Nigeria: Yobe Politics and Gulani's Endless Absurdity

24 September 2018

Damaturu — There is hysteria among some fringe elements of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Yobe State who have chosen to belong in the fringes of political vacuity following the resolution of major party stakeholders in the state regarding the styles of primary election to adopt, as preparations intensify for the 2019 elections.

In recent articles, one Mr. Ahmed Bulama Gulani continues to recycle a single, jaded idea - that Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam has single-handedly 'imposed' his candidates on the party at a time that "the people of Yobe State have asked for direct primary elections".

Without a hint of evidence or any pretension of fidelity to the facts, Mr Gulani also claimed that government funds were used by the state government to purchase nomination forms for select candidates.

As a PhD student, who understands the value of facts and scientific evidence, he should normally substantiate such claims with measurable and verifiable proofs. But since he is only desperate to make a point - and those proofs do not exist - this is not a path he would take. Instead, Gulani went on to make even unreasonably wild and baseless claims that primary elections are planned to be held at the Yobe Government House, and that the governorship aspirant anointed by Governor Geidam "is not the best" as if "best" is a universally settled and constant term.

It is trite to say this is bunkum. No one has ever said the primary elections will be held at the Government House. In fact, it is evidence enough that Mr Gulani does not know a shred about Yobe State to assume that holding the primary elections at the Government House is even possible. With thousands of delegates to the primaries, the Government House is simply unthinkable and less spacious a place to hold or organise such events. Nor is there evidence that the "people of the state", whatever that means, have asked for 'direct primaries', as Mr Gulani has claimed.

Direct primary election is only one of three kinds of primary election that the APC constitution has given teeth to; the others being indirect primary election and consensus. As anyone even remotely abreast of recent developments within the APC knows, the indirect primary election is now the most preferred among all states of the federation. And the reasons are easy to understand.

First, most state party branches do not yet have an up-to-date data of registered party members and therefore lack a reliable and acceptable basis on which to conduct direct primaries. For many states in the country, especially those in the northeast, direct primaries also pose a huge logistical and fiscal challenge that the party would be hard pressed to bear.

Second, the "people" of Yobe State could not have asked for only direct primary election. The people, if at all, would only do so through their party representatives and officials. Those are the same representatives and officials who have sanctioned the use of indirect primary election during a stakeholders' meeting held in Damaturu recently.

They included all local and state chairmen and executives of the party, party elders, youth and women leaders and elected representatives. Of the five House of Representatives members of the APC from the state, four attended the meeting. The senate leader Dr Ahmed Lawan, who is currently the most senior APC senator in the country, was also in attendance as was the only minister from Yobe State in President Buhari's cabinet, Hajiya Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim. If these are not the party stakeholders whose decisions count, I challenge Mr Gulani to tell me his.

It is beyond doubt that the trajectory of events in Yobe APC today directly flows from that stakeholders' decision.

Even so, Governor Geidam has made it abundantly clear that any party member or aspirant who is not comfortable with the arrangement can step forward for the primary elections that have been scheduled.

If those in cahoots with Mr Gulani are confident enough and popular enough as they seemed to suggest, they should stop all the vile and nonsensical talk and just go out for the primaries. Nothing can be a more "level-playing field" than that everyone has the right to participate in the primary elections if they choose to. Let Mr Gulani's Ogas demonstrate their political clout in the primaries if they have any.

If they continue to holler - as Mr Gulani is doing on their behalf - rather than throw their hats in the ring, we would assume that they are only empty shells, and that all the noise is just a desperate attempt to steer attention away from the facts in the service of personal interest.

Which bringeth me to the final point I want to make. Mr Gulani's hypophora about the aspirant that Governor Geidam has anointed demonstrably fell short. He asked, "what's the qualification and (record of) experience of Mr Mai Mala Buni (who has been anointed by Governor Geidam)?" without providing the answer.

Well, again, this question, rather than throw his readers into confusion, only shows that Mr Gulani lacks the faintest idea about what's going on in the APC.

Mai Mala Buni, for Mr Gulani's information, is now in his second-term as the national secretary of the APC. Before his re-election as the national scribe of the party, he was a state-branch party chairman and a special adviser to the Yobe State governor. He is a sagacious politician known in Yobe State and across the nation as a level-headed gentleman who can work (and has worked) across the aisle to get things done.

In the end, all of Mr Gulani's claims boils down to a single issue: Those who are poised to lose out in Yobe APC will seek to drag others down their precipitous path.

But whatever noise they make, the personal interests of a few cannot match or out-perform the collective interest of the majority of party members and stakeholders, who have resolved to work together to make the APC in Yobe State even stronger.

That is the message in the full glare of public spotlight when Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim representing Yobe East in the Senate decided to step down in favour of the aspiration of Governor Geidam to run for the same position in the 2019 elections. It is a message of unity and an endorsement of party supremacy.

Babande wrote this piece from Damaturu Yobe State.

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