With the conclusion of primary elections of the two major political parties in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), last weekend, focus now shifts to the real battle to actually ‘capture’ the states. This, in other words, is about moving from potency to action. And one state where the battle is expected to be fierce is Kaduna.
However, what will define the ‘battle’ is captured in the immortal words of Alexander Cannon, British psychiatrist, occultist, hypnotist and author, who lived between 1896 and 1963, where he said “a small mind is obstinate. A great mind can lead and be led.”
Those words summarize the narrative on the two gladiators in Kaduna State, Sen. Uba Sani of APC, and Alhaji Isa Ashiru of PDP. As it is, the two are potentialities. But one of them will wear the crown eventually.
However, in the quest to recruit Nasir el-Rufai’s successor, questions will be asked about the willingness of the Kaduna people to move from the height where el-Rufai has elevated its leadership and progress to scale back to the ‘progress’ recorded under the PDP leadership. Fact is, el-Rufai has moved leadership of the state to a higher pedestal. That pedestal now demands that “a great mind that can lead and be led” is elected to succeed the outgoing governor. Though it is the aspiration of every political party’s standard-bearer to win the final election, the task of governance is not the turf for “a small mind that is obstinate” I guess this is where the Kaduna PDP is at.
Sani and Ashiru have served Kaduna people from both chambers of the National Assembly. While Uba Sani serves Kaduna as a senator, Ashiru served for two terms as a member of the House of Representatives for Makarfi/Kudan federal constituency. But those who are versed in reporting activities of Nigeria’s federal legislature say that Uba Sani has been more active and productive. They count the number of bills he has so far sponsored and the ones that have successfully gone through legislative action and have been signed into law by the President of the Republic and conclude that he is worthy of the office. These details are brought in to confront Ashiru, who is alleged to have enjoyed eight years at the Green Chamber without as much as sponsoring even one bill, or presenting any motion of importance to Kaduna State or of national importance. These are part of the credentials the two political gladiators are taking to the campaign ground as they tour Kaduna to convince the people that they are best suited to succeed el-Rufai.
On the other hand, though Ashiru had oscillated between PDP and APC, he has, however, been unlucky not to undergo tutelage under el-Rufai. This is where the outgoing governor showed something different in the leadership recruitment process. El-Rufai had, in his tour of service to Nigeria, pulled Sani along. This is a strategic way to prepare the man for the task ahead. It also means that el-Rufai has understudied the senator and understands his capabilities and weaknesses. This is one very crucial factor in leadership recruitment. The recruiter must be in a position to vouch for the character and capacities of the recruit. This is similar to what happens in the Igbo apprenticeship system. When a master graduates his apprentice and ‘settles’ him, he does so with a level of enthusiasm that, having been well trained, the apprentice will become successful while his master keeps an eye (guidance) on his growth from a distance.
To many people in Kaduna, el-Rufai’s choice and support for Uba Sani is apt. They see him as most prepared for the mantle. They also express the belief that he will win the governorship election with a very wide margin. This belief stems from their appreciation of the job el-Rufai has done in pushing the development narrative of the state a notch higher. For these people, the governor did not only advance infrastructural development of the state, he also was able to re-calibrate the civil service system for optimum service delivery.
These indicators, many Kaduna residents insist, will count against the PDP and its candidate as the foundation of Kaduna’s future now has a solid base that the people are not in a hurry to destroy. Therefore, looking the way of PDP and its candidate for a successor to el-Rufai is akin to systematically dismantling the progress the people now relish.
Though PDP will struggle hard to market Ashiru, it is doubtful that it will find any indicators to convince the people with. Perhaps, it will dwell more on insecurity in Kaduna state. But the people already understand that the failure of security across the country is not something that any governor would legitimately be held responsible for because the security architecture of Nigeria, constitutionally, domiciles control of the command structure of the security apparatus in the Federal Government. In other words, no Nigerian governor can reasonably be held accountable for the inability of the military, police of paramilitary agencies to track down and eliminate insurgents. At best, what they can do, as permitted by law, is the organisation of vigilance services and advising the Federal Government, which, however, is not bound by any legislation to act on the advice. And, until the Constitution is amended to decentralize the command and control structure of the military and police, el-Rufai and his brother-governors, and those who succeed them, cannot be held responsible for inability to rein in insurgents across the country.
For now, el-Rufai has cast his focus on what he wants. He wants the growth and development of Kaduna State. He wants the progress of its people. He wants a better tomorrow for the people. And his own way of sustaining the development he has thus far achieved is to ensure that a mind that is mentally prepared, having undertaken the right kind of education, and which has capacity to lead and also listen, is elected to carry on the transformative work he started. This is why most people in Kaduna State, irrespective of political party affiliation, are joyous that Uba Sani will eventually become their governor. Their only concern is that the few remaining with Kaduna PDP also see where the candle has been lit and follow the light, because, as they say, “after el-Rufai, na Uba”.