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Governorship poll and uncertainty in Northwest

Posted: Apr 9, 2015 at 1:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Juliet Oyoyo  /  Senior Correspondent, Lagos

 

Elections have been described as a consolidation of democratic process, which is indeed very true. In Nigeria, the

Tambuwal, Kwankwaso and Shekarau

Tambuwal, Kwankwaso and Shekarau

presidential election has come and gone, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of some people, and in others, a sweet taste. After the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaration of General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election, some gubernatorial candidates have lost hope of winning their states, while others’ hopes of clinching their seats have been rekindled. But with the new attitude of Nigerians, people no longer vote for only parties but also personalities who have impacted their lives positively; they now also ensure that their votes count. Some states in the Northwest are mainly hit by these changes, which seem to have affected them more than their counterparts in other regions.

 

Factoring ‘federal might’

For instance, in Kaduna, one of the most prominent state in the Northwest, the “Federal might” factor has been a plus to the PDP government in power, as the mere thought that the state had a strong representation at the centre, had elicited loyalty from the people.

This rare opportunity of having someone like Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo as the Vice President, had put fears in the minds of would-be troublemakers and those who might have wanted to be disloyal to the party or the government in power, as they were mindful of the way they comported themselves to curry his favour.

Namadi’s position in government created opportunities for the people of the state as many got juicy appointments while the federal presence was also felt. As this opportunity appears to have been lost as a result of the outcome of the Presidential election, the government and party loyalists are now left to face the battle on their own.

The loss of power at the centre has drastically affected the PDP loyalists in the state, making them vulnerable, although they are still making serious efforts to garner back some strength.

 

Fresh political calculations

Before now, the battle between Mallam Ahmed Nasir el-Rufai and Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero had been that of wits. While Yero relied on the support at the centre and the democratic dividends he had delivered to his people within the two years he governed, Mallam el-Rufai relied on the popularity of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to make things happen. But with the turn of events, they are making new political calculations to give them victory in the coming governorship election.

Apart from the fact that the two contenders are from Kaduna North, which is Zone 1, they both rely on the people of Southern Kaduna, Zone 111, to get their block votes. While Yero has the confidence of getting the votes as a result of the people’s sympathy for the ruling party and Jonathan, Nasir el-Rufai relies on the popularity of his running mate in the person of Hon. Bala Barnabas Bantex, a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, who enjoys his people’s respect, to help get the votes. This, however, might not be an easy task as only recently, a new entrant in the race, Danjuma La’ah, popularly known as “Shetima Kagoro” has emerged as a strong contender, having won the support and trust of his people.

However, the people of Southern Kaduna have, between Saturday and now, taken a fresh stand; they say they can no longer play the second fiddle to the people of Zone I arguing that since 1999, they have been with Zone I except when the late Patrick Yakowa had the opportunity to govern through God’s intervention, which was short-lived.

Mr. Solomon Bitiyong from Southern Kaduna argued that power is not rotational in the state as they have continued to play the “second class citizen” role as deputy governor, adding; “We the people of Southern Kaduna will support our own as two of them are contesting. One in Labour Party, Mr. James Bawa Magaji, a former deputy governor to the late Governor Dabo Lere, while the other is Mr. Polycarp Gankon in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).”

“Our people are now politically aware and cannot continue to give support while no one supports us,” he said.

Analysts in the state have, however, said that this could be a very tall dream as the people have already pledged loyalty to the candidates, coupled with the ethnic differences often witnessed in Southern Kaduna where the Bajju do not support the Jabba and vice versa.

Moreover, they argued that one of their candidates has to step down for the other to win so as not to divide their votes, and also solicit support and votes from other zones. But the problem again is that none of the two contenders ready to yield ground to the other.

 

Staving off defeat

One wonders where all these will lead the two major contenders, Ramalan Yero and Nasir el-Rufai. But one thing that is certain is the turn of events in the state after the presidential election.

As the APC members and their supporters move round the state with confidence, the PDP is working assiduously to overcome the effects of the loss in the Presidential election.

Meetings are said to be holding in different quarters between the candidates and the people as they try to outdo one another in efforts to win and secure the confidence of the “Yakowa Group,” which is said to be a powerful one, headed by Hon. Abokie Galadima, former Chief of Staff to late Governor Patrick Yakowa. Apart from this, the candidates are putting finishing touches to their strategies to clinch victory that would take them to Sir Kashim Ibrahim House (Government House).

As the people of the state have continued to ask, will this loss at the Presidential election affect the chances of PDP in the state?  Will APC’s victory also affect them at state level? These are questions that can only be answered after April 11.

However, the April 11 governorship election would come with many surprises since both the PDP and the APC seem to be leaving nothing to chance.

Katsina State is another PDP state faced with strong opposition; and if care is not taken the hold on the state machinery would slip from the PDP.

Power has been with the ruling party, PDP, from 1999 with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as governor before he handed over to Governor Ibrahim Shema, who till date, remains the governor; but with the power shift from the PDP to the APC at the centre, coupled with the unpopular candidate the PDP is presenting at the election, its chances of winning appears to be uncertain.

 

Clamour for power shift

The PDP governorship candidate in Katsina State, Engineer Musa Nashuni, is from the Katsina Central, which is said to have produced governors, while Katsina South has produced none, hence the said clamour for power shift in the state.

The APC candidate in the state, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives is said to be enjoying so much support in the state coupled with the “Buhari tsunami” that has swept over the state.

Masari, a former PDP stalwart, had contested for governorship position against Governor Ibrahim Shema, but was then prevailed upon to step down for Shema who was then the national legal adviser of PDP. The former Speaker, House of Representatives, was asked to go for the Senate, which he refused, since Shema was the preferred candidate from the top hierarchy. However, Masari’s refusal cost him that ambition as he lost at the primaries hence his defection to the then CPC where he also met a brick wall, as he had to contend with Senator Lado Danmarke, although they both lost to Governor Shema.

A political activist, who spoke to Daily Independent opined that if Shema had chosen a more popular candidate like Senator Ibrahim Ida, Umar Abdullahi, or the former Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), Alhaji Muttaqha Rabe, the party would have stood a good chance of winning as they are politicians with clout and popularity among the people.

Will this feat be easy for Shema who incidentally is from the same state with the President-elect? This will be known after April 11.

In Jigawa, the story remains the same as the PDP in the state is faced with the problem of staying afloat and remaining the ruling party there.

The party’s governorship candidate, Aminu Ringim, was the Chief of Staff to the governor and his nomination is said to have met a lot of resistance from many, who had thought that the position would go to the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Gumel, who had served as the commissioner of finance to the former Governor, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, before being selected to be deputy governor to Lamido.

 

Wrangling in ruling party

So much wrangling is said to be going on within the party and this is capable of creating a loophole for the opposition to cash in on.

Also, the candidate being presented by the opposition is said to be a strong contender, who if not matched word to word and achievement to achievement, is capable of taking the shine off the PDP and the party into political oblivion in the state.

As a dogged politician who has been in the game of politicking for long, Governor Sule Lamido, they say, is on top of the situation.

Lamido, an admirer of the late Aminu Kano and popularly known in the state as Gomina Talakawa, had also contested against Turaki for governorship but lost before Obasanjo’s government compensated him with a ministerial appointment.

Lamido, immediately he resumed office, declared that he would pay salaries to people with disability from the state and this singular act endeared him to his people as he also brought infrastructural development to the state.

Lamido was among the G7 governors who initially fought against the PDP but like his friend, the Chief Servant, Governor Babangida Aliyu, he did not defect to the APC due to his love for his party.

Lamido is faced with the most difficult political battle, which is to deliver his party in his state, as analysts have told Daily Independent that the APC in the state seems to be grounded and ready to give him a run for his money.

In Zamfara State, which is also part of Northwest, the story is a bit different as the incumbent governor is of APC though he succeeded a PDP Governor, Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi (former in-law to General Babangida).

Shinkafi was the first deputy governor in that part of the country to succeed his principal, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, but later defected to PDP, which caused so much disagreement between him and his former boss.

Yerima had felt slighted when his former deputy defected and, in order to pay him back in his own coin, had sponsored the former chairman of his party, All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in the person of the incumbent Governor, Abdulazeez Yari.

Shinkafi perhaps hopes to unseat Governor Yari this time round under his party PDP, but with the turn of events, it is doubtful if it will be possible for PDP governors to re-launch their party in their states?

It is well known that the Northwest states were all governed by PDP governors, who had also produced a President in the person of the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua.

In Kebbi State, Governor Saidu Dankingari, a former Customs officer won on the platform of PDP, though it is not known to many that the state is also part of Northwest. The incumbent governor was presented to the people by the former governor, Senator Adamu Aileru. But the time of imposing candidates on people appears to be over in the state, as Senator Atiku Bagudu is reported to be set to battle the governor’s candidate, Bello Sarkin Yakin, who is said to have recently retired from the Army.

Would a recently retired Army officer be able to contend with a grounded politician? This is even as indigenes in the state have faulted Bagudu of APC of not being people-friendly but only counting on General Buhari’s popularity to get victory.

 

Kwankwaso’s growing influence

Kano’s political history is known by many with Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso’s growing influence there.

Kwankwaso, the incumbent governor, together with some PDP governors, had defected to the APC where he is said to be holding sway. He defeated Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, the former governor, who was an ANPP stalwart but with Kwankwaso’s defection to APC, Ibrahim Shekarau, who could not stand the battle for supremacy between them in APC defected to PDP where President Jonathan appointed him as Minister for Education, a position which he occupies till date.

The fight of who occupies the government house in Kano State would be a fight to finish if not properly handled as Kwakwaso, said to be a dogged fighter, is supporting his deputy, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of APC, to succeed him while the incumbent Minister of Education has chosen to support Alhaji Sagir Takai of PDP.

There had been rumours of a disagreement between Buhari and Kwakwaso, as the General is said to have frowned at the governor’s choice of successor, preferring the former governor of the state, Brigadier Lawal Jafaru Isa.

In Sokoto State, the incumbent Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who recently defected to APC is slugging it out with the PDP family where the former Minister of Water Resources and present Deputy Governor, Mukhtari Shagari, holds sway. The state Governor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamako, is now in APC as he was among the governor’s who left PDP.

After the presidential election, state governors, especially those of PDP in the zone, which has always been the party’s stronghold in the North, have gone back to the drawing board to ensure that they do not repeat the mistakes of the presidential election, in the April 11 governorship election.

As they do this, it remains to be seen far the “Sai Baba Change tsunami” will allow it to go?

As Nigerians await the surprises that would come with the April 11 governorship election the Northwest zone will definitely be the “center of attraction.”