As the final battle for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) draws near, one aspirant who is resonating among delegates is Bauch State governor, Bala Mohammed.
The things that are going for him include verifiable performance in office, loyalty to party, track record of electoral victories, ability to secure and protect the votes through the electoral value chain and pan-Nigerian pedigree.
Party loyalty and trustworthiness
Mohammed has been a PDP man all his political days. On the platform of the party, he was an elected senator, defeating an incumbent governor. He was a minister, not just of any ministry, but Federal Capital Devlopment Administration. It took the physical and moral presence, financial support and organizational acumen of ardent party loyalists such as Mohammed to keep the PDP going. Otherwise, the party would have gone under.
Mohammed who, despite his ordeal through contrived investigation by anti-graft agencies, stood for PDP, has endeared himself to the party faithful. This has endeared him to leaders of the party in some northern states controlled by the APC, notably Niger, Benue, Gombe, Yobe, Borno and Nasarawa.
Performance track record
Mohammed’s stellar record of service as FCT minister and his giant strides in Bauchi, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and people empowerment, has resonated well with party delegates and leaders who want to see a quick turnaround in the economic fortunes of the country and the welfare of Nigerians generally. His innovative Land Swap policy of the FCT Administration, which though, was initially faulted by the President Mohammadu Buhari administration has since been endorsed by the same administration, to the extent of confessing that, through it, the FCT had saved over N1 trillion.
Only last week, President Buhari commended Gov. Mohammed for his performance in the provision of infrastructure. The President said, in his speech read by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha: “I am happy that Bauchi State has executed the project creditably. I am not surprised by this accomplishment because the state government personally pursued the project with vigour and determination through the allocation of resources and intervention to eliminate bottlenecks and challenges including even the COVID-19, which affected the project extension as well as paying attention to details. This is what leaders in the country should emulate from the governor of Bauchi State.”
One factor said to be going for the Bauchi State governor is the erudition he displayed throughout the nationwide consultation in the states. Said one party leader, no other aspirant displayed Mohammed’s depth of knowledge on critical national issues. Unarguably, among all the candidates, Mohammed parades the richest profile: journalist; federal civil servant who rose from level 8 to level 17 (and served in strategic ministries as well as the presidency); senator of the Federal Republic; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and member of the Federal Executive Council; and now governor of Bauchi State. At various stops during the consultation, delegates expressed excitement over his passion, sincerity and sense of patriotism.
Doctrine of Necessity/Nationalist Ferment/Constitutionalist
Bala Mohammed is still riding on the crest of the Doctrine of Necessity, which he sponsored in 2010 to break the logjam that trailed Jonathan’s ascension to the post of acting President and his subsequent assumption of office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Besides, unlike the new converts to restructuring, he has consistently advocated restructuring of the country, state police and deepening of sub-national inclusion in the administration of the country, recommendations that topped his agenda as his pan-Nigerian team, traversed the states of the country. He is a detribalized Nigerian, a bridge-builder between various divides and a consummate constitutionalist. Delegates are also taking note that Bauchi State, under him is the most peaceful state in the North, if not the entire country.
Giant killer reputation and winning streak
Nigerians believe that only a candidate with a winning touch and the capacity to defend the victory, is good enough to return the PDP to the presidential villa. The two spectacular victories by Mohammed in which he floored incumbent governors holds him up as giant killer and the candidate of the moment: In 2007, just coming out from the federal civil service, he defeated Governor Adamu Muazu who, on completion of his constitutionally allowed two terms of eight years, wanted to move to the Senate seat. Bala Mohammed floored him and as a result was inaugurated as senator of the Federal Republic representing Bauchi State. Again, in 2019, even from outside government and notwithstanding persecution in the hands of the ruling APC-led Federal Government, he defeated the incumbent governor, M.A. Abubakar, of the ruling APC government and followed it up through the rigorous legal process up to the Supreme Court. He was again duly declared victorious by the apex judicial body and duly affirmed as Executive Governor of Bauchi State, thereby effectively returning Bauchi State to the PDP.
The final word:
Based on the above, Mohammed is popular among PDP delegates. An influential PDP leader who is familiar with ongoing permutations disclosed that the game-changer in favour of Mohammed has been the wide-spread consultative meetings, which not only provided the opportunity for a wide spectrum of the delegates and party faithful to interact, first hand with the aspirant but showcased him as a nationalist by the diversity of his team.