Paul Omokuvie, Bauchi
The primary elections of the political parties have come and gone. Different political parties have produced candidates that will fly their flags in the general elections that begin next month, February 16. Expectedly, there is anxiety, as campaigns have started in earnest with the clock ticking close with each passing minute towards the D-Day.
In Bauchi State, many political parties have fielded candidates, some known, and others unknown.
Daily Sun takes a look at some of the contestants in the governorship race in the state. The major gladiators are incumbent governor Mohammed Abubakar of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Professor Ali Pate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Baheejah Mahmood of the Action Congress of Democrats (ACD).
Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar (APC)
Governor Mohammed Abubakar beat Captain Bala Jibril and former ministers Yakubu Lame and Professor Ali Pate to win the APC ticket in a controversial primary that has been challenged and rejected by the other three contestants who described it as a charade. The national leadership of the APC however seem not to share the sentiments of the trio and has since confirmed MA Abubakar, as he is fondly called by his supporters, as the governorship candidate of the party in the state. Although the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC has set up a Peace and Reconciliation Committee headed by the governor of Nasarawa State, Umar Tanko Almakura which met with aggrieved members, political analysts of the situation in the state are left wondering how the move will appease the aggrieved and give victory to APC which won the state in a landslide against the then ruling PDP. Let us now look at the strength of the APC candidate, the incumbent governor who has since weathered the storm and seem to be in good stead to deliver the party.
Abubakar – His Ace
Daily Sun reports that Abubakar’s strength is the power of incumbency which governors in Nigeria enjoy immensely and deploy effectively to their advantage most times. Based on this, Abubakar may enjoy the advantage of security apparatus and government privileges both at the federal and state levels more than other governorship contestants in the state. On synergy, the afore mentioned must work together with the governor. Although MA Abu-Bakar’s government was met with challenges at the initial stage where major stakeholders of the party, especially the people that formed the party perceived that they were not carried along by the governor, the number one citizen seems to have weathered the storm to clinch the ticket of his party. Recall, for example that political heavyweights such as Dr Lame, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, late Senator Ali Wakili, Senator Nazif Gamawa, were well known people that claimed they were not carried along because of their irreconcilable differences with Governor Abubakar. Apart from incumbency factor, his appointment of first class kingmakers in Misau and Katagum emirates earned Abubakar more respect, especially among the people of Katagum emirate who occupy the largest local government in the state, apart from Bauchi Local Government Area. Picking his deputy from Katagum axis also earned Abubakar massive support from the area, not to talk of the unflinching support of influential politicians like Alhaji Kaulaya Aliyu, a prominent veteran politician from Katagum, as well as the support of Alhaji Yayaye Ahmed, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF. Abubakar achieved what amounts to a masterstroke when his predecessor, Isa Yuguda defected from the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) to the APC and pledged total support to him. This move will boost the governorship bid of Abubakar because Yuguda still enjoys large followers hip in the state. The incumbent governor may also rally the people of Bauchi State to see the importance of the road contracts awarded by his administration in Bauchi, Misau, Azare and other parts of the state, though many of the road projects are still on -going. The governor has also awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of some primary and secondary schools in the state. These gestures and the assistance he used to render to muslim and christian communities during festivities might boost his chances ahead of the election. Abubakar will rely on his loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari, who has very large followers in the state to win the contest, because in all his campaigns, he strategically joinss his copies and pictures with that of Buhari Support groups.
Again, the primary election of APC in the state put the governor on the defensive. Some may decide not to support him. The MA Abubakar political camp may have problem with the outcome of the primaries. For instance, some former die-hard supporters of Abubakar such as Bappa Aliyu Misau are aggrieved that they lost in the primaries and some of their supporters had to come out publicly to say that they won’t support him in the gubernatorial election.
In Toro, supporters of Dabo, who contested for Bauchi South senatorial district seat twice and lost are dissatisfied and aggrieved.
In Dass, Safiya Illiasu is well loved by her people but her dream to represent them at the National Assembly is becoming a mirage. Both Dabo and Sefiya contested the Bauchi South senatorial district primaries thinking that they will get the support of Abubakar, but did not. The Dass people love Sefiya and people of Toro, which gave one of the largest number of votes to Dabo. Both lost and their supporters feel the governor did not support their aspirations and some of their supporters might take their pound of flesh, and should they do, it might reduce Abubakar’s chances. Whether the NWC Peace and Reconciliation committee can heal the wounds is yet to be seen.
Again, the feud with the major stakeholders in the APC such as Speaker Yakubu Dogara who has defected with his huge support base to the PDP might affect Abubakar’s second term bid. The governor also has issues with founding members of APC such as Dr Yakubu Lame. He also fell out with others like Captain Bala Jibril.,Ambassador Yusuf Miatama Tuggar, Sanu Shehu Sani Mallam, one time ANPP
chairman, Alhaji Musa Azare, Hon Harsanu Guyaba, Hon Shuaibu Rahama, Hon Aminu Tukkur, Hon Maryam Garba Bagel, to mention just a few. Many watchers of events believe this is a weakness that might count against the incumbent governor’s hope of retaining his seat. Already, the unresolved feud with Dogara, Senators Nazif Gamawa, Isa Hamma Misau had led to their defection to other parties. Although their die-hard supporters and foot soldiers are still in APC, they will likely work against Abubakar in the general elections. Also, when Abubakar assumed duty, he deposed some of the newly created traditional chiefdoms in the state, done by his predecessor and the people and communities affected are still angry with him, a feeling that may count against him at the polls. Though there is stability in payment of salaries, the non payment of leave grant arrears, yearly increments and gratuity to pensioners currently pitch workers and pensioners and their families against the governor.
There are uncertainties as to whether former Bauchi governor Isa Yuguda, who is his childhood friend, has left GPN to APC and may support him. If Yuguda decides to support Abubakar, it will be an added advantage because of his large support base in the state.
The incumbency factor, the loyalty of Bauchi governor to President Buhari and the president’s large followership in Bauchi might swing votes for Abubakar during the election.
Senator Bala Mohammed (PDP)
PDP is one of the strongest parties that has all the structures required to win elections in Bauchi State. Mohammed emerged its candidate in a smooth primary election that was devoid of the rancor and attendant complaints that trailed that of the APC in the state. Mohammed contested against Senator Abdul Ningi and Senator Adamu Gumba to emerge winner, with the losers immediately congratulating him and pledging to support the PDP to wrest power from the APC.
One good thing that may work for Mohammed is the fact that the PDP has structures in all the 20 local government areas as well as in the grassroots (wards) in the state, which is a major boost for the party -to have strength to win the election. Senator Mohammed, popularly known as Kaura, comes from the royal family of Duguri in Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state. His background will give him an added advantage as the minority ethnic groups such as Jarawa, Dugurawa, Seyawa, Boyawa, and all minority ethnic groups in the state will queue up to support him because of the cultural affiliation and affinity that binds them. Secondly, as a prince and title holder of the Bauchi emirate, Senator Mohammed may likely get the support of all the six emirates of the state for the fact that he will be regarded as their son that is contesting. In all the six emirates, Daily Sun learnt, Mohammed’s father had a good relationship with them all.
Thirdly, as a former minister, Senator Mohammed, despite that he is from the same zone as Abubakar (Bauchi South), the zone with the largest number of registered voters, may likely get the support of all the PDP stakeholders considering the way PDP put its
house in order, as grievances among aspirants were either minimized or wiped out. For example, after the PDP governorship primaries, contestants such as Senator Abdul Ningi immediately congratulated Mohammed. Note that Speaker Dogara , Senator Nazif and Senator Misau as well Ahmed Yerima (representing Misau federal constituency) contested their seats unopposed. This stability in the opposition party is an
added advantage to the PDP governorship candidate. A generous politician, the way Mohammed carried people of Bauchi State along when he was FCT minister and his unflinching and undying support to PDP after Yuguda left the party, is something that the party faithful will never forget and will be ever willing to reciprocate.
Mohammed has some EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission} cases in his name in court which may likely work against his chances at the polls, even as he has denied all the charges leveled against him. Secondly, Mohammed may have challenges fighting the government in power.
As the fight gets tougher, he may lose some of his supporters to the ruling party, because he is disadvantaged in the fight. Mohammed, though from Bauchi south, must do a lot to win the hearts of the people of Bauchi central and Bauchi north districts,where the governor has tactically “captured.” For instance, Abubakar has upper hand in Bauchi north because stakeholders like Kaulahaya Aliyu, Yayale are backing him. Besides, Abubakar has political appointees that are in the field to work for his success. Though Mohammed too has notable politicians from the north like Aminu Yapeko, and Bala Admu Kariya from Bauchi Central, he still needs to do more to go down to the electorate in these districts because they are more.
With the current PDP structures, if Mohammed is able to reach the registered voters in the grassroots, and if they agree to come out on election day to vote for him, he may win the election.
Professor Ali Pate (PRP)
After losing out to Abubakar in what he described as akin to “war” APC primaries, Pate has reportedly pitched his camp with People’s Redemption Party (PRP), as the governorship candidate. The most educated among the contestants, Pate has the experience as a former minister and as a technocrat who served on a global stage. Among all the gladiators, Pate is the man presumed by residents to be talking about the real issues bedeviling the state.
Despite Pate’s experience, he is still considered by many as a novice in politics. He needs to have a good campaign structure that he will be maintaining over and through the years like other political actors do. Initially he was a member of PDP when he served as a minister under President Goodluck Jonathan, but defected to APC after he lost PDP governorship primary election to Aulwa Jatau in 2015 . Again, he contested in APC in 2018 but again lost to Abubakar in the primaries, a development which angered him to seek ticket on the platform of PRP . Even though PRP is an old political party, with the slogan of being a party for the masses because of the late Mallam Aminu Kano, the founder of the party, it has few followers in Bauchi State. This is a disadvantage to Pate. Except if the majority of voters are looking for a candidate with merit, irrespective of party, they may likely consider voting for Pate. But Pate needs to do a lot of hard work by selling PRP to the grassroots in the state, a task that will be herculean.
Pate may win if the electorate will listen to his campaigns, manifestoe and plans for the state. They may see him as the best among the candidates and vote for him if he is able to convince them.
Baheejah Mahmood (ACD)
She is the only woman contesting for the seat of governor of Bauchi State. Mahmood’s party, Action Congress of Democrats (ACD) is a party created by late governor of Katsina State, Lawal Kaita when they tried to stop Obasanjo from his third term bid. The party’s motto is goodbye to poverty, which is the major challenge of people in Nigeria today. Mahmood is a well-known philanthropist who renders support to women and the less privileged in the society. She served under Isa Yuguda as the Director-General of the Bauchi State Orphans and Vulnerable Children Agency. During her tenure, she tried to establish centres across the 20 local government areas, though it wasn’t actualized, as some
were not completed. She did pretty well by bringing hope to the less privileged in the society when she convinced the then state government to create an agency for the poor by removing 1 per cent from each state worker’s salary to fund the agency to assist the poor. Mahmood will rely on the support of women groups in the state to win the governorship election and she feels it is time for orphans and vulnerable children who appreciate her efforts to see her as someone who will bring the desired change that men failed to bring.
She is the only woman among male contestants and this might work against her as the politics in the country in general and the state in particular is male dominated and skewed to favour male politicians.
Secondly, Mahmood’s party, ACD is a new party in Bauchi State and it has no strength of winning elections because it has no widespread structures across the state. This might count against her.
If women who are the majority of voters with Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) will come out to show solidarity for one of their own and vote for her, she will be the candidate to beat.