The battle for the 2023 office of Bauchi State Governor has commenced in earnest by those in opposition parties with heavy and paper weight politicians throwing themselves in the ring for the bout.
This is especially as the gubernatorial slot may be zoned as rumored to a particular zone by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) while the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) already has a serving first term governor who may be interested in a second term ticket that has saved the party from the rigors of primary election.
The APC which is the strongest opposition party in the state has commenced the conduct of congresses at ward, local government, state and zonal levels, at the end of which a national convention may be held to elect new crop of National Working Committee (NWC) members and possibly a presidential candidate.
As part of the ongoing process, party leaders have emerged at the ward and local government levels following congress exercises conducted beginning from August.With the issue of possibility of zoning the gubernatorial slot, gubernatorial aspirants from Northern senatorial zone of the state have since commenced intense underground consultations and serious politicking ahead of the expected gubernatorial party primary election that may hold or through consensus as the case may be.
Bauchi South Senatorial Zone has so far only three gubernatorial aspirants, Barr. M.A Abubakar who laid the party’s structure in 2015, Mahmoud Maijama’a Ajiya who served as member of Bauchi State Executive Council and Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under the Isa Yuguda administration and Sen. Lawal Yahaya Gumau who is presently representing Bauchi South Senatorial Zone in the 9th Senate.
APC in Bauchi state is currently managed by a caretaker committee following the expiration of tenure of the pioneer chairman who led the party to victory in 2015, Uba Ahmed Nana.
The caretaker committee is expected to conduct the coming state congress of the party while the gubernatorial party primary election is to be conducted by a substantive party structure.
It is rumored that APC may pick its new party chairman from Bauchi South to pave way for gubernatorial aspirants from Bauchi North or Central in the spirit of equity and justice. If that strategy comes to play, the PDP has to get hold of the southern zone where the present governor hails from and go shopping into the other zones for the battle of the covet seat.
The APC as the strongest opposition party in the state that tasted power from 2015-2019, before it lost out in a keenly contested gubernatorial election, needs a stabilizing force to confront the might of the ruling party; and with respect to all those nursing 2023 gubernatorial ambition, all of them are constitutionally qualified by any standard to contest the election until proven otherwise.
But from an opinion poll conducted across the 20 local government areas of the state, majority of the people hold religiously to the opinion that the serving governor be allowed to enjoy another term so as to complete to his glaring efforts in developing the state.
As for the struggling opposition parties, several comments were expressed based on party loyalty, assessment aspirants and other sentiments.
The jostling for who succeeds the exiting governor Bala Muhammed should he opt out of the gubernatorial race for the presidency, is more pronounced in the All Progressive Congress, (APC) than the ruling party. It is seen that the race will be determined by templates predicated on fears of age-long stereotypes, more than incumbency perquisites and privileges.
As of today, the clock is still ticking and the register of gubernatorial aspirants on APC and other party platforms remain open for those interested. Many of those aspirants that declared interest and jostling to replace Sen. Bala Muhammed come 2023 on the strength of their credentials are steadily warming the polity.
The early race in the APC is not surprising given the fact that the incumbent governor, Sen. Bala Muhammed, is from the PDP and is already serving his first term which makes the contest unpredictable, tasking and herculean.
APC may finally settle for a candidate from the Northern Zone as rumored – the same zone that produced the present serving deputy governor Sen. Baba Tela on PDP platform. Of the seven local government areas that make up the zone – Gamawa, Katagum, Itas/Gadau, Jama’are, Giade, Shira and Zaki – the picture so far is that of a looming political ‘war’ between Bauchi South and Bauchi North that has dominated the political space of the state since 1999. Yet, some relatively obscure aspirants from Bauchi Central Senatorial Zone located intricately between the North and the South are also asserting their interest and stake, as one or two of their own have indicated interest in the race.
When the chips are down, even without the chicks coming home to roost, the main contest is going to be situated within the 20 local government areas vide party delegates or consensus, although, the Central Zone may lose out for the absence of credible aspirants that can fire shots to the goal post . The Central Zone may be veritably out of it for support to one of the aspirants depending on how the game is played and manipulated within the APC. Those that are conversant with the chess game and confirmed to be in the race are;- Barr. M.A Abubakar, Dr. Musa Babayo, Capt. Bala Jibrin, Hon. Farouk Mustapha, Air Marshall Sadeeq Baba Abubakar (Rtd) and Amb. Maitama Tugga. Others are; Senators Halliru Dauda Jika and Lawal Yahaya Gumau. Others include Mahmoud Maijama’a Ajiya and Nura Manusoro who have so far indicated interest in the 2023 gubernatorial race on APC platform.
All the aspirants so far are as varied in their pedigree as their chances of winning the party’s ticket differ in labyrinth and scope. Governor Bala Muhammed of the PDP may be prominently in the race for second term tenure depending on the outcome of his presidential aspiration which is gathering momentum nationwide.
Unlike what is obtained in a few cases since 1999, in Bauchi state, it is an abomination for a serving governor to show open support to his choice of replacement. Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu attempted to hoist his former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Nadada Umar that was massively rejected through a well coordinated revolution in favor of Isa Yuguda in 2007.
On his terminal year (2015), Yuguda, tried to pave the way for his most favored candidate in the PDP, Auwal Jatau that met its waterloo in favor of Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar of the APC.Dr. Musa Babayo is a respected politician that hails from Katagum in Bauchi North Senatorial Zone. He was a onetime managing director of a bank, boardroom manager, philanthropist, an academician, author and former chairman of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund). He commands respect across the state and within the political circle in the country, He has the wealth and means to run the race, but his political short-comings include the zone he comes from that has the highest number of aspirants in the race and a weak enlightenment campaign strategy.
Capt. Bala Jibrin, a onetime chairman of Katagum local government, an aeroneutical engineer by profession, an erudite politician, former member of the state executive council and founding member of the All Progressives Congress and 2015/19 gubernatorial aspirant. His long stay in the party may translate to peculiar advantages that will see him through his renewed ambition. He is well know within the polity and rated a strong contender.
Hon. Farouk Mustapha has been rumored to enjoy the support of certain powerful power blocks within the party hierarchy at the national level to emerge as the APC state flag bearer in 2023. Former manager of Inland Bank Plc, former member of the House of Representatives and 2019 Bauchi North senatorial candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) believed to have won the senatorial election but denied on technical ground by the Court of Appeal may not be boasting of infinite respite and high points as he waxes strong at the range.
The Minister Adamu Adamu elements in the APC seem to prefer him; he is certainly walking a tight rope in a contest that will be determined more by the arsenal of zonal clout than pedigree and role of the old and un-oiled fashioned political war machine.
The recent appointment of Air Marshall Sadeeq Baba Abubakar, as Nigeria’s non-career ambassador to Chad Republic appears to have heightened his political valuation in recent assessment of his chances to emerge as party candidate.
However, Sadeeq’s ambition has a fundamental set back as a victim of local government identity. While the accomplished air force officer is partly in Bauchi and partly of Giade areas, he actually hails from Zarami of Giade local government area from where his father relocated to Bauchi in the early 60s while in the service of the colonial government and finally settled in Bauchi after retirement.
Quite a well-accepted and respected retired military officer, he is likely to benefit from sentiments that may reign and run the show during the gubernatorial congress.His only identified weakness is lack of a robust campaign structure and determined identified political heavyweights that can call the shots at the most appropriate time. But he is rated as one of those with the wherewithal that can give PDP a tough and rough time should he be allowed to fly the flag of his party at the gubernatorial contest.
He is believed to be reaching out to those that matter in the polity across party divide while being careful not to step on planted mines along the routes. He is gentle from his looks, has an innocent face spiced with acts of tolerance and patience for ease of acceptance.
Barr. M.A Abubakar is a well established legal practitioner. Having been elected as executive governor of the state in 2015, he has some political structures to lean on as he goes into the gubernatorial race. He served as Director Public Prosecution in the defunct Bauchi State before Gombe was created in 1996, Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice twice in separate governments, INEC resident electoral commissioner in six states, INEC national commissioner and member of the National Judicial Council (NJC) before becoming governor of Bauchi state. He belongs to Bauchi south senatorial zone that populates Alkaleri, Bauchi, Bogoro, Dass, Tafawa Balewa, Kirfi and Toro local government areas.
His tenure as executive governor is going to be re-appraised as even his political associates have made pleasant statements on his endorsement based on his track record of achievements and inbuilt shock absorbers.
He is reserved, calculative and the listening type adjudged by his admirers as a detribalized politician that can stabilize Bauchi state from his fountain of experience garnered over the years should he emerge victorious. His campaign structures are increasing and making waves around silently reaching every nook and corner of the state steadily.
Amb. Maitama Tugga, Sen. Halliru Dauda Jika, Lawal Yahaya Gumau and Nura Manusoro, it has been audio without visuals. As for the Bauchi Central Senator: only few of his posters are spotted pasted at specific locations with few visible campaign vehicles without offices seen or touched anywhere within the state. He hails from Kafin Madaki of Ganjuwa local government area, his opponents are apprehensive that the mischievous hand of party officialdom may wade in to service his ambition, saying anything can happen. Amb. Maitama Tugga has been old in the game. He was once in the House of Representatives. He was an active participant in the 2014 mega-merger that birthed APC and a dedicated and committed Buharist with a sprawling campaign office in Bauchi and a campaign organization that is said to be effective.
Little was known of the political interest of Nura Manusoro until he was offered a position as commissioner in 2019 by Governor Bala Muhammed. Within few months of the appointment, he announced his resignation and opted out for business. He has so far indicated interest in the gubernatorial race and is reaching places through his campaign organization but mindful of the law.
Sen. Lawal Yahaya Gumau is seen as a mole and a spoiler who only indicated interest in the gubernatorial race for the fun of it. He is rated the lowest of the low in the contest.
Whatever happens, whoever wins the Bauchi state APC ticket, the naked truth is that the gubernatorial election in 2023 in the state is going to be tough, rough and driven by geo-politics, zoning and general acceptability by the people; It will be decided by the capacity to withstand the challenges, sentiments that include general aggressive mobilization, majority support, and sundry sensitivities such as laboring to counter the rising profile of the serving governor heightened or worsened by the acts of omission or commission of the party in power.
The PDP seems to be comfortable with the performance rating of Governor Bala Muhammed which is never in doubt even by blind opposition and may serve as the launching pad of the party for the 2023 contest. PDP only plans to swerve Governor Bala Muhammed with Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed as its 2023 gubernatorial flag bearer. It is left for oppositions to sort it out within their fold on who has the capacity, endurance and the needed resources to face the well armed PDP giants on the political turf. It will be an interesting contest to witness.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues