugu, INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye announced the suspension of the process in the two South-East states with the strong presence of the Labour Party.
Okoye said, “The Commission met today, Monday 20th March 2023 and reviewed the conduct of the Governorship and State Assembly elections held nationwide on Saturday 18th March 2023. Arising from the meeting, the Commission took the decision to suspend forthwith further collation of the Governorship election results in some parts of Abia and Enugu States.
“It will be recalled that our office in Obingwa Local Government Area was invaded by thugs yesterday Sunday 19th March 2023 and our officials were held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Local Government Area. Similarly, reports from Enugu State call for a review of the results of the Governorship election from the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Nsukka and Nkanu East.
“Consequently, the Commission hereby suspends the collation of results in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State and the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Enugu State which are yet to be collated. A review will be undertaken immediately before the process is concluded.”
Between Otti And Edeoga
With its good outing at the presidential elections, the Labour Party was optimistic about winning the Lagos governorship election with its candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour but the incumbent and APC candidate, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu won. The LP also lost other states where it won the presidential election and the party’s attention has since shifted to Abia and Enugu.
Before the suspension of collation, Alex Otti of the Labour Party already won 10 of the 17 local governments areas in the state ahead of APC’s Ikechi Emenike, PDP’s Okey Ahiwe and Enyinnaya Nwafor of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) who are all in the race to succeed the incumbent governor and PDP G5 member, Okezie Ikpeazu, whose two terms of eight years end on May 29, 2023.
Before the suspension of the collation by INEC in Enugu where there are also 17 local government areas, LP’s Chijioke Edeoga and PDP’s Mbah Ndubuisi are far ahead of the other candidates like Frank Nweke (Jnr) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Enugu State, and APC’s Uche Nnaji who are all in the race to succeed the incumbent governor and PDP G5 member, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi whose two terms of eight years end on May 29, 2023.
Information gathered suggested that the review panel are currently in Abuja and hopefully will return later to complete the exercise in Abia and Enugu.
Meanwhile, LP’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, in a statement, raised the alarm, saying there is an ongoing plot to upturn the results of the governorship elections in Abia and Enugu but the party will resist it because “enough is enough”.
“This is one robbery too many,” Abure lamented. “We have endured what no other political party in the country has endured in the last few weeks because we believe in due process but it appears this is taken for granted. But we may not be patient for too long.”
“Let me sound it for the first time that we will resist every attempt by the PDP in Abia and Enugu States to upturn our mandate.
“If this is not addressed, we will be left with no choice other than to mobilise OBIdients all over the country to take over the streets across the length and breadth of the country,” he noted.
Accelerate Action, Obi Tells INEC
Similarly, Obi, in a statement, frowned upon the “continued delay” in the release of the governorship results of Abia and Enugu states and charged INEC to “accelerate action”.
“Having carefully followed the unfolding Events relating to the Gubernatorial Elections in the above two States, let me categorically emphasize the imperative of releasing the Gubernatorial Election Results of Abia and Enugu States immediately.
“I am aware that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said they are reviewing the Collation of the Results in these two States. However, I would like to urge them to accelerate action on this, as their continued delay is questioning INEC’s intent and the credibility of the Election,” Obi stated.
Obi expressed disappointment that hours after the elections were conducted, the Commission is yet to resolve whatever issues that are holding back the release of the results.
“The Records of the Elections from Polling Units should not be difficult to calculate if the Electoral Officials are committed to the integrity of the Exercise in line with the stipulated Guidelines,” he stated.
LP’s Inroads Into NASS
Already, the Labour Party is gradually making inroads into mainstream politics as the party for the first time won legislative seats after over 20 years of existence. The party got over seven Senate and more than 34 House of Representatives seats in the February 25 National Assembly (NASS) elections.
Relatively obscure in the political arena before now, LP, which was previously known as the Party for Social Democracy (PSD), gained unprecedented popularity with what has been described by many as the Peter Obi phenomenon. The milestone of LP in the just-concluded elections for the red and green chambers is no doubt credited to the fame and acceptance of the party’s flag bearer by an overwhelming youth majority known as ‘Obidients’.
Obi, 61, lost the presidential election after winning the FCT and 11 states, including Lagos, Enugu, Abia and other former strongholds of the two previously dominant parties with a total of 6,101,533 votes. INEC subsequently declared Tinubu the winner of the contest, having scored 8,794,726 votes ahead of Obi; and Atiku, who scored 6,984,520 votes.
Obi has headed to court to challenge the results of the presidential poll on the claim that he won the election, citing the failure of the electoral umpire to transmit results electronically, widespread rigging and reports of violence and disruption at many polling units during the poll.
The last and only governor produced by the LP in the last 20 years is Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State who was in office from February 2009 to February 2017.
Will the Labour Party produce a governor in the 2023 elections? The answer will be known in the coming hours or days.