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9 dramatic governorship elections to watch out for

As Nigerians go to polls on Saturday, these are the states you should watch out for the most.

Faces of some of the 28 governorship candidates going to poll on Saturday, March 18, 2023 (Premium Times)

Depending on the decision of the majority of voters in those states, they will either produce new governors or retain the incumbents.

However, it will be interesting to see the outcome of the election in some of these states, because every political party is believed to have put its best foot forward to secure its access to political powers.

So, as Nigerians go to polls on Saturday, these are the states you should watch out for the most.

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Lagos politics has taken a new dimension following the victory of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in the state over Bola Tinubu, the undisputed godfather of Lagos politics. It was a shocking defeat that got the All Progressives Congress (APC) scampering for immediate solutions ahead of the forthcoming governorship election.

While the APC was finding answers to what hit them, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Abdul-Azeez Adediran (Jandor) had already hit the streets, telling Lagosians they are the better alternatives.

Unlike past elections, where the APC cruised to victory without shedding a bead of sweat, the PDP and the LP candidates are giving the ruling party a run for its money and making it sweat for the first time since 1999.

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The governorship election in Kano will be a popularity contest between the outgoing governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and the former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso.

The former governor is arguably the biggest politician in Kano, and the high number of votes he garnered in the state in the last presidential election was a testament that he’s a political god there.

The two men are indirectly in the race with Nasir Yusuf Gawuna, Ganduje’s deputy, flying the APC flag, and Abba Kabir Yusuf, a long-time Kwankwaso ally, represents the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).

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In essence, the election may be a replay of the closely-fought 2019 governorship election between Ganduje and Yusuf, which the former won after a supplementary election.

The governorship contest in Ogun State is a three-horse race between the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun of the APC, Ladi Adebutu of the PDP and Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

It will be a tight contest for Abiodun who wants to ride on his power of incumbency, for Adebutu whose campaign is anchored on the purported failures of the sitting governor and Otegbeye who goes to the polls with the full support of the former governor of the state, Ibikunle Amosun.

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Going by popularity, it looks like the contest is largely between the APC and the PDP, but they’ll have Amosun to contend with. The former governor has the structure, influence and power to turn the tide in favour of his candidate.

The battle about who’ll succeed Nyesom Wike in Rivers state will be a tug of war between the APC, PDP and LP.

As one of the beneficiaries of the Obidient wave, the candidate of the Labour Party, Beatrice Itubo will go into the March 18 governorship election as a strong contender given the recent performance of Peter Obi in the state.

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The cat-and-dog relationship between Rotimi Amaechi and Wike will determine how the election turns out as the two have already resumed their bickering to promote their candidates, Tonye Cole and Siminalayi Fubara respectively.

However, after Wike allegedly worked against his own party in the February 25 election, disgruntled PDP chieftains in the state are reportedly prepping to pay him back in his own coin by pitching their tents with the APC candidate.

Governor Seyi Makinde is seeking a second term in a state that takes pride in not serving a master twice, except for the late Abiola Ajimobi who was governor from 2011 to 2019.

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With popular Ibadan politicians like the APC’s Teslim Folarin and Adebayo Adelabu of Accord (A) in the race, Makinde will have to slug it out with his opponents and his party chieftains who have accused him of anti-party activities.

The chieftains believe Makinde betrayed his party when he decided to support Tinubu of the APC against, Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of his party.

Will the PDP chieftains in Oyo pay him back in his own coin in the forthcoming election? That remains to be seen.

The March 18 election in Kaduna will be a contest between a religious ticket, a serial contestant and a popular politician from the state’s minority group.

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The APC candidate, Uba Sani, is running on a Muslim-Muslim ticket against Isa Ashiru of the PDP, and Jonathan Asake whose campaigns appeal to the sentiment of the people of southern Kaduna.

The PDP cleared all three senatorial districts during the National Assembly elections on February 25. And with the PDP momentum and LP wave in the state, the APC has a serious challenge in the election.

The governorship race in Kaduna will be very tight because apart from the trio mentioned above, there's also Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in the mix.

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The governorship election in Adamawa is a two-horse race between the incumbent governor and PDP candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Aisha Dahiru Binani, the APC flag bearer.

Adamawa has a history of voting out incumbent governors and if this happens again, Binani would be the first elected female governor in Nigeria.

Apparently, Binani’s rising popularity compelled the incumbent governor to hastily dump his current deputy before he picked a female running mate, Prof. Kaleptwa Farauta, to balance his ticket.

Also, given the fact that Adamawa is home to the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the governorship election will be a serious contest between the PDP and the APC.

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In the last election, the PDP lost all three senatorial elections to the APC, the LP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

After losing its initial governorship candidate, Uchenna Ikonne, who died in January, the PDP was forced to present another candidate for the election.

As a result, Okey Ahaiwe, the immediate past Chief of Staff to the state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, emerged as the party’s governorship candidate.

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However, the power of incumbency may not clear the coast for Ahaiwe as he has other popular candidates like Alex Otti of the LP and Ikechi Emenike of the APC to beat

The PDP is the ruling party but the pendulum of the state’s politics is apparently swinging in favour of the APC majorly because of the influence of its governorship candidate, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Alia.

The APC won two out of the three senatorial districts in the state on February 25. Interestingly, the state governor, Samuel Ortom, also lost his senatorial election to the party.

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However, the impetus the PDP lost in the last election, is seemingly being regained in the support it’s getting from LP supporters in the state.

Due to Ortom’s support for Obi in the presidential election, the LP support base in Benue has allegedly pledged to back Titus Uba, the PDP governorship candidate in the state.

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