By Sanusi Muhammad
In his bid to answer the clarion call of the people to govern Bauchi State in 2007, Yuguda suffered series of frustration, threats, intimidation, insults and blackmail characteristic of the pull-down syndrome of Nigerian politics.
Today, as the permutation over who takes over from him gathers momentum with intense nocturnal and day light consultations from interested qualified and not qualified politicians some with questionable credentials and integrity problem, the people are logically scrutinizing those in the race across party divide that are likely to be trusted with the task. The perception of some of those in the race is that with money, they can bulldoze their ways to success while the wise ones are making underground efforts to convince those that matter before formal declaration.
Although money has a vital role to play in politics, credibility and integrity have better roles than display of wealth perhaps sourced from questionable channels. In 2007, Yuguda relied more on his credibility and strength of his integrity than display of wealth to attract sympathy to power. Some of those jostling for the position today are mere braggers lacking the desired financial clout, acceptability and integrity for a smooth sail with the exception of very few. Critics opine that majority of those in the race are not the desirable but in the race for hidden agendas against the welfare of the people.
To drive home a point, onetime special assistant to governor Yuguda on Youths and Sports, Yusuf Rakis, said “Majority of those masquerading as gubernatorial aspirants have nothing to show physically on the ground as contribution to the development of their immediate communities. No single investment or infrastructure worth N100million provided anywhere in the state by majority of them that is beneficial to the people. They are merchants on a mission against the good of the people”.
Babangida Isa Narabi, a youth leader and former commandant of Nigeria Peace Corp in Bauchi State, opined thus: “From the posters we see adorning major streets, the serious ones are yet to join the race. Bauchi State deserves to have better contestants than what we see and hear now. Yuguda should join hands with all the political parties to settle from the most credible of all the aspirants”.
Although Yuguda has consistently maintained his silence over the issue and denied anointing any possible successor to avoid overheating the polity, rumors are, however, ripe that Yuguda may finally settle for one of those perceived to be his close confidents. This is even thoughYuguda’s choice may not necessarily be the most qualified or accepted by the people at a go depending on how the game is played.
The Nigerian political landscape remains a knitted wave of incumbents throwing support to those they anoint for reasons not far from greed and cover of planks and other atrocities committed, while some hinge their claim on continuity of their philosophies. In his own case, Yuguda was neither an anointed successor nor member of the then ruling party which never deterred him to clinch power in the adjudged freest and fairest election ever in the political history of Nigeria. In 2011, he was re-elected that may expire on May 29, 2015 should there be an election.
As his terminal date approaches, those jostling for the top job are already at the field displaying all manner of credentials, expertise and prowess possibly to woe support from their party delegates. But the boggling question from discerning minds is whether most of them are even qualified for trust or are mere merchants on a mission to actualize a selfish agenda of greed? In a situation where the polity gets heated, many suggest Yuguda to summon courage and administer the very bitter pill he swallowed in 2007 in their party, PDP. He should not hesitate to separate the chaff from the grain by open support to the most credible in their PDP and lend support to the most in the other parties for Bauchi State to have the best that can serve with dexterity and passion not errand boys on the mission of their masters.
So far, over 15 aspirants have made bold their intention to carry the cross for the contest if mandated by their respective parties:-
Shehu Musa Gabam (Bauchi South)
He was a political associate of the late Abubakar Rimi, close confident of former military president, General Babangida and founding member of PDP Youths Vanguard and a shrewd politician. He is said to have played a vital role to the success of the Yuguda revolution in 2007 which earned him the plum position of Chief of Staff Bauchi Government House. In 2008, he was redeployed to Disaster Management for reason(s) not disclosed which he rejected and opted out of the government. Since then mischief makers continue to scuttle all efforts of normalizing his relation with Yuguda.
In 2011, he was the running mate to ANPP gubernatorial candidate, Senator Suleiman Nazif Gamawa, but lost the bid. Shehu is rumored to enjoy connection in high-places in national politics and believed to be a crowd puller and a schemer. Since his exit from the Yuguda administration, he kept a distance and maintained his silence to avoid further misunderstanding with his former political associate. He is believed to have the capacity and expertise to defeat his opponents for the flag of their party. His grass root political shrewdness and generosity may add value to his struggle.
Senator Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed: (Bauchi South)
He came to political limelight on the influence of Yuguda. He was Yuguda’s special assistant when the later was a federal minister but ‘forced’ to resign from federal civil service where he was for Bauchi south senatorial contest in 2007 and defeated his PDP opponent, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu now PDP national chairman. Bala was sponsored to contest the election on the platform of ANPP.
But when Yuguda defected from ANPP to PDP in July 2009, based on principles, Bala refused to follow and remained in the ANPP which caused a misunderstanding between him and Yuguda. After the demise of President Yar Adu’a and the brouhaha that ensued in 2010, Bala was one of those northern senators that courageously supported the confirmation of Goodluck Jonathan as acting president then vice president which earned him a ministerial appointment to represent the North-east in the federal executive council that caused his defection to the PDP which attracted condemnation and insults from a cross section of Bauchi south senatorial electorates. As a first time politician without the required structure on the ground, he may find it tough and cumbersome to defeat his opponents in the PDP despite his rumored financial capacity and connection at high places. Majority of the people opined that Bala may likely not have Yuguda’s or Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu’s endorsement in his struggle to fly the PDP flag but depends on how the game is played.
Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi (Bauchi Central)
He is one of the longest serving national legislators in Nigeria considered as courageous and reliable. He is aspiring to try luck and ostensibly to retain his position should the PDP zoning arrangement or primary election fail him. He is said to be highly connected and enjoys mutual respect within the polity. His records may add value to his aspiration depending on how he relates with the party and the people he aspires to govern. Abdul has been in the PDP since its creation in 1998/99 without shaking which caused him a temporary setback in his 2007 re-election to the Federal House of Representatives. He regained his electoral victory and political relevance through the court. In 2011, he made bold and contested the senatorial seat of Bauchi central which he won. He is now in the clique of those waiting to replace Yuguda in 2015 should the struggle favour him.
Senator Babayo Garba Gamawa (Bauchi North)
He made several attempts in the past to occupy elective positions until the Yuguda revolution rescued him from nose diving to political irrelevance in 2007. He was elected to Bauchi State House of Assembly and became the Speaker of the House against the zoning arrangement after the incumbent Halliru Jika (Bauchi central) was removed. Within a short period, Gamawa pushed forward to replace the impeached deputy governor, Garba Gadi in what many observers called a hatchet plan against democracy and the unity of Katagum. In 2011 instead of continuing as deputy to Yuguda which he was offered, he opted to contest the senatorial seat of Bauchi north. Majority rate his aspiration as a joke and intended to send shivers to his opponents for his re-election to the senate while others say he is not properly educated and exposed to occupy such a higher position. Whichever, Senator Gamawa remains in the race and making tremendous progress to reaching PDP delegates.
Dr. Musa Babayo (Bauchi North)
Little is known of the political capacity of Dr. Musa Babayo other than being a silent politician that knows how to play his game within his enclave. He confronts challenges in his own way without offending others. He has his connections in high places but lacks home base support even in his ancestral Katagum. He was once the acting national organizing secretary of the PDP and presently the chairman of Tertiary Educational Trust Fund (Tetfund). In 2012 he was a stooge of PDP governors in the North-east for the national chairmanship position of the party in the zonal congress along with Bamanga Tukur, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, Abba Aji, Dr. Shettima Mustapha, Prof. Ahmed Alkali etc and declared the ‘winner’ but that was turned-down at the national convention in favor of Bamanga Tukur who was rated as a better candidate. Dr. Babayo is not politically sound and accepted but he is in the race possibly to remain relevant in the system for rainy days.
Barrister Ahmad Ibrahim Dandija
He is a vibrant youthful politician blessed with political skills of tolerance. He played a commendable role in the revolution that brought Yuguda to power in 2007. He was appointed Secretary to the State Government until April 1 when he left. He is adjudged a reliable ally and loyalist to the ideals of the PDP. He served with caution and expertise as secretary to the State Government. Majority rate him as quiet, calculative, reserved and straight forward. His aspiration is rumored with majority hoping it surfaces. Dandija to many is an embodiment of humility, a passionate administrator, resourceful manager and soft-spoken liberal minded politician that can be trusted with service delivery with passion.
Abubakar Ahmed Kari (Bauchi Central)
He was supportive of the Yuguda revolution and one of its stabilizing pillars and foot soldiers throughout the trying period. He served the Yuguda administration in various capacities and remains a close and trusted ally. He enjoys massive support from across section of the people and highly calculative and accommodative with the required pre-requisite qualification to govern the state. His closeness to Yuguda may add value to his aspiration depending on which party he chooses to support.
Ibrahim Makama Kura Misau (Bauchi Central)
He is a retired police officer who served two governors as Aide de camp before joining politics in 2007. He represented Misau/Dambam in the Federal House of Representatives (2007 – 2011). He attempted to fly the flag of ANPP in the 2011 gubernatorial race but lost the bid. He is a reliable politician, highly calculative and tolerant. He may be the lucky flag bearer of the PDP although he may not have the required support of Yuguda but he has the courage and capacity to stand on his own and enjoys grass root support across the state.
Engr. Sadiq Mahmoud (Bauchi North)
He retired as a federal permanent secretary and an accomplished technocrat. He aspired in 2011 on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) but stepped down midway for obvious reason to prepare adequately for future encounter. He is a seasoned administrator with an impeccable character and reserved. He is adjudged as highly technical with a gifted mechanism of patience and tolerance. Sadiq enjoys tremendous support and respect within his party APC and possess the pre-requisite qualification to govern Bauchi State. He is one of the most qualified by any standard and relates very well with his people and has the uncommon knack for improved well being of humanity.
Barrister Ibrahim Zailani (Bauchi South)
Zailani is a level-headed politician, experienced and qualified by any standard to govern Bauchi State. He served as federal legislator on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP), 1999 – 2003 and displayed his prowess and dexterity in the national assembly that attracted him several encomiums. He is well connected in high places and enjoys relative support from the people.
Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame (Bauchi South)
He was a senator in the truncated third republic, founding member of the PDP and served Bauchi State and Nigeria in different capacities. He is a vibrant politician, an investor and a good team player who aspired to govern the state in 2003 on the platform of PDP and now aspiring on APC platform. He may have problems with his immediate constituency but he is an astute politician and determined to serve the state according to his blue-print if mandated. He is one of the serious contestants of the APC and highly connected to movers and shakers of national politics. He is still serving as the national secretary of Northern Union an NGO they co-founded with the late sage, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki to champion the cause of the north.
Magaji Duwo Udubo (Bauchi North)
He is a custom officer and new breed politician making efforts to try luck on the platform of PDP. He is said to be generous but yet to put the necessary structures on the ground for his rumored aspiration. As a newcomer to the game, he may find it tough to make any impact unless with the support of experts and good marketing strategists he may engage. Little is known of his political existence in the state. He holds the traditional title of Shettiman Jama’are.
Mahmoud Yayale Ahmed (Bauchi North)
His personality not only in Bauchi state but in Nigeria is an agglutinating fragrance that commands respect. He is an accomplished technocrat, a community leader of respect and a reserved personality. Majority of the people across party divide are prayerful to have him in the race for his wealth of experience in public administration and his anti-corruption posture. He is one of the most qualified by any standard to add value to the state. His aspiration is still in the rumor mill but if it eventually surfaces, he may be the flag bearer of the party he chooses and ascends the throne.
Dr. Ali Pate (Bauchi Central)
Pate is a political novice and a reserved professional who was probably dragged to partisan politics by accident or deceit from rabble rousers and habitual political merchants. He is neither known politically in Bauchi nor in his native Misau as a politician but he has suddenly joined the race for trial. Many rate him as a joker who is aspiring without direction. Whatever, he remains in the race although he has the pre-requisite qualification required but may not have the financial support he desires to confront the odds. Some rate him as a mean politician, highly westernized and an associate to President Goodluck Jonathan against the liking of a typical Bauchi electorate who hates anything to do with Goodluck.
Despite the odds, Pate is friendly, cheerful, tolerant and straight forward as said by those close to him.
Aminu Hammayo (Bauchi Central)
He was brought into the Yuguda administration as a stabilizer and a seasoned banker to manage the finances of the state. He is today, the longest serving member of the state executive council and secretary to the State Government. He is rated as a reserved politician but highly calculative and straight forward. He is connected within the polity and respected as a leader. Many see his leadership qualities as a blessing to the state that should be exploited. His aspiration remains in the rumor mill but he is one of those considered by the electorates as desirable and reliable with the capacity to confront the odds of politicking. His long association with Yuguda and the PDP bigwigs may add value to his aspiration.
Barrister Muhammed Abubakar (Bauchi South)
He is one of those most qualified to be in the race going by his vast experience in politics garnered over the years as INEC federal commissioner and a grass root mobilizer. Barrister Abubakar attempted to contest Bauchi south senatorial by-election in 2010 to complete the tenure vacuum created after Senator Bala was appointed a minister. His attempt was scuttled and he retrieved back. In 2011, he was pursued to bounce back but remained an observer of events until now he made bold his intention to replace Yuguda on the platform of APC. Muhammed is rumored to have the financial clout to stand the test and is believed by his supporters to be the most qualified to replace Yuguda if service delivery is what is needed. His declaration according observers sent shocking waves into the nerves of his opponents based on his qualification and connections in high places. He is an aspirant to watch and determined to rescue the state from what his supporters called as inept leadership.
Observers posit that as 2015 approaches, more serious and determined aspirants may join the race to save the contest and the state from further bastardization. As the journey has just begun, if leaders of the PDP are not cautious, the party may experience problems relating to its zoning and the influence of its national chairman who is an influential member from the state and be grooming Yuguda’s successor. Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu may decide to support the aspiration of a particular aspirant and doing so, may create open confrontation and brew hatred.
If Yuguda gives an open support to any of the aspirants without convincing reasons, such an aspirant may likely not reach the coast safe as was the case in 2007. Whichever way, Bauchi State electorates are carefully monitoring events. The state may not be for sale to the highest bidder or safe haven to political crooks, pen robbers, rabble rousers, political turn-coats, tribal war lords, religious zealots and extremists now masquerading as reputable politicians with the magic wand to govern against the interest of the people. In the PDP, Yuguda and Mu’azu remain the determining force while APC prides itself as the party with the majority and most credible aspirants that can serve the state better. As Yuguda prepares to exit, he deserves an honorable exit which can only be guaranteed by either his closest confident or a sincere patriot. The eating lies in the pudding but 2015 contest in Bauchi may not be as simple as expected.
Muhammad, a former Editor of Bauchi-based Trumpeter/Kakaki Newspapers, writes from Bauchi