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Published On: Wed, Oct 24th, 2018

Political parties, primary elections and matters arising

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By Mansir Lawal Kaware

Things being equal, all parties that require to stand for elective offices in Nigeria must have submitted the list of their candidates to INEC by the 7th of October, 2018. INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave 18th of November, 2018 for kick-off campaigns across the nation for Presidential and National Assembly elections and 1st of December, 2018 for Governors and members of State Houses of Assembly.
There may, however, be some adjustments based on unforeseen circumstances or otherwise as the case may be. It is, therefore, normal for one to consider the positive side of the coin. It is usual for primary elections to raise dust even as the issue in Zamfara happens to be so dicy as opposed to the happenings.
The application of all the three options of primary election on the APC constitutions, that is direct, indirect and consensus system of primary election gave room for the individual states to act along the track that suits them. But one argument that was blindly carrying those involved away from reality is the advocation of the system that is opposite to what incumbent politicians chose by those contesting for the seats against them. It is a fact that no mater the system considered, those in control could always have their way. There is no magic in it and it does not require any seek and hide game because whoever knows politics, can weight the personalities involved and can by extension predict what the result of the election would be based on their leaning. To pick an example with the recent Osun election, when there was a decision by INEC that election was inconclusive, Bukola Saraki who held sway for PDP in Osun election rushed to Iyola Omisore because having polled third in the race his people can decide where the pendulum would swing. But when the APC delegation went to him, he gave them his words, which made PDP to know that it was losing the election. It was, therefore, unnecessary for the PDP to disagree with the result because they knew that with Omisore supporting APC they were not going to win the election, but only pretending to fight on.
If one takes a look at Katsina APC Primary election particularly that of the Governor, no matter the system of election adopted for the primary, Governor Aminu Bello Masari was going to win it. While we salute the courage of the two aspirants for confronting the Governor despite the intimidating structures that identified with him, it was clear that it was only a matter of giving it a trial that made them to fill the nomination forms. Like all other professions, politics also deals with experience and influence coupled with long standing relationship with the political stakeholders which could always give one an age over others. Take a brief of 2, 3 or 5 persons on the side of the state Governorship primary to indicate how the voting could have gone, no matter the system chosen. Lets start with the Governor himself, Aminu Bello Masari was a commissioner of Works in 1991, during the administration of Governor Sa’idu Barda who was then picked from Katsina State Water Board as a Director. He was with the UNCP in 1998 and attempted the Senatorial Seat of Katsina South. He was at the House of Representatives under PDP and was Speaker of the lower chamber in 2003. He joined the Katsina Governorship race in 2007, under PDP, he was also in the race of that seat in 2011 under CPC and took shot at it again in 2015 under APC which he won and currently serving his first term as Katsina State Governor.
The Deputy Governor Quantity Surveyor Mannir Yakubu contested the seat of Katsina Central Senatorial seat for about four times and is now the serving Deputy Governor of the state.
The Secretary to the Government of the State Alhaji Mustaoha Mohammed Inuwa, has an intimidating record of political participation in Katsina State. This is because he contested the House of Representatives seat of Safana, Batsari, Danmusa twice, he was a General Manager of KTSTA. He was commissioner of Education and Secretary to the State Government, he was the party state chairman under which the present APC Government was elected before he was again appointed as Secretary to the Government of the State – SGS by the present administration.
Dahiru Bara’u Mangal is today the political magnate of Katsina State. During the PDP days, he was referred to as GOC of Katsina politics, but he left the PDP in the wake of 2015 elections.
While President Buhari did not throw his weight behind any candidate, PDP top shots who left the party and join APC at the instance of Governor Masari and their supporters not leaving out commissioners, Special Advisers and their people were all set for the primary elections to pick the Gubernatorial flag bearer of the party.
Should there be any tug of war over any type of election all these political jourgnauts were lining-up behind Governor Masari. Therefore for anyone to complain of any wrong doing in Katsina Governorship primary election would only amount to crying wolf where there was none.
National and state assembly primary elections have equally raised their attendant problems and it is now for the parties to employ appropriate mechanisms of resolving the issues that followed. The PDP in particular is celebrating the APC crisis as they expect to give them more members and protest votes. As for the PDP which is the opposition party its primary elections also had problem in certain quarters but not much is being heard because the prospect of winning elections under the party are not very bright. The APC Presidential Primaries produced President Muhammadu Buhari as a sole candidate. While the PDP has produced Atiku Abubakar as its candidate after winning the primary election among twelve aspirants. Those who contested the election with him and other PDP members in Diaspora have all supported him. By PDP members in Diaspora we are not referring to those outside Nigeria but those who are not contesting for any election, but would like to protect their ill-gotten wealth. Those who contested against him were also quick to back him because they are having one problem or the other with the different anti-graft bodies. Like a Cobra, all the notable Extra rich individuals who served in military or civilian Governments are out fighting President Buhari’s second term bid, because it is now that they felt the actuality of RARARA Song “MASU GUDU SU GUDU” will come to play. Theopelus Y. Danjuma, Obasanjo, IBB and of surprise to me General Wushishi and Abdulsalam are all Generals that are running from pillar to pole to stop Buhari in the name of five most powerful Generals who were allegedly represented by General Aliyu Gusau at Port-Harcourt Convention of 6/10/2018 to produce Atiku as PDP flag bearer. One wonders how they became the most powerful Generals even as General Gowon is still alive, except the reference is for those who have something to hide. Afenifere Christian elders, Christian bodies, Shi’ites, South – South Elders and South East are all rushing to support Atiku and the PDP. Femi Fani Kayode who was looking for employment and has got one with Atiku as campaign organization spokesman and a host of others, are all shouting that they are for Atiku. But left to me, there is no news out of all these. All of them were with PDP in 2015, and their support to it did not stop Buhari from winning even as opposition candidate.
Those who allegedly saw Atiku’s coming as a way of winning election because of his money have mistaken. The 4,000 delegates and so, allegedly bought over to give Atiku victory in Port-Harcourt could not translate to the voting pattern of 70 – 80 million electorates. More so what is so special about Atiku becoming PDP candidate since Jonathan and PDP lost the election as sitting President. The introduction of religions leaders directly into the Atiku campaign as we saw on the pages of Newspapers Ahmed Gumi and Mathew Hassan Kukah will also not get Atiku, Obasanjo and Co. across the line. PDP was elected only once in 1999, even then it was alleged to be with the support of the Federal Military Government the rest were only seizure. Atiku himself has only two ways of winning election, rigging and using his power to instruct for straight change of election result as he was alleged to have done in some North Eastern States when he was the Vice President in 2003, these opportunities are no longer with him. The power of real grassroots voters and the ability to enlighten the public on issue based political game is to facilitate determination of who the electorates will vote for in 2019.
The fireworks of the APC publicity Engine room of 2015 was greater than that of the PDP. Even for the 2019, the new National Publicity Secretary of the APC Lanre Issa Onilu is beyond the PDP layman in Femi Fani Kayode. Femi Fani Kayode is only good in the use of abusive language, and he should mind his language because unlike in 2015 when he sat in the comfort of Aso Roack Protection, call the bluff of everybody and give matching orders to state House correspondent to carry whatever rubbish he said, his outbursts this time around would have to be subjected to editing rules and NTBB clarity.
One other issue in which the PDP backpedalled is the issue of picking Vice President. It is clear now that they cannot rub shoulders with Tinubu in the South – West even with Obasanjo endorsement of Atiku and has moved to South – East to pick one. It will still not be business as usual, as some of the Igbo Politicians have already pitched tent with APC, while the South-East PDP Governors do not see Peter Obi as one of their own because he was a Governor under APGA flag. Therefore it wouldn’t be a smooth sail for the PDP. Saraki and Wike will have to be checked against 2019, because the killings in Rivers and the Offa Bank Robbery Saga have indicated that the voting patterns in those states are more of coercion other than the application of individual voters conscience. In Kano Ganduje has proved to show his head above the water compared to Kwankwaso. The problem of fielding candidates as it affects Kwankwaso faction has clearly brought Rabi’u Kwankwaso on his knees in the face of confronting the supporters of former Kano State Governor Shekarau, that of sitting Governor Ganduje and President Muhammadu Buhari. Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State missed the direction. As an incumbent Governor, no matter the voting pattern adopted he could have won the election. His major mistake was stopping other aspirants from contesting and going ahead to conduct his own primary election without recourse to the panel sent to do the work by the APC National Secretariat. He must realize that nothing operate in a vaccum, otherwise some people could have simply gathered into the Government House and claim authority as opposed to him. Aminu Tambuwal is another possible casualty, his probability of winning even as incumbent Governor is very slim. Wamako’s home coming after Tambuwal’s defection has already diminished him. All his out bursts now and gathering people to welcome him after every trip, is no longer relevant. Though a sitting Governor in Benue Ortoms exit from APC is no longer making news around the political arena either in the North Central or Nigeria as a nation.
Nigerians should not panic over the shouting into the air by some big names through PDP support that are struggling to save the wealth in their possession which do not rightly belong to them. The real electorates are still with Buhari their APC Governors and the APC, those who are in doubt would only realize it when it is too late for them to make amend. There is no cause for alarm, the APC will coast to victory in 2019 by God’s grace.

Mansir Lawal Kaware writes in from Katsina State.

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