2023: Tinubu Begins Fresh Push In South-South

All Progressives Congress, the ruling party, and Bola Ahmed, its presidential candidate, are currently making a new drive into the South-South, which is thought to be the PDP’s heartland (PDP).

Tinubu and his group have made three trips to the area in the last few weeks. In Asaba, the capital of Delta State, two weeks ago, Tinubu held a rally before leaving for the creek, Gbaramatu Kingdom, for a few days. He visited Yenagoa once more two days ago for another rally.

Five of the six governors are PDP members, and the region has regularly supported the opposition party since 1999. The incumbent party, however, is currently in the lead because the election is becoming a three-horse contest.

Because of the tight nature of the presidential race, many are already predicting a possible run-off in a second ballot because they believe none of the candidates will get the required constitutional highest votes cast and the 25% in 24 States as provided by the 1999 constitution.

Mr Tinubu is expected to take the Southwest regions and his running mate, Kashim Shettima is expected to pull strong numbers in the northeast, especially Borno, Yobe and Gombe States.

In the Northcentral, Kwara, Kogi and Niger State are places where the candidate of the APC is expected to perform well. In Nasarawa, the party is counting on the Chairman of the Party, Abdulahi Adamu, former Governor Tanko Almakura and Governor Sule Adbulahi to deliver a good outing. However, Nasarawa has been a difficult State for the ruling party.

The Muslim/Muslim ticket may cause the party to struggle in Plateau State, despite Governor Simon Lalong being the Director-General of the APC campaign council. In Benue State, the party is counting on the ‘Yes Father’ wave and the ongoing crisis in the PDP, as governor Samuel Ortom is a member of the G-5 governors. Despite these, Tinubu is expected to get the 25% requirement in the region.

In the Northwest, Mr Tinubu is counting on the six APC governors to deliver the votes; however, without Buhari on the ballot, the region has become a battleground between him, Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party, and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. Despite this, Mr Tinubu is expected to get the required 25% in all the Northwest states.

Going by this analysis, to get the required 25% in 25 States, six in Southwest, six in Northcentral, seven in Northwest plus three in Northeast, that gives 23 States already. There is the possibility of getting the figure in Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba States, including the FCT.

Tinubu is also counting on APC governors in the Southeast, David Umahi and Hope Uzodinma to give a good outing in their States. In Abia State, Tinubu is also counting on Orji Uzor Kalu, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and Ben Kalu to pull a good number in Abia North senatorial district.

However, it appears that the ruling Party is not ready to take the gamble, and is now pushing for it.

So far, the strategy has been about leveraging on strong candidates in States. It would be recalled that Babachir Lawal, the leader of the APC Northern Christians had accused Tinubu of not visiting Southeast during the primaries because he considered it a waste of money.

And in the past couple of days, he has been visiting States where they have strong candidates for elections or governors.

“We intend to shock people in the Southsouth. It is a three-horse race between Obi, Atiku and Asiwaju (Tinubu). We are the dark-horse here. In Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa is in a supremacy battle with James Ibori over the governorship ticket. We have a strong governorship candidate, Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege,” Ibrahim Abiodun, a member of Tinubu Grassroots Campaign disclosed.

In Edo State, APC remains popular in Edo North senatorial district- the district where Adams Oshiomhole is running for a senatorial seat. In a three-horse race, Tinubu will be counting on achieving two things, get the 25% of the vote cast, and hope the PDP is unable to get bloc votes because the Obidient movement also fancies itself in the State.

Also, in Delta State, Tinubu appears to be willing to deploy enough resources in the State given the crack in the PDP, particularly the ongoing struggle for the control of the structure of party in Delta State. Okowa is the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, but the fight with Ibori has balkanized the PDP in the State, hence, the ruling party is willing to take advantage of the crack.

In Bayelsa State, the APC is counting on the popularity of David Lyon, who won the last governorship election but was sacked by the Supreme Court over the certificate of his running mate, Degi Eremienyo. Mr Tinubu and his party already held a rally in the State.

Also, there is the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s factor, who is reportedly angry with the PDP over how the party has treated him with disrespect since he left office. According to reports, Mr Jonathan turned down the plea by Atiku for him to intervene in the G-5 governors’ rebellion.

In Cross River, Tinubu is counting on Governor Ben Ayade to give a good outing for him in the State. A 25% of the votes cast could also be possible, more so, in a three-horse race, the party fancy its chances.

Rivers State is another place of hope for Tinubu and the ruling party. Governor Nyesome Wike remains adamant that the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu must go, and he has refused to campaign for Atiku.

Although the APC is in disarray due to an internal crisis, however, it would be recalled that Tinubu and the G-5 governors secretly met in London, the United Kingdom weeks ago. It remains unknown if the party will be able to take advantage of the PDP national crisis.

Except for Akwa-Ibom, Tinubu appears to have a plan to get a good outing in the Southsouth.