Aso Rock: Obi, Atiku, Tinubu take battle to states expected to decide presidential race

Ahead of next Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections, the three leading candidates in the country, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Atiku Abubakar; and Peter Obi, have taken their strategic campaigns to key states expected to swing the elections.


According to data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Kaduna, Katsina, Oyo, among others, have the highest number of registered voters.


According to the data, the 10 leading states are from the South West, North West, South South, North Central and North East. No state from the South East is listed among the 10 with the highest number of registered voters.


Bauchi has a total of 2,749,268 registered voters; Benue has 2,777,727 registered voters; Plateau has 2, 789, 528 registered voters; Delta – 3,221,697; Oyo – 3,276,675; Katsina – 3,516,719; Rivers has 3,537,190; Kaduna has 4,335,208; Kano has 5,921,370 registered voters, while Lagos has the highest, with 7,060,195 registered voters.


As part of moves by the leading candidates to secure the votes in the swing states, they have expended considerable energy in campaigning in many of the states. Besides campaigns, they have also made repeated visits to the states, held town hall meetings and organised road shows.


Atiku and Tinubu for instance, have held town hall meetings in Kaduna and Kano, two states considered to be battlegrounds. They have also made great shows of their campaign rallies in the states. APC, for instance, celebrated its rallies in Kano, Oyo, Kaduna and others. Earlier in the week, the party celebrated what it described as hugely successful rallies in Ibadan and Port Harcourt where the party leaders and its candidate met with the states’ PDP governors, Nyesom Wike and Seyi Makinde respectively. Atiku and the PDP had also celebrated the party’s rallies in places like Lagos, Katsina, Oyo, bauchi and Jigawa states, among others. Obi on the other hand, has held series of meetings in Lagos with traders and the business community. He has also visited core Northern states like Kano and Kaduna, where he held meetings.


Two members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively, who spoke to Saturday Sun separately in confidence, expressed fear that religion and ethnicity, like in 2015, will play key roles in determining the outcome of the polls. The PDP member, who is one of the spokesmen of the party, admitted that the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has eaten deep into the traditional strongholds of the party, especially in the South East, South South, and among the ethnic minority Christians in the North.


The member of Atiku’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), said though the candidate of the PDP still has a clear path to victory, the party will work harder to fence off any surprises from Tinubu and Obi.


He said the PDP is also worried of a possible run-off, if any of the three leading candidates is unable to secure the constitutional requirements to clinch victory. He said Atiku is 80 per cent certain of North East, over 70 per cent certain of victory in the North West, and a head-to-head with Obi in the South South. He conceded that Obi would get over 80 per cent of the votes from the South East.


The PDP chieftain said the party is only targeting about 25 per cent from the South West, to meet up with the constitutional requirement of 24, out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. He boasted that with their victory certain in Kaduna, Katsina and Kano, Obi’s victory in the South East would be rivaled by the three North West States.


He said: “Atiku Abubakar will still win. The margin maybe small, but he will win. Obi has really eaten deep into the traditional areas of the PDP. But with what the PDP has done, we will win.


“Atiku is banking on Hausa and Fulani votes from the North. He has secured the support of traditional and Islamic leaders from the North. Like you know, some top members of the APC are working for him.


“The only challenge the PDP may have in the North will be with Christians. They see Obi as one of their own and they’re mobilising for him in Plateau, Benue, parts of Kaduna, Gombe and even in Adamawa where Atiku comes from.


“Unknown to many, the contest in the North may just be between Atiku and Obi. That is not to say that Tinubu will not make a serious appearance. But I doubt if his running mate, Kashim Shettima and a few APC governors can deliver the bloc votes he’s expecting to him. The highest he can get is 25 per cent. I maybe wrong. But from our estimation, this is what we’re protecting.”


A member of APC National Working Committee (NWC) from North Central, who spoke to Saturday Sun, claimed that Tinubu will win the South West by at least 70 per cent, with the exception of Lagos, where he feared the population of Igbo may give Obi a good outing.


The member said if Tinubu loses, President Muhammadu Buhari should be held responsible. He claimed that the lack of physical cash to handle logistics ahead of the elections might affect Tinubu’s outing.b He said a team set up by Tinubu has conducted an in-house poll, to determine his chances. He ruled out South East and South South. He said if APC governors from the North West are mobilised adequately, Tinubu may claim up to 40 per cent of the votes in the geopolitical zone.


He said: “Tinubu is not focusing on South East and South South. His only intention there is to get up to 25 per cent.


“He believes he will do well in the North if those he’s mobilising financially don’t betray him. With a strong outing in the South West and a good result in the North, Tinubu will defeat Atiku and Obi.


“The Presidential Campaign Council of the APC is working hard to starve off a run-off. If there is a run-off, we believe Atiku and Obi might work together. We want Tinubu to win on the first ballot.


“These predictions are based on availability of physical cash to mobilise our supporters adequately nationwide. In the absence of that, we may run into trouble.”


(Saturday Sun)


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