Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the governorship elections in the four states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Imo and Oyo in the 2019 polls to unseat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) though it lost the two states of Kwara and Gombe. The PDP had at one point or the other produced governors in each of the four states in the last 20 years.
Ahead of the inauguration of the newly elected and re-elected governors in 29 of the 36 states of the federation, politicking is ongoing on how the leadership of the respective state houses of assembly will emerge. Interestingly, the PDP which produced new governors in the four states does not have the majority to produce the leadership of the houses of assembly in at least two of the states. These are Bauchi and Sokoto States.
In the north-eastern state of Bauchi where former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed set the record of unseating an incumbent governor, his party the PDP only has 8 members-elect in the 31-member state house of assembly. The APC which lost the governorship has an overwhelming 22 members-elect in the assembly with the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) winning one seat.
The defeated Governor Mohammed Abubakar after conceding defeat made a u-turn to approach the election petitions tribunal to challenge the victory of the PDP and the Governor-Elect. Analysts say the outgoing Governor and his party would want to remain relevant and therefore hold onto the state legislature to at least dictate the pace of governance and performance of the in-going administration. It is not clear how the PDP would deal with a government it has to share with the APC in the State.
However, Bauchi is the state where in 2009 the sitting Governor Isa Yuguda who has lost his last two attempts to go to the Senate defected from the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to PDP and it was a mass defection of the state lawmakers with the Speaker Babayo Gamawa eventually becoming the deputy governor after the impeachment of the now late Garba Gadi who refused to defect with his principal. Many say there is every likelihood that PDP and the Governor-Elect can secure the defection of most of the members elected on the platform of the APC sooner than later.
In Sokoto State where Governor Aminu Tambuwal secured re-election with a difference of 342 votes over his APC opponent, his party, the PDP won 14 seats in the state assembly while the APC secured the highest number of 16. Observers say it is not likely that the APC will give away the opportunity to continue with its control of the Assembly which was the case after the Governor defected to the PDP ahead of the 2019 elections.
However, the PDP needs to just convince two members-elect from the APC to defect or support it to form the majority in the state legislature of its only state in the north-west or to just be able to produce the speaker and other principal officers. It will be recalled that the APC performed the same magic in Plateau State after the 2015 elections. Though the PDP had the majority of 13 members in the 24-member assembly, the APC that had 11 members produced the speaker. A member of PDP refused to tow his party line and voted for the APC candidate, Peter Azi, representing Jos North-West leading to a 12-12 votes tie. During the rescheduled election to pick the speaker, the former speaker and candidate of the PDP, Istifanus Mwansat withdrew his candidature for the APC speaker to emerge unopposed. The PDP eventually produced the deputy speaker and other principal officers.
It may therefore also not be a straight path for the PDP in Imo State, South-East Nigeria after reclaiming the governorship position it lost 8 years ago. The party won 13 seats in the state house of assembly but the two main opposition parties, the Action Alliance (AA) which is promoted by the outgoing Governor Rochas Okorocha won 8 seats and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which initially took over power from the PDP in the State securing 6 seats.
In the new Imo State House of Assembly, the two opposition parties will have 14 seats which is one seat more than the 13 secured by the PDP. The Governor-Elect and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha will have to get his party to form an alliance with APGA to be able to produce the Assembly Speaker. This may need the trading of the position of deputy speaker. Observers however say it is most unlikely that APGA will work will AA though it is not impossible with politics and interests.
In the North-East, Adamawa State where the former Acting Governor and Speaker of the State Assembly, Umaru Ahmadu Fintiri has won the governorship also holds the potential of power sharing between the PDP and the opposition. The PDP has 13 seats in the 25-member House of Assembly with APC controlling 11 and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) holding onto one. Any division in the ranks of the PDP members-elect will be to the advantage of the APC that can also work with the ADC.
It will be recalled that in 2015 when the PDP lost the governorship position to the APC, it had only 2 seats in the Assembly with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) winning one and the other 22 seats kept by the outgoing ruling party in the State. Though the PDP was the main minority party in the Assembly, the APC gave the position of Minority Leader to the SDP that had only one member.
The Assembly Speaker, Kabiru Mijinyawa who has won reelection as a member of the Assembly under APC however insisted that “between one and two, one is the minority” and the SDP kept the position. If APC is unable to find its feat in the Assembly which is most likely, many say it had set the precedence and the PDP will pay the party in its coin by ceding the position of Minority Leader to the ADC instead of the APC that has 11 members-elect.
The other states to watch are Kano and Zamfara States in the North-West. In Kano State where there was a disputed governorship election, the PDP won 12 seats in the 40-member Assembly with the APC winning 28 seats. For Zamfara State, the participation of the APC that cleared all the 24 seats in the House of Assembly in the 2019 elections is still a subject of litigation.