Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
No fewer than 16 aspirants, jostling for the governorship seat in Borno State, have purchased nomination and expression of interest forms to contest the gubernatorial primaries.
The aspirants, the highest in the nearly two decades of return to civil rule in the state, picked their forms on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the ruling party in the state.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to make known those who have obtained forms.
Among the APC gubernatorial aspirants include the minister of state for works, power and housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Nigeria’s Ambassador to China, Amb. Baba Ahmed Jidda, two serving senators; Sen. Abubakar Kyari (Borno North) and Sen. Ba’Kaka Garbai (Borno Central).
Four serving commissioners and political allies of Governor Kashim Shettima have also picked forms.
They were Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kaka Shehu Lawan, Commissioner for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement (RRR), Prof. Babagana Umara and their works counterpart, Alhaji Adamu Lawan and commissioner for housing and rural electrification, Hon. Babagana Tijjani Banki.
Others included ex-Special Adviser on Legislative Matters to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Sen Abba Aji, President Obasanjo’s Parliamentary Liaison Officer and two times PDP gubernatorial candidate, Matawalli Kashim Imam.
Former state deputy governor (2003-2011), Alhaji Adamu Dibal, a former director in the Finance Ministry and younger brother to the deputy governor, Idris Mamman Durkwa, former Commissioner, Mohammed Makinta, former House of Assembly member, Abba Jatobe and a retired Customs officer, Umar Alkali Nasko have also obtained their nomination forms at the APC secretariat on Monday. Supporters of all the aspirants have already commenced campaigns, moving in carnival-like convoys of vehicles on the streets of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Chairman Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Borno State Council, Baba Sheik Haruna, described the high number of the gubernatorial aspirants as healthy for the growth of democracy in the 42 years old state.
“It is good and healthy for our democracy. It also means there is increasing political awareness because this is the first time we are witnessing high number of contestants in a governorship primaries.
“I’m sure the figure may rise if PDP also made known its aspirants. I only hope won’t the final choice won’t cause disaffection among the aspirants or heat up politics in the state which is just coming out of a crisis,” he told Daily Sun.