With just few hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections rescheduled to hold on Saturday, February 23, there are some states that will be obvious “battleground” for the two frontline parties, and the two leading candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, will hope to outshine each other in these states by securing move of the votes.
In line with an analysis by Premium Times, 14 states stand as potential battleground wherein previous voting pattern may be disrupted.
Here are the states. (Adamawa, Rivers, Katsina, Benue, Borno, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Oyo, Jigawa and Kaduna).
- Adamawa: Adamawa is considered a battleground because the state, despite being Atiku’s home state, is controlled by the APC. Thus, Atiku’s popularity in the state will be up against the massive influence of the APC government of Governor Jibrilla Bindow, reportedly adjudged as one of the best in the state’s history. Tipping Atiku as having an edge being a son of the soil, the margin of victory, analysts forecast, will be very slim.
- Katsina: The northwest state of Kastina is President Buhari’s home state. However, analysts believe that Atiku will get impressive votes in the state due to some factors. According to Premium Times, Nuhu Daiwa, a resident of Katsina said although Atiku is from Adamawa state, his second home is Katsina “because of his long affinity with the prominent Yar’adua family in Katsina.” Also, Katsina had been governed by the PDP since 1999 and only lost to the APC in 2015. Thus, the opposition party still has a strong membership in the state.
- Akwa Ibom: Though Akwa Ibom is controlled by the PDP, analysts believe President Buhari will have an impressive showing in the state, compared with his 2015 poor outing in the state. Though Atiku is tipped to win the state, it is believed President Buhari will get impressive votes because of the massive influence of the political groups loyal to Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of the state; Nsima Ekere, the APC governorship candidate in the state; Umana Umana, the managing director, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA); and John Udoedehe, a former minister.
- Benue: Benue state is also one of the battlegrounds for the presidential election where the two leading candidates have 50-50 chances. However, factors such as the defection of the state governor, Samuel Ortom, and other top government officials to PDP and the horrible experience of herdsmen violence are expected to give Atiku an edge over Buhari. Governor Ortom’s low rating, particularly due to non-payment of over five months salary, George Akume’s influence are some of the factors expected to work in favour of President Buhari.
- Borno: Borno is a known stronghold for President Buhari but analysts see Atiku’s chances of getting some good votes there as well due to the issue of poor management of the country’s economy. President Buhari’s winning margin can also reduce due to the stiff contest for the National Assembly seats in Borno state.
- Ondo: Ondo is also touted as a state which voters can either turn to the side of President Buhari or that of Atiku. According to analysts, the people of the state are not favourably disposed to the performance of the APC government, a development that may give the PDP some edge. The recent crisis within APC has also not helped its case in the run-up to the election.
- Imo: Imo state, the only state in the southeast controlled by the APC, could have delivered their votes massively for President Buhari but the internal crisis tearing the APC apart in the state and the choice of Peter Obi from southeast give Atiku a good hope.
- Lagos: Though Lagos is a stronghold of the APC and is expected to deliver for President Buhari, analysts forecast Atiku may also get some impressive showing due to the grievances of some members of the party after the incumbent governor could not get his second term bid.
- Rivers: Atiku is expected to record a resounding victory in Rivers because the state is controlled by the PDP and also produced the party’s national chairman. However, President Buhari is also touted to ride on the influence of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the state who is the DG of Buhari’s campaign. The flag-off of the Ogoni cleanup, an important long-awaited programme to restore the environment degraded following years of oil spillage in Ogoniland, may also give Buhari some chances.
- Kano: Kano is a major political base for President Buhari and he has a better chance of retaining the victory on Saturday, February 23. However, analysts forecast he may not win with wide margin as in previous elections. Atiku is expected to ride on the massive influence of former Kano governor, Rabi’u Kwankwaso.
- Kwara: Kwara has always been following the directives of the Saraki political dynasty up until “O to ge!” sprouted. “O to ge!”, a Yoruba phrase translated literally as “Enough is Enough!”, is a protest movement against the Saraki political dynasty. This makes the state open for both President Buhari and Atiku. While Buhari will enjoy the support of the O to ge! movement, Atiku will be counting on the influence of Senate president Bukola Saraki who is the DG of his campaign.
- Oyo: Despite being controlled by the APC, analysts say it is difficult to predict who between Buhari and Atiku will grab the highest number of votes in the state.
- Jigawa: Analysts forecast President Buhari will win the state due to some factors. Some of the factors are the incumbency advantage, gale of defection, the achievements of the present administration in the state and the candidate’s personality profile in the eyes of the masses. However, Atiku is also expected to ride on the support of a former governor of the state, Sule Lamido, and some aggrieved APC members.
- Kaduna: Though considered a battle ground state, analysts forecast President Buhari will carry the day in Kaduna Majority of the people in the northern part of the state including Zaria, Kawo, Konfanin Zango and others are expected to vote for him while the southerners will certainly give Atiku a bulk of their votes. Overall, President Buhari is expected to win in Kaduna, though with a lower margin than in 2015.