Fall of the High and Mighty
Results of the National Assembly election held April 9, show that many of the nation’s big political names lost their bid for seats
The expectation when the results started coming in after the end of voting exercise for the National Assembly election on Saturday, April 9, was that the days of David Mark’s, senate president, since 2007, in the Senate were numbered. Initial collation of votes showed that he was losing the election. But on Sunday, when the counting exercise was coming to an end, his prospect of winning the election started looking up as more and more votes were counted in his favour. Later, Mark was declared winner of Benue South senatorial constituency. This declaration marked his fourth straight win since 1999 and separated him from the list of People’s Democratic Party’s, PDP, heavyweights that lost their seats in the National Assembly.
Unlike Mark, Dimeji Bankole, speaker, House of Representatives, could not muster enough political goodwill to win his Abeokuta South Federal Constituency, not even his ward. He accepted his defeat with equanimity and described the election as a good omen in the national quest to enthrone democracy. “For me, the race was not a life and death duel,” he said.
Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, senator and daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, fell from her Olympian height. Like his father in the 1999 presidential election before he became president, she could not deliver her polling unit.
Other PDP’s stalwarts that lost their bid for a seat in the National Assembly were Jumoke Akinjide, daughter of Richard Akinjide, former attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice in the second republic, and Kamoru Adedibu, son of the late Lamidi Adedibu, strongman of Oyo State politics, whose smiles or a blink of his eyelashes could make or mar a candidate’s electoral fortunes.
Some of the political heavyweights who kissed the carpet include Chimaroke Nnamani, senator and former two-term governor of Enugu State. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Osun State and Iyiola Omisore, a two-term senator. Omisore won his first ticket to the Senate in 2003, from prison, where he was detained for his alleged role in the murder of Bola Ige, a former attorney-general of the Federation and minister of justice.
However, there were PDP heavy weights that won their elections in the April 9, National Assembly elections. They include senators Uche Chukwumerije, Abia North, Ayogu Eze and Ike Ekweremadu for Enugu North and Enugu West, respectively, and Danjuma Goje, incumbent governor of Gombe State, Barnabas Gemade, former PDP chairman and Bukola Saraki, governor of Kwara State. As at press time, PDP had won 59 senatorial seats against 34 seats shared by the opposition parties. The ruling party also won 140 seats in the House of Representatives against the opposition parties’ 127 seats. A breakdown of the seats won by the opposition parties shows that Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, won 16 senatorial and 53 House of Representatives seats while the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, won six senatorial and 35 House of Representatives seats. The All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, and Labour Party, LP, won seven and three senatorial seats, respectively while All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, won one seat each for the Senate. The ANPP, APGA, LP, People’s Party of Nigeria, PPN, and Accord Party, AP, won 23, two, eight, one and five seats in the House of Representatives respectively.
One fact that emerged from the results of the National Assembly elections is the strength of the major political parties. The ACN asserted its dominance in the South- West politics. It sacked the PDP in the region. It was only in the Ondo State, where the LP is in control, that ACN could not win a seat. The ACN won all the senatorial seats in Lagos, Ogun and Osun states. It also captured two seats each in Ekiti and Oyo states.
Just as Buba Galadima, national secretary of CPC, predicted last week, the South-East and South-South lived up to their billing as PDP’s stronghold. “The south eastern position is a very intriguing one. The leaders of the South-East zone have pitched their tent with the PDP. That is the obvious fact. They seem to have put all their eggs in one basket,” Galadima said. And that was what happened in the National Assembly elections. The PDP cleared all the senatorial seats in Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi states. It also secured two seats each in Anambra and Imo states. In the South-South, PDP cleared all the senatorial seats so far declared in Rivers, Cross Rivers, and Akwa Ibom States. It has also secured two seats each in the two remaining South-South states of Edo and Delta.
In the North, the expectation that the CPC and the ANPP would dwarf PDP did not materialise. The PDP won more seats in the North-East, North-Central and North-West than all the two political parties put together. This showing has also attested to the PDP’s claim that it is the only true national party in the country. Nevertheless, the performance of CPC, which is barely four months old, has shown that its promoters enjoy the goodwill of the voters. Yet, this performance was not enough to sustain Muhammadu Buhari’s invincibility in the northern part of the country. It, rather, punctured the claims.
But the National Assembly elections did not come without unsavoury experiences. For one, innocent lives, including NYSC member, were lost in the bomb blasts in Niger State and Maidugiri on the eve of the election day. Likewise, an allegation of ballot stuffing in Udi, Enugu State, called the integrity of the victory of Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, to question. The three persons being tried for the allegation of ballot tampering were Naomi Arup and Gloria Innocent; both of them are members of the NYSC, and one male student of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu. They are being defended in a Case No: ME/218/2011 by a PDP lawyer and legal adviser to Ekweremadu. All the ballot papers recovered from them were thumb printed in favour of PDP.
Also, the conduct of senatorial elections in Anambra State promises to be a blight on the success of the election. As at press time, it was not yet certain whether the victory for the Anambra Central senatorial election went to Chris Ngige, former governor of the state and ACN candidate, or that the result of the election was cancelled and a date set for a rerun election between him and Dora Akunyili, APGA’s senatorial candidate. Likewise, the large turn out of under aged voters in Bauchi would also be a minus to the credibility of the election.
Currently, some who were not satisfied with the outcome of the elections have started trooping to the courts. One of them is Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State governor, who lost to Chukwumerije. This might be the foretaste of what is to come.