As gubernatorial elections draw near in Kebbi State, many candidates interested in the seat have emerged. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is making efforts to field a candidate that would push out the All Peoples Party (APP) from the government house in the forth-coming gubernatorial election in 2003.
Three aspirants that have so far declared their intentions to aspire for the post under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and have already filed in their application include, General Tanko Ayuba (rtd), a former minister of communication, Colonel Bello Kaliel, a former minister of water resources, and Major General Musa Bamaiyi, former National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) boss. Others are, Dr Sambawa a deputy-managing director of Inland Bank Nigeria Ltd and Alhaji Abubakar Musa (Garkuwan Yauri), the first civilian governor of the state.
The ruling party in the state APP has only the incumbent governor Alhaji Muhammadu Adamu Aliero, who seeks for continuity of his administration while the Alliance for Democracy (AD) is yet to field any candidate.
Weekly Trust's assessment on the chances of each of the candidates have shown that in the PDP camp, there are three potential and credible candidates who may be victorious.
These include; Alhaji Abubakar Musa (Garkuwan Yauri), Major General Tanko Ayuba (rtd) and Major General Musa Bamaiyi (rtd).
As for Abubakar Musa the first civilian governor of the state, he had successfully won election under the platform of the defunct NRC in 1991 and ruled the state from 1991 - 93. He tremendously transformed the young state shortly after its creation in August 1991 by General Babangida's administration.
Abubakar Musa who hails from the Southern part of the state made up of Yauri and Zuru senatorial district with seven local government areas, is yet to make an official declaration on whether to contest or not.
When Alhaji Abubakar Musa was asked his intentions during a telephone conversation with our reporter, he answered, "I am yet to take any decision in that regard, and I will only do so under the auspices of the peoples' mandate."
On the party he may join to contest the gubernatorial election, considering the fact that he is a stalwart of both PDP and NDP in the state, Alhaji Musa opined that it would be more likely the NDP, which he claimed would be registered before the next local government elections.
General Tanko Ayuba and General Musa Bamaiyi who also registered their ambitions by way of submitting their application forms through the PDP, would find it difficult to scale through because they have never taken part in partisan politics until now.
However, General Tanko Ayuba is described by the political class to be more liberal and closer to his people than General Musa Bamaiyi, even though both of them hail from Zuru Emirate.
As for Colonel Bello Kaliel (rtd) who lost to Adamu Aliero in the 1999 gubernatorial election, he still wants to fight back because he has already filed in his application. Kaliel was very hopeful during the last polls as the PDP won 16 local government councils in the state out of 21 in the May 29, 1999 council elections while the APP won 5. But his hopes were dashed following the PDP's inability to present a consensus candidate between him and Alhaji Garba Koko and both had to undergo primaries.
However, Colonel Bello Kaliel's chances of emerging as the PDP 2003 governorship aspirant is still at stake due to the fact that those forces that ganged up against him the other time are still around to accord him a similar challenge.
Senator Danladi Bamaiyi, a lawyer, frontline politician in the state and brother to detained General Ishaya Bamaiyi and former NDLEA boss, General Musa Bamaiyi, have indicated their interest under the platform of the PDP. Barrister Danladi Bamaiyi who is presently representing Kebbi South senatorial district that comprises Yauri and Zuru Emirates, has said that he would not concede to his brother General Bamaiyi, whom he described as a political amateur who cannot win the election due to lack of experience. "I am not under any obligation to step aside for him," he added.
Senator Danladi who is on the lips of the people of Zuru Emirate has vowed to defeat Governor Aliero if given the mandate. "The much feared influences of incumbency will not pose any threat to me because I believe that the electorate have already realised their mistakes."
The people of the two emirates have vowed to produce a single candidate from Zuru Emirate, as it remains the only emirate out of the four emirates that has not produced even a deputy governor since the state creation over eleven years ago. His contributions to the development of the two emirates and his vast experience in the political arena, would be an added advantage for his candidature.
While in the All Peoples Party camp, it seems the incumbent governor Alhaji Muhammadu Adamu Aliero is the only candidate who has declared, because apart from him nobody else has shown any interest.
Adamu Aliero may retain the seat if given the mandate considering the laudable achievements and programmes executed by his administration in the areas of rural development, health education and road construction. On many occasions, he has been greeted with the popular slogan "ta mike" meaning he should continue. Despite all these, according to some political analysts, if the PDP could amend their position, they could seize power from the APP especially if they field a formidable and credible candidate. Meanwhile, some believe that the APP would continue to maintain its position, citing example of last year's bye-elections of Kebbi East senatorial district. A seat in the house of assembly in Danko/Wasagu constituency and that of four councillors were all won by the APP which is a clear testimony of APP's strength in Kebbi State.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the gubernatorial race in Kebbi State is going to be a very competitive tug-of-war between generals and old politicians of the third republic.