The fact that the presidential and gubernatorial polls would not hold on the same day is part of the challenge facing supporters of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Darius Ishaku in Taraba State.
It is perhaps in anticipation of the intricate linkage between the presidential election and the governorship that most Tarabans are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure victory for the Peoples Democratic Party 's (PDP) candidates.
As campaigns kick-off effectively, supporters of the two PDP candidates are exploring all legitimate paths to ensure that the incumbent governor especially secures a second term mandate.
What makes the governor's position precarious is the fact that two oppositions parties are also putting all tactics together to over-power him at the polls.
On one hand is All Progressives Congress (APC), which has a presidential incumbent and on the other is the United Democratic Party (UDP), which has as its governorship standard bearer, Hadjia Aisha Alhassan, who contested against Ishaku in 2015.
In a clever campaign strategy, PDP supporters are pushing forward the presidential candidate, knowing that a win for Atiku on February 16, 2019 would translate to an easy win for the governor.
The former Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan is known to be a political ally of the PDP presidential candidate and she has been focusing on the performance of the state governor without talking much about the presidential election.
That message is already being taken to the nooks and crannies of the state to convince people at the grassroots on the need to massively come out and queue behind the posters of Atiku and that of Ishaku.
Taraba State chapter of Project Save Atiku (PSA), in one of its campaign stops, reiterated its readiness to work tirelessly round the clock to frustrate the dream of APC and UDP in the state.
The group, which recently inaugurated its executive members across the state, vowed that it would not allow itself to be cowed or frustrated by "overzealous politicians."
PSA urged Taraba people to judiciously make use of their Permanent Voter Cards at their various polling units, stressing that it is the best way to stop the antics of detractors.
The PSA Coordinator, Mr. Luka Agbu, who recently spoke with journalists in Jalingo, said it would not be deterred from doing what is right "to ensure that the presidential flag bearer of the PDP wins next year's presidential election."
Citing the way and manner President Buhari failed to adhere strictly to his election campaign promises, he stressed the need for Nigerians irrespective of tribe, political parties and geopolitical zone affiliations to "unite and give Atiku Abubakar the chance to preside over the affairs of this great country come next political dispensation."
Agbu, who is also the former President General of Jukun Youths of Vision, noted that the present anti-corruption fight is geared at "witchhunting perceived political enemies," adding that Nigerians have lost confidence in the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari.
"That is one of the major reasons we deemed it necessary to mobilize the people for Atiku and Obi," he declared.
He expressed optimism that if given the mandate, Atiku would not go the same way as the APC government that "only succeeded in hiking the prices of food stuffs, petroleum products, building materials."
PSA said Nigeria would compete favourably in the international community under the leadership of Atiku Abubakar. Agbu noted that the group has gone round the 16 local government councils of the state, wards, polling units and Special Development Areas to inaugurate officials of Project Save Atiku. The officials, according to him "would definitely deliver the councils, wards and polling units to Atiku, Ishaku and all the PDP candidates in the state."
Wondering why President Buhari suddenly turned his back against the people that came out en-masse to vote for him in the last election despite the early trust and confidence Nigerians reposed on him, Agbu reiterated that if given the chance, Atiku "would certainly not behave like Buhari because of his wealth of experience from both the business, civil service and political angles."
He called on Nigerians, who are presently trading their Voters cards for peanuts to as a matter of urgency desist, as it is the only ticket " that would take them out of slavery to a better life."
He also admonished the leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide level playing ground for all candidates irrespective of political parties, while urging security operatives not to allow themselves to be stooges to any of the candidates.
State chairman of PDP, Victor Bala Kona, in his contribution said, "As far as Taraba State is concerned, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would emerge victorious in next year's election so also our governorship candidate and all the candidates seeking elective post on the platform of our political party (PDP) there is no longer opposition parties in the state political juggernauts who are in the opposition parties have all traced their way back to the PDP. So I see no reason PDP would not triumph at all levels in the state in the next election."
However, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Baba Abba Yusuf, expressed sadness that Over 135, 000 PVCs have not been collected, pointing out that the commission would not only conduct a credible election in the state, but distance itself from political parties or candidates that would want to frustrate the peaceful conduct of the election.
Similarly, YES Atiku Movement, one of the support groups for PDP presidential standard-bearer has appealed to Nigerians not to commit the error of returning Buhari and APC next year.
The group accused the Buhari-led administration of high-handedness and cluelessness, saying the incumbent's approach to governance is not only worrisome but it is also capable of setting the country ablaze if not voted out of power.
In a rally organised at the Jimi Agbaje's Campaign Office in Lagos on Sunday, Deputy State Coordinator of the movement, Mr. Babatunde Idowu, said Nigeria is more insecure now than it was under erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, "Everything under APC administration has gone worst. The economy is worst; the cost of living is worst and the security situation is worst. The naira is worst; the unity of Nigeria is worst; the corruption index is worst; the NEPA situation is worst, the ministers in the cabinet iare worst; the liberty of Nigerian is worst; the rule of law is worst and the political climate is toxic."
The movement said Buhari preferred to watch and relax while Nigerians from a particular section are being murdered in their homes, farm, churches and mosque.
It stressed: "No matter the propaganda APC brings to the Southwest, the people will vote based on the reality on ground. Their votes will put an end to recklessness, bigotry, nepotism and impunity."
The group also accused APC of reneging on restructuring of the country that was part of its campaign manifestos in 2015.
According to Idowu, "2019 is the best opportunity we all have as a people to end one man's rule and dominance of Lagos politics. I think we should the era of bad governance in the state."
In another event held in support of Atiku recently, a founding member of Lagos PDP, Chief Amos Olayinka, said Nigerians should stand up to their responsibilities by voting out Buhari in 2019.
Olayinka, while declaring his commitment to the Atiku presidency and the Jimi Agbaje governorship ambition in Lagos said, "APC has no business to continue in power both at the centre and in Lagos beyond 2019 because it has failed. Atiku and Agbaje are the beat materials that can redeem the country from further plunge, which APC placed it. Nothing is working under the present administration."