Political parties in Nigeria has between August 18 to October 7, 2018, to conduct their primaries for the choice of their candidates to fly the flags various parties in the 2019 general elections.
This was as contained in the electoral guidelines released recently by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But eight months to that period, political gladiators in the country have commenced maneuverings for their preferred candidates, though their actions are not described as political campaigns.
On Friday, seven governors on the platform of the ruling All progressives Congress (APC) met with President Muhamadu Buhari in Aso Rock Villa after which they told Nigerians that their visit to the president was to encourage him to seek reelection come 2019.
The seven governors were Malam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Abubakar Bello of Niger State, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa State and Simon Lalong of Plateau State. Describe them as the ‘G7’ Governors and you probably might not be out of point.
Briefing newsmen after their meeting with the president, spokesman of the group of governors, el-Rufai, who said they have no apologies for their position on the president, maintained that their support for the reelection of Pesident Buhari was well-thought out and irreversible. Governir Abdullahi ganduje if Kano state was believed to be the leader of the ‘G7’ governors.
Before coming to make their intentions known to correspondents, six of the governors, being Muslims, had joined the President and other top government functionaries in the Friday jumaat prayers in the Aso Vila mosque, except for Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State. However, seven of them had lunch with the president during the visit.
On his part, the president continues to keep sealed lips over his political future as he has not make his intentions known, at least publicly, on whether he will be seeking reelection next year or not.
The closest hint to that effect was while addressing the Nigerian community recently in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where he reportedly hinted that he might need their votes in near future.
Anyway, as the countdown to the 2019 general election continues, the die appears cast on what Nigerians should expect from the political firmament in the country. It is essential to individually appraise each of the members of the ‘G7’ in their push for President Buhari’s second term in office.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State
Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje is acclaimed leader of the ‘G7’ governors. Governor Ganduje is no neophyte in Nigerian political sphere. He was two term Deputy Governor of the state, serving from 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 2015 under the administration of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. He is currently a first term governor having been first elected in 2015 on the platform of the APC.
Ganduje’s passion to serve his people took him into politics, he joined now-defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) during the Second Nigerian Republic and served as Kano State Assistant Secretary from 1979 to 1980.He contested the House of Representatives election in 1979 under the NPN but lost the election.
Ganduje joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and aspired to be the party’s gubernatorial candidate but lost the primaries to Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Ganduje was later picked as the deputy to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso between 1999 and 2003. In addition to the deputy governorship, he was also appointed as the Hon. Commissioner for Local Government. From 2003 to 2007 he served as the special Adviser (Political) to the Hon. Minister of Defence, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ganduje also served as member of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Ganduje was appointed chairman of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, in 2008, and was later appointed as the executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission at Ndjamena, Republic of Chad. He participated in the 2006 Nigerian Political Reforms Conference.
Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State
Kaduna State strongman, Governor Nasir el-Rufai has been in the news of late perhaps for the wrong reasons. His visit with six other governors to Aso Rock on Friday, many believed, was ill-timed. The visit came when the entire Kaduna metropolis was aflame as labour unions shut down the state while protesting the sack of about 31, 000 teachers from the state civil service.
Since being thrown into the political limelight by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration as Director General of The Bureau of Public Enterprises, the profile of el-Rufai has been rising steadily, of course, his spell with the government began under the transition government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, where he served as an adviser in the Transition government.
He is a member of All Progressives Congress (APC) and elected as the Executive Governor of Kaduna State during the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. He is a first term governor among the ‘G7’.
He was reportedly in self-exile during the tenure of President Umaru Yar’Adua. In November 2009, Nasir el-Rufai stated plans to come back home to Nigeria despite the high level of risk he will be under.
During the last days of the Obasanjo administration, the former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, described el-Rufai as the “de facto No. 2 official”, tagging him with the role of a Vice-President, especially after the fall-out between the former President and his Vice-President.
It is believed that Obasanjo’s trust and confidence in el-Rufai angered a vast number of the political elite within the country. Indeed, it was widely believed that the former President was considering blessing el-Rufai as his successor. However, it was believed the vast political powers against him were too much, probably as a result of the fear of what may happen to them once he was in power.
Many view el-Rufai as an incorruptible public servant who gets difficult jobs done, especially after he ordered the demolition of the house of the Chairman of the ruling party in Nigeria.
However, since the end of the Obasanjo administration, el-Rufai has kept a very low profile, but still remains an Obasanjo loyalist having frequently defended the former President’s policies.
The administration of the President, Umaru Yar’adua appointed el-Rufai to the National Energy Council in September 2007, due to the belief that he could contribute positively to the under-achieving power sector of the country.
el-Rufai was sworn in as the 22nd governor of Kaduna State on 29 May 2015. In the recent past, Governor el-Rufai had been rumoured to be interested in running for the highest office in the land should President Muhammadu Buhari not seek reelection, but many political watchers now believed that the governor’s support for the president was to pave way for him to also get a reelection in the state which has been crises-inested.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State is also a first term governor who, perhaps, will be relying on presidential support for his own reelection.
Little known in political circle prior to his election in 2015, Governor Bello is one of the quietest state chiefs executives in the country since he assumed political leadership of the Power State.
Except that former Governor Aliyu Babangida appointed him as Commissioner of Commerce and Investment of Niger State in 2009.
Yahaya Bello of Kogi State
Many people would say Nigeria’s youngest governor, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, has seen enough controversies since his controversial assumption of office after, the All Progressives Congress (APC) submitted his name of Yahaya Bello as the party’s new candidate for Kogi governorship supplementary poll following the death of Abubakar Audu and the controversy that trailed the Faleke aspiration to claim Audu’s madate after the latter’s death.
He was born on 18th June 1975 in Agassa, Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State to the family of Alhaji Bello Ipemida Ochi and Hajia Hawa Bello Oziohu. He is the last of six siblings.
It was initially rumoured that the Kogi governor received the blessing of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and First Lady Aisha Buhari before becoming governor. Since assumption of office, Governor Bello has been in running battle with a senator from the state, Dino Melaye, who reports say, would give the governor a run for his money in net year’s gubernatorial election.
So, Governor Bello’s support for President Buhari’s reelection, it could reasoned was for a reciprocal support of the presidency for the governor’s second term aspiration in the face of likely stiff opposition of political heavyweights in the state.
Bindow Jibrilla of Adamawa State
The Adamawa State governor was formerly of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) prior to the 2015 general election from where he sought for the party’s ticket to become the governor of the state. After his defection and he got the ticket of the APC, Governor Bindow defeated the likes of Nuhu Ribadu and Markus Gundiri in the state 2015 governorship polls.
TO many political watchers in Nigeria, Governor Bindow is seen as a godson of former vice president Atiku Abubakar who recently defected to the PDP. In the wake of Atiku’s defection back to the PDP, some aPC stalwarts in Adamawa State were reported to be considering wooing Nuhu RIbadu into the APC as Governor Bindow was believed would follow his godfather Atiku out of the APC.
Hence, his decision to belong to the ‘G7’ to convince the Presidency of his loyalty to Aso Rock which, in the long run, could help his reelection if he decided to seek rerun.
Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State
Like his earlier co-members of the ‘G7’, Governor Lalong of Plateau State’s members of the group could not be unconnected with similar support from Aso Rock after the Plateau chief executive seeks re-election if he decided to run again.
Little wonder he recently openly condemned his brother governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom’s anti-open grazing law that allegedly led to the wanton killing of innocent citizens of Benue recently.
As a member of the ‘G7’ the Plateau governor has shown that his unalloyed support for the Presidency, whose disdain for the controversial Benue grazing law could be easily deciphered.
Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State
Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State is the only among the ‘G7’ not seeking reelection having been sworn in as Executive Governor of Yobe State following the death of his principal at the time.
Though not seeking reelection, Governor Geidam is believed to be a key instrument for President Buhari’s reelection in the state in next year’s presidential election.
He is also believed to weild a lot of influence in the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, a body that plays pivotal role in the choice of an incumbent president seeking reelection since the nation’s history since 1999.