Kaduna 2015: Factors, Issues, That May Shape The Guber Race
As the count down to the 2015 general election draws closer, political parties and the various aspirants for the governorship positions in the states are gearing up for the polls. ISAIAH BENJAMIN, in this write-up, takes an indepth look into the factors, strengths and weaknesses of the major contending political parties, and would-be candidates ahead of the election in Kaduna State.
The setting for Kaduna 2015 guber race can easily be predicted on the surface by any political pundit. By simply going into the political history of the state, one can easily say, for certain, the direction the political pendulum would swing. There are two political parties: the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. This is so particularly, in Kaduna State, because all the other political parties only exist on paper as they have virtually fizzled without any political activity. Only recently, 21 of such political parties rallied round the PDP to endorse it as the party to beat in the state thereby giving up whatever political platform or leanings they may have to contest for any political position.
The realignment of these 21 political parties polarised the political situations in the state between the ruling PDP and the opposition, APC. While that is on the burner, there is no ruling out the issue of religion, which cannot be swept under the table even as north/south dichotomy will likely have its place when the countdown is set.
It is, however important to put on record that the two contending political parties in Kaduna State have about equal chances of clinching the governorship slot of the state, depending on who becomes their flag bearers and the processes that will produce such flag bearers. That is simply why, it will be absolutely difficult to pin down any party that will take the day regardless of whether such party is ruling or in the opposition. Be that as it may, the following factors would suffice as to which party will carry the day.
It is no longer news that the PDP has been, unchallengingly, in power in Kaduna State since 1999. It is also on record that the party had also dominated all the elective positions in the state to date, producing more representatives at the local, state and at the national level. Inspite of their performances wether good or bad, the party had continued to emerge on top through landslide victories in every elections until the 2011 general elections where the opposition APC almost shared the available positions for the state House of Assembly and that of the National Assembly slots on equal basis. At the local government levels, the PDP dominates the 23 local government areas of the state except one, which it losts due to contending issues unresolved before that election.
So, if the local government is the closest to the electorates who are by implication the grassroots, and all the chairmen pledge their resolve to work for their party, then the party is set to clinch power again. More important is the fact that most political appointees of the PDP are grassroots politicians who will certainly not leave any stone unturned to garner support for the party to either retain their positions or seek for an elective position. It could be recalled that the present Kagarko local government chairman who is also the ALGON chairman in the state, Yusuf Akusu Danjuma had stated at various times that the entire local government chairmen have unanimously resolved to support and work for the PDP in 2015.
In his words, “We will stop at nothing to ensure that the PDP is victorious in all of the elections in the state.” For the state chairman of the party, Chief Abubakar Gaiya Haruna in a recent interview, he had said, “PDP remains and will remain a house hold name in Kaduna State. We have continued to lead and will continue to lead, our works and achievements speak volumes. We have done it before; we are doing it and we will continue to do it even in 2015 and beyond”, he said.
The declaration of support and the willingness of the 21 deregistered political parties to work with the PDP ahead of the 2015 general elections in the state is, no doubt, another major plus for the party should those parties keep to their words.
These parties include the NPP, NSDP, MDJ, APN, CPN, JP, CAP, NRP, and NDP. Others are the HDP, ALP, PPP, PSP, NAC, NMDP, ARP, UNPD, RPN, PAC, ND and CDC.
Speaking during a grand reception for the political parties held at the General Hassan Katsina State House, Kaduna early this year, the Chairman of the United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), Alhaji Inuwa Ahmed who spoke onbehalf of the other political parties declared that the political parties and their members in the state have decided to join PDP as part of efforts to consolidate democracy and contribute their quota to developing the state.
He said, “The headquarters of the 21 political parties gave the chairmen and members the option to either join the ruling party, PDP or All Progressives Congress (APC) and they have unanimously opted to join the PDP under an umbrella known as the twenty one Political Party Alliance (PPA). Some of the reasons the leader of the PPA advanced for their decision to join the PDP was, according to him: “The PDP is still the most vibrant and democratic party in the country; PDP appears to be more organized and progressive in approach and more acceptable among the electorates.
“It was for some of these reasons that we met after our party headquarters gave us the levity to join any formidable party in the state to join the PDP.
“All the 21 political parties and PDP will join forces together to ensure that opposition party, APC does not gain any ground before the forthcoming 2015 elections”, he said then.
Ahmed then urged all the parties involved to remain focused and progressive in approach to issues concerning PDP, stressing, “We have joined the PDP to save Kaduna from being hijacked by the APC; moreso, to help consolidate on gains of democracy in the state under the PDP since 1999”. Suffix to also state unequivocally that in spite of these, the candidate that will fly the party flag will also be a major determinant as to the success or otherwise of the PDP in the forth coming governorship and other elections in the state.
Before the three legacy parties came together to form the APC, the CPC in the state gave a strong fight to the PDP in the 2011 governorship and other elective positions, and subsequently clinched some positions it contested for, but lost the governorship bid to the PDP in a keenly contested election. Although, the results of the election was challenged in the court by the party and the governorship candidate, Haruna Saheed, it was however lost on technical grounds.
Then came the APC. Unfortunately, since its emergence in the state, it has been bedeviled with one crisis or the other. Observers however said, it was expected because, for three political parties to come together to form a mega party, there will be issues of attempting to gain superiority over others by members of the merging parties. This, perhaps, explains why all the chairmen of the legacy parties in the just concluded state congress sought to become the party chairman of the APC.
The crisis started when some members kicked against the chairmanship of Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed-led state Interim Management Committee (IMC) as alleged concerted efforts were made to remove him by those who were not comfortable with him. This, however, was not successful but soon after, coupled with many other reasons, Dr Baba Ahmed opted to resign his position, which he later withdrew, and according to him, for persuasions from relevant stakeholders. Just as that was about to die down, the PDP defectors into the APC attempted to stamp their dominance and to possibly call the shots in APC, but some members of the legacy parties resisted the attempt , saying it would be a slap on their faces.
Then, the issue of who becomes the chairman of the party came up. Ten persons including former state chairmen of the legacy parties contested but all lost to Barnabas Bala Bantex. But the other contestants not comfortable with his emergence pointed accusing fingers on some national leaders then. They faulted the election and said it was rigged in his favour, a situation that resulted in the emergence of a splinter group.
Be that as it may be, the APC stands a good chance to wrestle power from the PDP in the state if the internal wrangling within the party members and particularly aggrieved members are amicably resolved and in good time, if for nothing, for the simple fact that it now has respected political players from the PDP who defected into its fold. This is coupled with the fact that tongues are already wagging about the unsatisfactory performance of the PDP-led present administration in the state.
The calibre or political pedigree of who becomes the party’s flag bearer will in no doubt play a major role.When the immediate past Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Attairu Tahir was contacted, he said APC is very ready to take over power from the ruling PDP in the state. According to him, “APC is going to provide a level-playing ground to all the aspirants. There is no anointed candidate as it is been speculated. Our chances are brighter with the non performing governor now and the promise of overwhelming supporters from the southern part of the state, where PDP normally gets its bloc votes. APC will emerge victorious because people are tired of PDP. The governor has not shown the ability and capability of moving the state forward; he is not living up to the expectations of the people, and nothing much is been done since Makarfi era. He also lacks field marshals that will be feeding him with the feelings of the people.
The power of incumbency is yet another factor that cannot be waved aside. Although it failed to work in the recent Ekiti election for reasons which include the elitist factor that was said to have worked against the incumbent, in Kaduna State, it may be a different ball game altogether.
The incumbent, Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero started as a finance commissioner from where he was elevated to the position of the deputy governor, and upon the death of the then governor, late, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, Yero became the governor. So many people see him as a governor having, some sought of, grassroots supports in view of his political positions prior to becoming the incumbent governor under the PDP. Although tongues are wagging about his slow nature of running affairs in the state, political experts posit that disposition will in no way affect his chances of retaining the seat. Therefore, to wrestle power from somebody adjudged to be ‘grounded’ politically with local, state and national support will require major efforts.
Just very recently at a stakeholders town hall meeting of the PDP, delegates from the 23 local governments in the state endorsed the incumbent governor for the 2015 governorship election in an occasion that witnessed a mammoth crowd.
If the presidency could be influential as alleged to the emergence of the Ekiti PDP governor, then it is not debatable that it would put more efforts at ensuring that PDP remains the ruling party in Kaduna State.This is because the Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo is from the state and was a governor before he was elevated to becoming the vice president after the demise of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua that saw Dr Jonathan becoming the president thereby creating a position for Sambo.
Although, the vice president lost his polling unit in all the elections in 2011 general elections, informed sources close to him however, said he has learnt his lessons and is ready to give it all it takes this time around to ensure that his home state remains in the hands of the PDP. With the PDP at the helm of affairs at the national level and in Kaduna State which is the headquarters of the North, the presidency will, certainly, not leave any stone unturned at putting in place whatever it will require to ensure that the state remains a PDP-led state in 2015.
It is an obvious fact that religion plays major role in politics in Nigeria and in Kaduna state. It will therefore not be an exception in the elections ahead. It is also a known fact that Kaduna State presently has been polarized on religious grounds with the Christians living and dominating the south, while the Muslims live and dominate the northern part of the state. It has been on record that since 1999, the Muslims have always produced the governor of the state with a Christians as deputy, except when the current vice president and his then deputy, now of blessed memory, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa took over and got elected in 2011. That changed the equation with Yakowa emerging as the first elected Christian governor. But that situation was short lived with his untimely death. The unfortunate occurrence upturned the the emerging status quo, thus reigniting the likely hitherto order of a Muslim governor and a Christian deputy.
So, it could be foolhardy for any political party in Kaduna State to want to change the subsisting but unwritten political arrangement.
Senator Makarfi’s Factor
For those who are familiar with the politics of Kaduna State, the role of Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi cannot not be ignored. He served as the governor of the state from 1999-2007 and handed over to the present vice president as governor. It must be said that Makarfi who is currently a two term serving senator, commands a lot of respect from the people of Kaduna State. He also attracts a lot of political followership. It was rumoured at some points that he was not particularly happy with the way and manner the state was managed after his administration, but he will not come out to speak on the matter when asked to do so.
Curiously, the senator, as it were, has not been featuring in most of the PDP caucus meetings in the state. It is either he is completely absent or, at best, it would be announced that he had sent a representative to such meeting. Although, he is still a member of the PDP, yet many of his supporters have so far defected to the APC, which some school of thoughts insinuate, could possibly not have been without his knowledge.
Feeling of Electorates
An electorate, Ebenezer Lukman said, “the present Governor has not shown any sign that he can rule this state. Since he came on board after the death of Yakowa, nothing concrete has been seen. But you know, the PDP will always have their way.”
For Mallam Mundi Abdullahi, “ As much as we are tired of the PDP, the crop of those in APC now are not likely to make any difference after all.
Others who spoke on the condition of anonymity expressed uncertainty over which party will govern the state in 2015.
Culled from Leadership
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