James Obute outlines the strengths and weaknesses of aspirants who have indicated interest to contest the next governorship election in Zamfara state
Among the aspirants from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) eyeing the most coveted seat in Zamfara State are Engr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau Phd, Chairman House Committee on Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and representative of Gusau/Tsafe Federal Constituency; Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, former governor of the state, 2007 to 2011, Hon. Bello Muhammad Matawalle representing Bakura/ Maradun Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Alhaji Sagir Hamidu, Director in FCTA and Alahji Bashir Adamu.
These aspirants are among the over 300 aspirants contesting for the next governorship election across the country. The incumbent governor Abdulaziz Yari is seen to be the only governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC). But he will battle it out with whosoever, emerges candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the gubernatorial election.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari
Governor Abdulaziz Yari, the incumbent Governor defeated former governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi during the 2011 governorship election in the state. Yari formerly a member representing Anka/TalataMafara Federal constituency before he was elected the executive governor of the state in 2011 is seen by many as political Godson of Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima who served the state as executive governor between 1999 and 2007.
Though, a Gusau based business mogul Alhaji Bello Bara’u has recently declared his intention to contest for the governorship seat on the same platform, from all political calculations, Yari is seen as a sole candidate of APC in the state. Yari seems to have excelled in road rehabilitation and construction, however many argued that several sectors of the state under his watch were left unattended to. His supporters believe his performance is enough to earn him support for another term. But the allegations of poor performance in critical sector like education, security are his major challenge. The governor also seems to have fallen out of favour with civil servants in the state with his failure to implement the minimum wage. Reports said he even sacked some of them, an exercise that elicited condemnation across the state.
Despite the incumbency factor, pundits argued that a popular PDP candidate can easily dislodge him from government house in the next gubernatorial election in the state considering his numerous challenges.
Hon (Engr) Dr Ibrahim Gusau
Hon Ibrahim Shehu Gusau 45, is the Chairman House Committee on Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and representative of Gusau/Tsafe Federal Constituency. Gusau, who submitted his expression of interest and nomination forms on October 23 told the mammoth crowd that accompanied to the PDP national secretariat that if elected, he would make education free and compulsory in the state. According to him, his education, exposure, experience and popularity will make him to unseat the incumbent governor if given the PDP ticket in the next election. One the factor that will favour Hon Gusau is that his zone has never produced a governor despite being the state capital.
Prior to election of Engr. Shehu Gusau, into the House of Representatives in 2011 under the platform of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), he had held various positions including Commissioner for Budget & Economic Planning; Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Zamfara State on Electrification &Telecommunications; General Manager, Operations for the Nigerian Mobile Communications Limited (M-Tel); Manager- NITEL cellular section Lagos; Manager Planning, Globacom; First Vice President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria among others.
Engr. Shehu Gusau born on 27 October, 1969 got Phd and MBA from Washington International University (USA) 2005-2010 and 2004-2005 respectively. He obtained Msc Mobile Communications Engineering, University of Lancaster, United Kingdom as well as got HND and OND in Electrical/Electronics.
Though he won the parliamentary election into the Nigerian National Assembly in 2011 under the platform of ANPP, the party that merged with three other parties to form All Progressive Congress (APC); Gusau later defected to the Peoples Democratic Party having seen the difficulty in achieving his ambition under the APC.
As a member of House of Representatives (May 29, 2011- May 29, 2015) Gusau made impact through his contributions to the debates in the House, sponsorship/co-sponsorship of bills, presentation of motions as well as constituency projects.
Some of the constituency projects of Engr. Shehu Gusau include provision of ICT centres across the constituency; building of Almajiri Schools and Sick Bay in Zawiyya; provision of borehole at Marari, Gusau, Tsafe towns and other villages; provision of solar street lights in Gusau and Tsafe; purchase and distribution of buses to Islamic preachers, sponsorship of many Muslims and Christians on pilgrimage; and Settlement of debts owed by some prisoners to enable their release from prison.
Others include distribution of animals to the less privilege/physically challenge persons to alleviate their sufferings. According to him, the animals (sheep, cow,) distributed are both males and females with the aim of reproduction.
Provision of chairs to schools, scholarship to students and payment of students registration fees like WAEC, NECO, JAMB; distribution of laptops computers to Zamfara College of Education, Health Technology, Tsafe, GSS Tsafe, GSS Yelwa, provision of five (5) transformers to Gusau and Tsafe and repairs of the faulty ones; provision of school uniforms, books and various writing materials to primary schools; provisions of relief materials to various places like: Kizara, Maru, Magami; assistance of pregnant women and VVF patients are some of his achievements.
Some of the bills sponsored by Engr. Shehu Gusau include the following: A Bill for an Act to Establish the National Frequency Management Council as a Body to Regulate Frequency Models in Nigeria and for Matters Connected; Nigerian Communications Satellite Corporation Bill, 2012 (HB.208); An Act to Establish the Nigerian Communications Satllite Corporation Empowered to Engage in Purchase and Otherwise Acquire or takeover the Assets, Business, Company, Firm or Persons and Act in Furtherance of All and any Business Associated and or Relating to the Satellite Communication Industry, 2012 (HB. 208)
Some of the motions presented by Engr. Shehu Gusau include the following: Motion for the Need to Investigate the Alledged Fourty Million Dollar ($40 million) Communication Spy deal with Elbit Systems of Haifa-Israel in Violation of Privacy Laws in Nigeria Constitution and Relevant Laws there-with; Motion on Police Harassment, Intimidation and Abridging Citizens Human Right; Motion on Indiscriminate Killings of Civilians and Gradual Descent into Anarchy in Maiduguri and some Parts of North East; Motion on Ruthless and Barbaric Killing of Four (4) University of Port Harcourt Students Accused of Stealing Mobile Telephone Sets and Laptops; Motion on the Need to Investigate the Alleged N1.029billion Debt Waiver Secured by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for MTS First Wireless Ltd; Motion on Windstorm Destroyed Lives and Properties in Zamfara State and Motion on Federal Government Projects Approved Between March 2011 and August 2011.
Others include Motion on Nigeria Planning Investment of US$2.68 billion in Refineries in Indonesia;Motion for the Need to Investigate the Alledged over $40 million (Forty Million Us Dollars) Internet Surveillance Contract Awarded by the Federal Government to a Foreign Firm, Motion on Indiscriminate and Barbaric Massacre of over Sixty (60) People in Kizara, Chafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State; Motion on Carnage in Lingyado – Zamfara State and Motion on the Urgent Need to Revisit and Resolve the Issue of Nigeria Polytechnic Strike.
Hon Gusau is seen as a grassroots politician who can challenge the incumbent governor Yari if given the PDP ticket. However, his major challenge according to pundits is how reach those who matters in the state and the national headquarters in Abuja of the party in Abuja in order to secure the party ticket during the primaries.
Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi
He was twice deputy governor during the administration of former governor Ahmad SaniYarima from 1999 to 2007. Shinkafi was then elected governor thus, making him the only deputy governor that succeeded his boss at that time. However, he engaged his former boss, Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima in a political battle when he dumped his then ANPP, the very platform he was elected and then pitched tent with the PDP.
Shinkafi and his former boss Senator Yarima engaged themselves in a battle of supremacy over the control of the state with Yarima vowing to unseat him.
In what many said was sweet revenge, in 2011, Yarima’s anointed candidate, the incumbent governor AbdulazizYari defeated Shinkafi during the governorship election. Since his defeat, the former governor has somehow gone underground politically. Many believe his influence has waned overtime, even as some argued that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the politics of the state. Pundits said the former governor needs to do a lot of homework, especially with younger and more influential aspirants jostling for the party’s ticket.
Hon Bello Muhammad Matawalle
The lawmaker is representing Bakura/ Maradun federal constituency in the House of Representatives for the third time. He was formerly with the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a close political associate of former Governor Ahmad Sani Yarima. He decamped to the PDP during the tenure of former governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi having failed to clinch the governorship ticket of the ANPP.
In 2011 general elections, Matawalle was one of the few surviving federal lawmakers in the state and only surviving member of House of Representatives in his Zamfara west senatorial zone. Most of the members that contested under the platform of PDP were defeated at the polls by the then opposition ANPP.
Mutawalle recently picked his nomination form to contest for governorship under the platform of PDP. He remains a force to be reckoned with in the politics of Zamfara state. Many political pundits are of the opinion that Matawalle could win elections in Zamfara because he possesses the political and material wherewithal. However, many believe that he will have problems with other politicians especially at the grassroots as he is accused of shielding himself from the people, except during elections.
Pundits argued that he is believed not to have done enough in the area of empowerment of people from his constituency for the twelve years he spent in the House. Also the agitation to allow a candidate from the central senatorial district which has never produced the governor to have a shot at this time around, may affect his chances.
Alhaji Bashir Adamu
The Chief Executive Officer of IMAD Group is also one of the PDP governorship aspirants in the state. He has also thrown his hat in the race and as also gone ahead to purchase the party’s nomination form. Bashir Adamu is said to have enough resources to prosecute his ambition and enjoys some measure of followership, especially among the youths from his area.
Alhaji Sagir Hamidu
Hamidu a civil servant is also one of the gubernatorial aspirants under the platform of the PDP. He is known for his mobilization of many political groups in the state and he keeps an impressive followership in Zamfara PDP especially among the youths. He is being praised for his humility and maintenance of close relationship with politicians at the grassroots. Many believe that he is an aspirant to beat in the impending race.
He was said to have sponsored several youths from the state in skill acquisition programmes in Kano and Kaduna states as well as the Federal Capital Territory. His philanthropy is said to have led to his rising popularity, especially in the grassroots.
Pundits said his public service experience at the FCTA, where he rose to the position of director could work for him.