Daily Trust (Abuja)

1 May 2009

Nigeria: 2011 - Lamido, Alkali and Jigawa Governorship Seat

As far as the Jigawa State government is concerned, the recent dethronement of Senator Muhammad D. Alkali was purely because of chieftaincy affairs and only the Gumel Emirate Council can explain the reason why.

But for the former senator, it was politically-motivated and the state government is fully behind it.

The sudden removal of the senator from his traditional title of Sardauna of Gumel, Weekly Trust observed, has thrown the political scenario of Jigawa State into total bewilderment. Two views are currently generating debates among politicians in the state. While some people are blaming Gumel Emirate over the controversial dethronement, others are pointing accusing fingers at the state government.

Although the state government has categorically exonerated itself from the whole issue, Senator Alkali is insisting that the present administration of Governor Sule Lamido is fully behind his removal.

Weekly Trust also gathered that the trouble between the senator and the state governor in particular began as far back as 2007 when the candidature of the governorship seat was given to Lamido instead of Alkali. This according to findings was the beginning of the misunderstanding between the political duo.

The situation became worse early this year when posters of the former senator flooded the state indicating that he is gunning for the golden seat. Another factor that fuelled the crisis between the two was the recent Gani festival, which earned for the former senator more political popularity from the side of the electorate.

It is said that earlier before the removal of Senator Alkali from his title, lots of intrigues had happened all in the effort to nail him down politically. A source close to the government hinted Weekly Trust that the Emir of Gumel was first asked to stop Alkali from participating in the annual Gani Festival.

But when the emir insisted that the plan could not be possible, the state government was alleged to have sponsored a number of horse riders with a view to defeating Alkali in the competitive event. Shortly after the Gani Festival, the source added, the Emir of Gumel, Alhaji Ahmad Muhammad Sani, was summoned to the state house over the case. According to the source, the emir was accompanied by his counterpart, the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Nuhu Sanusi.

It was also alleged that the state governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, asked the Emir of Gumel to remove Alkali from his title of Sardauna, but according to the source, the emir instantly turned down the request. He was said to have told the governor that Sardauna did not in any way offend the emirate or him (the emir).

Weekly Trust further learned that two or so weeks later, a letter was sent to the Gumel Emirate by the state government giving an ultimatum of 24 hours for the emir to either dethrone Alkali or be sacked. Following that letter, an emergency meeting was summoned by the council and the letter was presented to the council members for discussion.

A reliable source close to the council hinted our correspondent that although the entire members of the council were not happy with the new development, but in order to save the situation, they had no alternative than to endorse the dethronement of Alkali from his title as Sardauna of Gumel.

But according to the state Commissioner of Information, Alhaji Muhammad Aminu, the removal of Senator Alkali is purely the affairs of Gumel Emirate and the Jigawa State government has no hand whatsoever in the entire issue.

The commissioner further explained to Weekly Trust that "The state government has no hand in the issue. It is chieftaincy matter and the Directorate of Chieftaincy Affairs has informed the state government that it has only received a letter from the Gumel Emirate to that effect".

Also commenting on the issue, the Public Relations Officer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Alhaji Aminu Nuhu Jahun, said that although the former senator did not mention the party under which he is going to contest for the governorship seat come 2011, the state chapter of the party is waiting for him to announce the party under which he will challenge Lamido.

Speaking to our correspondent, Aminu Jahun pointed out that the Jigawa State chapter of the PDP will never give its mandate to Alkali to contest for the seat for many reasons, adding that, "In fact, we will soon come out with a white paper against Senator Alkali to prevent him from contesting for the seat come 2011.

"Everybody is fully aware that the electoral process has not been amended for him to contest as an independent candidate. Nevertheless, whatever party Senator Alkali is going to contest for the seat, we will nail him down politically, because for now, Jigawa has no other credible candidate that is better than Governor Lamido," he assured.

Although, Lamido did not in any way declare his intention for the second term, Jahun said if Alkali decides to re-contest for the second term, the entire party executives and indeed the people of Jigawa will back him to secure the seat in the 2011 general elections.

When contacted over the issue, the Permanent Secretary of Jigawa State Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Haruna Idris Magama, told Weekly Trust that the directorate did not receive any letter from the Gumel Emirate Council in respect of Sardauna's removal. He added that "Nobody sent a letter to my office in that respect, but I am still waiting for the letter and whenever the information comes to my knowledge, I will inform the general public".

However, the former Sardauna of Gumel stated that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has bestowed on each citizen of Jigawa State the right to contest for any elective office provided the citizen is qualified, adding that, "Since I am qualified, I think I have every right to challenge the incumbent governor in 2011".

Alkali further disclosed that preparations for his contest in 2011 have reached advanced stage, adding that all necessary machineries have been put in place for achieving his political ambitions. He also said that, "I contested for a political office in 2007 before I was deceived by a well-known politician in the state, but this time around, only God can stop me from contesting for the governorship seat in 2011".

If elected as governor of Jigawa State, Alkali added, he would accord priority to infrastructure, agriculture and education. He noted that "Only death can stop me from challenging Governor Lamido in 2011. Despite the recent happening, I will still contest for the seat".

Though he did not categorically state the political party under which he is going to contest for the Jigawa State governorship seat come 2011, Muhammad D. Alkali has finally declared his intention to challenge the incumbent governor of the state. His declaration for the seat, however, has fuelled politicking in the state with posters of the Sardauna and that of the state governor being pasted at strategic places across the major towns of the state even though active politics has not commenced.

Weekly Trust learned that although Senator Alkali is an active member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, securing the ticket for his contest under the platform of PDP will be another round of political battle between him and the incumbent governor.

If at all Lamido is interested in the seat come 2011, the former senator may eventually defect from PDP to another party to enable him to challenge Lamido in the 2011 governorship election. Though it was only Alkali that has so far indicated interest in the golden chair, findings revealed that more gubernatorial aspirants would soon emerge.

Political observers in the state perceive that the incumbent governor may face serious challenges during the 2011 general elections, because he has created many political enemies. Apart from the issue of the Sardauna of Gumel, which became known to the general public, findings revealed that there are other people who were offended politically and are ganging up to sabotage the second term ambition of Lamido in 2011.

However, only time will tell the outcome of the political battle between Governor Sule Lamido and Senator Muhammad D. Alkali over the Jigawa governorship seat come 2011.

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