In Bauchi state, like in many other states across the country, voters will be trooping out on April 11 to elect governors and members of the state Houses of Assembly. Umar Sa’id Moh’d writes on who may succeed Governor Yuguda
It is no more a news that the much publicized 2015 Presidential Election has been concluded in Nigeria, where for the first time in the history of the country the incumbent government of the People Democratic Party (PDP) was defeated by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the just concluded general elections.
Now what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the chairmanship of Professor Attahiru Jega, political parties as well as politicians all over the country are focusing their mind on this weekend’s gubernatorial and State Assembly elections across the states of the federation.
In Bauchi state about six political parties are expected to participate in the gubernatorial race but record shows that the fight to succeed Governor Isa Yuguda of PDP at the government house is going to be fought between the PDP candidate, Hon Muhammad Auwal Jatau and his APC counterpart, Barrister Muhammad Abubakar.
Honorable Muhammad Auwal Jatau hails from Zaki local government area of Bauchi state. He contested the PDP governorship primaries together with Dr Ali Pate, former Minister of Health for State, Senator Babayo Gamawa representing Bauchi North, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmoud Ahmed Yayale, Alhaji Aminu Hammayo, former Secretary to the State Government, Bappa Azare a onetime commissioner of Special Duties, and Senator Adamu Ibrahim Gumba.
At the end of the controversial PDP primaries, Hon Auwal Jatau emerged as the PDP candidate which some of his co-contestants are still angry with the process that saw to his emergence as the candidate of the party. Some of them considered Jatau as the anointed candidate of the incumbent Governor Isa Yuguda, alleging that he was drafted into the race at the last minute to scuttle the ambition of the others particularly the former Head of Service of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed who is from the same area with Jatau that have the full backing of the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
Following the emergence of Hon Auwal Jatau as the candidate of the PDP ahead of the 2015 gubernatorial race, some PDP chieftains in the state have called for the total cancellation of the primary election alleging that procedures were not followed to ensure the emergence of better candidate, but the call did not materialize which led to the former Minister of State Health, Dr. Ali Pate to dump PDP for the opposition APC where he was appointed as the Director General of Buhari Campaign Organization.
Similarly, the primary elections of the APC in Bauchi state was not conducted without accusations and counter accusations, court cases, as well as several calls for the total cancellation of the state election due to what many described as irregularities in the process of the election which was conducted by Rotimi Akinride (SAN) who declared that Barrister Muhammad Abubakar as the winner of the election defeating former Minister of Police Affairs, Dr Yakubu Lame, Hon Yusuf Tuggar, Engineer Nuhu Gidado who was now picked as the running mate of the APC candidate.
Going by the record of the two candidates from PDP and APC, they have held various sensitive positions that can qualify anyone to assume the leadership of the state as the Chief Executive. For instance Hon Auwal Jatau of the PDP was a onetime speaker of the Bauchi State Assembly and presently member of the House of Representatives representing Zaki Federal constituency. Hon Jatau picked a young politician, former Personal Assistant to Governor Isa Yuguda and later Secretary of the party in the state with Alhaji Sama’ila Burga as his running mate.
While APC candidate Barrister Muhammad Abubakar was a two time commissioner of Justice under the former Governor Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, he also served as the INEC Commissioner in Rivers state during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. The APC candidate while battling with challenges that produced him as the candidate of the party decided to take a bold decision that was described by many party supporters as the best by picking another gubernatorial aspirant, Engineer Nuhu Gidado from Bauchi North as his running mate in the forth coming election.
Incumbency factor, godfatherism as well as money politics have never worked when it comes to election especially in Bauchi state, going by the records of politics in the state from 2007 when the incumbent Governor Isa Yuguda defected from PDP to the then ANPP and contested for the number one seat. One of the accusations made against the then PDP administration in the state was the imposition of candidates which many alleged that it contributed towards the failing of the PDP government.
Before the 28th March, 2015 presidential election held nationwide, the PDP candidate in the state has the support of many electorate particularly from Bauchi North considering that this is a great opportunity for them to produce the next governor as Bauchi South has been producing state chief executive from 1999 to date. The people of Bauchi North have been calling for power shift but since then political miscalculations have been denying them such opportunity while others are crying for marginalization. But the Tsunami episode that saw the emergence of not only General Muhammad Buhari (Rtd) as the president elect during last month’s election and the resolution of the people of the state not to give any member of the ruling party (PDP) a chance to represent them at the National Assembly is another warning signal to the PDP candidate. The question in the people mind is, can the electorate in the state go contrary to the government at the center?
APC candidate, Barrister Abubakar is said to be one of the most qualified to be in the race going by his vast experience in politics garnered over the years as a grassroots mobilizer. Barrister Abubakar attempted to contest Bauchi south senatorial by-election in 2010 to fill the vacuum created by the appointment of Senator Bala as a minister. His attempt was scuttled.
In 2011, he was poised to bounce back but that could not materialize. He kept his cool until now when he made bold his intention to replace Yuguda on the platform of APC. Muhammad is rumored to have the financial clout to stand the test and his declaration according to observers sent shocking waves into the nerves of his opponent in PDP based on his qualification and connections in high places. He is a candidate to watch and determined to rescue the state from what his supporters call an inept leadership.
However, the hurdles that APC candidate may likely face is how to defeat the PDP candidate who has the full backing of the sitting governor, Malam Isa Yuguda. He may also face the obstacles from his party members who are still bitter with the way he emerged as the candidate of the party during the primary elections.
The governorship race in Bauchi state will be very tough as the APC is gradually amassing a strong support base among the populace in Bauchi State, just as the PDP. It is difficult to predict the political party that may win the 2015 governorship election in the state as both parties and their candidates boast of the wherewithal to clinch the much coveted victory tomorrow.