Dozie Emmanuel writes that both the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and his Deputy Hon. Emeka Ihedioha’s chances of winning the gubernatorial elections in their states hang in the balance
The outcome of the March 28, 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections came to some as a thunderbolt. In fact, these set of Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the reality that the All Progressives Congress, APC actually won the Presidential poll as well as majority seats in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Although, the newly introduced card reader failed to capture the thump prints of many eligible voters, the elections could best be described as free, fair and credible. The manner the two leading political parties – APC and PDP conducted themselves and the constant appeal to their supporters to be peaceful notwithstanding the outcome of the poll was quite instrumental to the election.
Moreover, Jonathan doused the political tension and atmosphere when he accepted defeat in good faith even before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC officially declared the result. Many argued that the singular act had prevented what would have been serious post election violence in some parts of the country. Even his critics were not only appalled by that show of statesmanship, but also overwhelmed by the rare courage exhibited by a sitting president.
Attention has already shifted to gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections coming up this weekend. The electorate will again file out at their respective polling units to decide those who will pilot the affairs of the states in the next four years. Except for few states like Anambra, Osun, Edo, Ondo and Ekiti, the gubernatorial poll will hold in all the other states of the federation.
For instance, states like Sokoto, Imo and Rivers will be star attraction for many keen political watchers for obvious reasons. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal of the APC will slug it out with the PDP candidate, Senator Abdallah Wali. As the number four citizen of the country, all eyes will be on him to see how popular he is in the state.
After Tambuwal had defected from the PDP to the APC on October 28, 2014, many thought he will vie for the president to further test his popularity, but after due consultations, he decided to go for the number one seat in his home Sokoto state.
Pundits have said that as a high ranking member of the APC, Tambuwal is in a better position to clinch the governorship seat in the state because of his track record in the Green Chamber. They said having voted immensely for the APC at the Presidential poll, it is most likely that the gubernatorial election in the state will swing in favour of the party. Since Sokoto state is currently under APC, the incumbent governor, Aliyu Wamako, will do everything in his care to ensure that Tambuwal’s succeeds him.
His rival, Senator Abdallah Wali, is certainly not a pushover when it comes to grass root politics. As a well know figure within and outside Sokoto state, analysts say it may not be easy ride for Tambuwal. Senator Wali was the only senator elected on the platform of the PDP from the state in 1999 and subsequently appointed minister of national planning before he was appointed ambassador to Morocco in 2007. Tambuwal was one of his political aids as the Senate Leader in the Fourth Republic.
In Imo state, the Deputy Speaker, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, will also luck horns with the incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha in what many have described as “a titanic battle”.Ihedioha is presently the representative for Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala Federal Constituency in the Nation’s Green Chamber. He has been there since 2003. Obviously, it will be pretty difficult for Ihedioha to dislodge Okorocha from the Imo State Government House, being that the later has performed creditably well in the education sector. Okorocha is said to be enjoying the support of traditional rulers and civil servants in the state.
No doubt, Ihedioha has the support of the PDP and prominent sons and daughters of the state, including former governors of the state, Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim. The youths of the state are rooting for the deputy speaker who has promised to create jobs for the teeming unemployed graduates if elected. Having voted for the PDP in the Presidential and National Assembly polls, the gubernatorial election might go much the same way.
Tambuwal and Ihedioha will be itching to replicate what their former colleagues – Hon. Gabriel Suswam and Hon. Seriake Dickson did in Benue and Bayelsa states respectively. They became governors of their states while still in the lower chamber. However, both lawmakers contested the gubernatorial election under the umbrella of PDP when the party was predominantly in majority. Now that APC is in the majority, will Tambuwal clinch the governorship election in the state?
Of course, if one’s track record is a major deciding factor in this contest, then the successful stint both Tambuwal and Ihedioha have enjoyed in the House of Representatives will carry them through, but that is not always the case.
Tambuwal has steered the affairs of the House even to the admiration of his critics. In fact, his style of leadership and the manner he relates with his colleagues has endeared him to many and earned him respect. His emergence as the Speaker of the House was as a result of the respect and confidence reposed in him by his colleagues, who preferred him to Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola earlier penciled down by the leadership of the PDP just before the inauguration of the seventh assembly.
As an astute legislator that has carved a niche for himself, Ihedioha will surely rely on his performance in the Green Chamber to carry him through in his gubernatorial ambition. Many said he was very instrumental to the review of the 1999 Constitution being the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee on the Constitution Review in the House of Reps. Will that also count for him in the days ahead? Nigerians are indeed waiting with bated breath!