By Hassan Gimba Ahmed
It has not been easy, but then nothing worthwhile in life is. The story of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Yobe has been that of the bride who always bungled her wedding day. In 1999, the party had 10 out of 17 local government chairmen in Yobe and over 50% of the state’s 178 councillors, but the governorship seat eluded it.
Intra-party crisis made its gubernatorial candidate, Eng. Babagoni Machina lose to the then All People’s Party’s Bukar Abba Ibrahim. The PDP’s consolation, apart from the chairmen and councillors it got, was a senator, two members of the House of Representatives and eleven of the twenty-four House of Assembly members.
In the elections of 2003 and 2007, with Adamu Maina Waziri as its gubernatorial candidate, the party tried its best to fight the incumbent and the intimidating and overwhelming structure of the ruling party and the state and its presence in the electorate’s socio-economic affairs. Here and there, it has at least a senator, some members in the House of Reps and a couple of members in the State House of Assembly.
In the gubernatorial elections, it always comes second best, beaten by a couple of thousands. In 2007, Waziri lost to the late Mamman Ali by 14,787.
The PDP however got its worst pounding in the 2011 elections, when its candidate, the late Usman Albishir lost by 190,000 votes to Ibrahim Gaidam, the current governor, who had 360,000 votes.
Of course the intra-party squabbles of 2011 were the worst crisis the party had ever had at the state level since its formation. The build-up to the party’s gubernatorial primaries was rancorous, largely pitching foundation members against newcomers who had decamped from the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). The primaries were very acrimonious, leading to the loss of life. Worst of all, the winners failed to be magnanimous enough to carry the losers along. Needless to say, the party came out a cropper, losing everything but a sole member into the House of Reps.
Now the party has candidates for all elective offices in the state, though even that was not easy. All the aspirants wanted to become candidates, with the hope and determination to win the election so as to contribute to the development of the state. But as expected, only one candidate emerged from the plethora of aspirants and naturally, the losers were left sore and crying foul, so as to get sympathy. But to know when enough is enough is also a pointer to a good politician.
Here, political sagacity and diplomatic dexterity must take over. And this is exactly what happened. The leader of the party in Yobe, Dr Abdu Bulama, who is the Minister od Science and Technology, deftly managed the crisis and brought everybody to the same table and those who lost out were compensated in one way or the other; everybody went home happy. The gubernatorial candidate, Adamu Maina Waziri too went out of his way to visit the aggrieved, in order to mend fences and work together.
Throughout, Dr. Bulama, who has the mien of humilty and simplicity, proved that when the need arises, he can display internal, cast iron strength. He remained focused and refused to be swayed or distracted from his task of conducting a credible process that brought out the candidates and welded the party into a strong and united machine, primed to deliver.
The result of Bulama and Waziri’s efforts, with the understanding and support of the aggrieved, has now made the PDP in Yobe stronger than ever before and united beyond the wildest dreams of its die-hard supporters, who have been members from the beginning and have witnessed, with sadness, its fortunes dwindle. But now a strong, united front where everyone looks out for each other has been forged.
Hope that this time around the PDP in Yobe will get it right is palpable and infectious, more so as this is going to be the first time that the party will go into elections having a serving minister. It is expected that Dr. Bulama will bring his wealth of experience and political acumen to bear and have history record him as Yobe’s game changer.
More needs to be done by political actors, however, because at this time when alignment and realignment will be intensified, pressure on the political skills, maturity, sincerity and leadership qualities of all who lay claim to party leadership and boast of followership will doubtless be exerted. Their ability to reign in ‘galloping horses’, smooth ruffled feathers, soothe frayed nerves and retain the loyalty of their followers and their membership of the party will no doubt be a reference point for the future.
Gimba is an Abuja-based journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org