By Zayyad I. Muhammad
The race to the government house in Yola will be keenly contested, with a huge dose of influence from political bigwigs in the state and Abuja. However, tongue, faith, geography and money will also play crucial roles.
The bigwig politicians that would try to pull the strings are former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairman, Bamanga Tukur, Senator Jibril Aminu, present Minister Boni Haruna and Atiku Abubakar, while the presidency and some of its aides will also have inputs. Indeed, the Presidency’s interest will be a factor in the decision as to who gets the PDP ticket.
The battle will be between quite a few strong candidates within the two major political parties. The APC have Nuhu Ribadu, Salihu Bakari, Abdulazeez Nyako, while the PDP have former deputy governor BalaNgilari, AwwalTukur, Dr Ahmed Modibbo, Senator Bello Tukur, Buba Marwa, Marcus Gundiri, Dr Umar Ardo, Dr Idi Hong, Senator Abubakar Girei and probably Acting Gov. Umaru Ahmed Fintiri.
Considering the vast interests and the number of probable candidates each party has, internal party struggle is bound to play a major role on who emerges as each party’s flag bearer. This will cause certain permutations and cross-carpeting, it will also bring to the fore sensitive issues such as religion and ethnicity. For example, some people strongly feel the next Adamawa Gov should be a Christian, from the minority. Their argument is, Boni Haruna, a Christian, governed for 8 years and was succeeded by Murtala Nyako, a Fulani-Muslim who governed for about 7 years.
Without any written agreement of power rotation between Fulani/ Muslim and Christians/other tribes, Boni Haruna doggedly fought for a Fulani /Muslim- late Ibrahim Bapetal to succeed him. This set the trend and led to the emergence of Nyako as PDP candidate.
So, if the PDP do not properly manage the issues, the government house may be occupied by the ‘broom’ and not the ‘umbrella’. On their own parts, the candidates will have to rely on their political pedigree and connections with both power brokers and the grassroots.
Nuhu Ribadu has vast connections across Nigeria. Interestingly, his actions and inactions during his reign as EFCC chairman had helped in the emergence of Nyako as governor. Nuhu is well-read and urbane, but lacks grassroots contacts. He is the best candidate the APC can present because he does not have ‘lot of baggage’. However, if the APC gives him the ticket; the party has to painstakingly work on his inadequacies in the area of grassroots connection.
If Nyako had not been impeached, his commissioner and in-law Salihu Bakari could have been a candidate to beat. Bakari has built for himself strong grassroots support. But the current situation has changed things- his political significance has reduced drastically.
Another possible candidate that was hit hard by Nyako’s impeachment is his son- Abdulazeez. Abdulazeez Nyako was the de-facto governor of Adamawa state when his father was in-charge. Abdulazeez could have used government machineries and resources to secure the APC governorship ticket, but sheer fate has robbed him that rare opportunity.
Apart from their political pedigrees, candidates for PDP ticket must be in the good books of the presidency and the PDP stakeholders. Former deputy governor Bala Ngilari had the best chance of clinching the PDP ticket before he was forced to resign, greatly reducing his chances.
However, we should remember that in Adamawa, apart from political bigwigs and Abuja interests, tongue, faith and mundane issues also sometimes determine who gets what. Among the strong contestants in the PDP, Ngilari is the only Christian and minority, if tongues and faith prevail in the PDP, Ngilari will easily win. Notwithstanding he is an unlucky man- the politics of impeachment has thrown a spanner in his work.
Senator Bello Tukur is one of the astute politicians among the Adamawa MPs in the National Assembly. Tukur is also one of the strongest candidates in the PDP governorship ticket.
Tukur is a ‘smart’ politician- by Nigerian standards; he has been in the corridors of power since 1999. The Senator was once deputy to former Governor Boni Haruna when Atiku group was in control, then he jumped to Jibril Aminu’s camp, later to Nyako’s. He has a formidable structure and war-chest to contest for the PDP ticket.
Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Modibbo is one of the new entrants into politics in the state. He is the only contestant coming without any political baggage; he is well-educated and looks serious in terms of manifesto and political war-chest, including his wife’s strong popularity among youths and women. However, his opponents say he is into the contest and the PDP just to have a soft landing to avoid any investigation into his tenure as Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education.
Senator Abubakar Gireicame to limelight when he was elected senator. He contested against Boni Haruna in the 2003 PDP primaries- and got only two votes, from then he lost ground. His chances of winning the PDP primaries are very slim. Dr Aliyu Idi Hong, a former Minister, relied heavily on Senator Jibril Aminu. Dr. Hong’s politics always start and end with Senator Aminu. Hong will not pose a big threat to the well established contestants. Dr. Umar Ardo is the most vocal of all the contestants in the PDP- his opponents and some pundits see him as an armchair critic- because, since his venture into politics Dr Ardohas never filled any INEC form, nor contested let alone win any elective post.
For Gen Buba Marwa and Marcus Gundiri, their fate is in the hands of PDP national executives, because they have to get waiver for them to contest. However, Gen Marwa has been on ground for long, he is a strong candidate with past record of performance and experience and high-tech approach to winning electorates’ heart. During the 2011 PDP ward congresses, Marwa smartly beat Nyako, but his victory was later reversed. AwwalTukur, some people call him the man of the moment. He has been in politics for quite sometimes. Being the son of BamangaTukur and Bamanga’s life-long ambition is to see his son become the governor of Adamawa state. Awwal is seen as one of the candidate that will get strong support from the presidency and the Adamawa PDP executive.
For acting governor Umar Fintiri, if majority of the PDP bigwigs give him their nod, the game is over for the other candidates. This is because he has the incumbency advantage. On another hand, power brokers also have a say in who will occupy the government house. As things stand now, former vice president Atiku Abubakar would certainly exert huge power on the Adamawa APC. His huge war-chest will definitely give him the advantage to decide who gets the APC governorship ticket.
The PDP ticket will definitely be for the man that ‘Abuja’ chooses. And this is where the bubble will burst. Most of the PDP stakeholders that championed the impeachment of Nyako did so to achieve one cause or the other.
Zayyad I. Muhammad via email@example.com