On Saturday, November 11, Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States residents will cast their votes in off-cycle governorship polls conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to elect new governors.
These off-cycle elections have seized the attention of political enthusiasts and citizens alike, eagerly anticipating a rejuvenated wave of democracy in these crucial states.
As the electoral atmosphere surges with intensity, Vox9ja plunges into the profiles of the aspirants participating in these off-cycle polls, spotlighting their backgrounds and political trajectories.
In the South-South realm of Bayelsa, a whopping 16 candidates are poised to engage in a fierce battle for the governorship of the oil-rich state.
The triumvirate of major contenders include the incumbent Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the former governor and immediate-past Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Udengmobofa Eradiri of the Labour Party (LP).
Diri, a multifaceted political figure with a history as a senator, House of Representatives member, and Commissioner for Youth and Sports, ascended to the governorship following a court ruling that ousted the initially declared winner of the 2019 governorship election, David Lyon.
Sylva, the immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum and former governor, seeks to leverage his past achievements and the influence of the APC on the national stage.
Eradiri, an engineer and former global president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), positions himself to garner youth support, potentially swaying the pendulum in his favour. He also strategically taps into the popularity of Peter Obi, the LP’s presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential election.
Insecurity looms large as a critical challenge in the Southeast region, contributing to over 1,700 deaths between January 2021 and June 2023 due to various factors, including protests, armed clashes, and abductions.
In Imo, INEC has granted clearance to 17 candidates for the impending election. Key players in the race include the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma of the APC, Athan Nneji Aconu of the LP, and Samuel Anyanwu of the PDP.
Governor Uzodimma, in office since 2020 due to the Supreme Court’s nullification of Emeka Ihedioha’s election, leverages the benefits of incumbency and APC support, having made adjustments to his ticket in August, appointing Chinyere Ekomaru as his new running mate for the upcoming poll, while also serving as the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum.
Achonu, the LP’s candidate, stands out for embracing his disability, offering a unique narrative. If successful, he would etch his name as the nation’s first amputee governor, relying on the LP’s prior triumphs in the Southeast during the February and March general elections.
Anyanwu, the former National Secretary of the PDP, brings a wealth of experience, having served as a senator in the 8th National Assembly and held various local political roles from 2007 to 2015.
In Kogi State, where security concerns and recurring flooding pose substantial challenges, 18 candidates brace themselves for the gubernatorial contest as per INEC’s published list.
Leading the pack are Murtala Yakubu Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dino Melaye of the PDP, Ododo Usman Ahmed of the APC, and Leke Abejide of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Ododo Usman Ahmed
Ahmed, a former auditor-general for local government, enjoys the edge of being the sole candidate from the central senatorial district. He also secures the support of the incumbent Yahaya Bello and the APC at the federal level.
Melaye, the flamboyant PDP gubernatorial candidate, brings charisma and political experience, having previously served as a House of Representatives member and senator.
Muritala Yakubu Ajaka
Ajaka, the former deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, shifted allegiance and emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the SDP. He is perceived by many residents as a potential winner, hailing from the eastern senatorial district, the region boasting the highest number of voters and population.
Abejide, a current House of Representatives member representing the Yagba Federal Constituency, adds another layer of intrigue to the Kogi election. Running on the ADC platform and securing a second term in the February 25, 2023, elections, Abejide is one of three Kogi West Senatorial District candidates.
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The forthcoming Kogi election promises to be a riveting spectacle, given the heavyweight candidates vying for the esteemed gubernatorial seat.
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