BY MOHAMMED ISMAIL
A swirling tempest is currently enveloping the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State as the battle for the coveted party’s prize come September 29, threatens to tear the state chapter to shreds.
The complex political realignments between contending interests in the state has reduced the contest to a three horse race between incumbent governor Muhamadu Umaru Jibrill Bindow, Buhari’s in-law, Dr. Mahmood Halilu Ahmed also known as Modi and the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
One interesting factor in the lead to the contentious party primary is the fact that, it is the first time, various contending interests are coalescing in order to further and consolidate their class political interests.
For instance, major political heavyweights in the APC like former governor of Lagos state, General Buba Marwa, Sen. Abubakar Girei, Eng. Markus Gundiri, Ali Gulak, Sen. Bello Tukur who are known to harbour gargantuan gubernatorial appetite have openly or tacitly dropped their ambitions in order to promote the ambition of their preferred candidates.
A chieftain of the party who aimed for the state’s plum office severally, Eng. Markus Gundiri, has in furtherance of Modi’s ambition, not only jettisoned his gubernatorial ambition, but handed all his structures to the Buhari’s in-law in order to consolidate his winning chances in the party primary.
A political analyst Mallam Sani Shehu captured the scenario in the ruling party as a struggle between “incumbency factor, imperial consolidation and popular agitation” noting that the successful or woeful conduct of the party primaries will determine whether the party will survive or die come 2019 general polls.
The party is currently tottering on the brink, as a result of the vaulting ambitions of some of the gladiators to get the coveted party prize come what may – a recipe that may set the party on the path of political perdition like its predecessor, PDP which was disgraced out of power for the surfeit of atrocities and unpopular decisions it championed, as its days in power lasted.
A dissection of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate in the build up to the party primaries is apposite for the public to appraise the standing of each of the aspirants in the contest.
Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow
Bindow is hoping to ride on the crest of incumbency factor to victory in the tension soaked and highly volatile conjectured party primaries.
Two scenarios have glaringly portray the intention of the governor to contrive victory through the deployment of the incumbency factor.
The conduct of the highly disputed congresses in the state which led to the fractionalization of the party along the Bilal and Ezra led exco and led to the defection of many party faithfuls, notably senator AbdulAziz Murtala Nyako and Hon Rufai Umar Gombi was the major indicator that governor Bindow will use the power of incumbency to his advantage.
Reports have shown that in his determination to ensure that only his loyalist emerged as delegates, the governor has used his loyal party exco, superintended by Bilal to ensure that only his loyal goons and cronies emerge as delegates across the wards, local governments and state levels during the disputed party primaries.
In many instances, election did not take place; instead, names of political allies were unilaterally written and adopted as the party delegates, by the governor’s lieutenants, leading to serious bickering that led a disgruntled splinter group to register their grievances at a court of law while those who could not stand the malfeasance, moved to other political platforms.
The second scenario played out during governor Bindow’s declaration of interest where the APC chairman, Ibrahim Bilal claimed that the SEC of the party, had endorsed the sole candidature of governor Bindow leading other stakeholders to mount pressure for the dissolution of the Bilal led exco on the grounds that it will not conduct free and fair party primaries on the account of its open endorsement of Bindow’s candidature.
Another advantage that the governor has over his rivals is the availability of a huge war chest at his disposal which he could use to buy the conscience of his largely handpicked delegates. Many in the state are of the belief that the governor has used his vantage position to amass unprecedented wealth at the detriment of the populace, as the governor has been running the finances of the state in top secrecy as if the state is his personal fiefdom.
In the past, many indigenes of Adamawa state have complained about the government’s apparent secrecy in handling the finances of the state having failed to uphold best transparency practices in its financial dealings.
For instance, since its inception, the government has neither published the breakdown of its yearly budgetary allocations to the various sectors which hitherto has become an entrenched culture in the state, nor made available audited statement of the government accounts in the last three and half years of its stewardship.
“This attitude no doubt made many people to lose confidence in the governor which will in turn become a campaign issue,” an APC Stalwart told our reporter in confidence.
The governor will in the same token, encounter a deluge of challenges in his quest to fly the party’s ticket which may nix his attempt at becoming the party’s torchbearer come 2019 to complete his 8 year tenure.
One of the major predicament of the governor is the fact that up till now, the national secretariat of the party is yet to take a definite stand on the contentious method to be used in the party primaries.
If forces inimical to the indirect primaries for which the governor’s ticket is anchored succeeds, the governor’s chances at getting the party’s ticket may be doomed irretrievably as a result of his waning popularity in the party occasioned by his poor public image, bad public relations and his government’s non commitment to human empowerment drive.
His failure to settle local government staff backlog of salary arrears coupled with the administration’s lethargy towards the payment of leave grants and other sundry worker’s benefits will also count against his bid to get the party’s ticket.
Students and youths in particular may go for the governor’s jugular due to his government’s cancellation of many empowerment schemes and the stoppage of payment of scholarship.
The governor’s neglect of the all important health and education sectors in particular as well as other critical sectors will ultimately cost him the people’s mandate during the party primaries. Health and education sectors especially in rural communities have been in ruins following consistent and wanton abandonment making the people to be at the short end of the bargain.
Bindow may not get the support of the elites, because many believed that his failures as a governor are highly correlated to his educational deficit, people in this group are of the opinion that the mistakes of the past in electing people because of their closeness with Buhari or on political party affiliation should not be repeated.
Dr. Mahmood Halilu Ahmed (Modi)
The younger brother of the president’s wife, Dr. Mahmood Halilu Ahmed will definitely record a lot of leverage if the direct primary option is adopted by the party as the contest will be narrowed to him and Ribadu.
Being very close to the first family, the goodwill and support which the presidency enjoys may also be extended to him. The unprecedented political leverage which the First Lady enjoys across Nigeria and in Adamawa state in particular will translate to added impetus for Modi’s ambition especially as it is believed that Modi’s ambition got the imprimatur and endorsement of the First Lady who may likely use her weight and reach to ensure that the party adopts suitable option that will ensure her brother’s success.
The support he enjoys from major stakeholders in the state including ex-SGF Babachir David Lawal, Markus Gundiri, Bello Tukur and Sadiq Mohammed (Walin Ganye) leading Gundiri to surrender his aspiration in consolidation of Modi’s aspiration is an added advantage.
It is stated that save for the incumbency factor, Modi has the capacity to match Bindow cash for cash as he could mobilize a lot of resources from his influential backers and by extension his sisters’s associates who will readily and unconditionally come to his aid at the beck and call of the First Lady.
One of the major obstacles that will militate against Modi’s aspiration is the fact that he is seen by many people as a ranking outsider having no strong affiliation and ties with Adamawa people. Those in this category are of the belief that Modi is more of a Kaduna/Katsina man having relocated to Kaduna and has been living there since Aisha took him along with her when she married Buhari about 30 years ago.
They noted that since then Modi severed ties with Adamawa noting that the only thing that joins him with the state is when he comes to attend their family function, especially family wedding or condolence. Another argument against Modi’s aspiration especially within his Fulani native circle is his seeming “desecration of the Fulani legacy” by allowing Hausa language to supplant his own language in his house. It is said that since his marriage to Buhari’s sister, Fulfulde language has been relegated to the background in his homestead to the extent that he is the only one in the house who understands the language. This to many Fulani is an unpardonable sin.
His association with the likes of ex-SGF Babachir David Lawal, Bello Tukur and Mohammed Sadiq (Kalu) which is an added advantage on one hand, may also become a heavy baggage for him in consideration of their tendencies and past records.
The indictment of the former SGF for economic malfeasance in the infamous Grass-cutter gate which earned him the notorious “grass-cutter” sobriquet in political circles is a burden to Modi’s aspiration. In the same vein, Bello Tukur has earned capricious reputation for meting out treachery on governors Boni Haruna and Murtala Nyako when he served the two former governor’s as deputy and chief of staff respectively. It is also believed that Tukur has a tremendous appetite to rule the state but his unpopularity amongst vast citizens of the state made him to jettison the aspiration, it is therefore a misnomer to say such a person will support someone’s aspiration to success. In the same vein, Kalu’s support for Modi is equally believed to have significant consequences as many believed that he is a double-edged political merchant who hobnobs with the PDP in the day and sleeps with APC in the night, it is even insinuated that he can even work against the aspiration of Modi if the price is right.
Another weakness of Modi has to do with his failure to ensure that some of his comrades in CPC block in Adamawa are patronized after APC’s success in 2015. Some of the CPC members who were left to fate after the victory include; Ibrahim Baffa Waziri, Buba Marwa, Bubakari Kamale and host of others, but instead, Modi was said to have superintended the appointment of a renowned PDP man, Aminu Iyawa as ambassador for the simple reason that Iyawa is married to his sister.
Modi will also encounter serious hurdle if the indirect primary mode is activated by the APC, as it will be a work-over for him if the party adopted the indirect primaries due to the governor’s significant control and influence over the delegates which he single handedly picked.
Malam Nuhu Ribadu
The major strength which former anti-graft czar will carry to the venue of the primaries is his high personality profile occasioned by his impeccable record of service and the belief that he has the carriage, experience, exposure and the academic profundity to excel if given the mandate.
It is also believed that Ribadu will be the candidate to beat if the party decided to adopt the direct primaries as most of the aggrieved APC faithful who swear to teach governor Bindow a bitter political lesson for his perfidy have pitched tent with him.
If the impressive turn out of people during his declaration of interest to contest the Guber polls is anything to go by, then Ribadu should just go to sleep as he seems to be in total control of the masses.
Many people before the Saturday declaration thought Ribadu was a political light weight, but that perception seemingly changed after the Saturday’s declaration which took Adamawa by storm and shut down the state capital as a massive and enthusiastic retinue of Ribadu supporters occupy every nook and cranny of the venue forcing Ribadu to trek nearly a distance of 1 Km to the state secretariat of the party from his campaign office due to the diabolic traffic snarl which his declaration caused.
Another feat that may work in Ribadu’s favour has to do with the massive opportunities he created for Adamawa indigenes when he held sway as Nigeria’s chief anti-graft crusader at (EFCC), Ribadu was said to have influenced the appointment of many Adamawa people to the extent that the quota of Adamawa state is always filled. It is also what made Adamawa people to be in control of key and highly competitive positions today at the EFCC.
Ribadu will be swimming against the tide if the indirect method of party primaries is adopted as the arrangement without any iota of doubt will only favour Bindow.
The defection of Ribadu from APC to PDP in the pre 2015 general election exposes him as a man without strong political orientation and principles which has eroded the hitherto confidence that Ribadu enjoys.
Many average Adamawa politicians do not enjoy a close working relationship with Ribadu as he did not have much contact with them on the grounds that he hardly stay in Adamawa. Many others also find it difficult to communicate with him because they also see in him an outsider who knows nothing about their travails and could not readily make any impact if elected.