By Seun Adeuyi
As the year 2020 winds down, SEUN ADEUYI takes a look at political activities in 2020, elections, defections and analyzes its consequences on the nation’s democracy.
In the nation’s political diary, year 2020 was supposed to be a year of reaping the promises of elected political officers from the 2019 general election but some isolated governorship and national assembly polls electrified the political atmosphere and political horse trading and elections were once again in the front burner.
The country witnessed governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, respectively. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also conducted legislative by-elections across 11 states in the country. One major characteristic that punctuated all the elections were voter apathy.
According to the INEC Chairman Mahmoud Yakubu, the failure of politicians to fulfil campaign promises, violence and the failure of the authorities to bring culprits to book contributes to low turnout of voters across the country.
On Saturday September 19, Edo State governorship election was conducted and Godwin Obaseki, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 307,955 votes to defeat Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who garnered 223,619 votes in an election participated by other 12 political parties.
Obaseki, who won the governorship election in 2016 under the platform of APC, defected to the opposition PDP after the screening committee of his former party disqualified him over discrepancies in his academic qualifications. The disqualification has been linked to his soar relationship with his political godfather and former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was then the National Chairman of the APC.
Also on October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, polled 292,830 votes against 195,791 votes garnered by Eyitayo Jegede of PDP and the 69,127 votes scored by the deputy governor of the state, Agboola Ajayi, who contested the election on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
INEC on December 5, 2020 conducted Bye-elections in Bayelsa, Cross River, Imo, Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu, Kogi, Borno, Katsina and Zamfara to fill vacant senatorial and state assembly seats. The election dates were adjusted severally due to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARS protest that nearly crippled socio-political and economic activities in the country for weeks.
In the Bayelsa West and Central Senatorial Districts, Seriake Dickson, a former governor of the state and the candidate of PDP polled 115,257 votes to defeat his closest rival, Peremobowei Ebebi of the APC, who scored 17,500 votes.
Dickson, an ex-police officer, was the immediate past governor of the state for 8 years. He was a member of the House of Representatives after he had served as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state.
In Bayelsa Central, Moses Cleopas of the PDP won the senatorial by-election with 110,019 votes while Abel Efemowei of the APC, trailed behind with 18,947 votes.
In Borno State, elections were conducted in two state Assembly constituencies. In Bayo State constituency, Maina Maigari of the APC was declared winner with 25,482 votes while Muhammed Danjuma of the PDP came second with 2,249 votes.
In Nganzai State House of Assembly by-election, Mohammed Gajiram, candidate of the APC, won the election with 8,885 votes just as Saleh Mohammed of the PDP, polled 240 votes to occupy the second position.
In the Lagos East Senatorial District and Kosofe State Constituency 11, Tokunbo Abiru of APC was declared winner with 89,204 votes while his closest rival, Babatunde Gbadamosi of the PDP, got 11,257 votes.
In the state constituency by-election, Femi Saheed of the APC won the Kosofe 11 by-election with 12,494 votes while Sikiru Alebiosu of the PDP polled 2,068 votes.
In Bauchi State Dass State Constituency election, Bala Lukshi of the APC won the election after polling 12,299 votes to defeat Lawal Wundi of the PDP, who scored 11,062 votes.
In Enugu State, the state House of Assembly by-election for the Isi-Uzo State Constituency was won by Amaka Ugwueze of the PDP while her closest rival was Ejiofor Okwor of the APC trailing behind.
In Cross River State, INEC conducted two by-elections. In the Cross River North Senatorial Stephen Odey of the PDP was declared winner with a total of 129,207 votes while Joe Agi of the APC trailed behind with 19,165 votes.
In the Obudu State Constituency election, INEC announced Maria Akwaji of the PDP winner with 32,166 votes to defeat Abor Adaji of APC, who scored 3,546 votes. Akwaji takes over the seat of her husband, who died a few months ago as the member of the Cross River State House of Assembly.
In Zamfara State, the election into the Bakura State Constituency was declared inconclusive as a result of violence, over voting and ballot box snatching. But on December 8, INEC concluded the election and declared Ibrahim Tukur of the PDP winner with 23,874 votes leaving Bello Dankande of the APC behind with 16,546 votes.
In Plateau State, INEC announced Prof. Nora Daduut of the APC winner of the Plateau South Senatorial by-election. Daduut polled a total of 83,151 to defeat nine other candidates including her closest rival, George Daika of the PDP, who got 70,838 votes.
In Kogi state Ibaji State Constituency bye election, Egbunu Atule, the candidate of the APC polled 8,515 votes to defeat Daniel Enefola of the PDP who scored 4,565 votes.
In Katsina State, Bakori State Constituency, INEC announced Ibrahim Aminu of the APC winner after he scored 20,445 votes to defeat Aminu Magaji of the PDP, who polled 11,356 votes.
In Imo State, INEC declared APC winner of the Imo North Senatorial District by-election without returning any candidate for the election. The electoral umpire announced that APC scored 36,811 votes to defeat Emmanuel Okewulonu of the PDP, who polled 31,903 votes.
The Returning Officer, Hakeem Adikum, announced that the electoral commission was unable to return a candidate from the APC as the winner of the election because of the several court orders for and against Ifeanyi Araraume and Frank Ibezim, as both lay claim to the ticket.
GOVERNOR GODWIN OBASEKI
Obaseki defected to the PDP on June 19, at the party’s secretariat in Benin city, the Edo state capital to actualize his second term ambition.
The governor left the ruling APC days after the party governorship election screening committee disqualified him from participating in its primary.
Obaseki contested on the platform of the opposition party for a second tenure as governor of Edo state and emerged victorious.
ALFRED AGBOOLA AJAYI
Ajayi is the Ondo state deputy governor. In his quest to achieve his governorship ambition, he dumped the PDP and after an unsuccessful primary election moved to the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
His drift from the APC was as a result of a political feud between him and his principal, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. Ajayi contested the 2020 governorship election and lost to Akeredolu.
GOVERNOR DAVE UMAHI
Governor Umahi on November 19, officially defected from the opposition to the ruling APC after weeks of speculation.
He said that his move to the APC was as a result of the injustice and marginalization the southeast region suffered in the PDP. The Governor was officially received into the ruling party at an event held in Ebonyi state with APC governors in attendance.
He has since been attacked by top members of his former party including Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Senator Anyim Pius Ayim, Senator Sam Egwu and most of the prominent political bigwigs in Ebonyi state who refused to move with him into the APC.
They were of the view that his defection is to scheme for the 2023 presidential slot if the party zones it to the south east.
SENATOR ELISHA ISHAKU ABBO
Sen. Abbo announced his defection from the PDP to APC in a letter addressed to the Senate on Wednesday, November 25.
Ahmad Lawan, Senate President read the letter during the upper chamber’s plenary session. According to him, the senator representing Adamawa north senatorial district dumped the leading opposition party for the APC to attract federal presence in his district.
HON. YAKUBU DOGARA
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, in July, decamped from the PDP to the APC. Before his defection, he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The former’s Speakers defection to the APC may not be unconnected to President Buhari’s anti-corruption war and 2023 presidential election.
Hon. Yakubu has been described as a serial defector and was part of the team that left the PDP to the APC in 2014 when the party was being formed and later abandoned the party when he foresaw a brick wall on his ambition to return to the house as a speaker.
HON. SAM ONUIGBO.
Hon Onuigbo on November 17, announced his defection to the APC from the PDP.
In a letter read on the floor of the House by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Abia Lawmaker said he decided to join the APC as a result of the crisis and lack of internal democracy and outright impunity within the PDP.
The defection of the lawmaker who is one of the oldest members of the PDP in the House created uproar from PDP members who insisted that the constitution has been breached and therefore his seat should be declared vacant.
THE 2023 POLITICAL PROJECTIONS.
Political parties are supposed to be an institutional think tank for developing policies and political platforms. Parties were expected to provide critical oversight and push for accountability in government action. Through their elected representatives, political parties implement policies that reflect the ideology of the party.
Political analysts are of the opinion that political parties in Nigeria, and in other parts of the African continent lack clear political ideologies and explicit messages that separate one party from the other.
The country’s tribal, religious and geographic divide becomes a major primordial consideration for joining a political party and pushing for a political position that may not outlive the present drivers of the political institutions.
In the United States for instance, political parties are defined by their manifestoes and modus operandi. If a Republican candidate comes knocking at your door, you have a sense of where he or she stands on the current critical issues.
That is not the case in Nigeria. When a politician defects, he or she usually moves with thousands of individuals, including officials of the party as there is no clearly defined difference between the political institutions.
The 2023 election is just about 26 months away. There is therefore a need for the political class and INEC to push for a new Electoral Bill which should allow electronic voting and transmission. A Bill that will make other provisions that will check unnecessary movement of politicians from one party to the other at their convenience and stabilize political culture and party democracy.