6 March 2011

Nigeria: Rough Road to Bauchi Govt House

The road to the Bauchi state Government House is rough and tough for both the incumbent and other aspirants. Sani Muh'D Sani writes on the intricacies of the race road.

Is any candidate in the Bauchi state governorship race capable of unseating the incumbent. From all indications, the answer is tougher than it appears, especially, when one is not a politician.

Isa Yuguda- of the PDP is the incumbent governor, elected in 2007 against all odds. A beneficiary of the Buhari wave in Bauchi state, he had dumped the PDP and joined the then opposition, All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), after securing sympathy from the people of Bauchi state who fasted, prayed and voted for him because of his fall out with the then incumbent Governor Ahmed Mu'azu, when Mua'zu refused him the waiver in the PDP.

It made popular the now acceptable political slogan of 'a kasa, a tsare, a raka' a Jira, which in English means: 'cast your vote, protect it, escort it and wait for the counting.'

Before venturing into politics in 2003, he was an accomplished banker who turned around the fortunes of some of the leading banks in the country today. He remains the longest serving minister in the entire eight years of the Olusegun Obasanjo led PDP administration. Having served in the transport and aviation ministries at different times, totaling five out of the eight years of the administration, he joined the Bauchi gubernatorial race but his once bosom friend, Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu who was then governor frustrated him out of the PDP. He joined the ANPP but defected to the PDP after winning the election.

His strength is that he has the power of incumbency, and before he was elected, he had a lot of money which actually helped his campaigns and that of others who were in his camp. He was said to have singlehandedly sponsored the campaign expenses of all the candidates in 2007, which assisted the ANPP then to have the majority in all the elections. Even now, he sponsored most of the aspirants' campaigns. Some mobilised people and came back to him to foot the expenses, thereby, making money out of nothing. Another strength of his is that he is a highly placed politician.

Yuguda's weakness is his defection from the party (ANPP) which saw his success in the 2007, to PDP, a party which the people of the state ran away from in 2007. Marrying President Yar'adua's daughter Nafisa also places him on the blacklist of the people of the state.

Yuguda trusts people so easily and places responsibilities on them; his once trusted allies collect monies meant for projects and stash it away, leaving the projects unexecuted, thereby earning Yuguda abuse from the electorate.

These developments have made him to remain a man of two sides to many, as almost all of his political aides have failed him one way or the other. He has taken time to empower most of them who have turned their backs on him now that he needs them.

To many, he has done a lot for the state and so deserves another term of four years while to others, he has done nothing to deserve re-election. But whichever way one looks at it, he is the governor now and the incumbency factor is there for him to hold on to.

It can, therefore, be said that the race to the Bauchi state government House come April 2011 is not going to be an easy ride for any of the candidates, but the man that has the highest political technique and the wherewithal to go on would win the race. It could be any one of them.

Yuguda is hated by the majority of the people of the state, but none of the other candidates have the strength to outrightly say he can unseat him.

The gubernatorial primary elections concluded by all major political parties set a stage for a tough battle for Isa Yuguda, who will fight it with the likes of Senator Baba Tela of the ACN, Senator Nazif Suleiman Gamawa of the ANPP and Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, who was named the CPC candidate by the party's presidential candidate, Muhammad Buhari at the last minutes of INEC deadline.

Attention is focused on the aforementioned candidates even though INEC gave a list of nine candidates from different political parties in the state because of their individual strength, their acceptability by the people of the state, the strength of their political parties as well as the way and manner they emerged as the standard bearers of their respective parties .

Baba Tela and Nazif Suleiman Gamawa both left the PDP out of what they call "lack of internal democracy" to pick the tickets of the opposition parties, a situation that makes the fight fiercer.

The Contenders

Senator Baba Tela-ACN

He was a two- term senator of the federal republic of Nigeria between 2002 and 2007, having won the election on the platform of the PDP to represent Bauchi north senatorial district, following the death of the then Senator Bashir Mustapha, in 2002. Baba Tela completed the term and in 2003, he was re-elected for a full four-year-term which ended in 2007, but his re-election bid in 2007 failed due to the political tsunami which swept away all elected officials. This was caused by the wave of General Muhammad Buhari, coupled with the imposition of candidates by then PDP led by the former governor, Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu.

Since losing out in the re-election bid, Baba Tela had remained politically silent and remained behind the Secretary to the government of the federation, Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, who is said to be his political and business godfather. Along the line, he got various political appointments and membership of boards and parastatals. Though he engaged in politics silently, his aspiration became public about a year ago when he started nursing the ambition to rule the state.

Many people have the belief that he is sponsored by the SGF, Yayale Ahmed who is said to have political differences with Governor Isa Yuguda and the only way to get back at him is to ensure that he has not return to the government house in 2011.

Yayale tried all he could by bringing to his camp the FCT minister, Senator Bala Muhammad, Senator Baba Tela and their likes who are Yuguda's perceived political enemies. Together, they traversed the length and breadth of Bauchi state to drum up support for Tela, but at the end of the day, he pulled out of the race, alleging unfair treatment and electoral malpractice in the process, only for him to emerge as the standard bearer of the ACN.

His strength is that the new Speaker of the Bauchi state House of Assembly is from the ACN and many members of the assembly have already writen a letter of withdrawal of their membership from the PDP and will soon join the ACN, a development which many political pundits see as a move to impeach Yuguda before this year's election. This, if allowed to happen, will incapacitate Yuguda's re-election bid and political life. The situation is giving the incumbent sleepless nights and has made him desperate to retain his "Boy", the impeached Speaker, Abubakar Ahmed Fago, who was disliked even by the staff of the state House of Assembly.

Yuguda is said to be sponsoring Fago to file a case on his impeachment as speaker at a court, even though 20 out of the 31 members of the Assembly endorsed their signatures for the former Speaker's impeachment.

Tela is also backed up by the SGF, former governor, Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu, FCT Minister, Bala Muhammad as well as many others who have left the PDP camp and teamed up with him in the ACN but his greatest weakness is that he is stingy, and many say he has not assisted the people of the state either by securing employment for school leavers in his zone or people from other zones in the state. Tela is tight fisted to his supporters; In his home town, Azare, he is not widely accepted.

Yusuf Maitama Tuggar-CPC

He is presently the member, representing Gamawa federal constituency in the House of Representatives, having been elected in 2007 under the flag of the ANPP, also influenced by the Buhari wave and by the defection of Isa Yuguda from the PDP to the ANPP that year. He is a new breed politician who has been able to carve a niche for himself due to his effective representation of his people. He is said to always be around his constituency and has done a lot for the people, ranging from financial assistance to embarking on projects that have direct bearings on the lives of the people.

In some villages in his zone, he was said to have constructed feeder roads, provided water in some areas and built classrooms in many others. His strength lies in the assumption that the CPC presidential candidate, Muhammad Buhari is very popular among the masses in Bauchi state. It was Buhari that sought and engineered his candidature by instructing the party to name him after the announcement of another candidate, Eng. Nuhu Gidado and so he would tread on that to get to the Government House on May 29th 2011. He has money and is ready to spend it.

What will however work against him is the political confusion caused by his candidature and manipulation of election of the state executive of the CPC which had made many aggrieved members to leave the party to the ACN, coupled with the fact that he is a greenhorn as far as Bauchi state politics is concerned considering that he is only representing one local government out of the 20 in the state and little is known about him in the other 19 local governments of the state.

Sulaiman Nazif Gamawa-ANPP

He is a youngman with a lot of political potentials, having started his political career as a youth crusader as the national president of Nigerian Youth Council. He is close to the top brass of Nigerian politics.

In fact, he is said to be one of the 'godsons' of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who was said to have brought him into political limelight. He was later elected the youngest member of the House of Representatives, representing Gamawa federal constituency. He also rode on this to be elected as a senator in 2007, under the then opposition Action Congress (AC), having followed his political 'godfather' out of the PDP to form the AC.

His strength is in his money which he has used to help many people irrespective of political affiliation. He has sponsored many medical care treatment for many people across the state. He is a young and intelligent politician who has the guts to enter anywhere, a character which has made many in the state to describe him as 'rude.' He is a goal-getter and a never say die, who has the determination to push on, not minding the obstacle on his way. He boasted that he always unseats the incumbent, revealing that he unseated an incumbent member when he contested for the House of Representatives and also unseated an incumbent senator when he contested for the senate and now, he said he is going to unseat Governor Yuguda.

His strength is that many politicians who left the PDP from Yuguda's camp after the just concluded primaries went to the ANPP and allied with him.

His weakness is that, he is perceived as an arrogant 'small boy', who sees everybody as his equal, no matter the age. It was said that recently, he called the bluff of a group of elders from Azare who had called him to order based on some political differences.

Another weakness of Nazif is that he is not politically stable as he has joined at different times, all the strong political parties in the country. Early in 2010, he defected from the ACN to the PDP at a colourful ceremony attended by the senate president, David Mark and now, he is in the ANPP as the gubernatorial flag bearer. Some of his supporters and aides abandoned him in the middle of the sea.

There is controversy surrounding his place of origin as checks show that he is actually from Azare and not Gamawa as his name suggests.

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