By DESERT HERALD
As one of the few media outfits that monitors last Sunday’s Borno APC gubernatorial primary election, DESERT HERALD can reveal that despite complains of irregularities notably by the APC faction loyal to Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, the anointed candidate of the outgoing governor Kashim Shettima would still emerged victorious. While the Sheriff side or other independent aspirants have not coordinated themselves to give better fight and challenge the candidate of the governor, Mr. Shettima has worked hard to douse the tension he created and was able to penetrate and commit the delegates more than what the other side have done.
As an incumbent governor, he also took maximum advantage of his position and the enormous resources under him to ensure the victory of the 48 years old Soil Engineer, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum. Even some critics of the governor have come to accept that his choice of Mr. Zulum against friends and close associates like Sen. Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai, Barr Kaka Shehu etc is devoid of any selfishness and that it is largely in the interest of the Boko Haram ravaged state.
DESERT HERALD gathered that fourteen out of 20 aspirants who vied for the APC governorship ticket in Borno State fully endorsed the outcome of the primary with all of them upholding the victory of Professor Babagana Umara Zulum ahead of the 2019 election. A total of 15 out of the 20 aspirants were physically present at the venue of the primaries which held at Elkanemi sports centre in Maiduguri, lasting through last Sunday night to Monday morning.
One of the aspirants, a former Deputy Governor in Borno State, Shettima Yuguda Dibal said in a statement issued on Wednesday that while ten aspirants stepped down before voting, three others namely Alhaji Gambo Lawan, Attom Mariga and Umar Alkali Nasco each spoke in front of journalists with video evidence, conceding defeat, congratulated the winner and promised to help him win the general election. One of them, Attom Mariga went a step further by announcing the collapse of his campaign structure including a vehicle for Professor Zulum’s campaign. He said everything was captured on video. The 13 aspirants including the winner, Professor Zulum makes up 14 of them who fully endorsed the outcome. The 21st aspirant, Senator Abba Aji has defected to PDP leaving 20 aspirants for the primary.
The former Deputy Governor listed the ten contestants who stepped down to include himself, Senator Abubakar Kyari, Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai, Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawan, Alhaji Adamu Lawan, Alhaji Mustapha Fannarambe, Alhaji Tijjani Banki, Mohammed Makintami, Malam Mai Sheriff and Mohammed Liman took turns to publicly announce their voluntary withdrawal and declared support for Professor Zulum.
The former Deputy Governor noted that five other contestants present at the venue namely Idriss Mamman Durkwah, Gambo Lawan, Attom Mariga and Alhaji Umar Alkali declared readiness to stand for the election against Professor Zulum. Idriss, he said, told the gathering that he had met with delegates and entered into a covenant with them to elect him.
Dibal added that all the contestants nominated agents that closely monitored the entire voting process while the contestants were also at the venue from night till the following morning and none of them raised any query before, during and after the elections. They witnessed everything and didn’t make any complain to officials because the election was very transparent.
The former Deputy Governor said at the end of the primary election, collation, sorting and counting of votes was done transparently and Professor Zulum scored 4,432 votes to defeat Idriss Mamman Durkwah who came second with 114 votes.
He said only five out 20 aspirants were not present at the primary. He listed those absent to include Alhaji Kashim Imam, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, minister of state for power, works and housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Mohammed Umara Kumalia and Abba Jatau. However, they all participated in the election and received scores since, according to the electoral panel, there was no formal communication of withdrawal.
The former Deputy Governor explained that a certain petition by 10 aspirants calling for the cancellation of the election was erroneous because four of those whose signatures are purportedly contained in the “so called petition” namely Gambo Lawan, Attom Mariga, Umar Alkali and Mohammed Liman Chiroma all endorsed the outcome of the election and publicly pledged to work for the victory of Professor Zulum. He maintained that there was video evidence of the endorsements by Gambo Lawan, Attom and Umar Alkali with all of them on video record publicly raising the hands of Professor Zulum in the presence of thousands of participants at the end of the primary election.
Dibal described the conduct of the election as not satisfactory but highly impressive to the extent that there are numerous news reports of commendations by civil society organizations which monitored the election was testimony to the high standard and credibility of the election.
Our correspondent reports that the Borno APC initially had 21 governorship aspirants but weeks ago, one of them, Senator Mohammed Abba Aji defected to the PDP to contest the Senate for Borno central senatorial zone.
Those against the outcome of Sunday’s primary election are accusing Governor Shettima of cornering delegates, intimidation through the use of the state government’s Civilian JTF and other thugs. They also alleged that the entire process is not credible, free and fair even as most Borno residents believe the contrary.