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Published On: Fri, Aug 22nd, 2014

2015: Bumpy road to Katsina Government House

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From Lawal Sa’idu Funtua, Katsina

As the march towards the 2015 general elections intensifies, political permutations and forecasts remain shrouded in mystery and uncertain as far as Katsina politics is concerned.

This has left political pundits still guessing as to who would be the likely candidate that would take over from Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema as governor of the state.

Late last year rumours were rife that the governor may have endorsed either of the numerous candidates vying to succeed him. But as we enter the critical period of the transition towards the 2015 election, these permutations begin to fade away. Though, there is no clear pointer as to who will succeed Governor Shema in 2015, there are certain perceived factors that could play a role in determining who will be the governor of the state.

A careful recap of what happened in the politics of the state from 1999 to 2011 would provide a good lead on how things could be determined in Katsina politics in 2015. In 1999 the late governor of the state who later became the President of Nigeria in 2007, Alhaji Umaru Musa ‘Yar’adua, climbed on the structures of his late father, Alhaji Musa ‘Yar’adua and late brother, General Shehu Musa ‘Yar’adua to place himself on a vantage to win the guber seat.

Similarly, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo had special interest in him due to his relationship with his late brother, General ‘Yar’adua. Equally of importance was the late governor’s experience in politics since the days of Aminu Kano’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) to the time of the Social democratic (SDP) where he contested the governorship seat in 1991 and lost to Alhaji Sa’idu Barda of the National Republican Convention (NRC).

In 2007, the incumbent governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema was selected by the PDP through the influence of the former governor, Alhaji Umaru Musa ‘Yar’adua, who was then contesting for the Presidency. At the party primaries in 2007, the governor with the full support of the then governor, frustrated other candidates from contesting the primaries.

It would be recalled that the then secretary of the state government, Alhaji Mustapha Inuwa, former Executive Secretary of the PTDF and former minister of agriculture, Alhaji Abba Sayyadi Ruma, manipulated and actualized the governor’s emergence as the PDP candidate. The elders and other caucus of the party were made to offer their full support for the success of his election.

In 2011, when the governor was seeking re-election, it turned out to be an entirely new game. Firstly, the late President ‘Yar’adua, his mentor and leader of the party in Katsina state was no more. So despite his running battle with the Abuja group, supported by the late president, Shema assumed the leadership of the party in Katsina state.

By implication, since he was eligible to seek for re-election, nobody could dare challenged him, thus paving the way for him to emerge as the sole gubernatorial candidate of the party. However, Shema was to experience a bitter political test during the 2011 elections when, within the twinkle of an eye, the governor’s party lost all the three senatorial seats in the state, while also winning only three out of the 15 House of Representatives seats.

The PDP lost the senatorial seats to the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with the party also convincingly winning the presidential votes in the state. This pundits said sent shivers to the governor’s camp but due to the political wrangling within the CPC, the governor survived the storm and won the election.

However, the political intrigues so far playing in the state is suggesting a different ball game in the 2015 election. At the beginning of last year, names of potential candidates such as the state commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Musa Adamu Funtua, the minister of solid minerals, Architect Musa Sada, the incumbent deputy governor of the state, Barrister Abdullahi Garba Faskari, the incumbent Controller-General of Customs, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, one Engineer Dan Bello, Senator Ibrahim Ida, Alhaji Murtala Safana, Alhaji Abdullahi Tsauri (TATA) the incumbent Executive Secretary at the National Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Dikko Suleiman, dominated the Katsina Political space. But despite these much touted names, the political atmosphere still remain hazy.

In the last few weeks rumours began to fly that the governor has endorsed the incumbent minister of solid minerals as his possible replacement. With this rumour, tension began to rise among various interest groups within the PDP and the state at large. This culminated into series of political meetings by various groups in the state.

A Katsina state consultative meeting organized by one Ali Sani where various decisions on the future leadership of the state were reached. Similarly reports indicated that these rumour drew wide opposition from various PDP stakeholders.

Similarly political pundits are of the view that with the continued silence from the state governor regarding his successor, he may after all be digging his political grave. The reason behind this political thinking is that leadership, especially political leadership, has a recruitment process. Therefore, for the governor to keep mute over his successor portends danger for him and his party. Another thinking is that seeing the antecedents of PDP over the years, the party from the top may decide to force a candidate on him.

This line of thought, however, favours no other politician in the state than Senator Ibrahim Ida. Ida is a seasoned civil servant. He was at various times permanent secretary of some ministries. He was secretary vision 2010 during the Abacha days, he was a senator representing Katsina Zone in Katsina state from 2007 to 2011. Ida became Vhief of Staff to the former chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and was appointed by the President as a delegate to the just concluded National Conference.With his connections and wealth of experience, many see Ida as the candidate to beat. The Senator is conversant with the PDP politics at the top and this may give him an edge as the party may decide to endorse him. The recent de-facing of his election posters and bill boards by unknown persons has also improved his popularity rating. Ida has also quietly spread his political structures across the state independent of the PDP and the governor’s political structure.

The elites in Katsina state, are this time around, also showing interest in the political happenings in the state. Therefore, they would play a vital role in deciding who becomes governor. Similarly the traditional institutions, despite their non partisan posture, still have a voice in deciding who becomes the governor of Katsina state come 2015.

The All Progressives Congress (APC), the largest and the most popular opposition party in Katsina state also have a chance of clinching power in the state in 2015. The party currently has three senators and 13 members of the House of Representatives. The leader of the party, General Muhammadu Buhari is very popular in both the state and beyond.

The major problem of the APC in Katsina state is fragmentation of the party along individual interests. Lack of internal democracy in the party since its days as the CPC is a major challenge facing the party. Internal wrangling has prevented the party from putting its house in order. The use of Buhari’s name to scare away party men is still a factor retarding the growth of the party in the state.

However, politics and political events can change within 24hrs but, all the same, the 2015 politics in Katsina would be a mouth watering encounter. The ruling PDP would surely not find it easy to keep the power while the opposition especially, those in the APC, must put their house in order to clinch the governorship seat of the state.

 

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