The current build up to the 2023 Governorship election in Kaduna state expectedly is generating anxiety and apprehension within the APC amidst intrigues, alignment and re-alignments of political forces even as a new twist has been added to the permutations for the race to Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna. This is as Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai is serving out his second and last term by 29th May, 2023.
Since Nigeria rejoined the comity of Democratic Nations on 29th May 1999, Senator Ahmed Makarfi from Kaduna Northern Senatorial Zone emerged governor. His two terms which ended on 29th May, 2007, saw the emergence of Arc Namadi Sambo as his successor having won the election earlier that year. But in a the twist of fate, Nigeria lost President Umaru Yaradua in 2010, and then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as President leading to the emergence of Governor Namadi Sambo as Vice President.
Back home in Kaduna, then Deputy Governor Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa from Kaduna Southern Senatorial Zone was sworn in as Governor. Sir, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa having completed about two years left of the Namadi Sambo first term, contested and got the PDP ticket, then went ahead to win the Governorship election, the very first to have been won by a Southern Kaduna candidate. Unfortunately, barely one year and six months, after his inauguration, he died in a Helicopter crash around Port-Harcourt on 15th December 2012. His successor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero who displayed political naivety was swept away by APC’s Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai in the 2015 Governorship election.
No doubt, the current Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai era in Kaduna state has changed the political atmosphere and Governance in the state amidst political harassment, killings, kidnappings to labour unrest caused by the mass sacking of civil servants to outrageous increases in Tuition fees in the state owned tertiary institutions.
It must be pointed out here that the policies and arrogance posturing of Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai in the running of the state has thrown the APC in Kaduna state in bad light which necessitates the need for the APC’s flag bearer to emerge through a transparent and creditable party electoral process devoid of any manipulations and or impositions. Similarly, the candidate besides emerging through a credible process must be humane, possess a high level of empathy and have the will to unite the people of Kaduna state by carrying the people along irrespective of party, ethnic and or religious inclinations.
In Kaduna State, before the advent of Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai in the political landscape, there has always been a brotherly arrangement between the Muslim North and Christian Southern Kaduna in terms of power sharing and political appointments at the federal level. The Muslim-Muslims joint ticket of Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai and Hadiza Balarabe, in the 2019 Governorship election has left the predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna short changed in terms of political patronage both at the state and Federal levels. However if this Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai arrangement was done to spite the Christian southern Kaduna, the good news is that the people of Southern Kaduna have and would always embrace her Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Hadiza Balarabe and indeed every southern Kaduna Muslim as their own and would always celebrate them.
It is in this spirit of brotherhood and the demonstration of oneness that when the news filtered out in southern Kaduna that a coalition by name KADUNA CONCENSUS GROUP 2023, have concluded arrangement to commence mass mobilization across the twenty three local governments of the state to drum up support for Alh. Abdullahi Abubakar Maikano, a prominent son of Kaduna State from the Southern zone and a Chieftain of the APC and prominent figure in the presidency to take a shot at the governorship race in 2023, it was indeed cheering news across southern Kaduna.
It is however, interesting to state here that the general consensus across Kaduna state is that, we need a Governor that would unite the people and provide an enabling environment for citizens to be free to settle and do business of their choice in any part of the state. A Governor that would be a father to all and be seen to carry the people along in a deliberate attempt to erase our fault lines which have been exploited to the detriment of our growth and development as a people.
At the last count, no fewer than seven people are jostling for the one number one plum job in Kaduna State in 2023. With the exception of Alh. Abdullahi Abubakar Maikano from Southern Kaduna whom several groups are clamoring for him to take a shot at the seat, the remaining are from Kaduna central and Kaduna North. The Northern zone seems to have the highest number so far. But who are these people jostling for the APC sole ticket. What are their track record in terms of competence, empathy and character in either public or private sector service? Is the party primary going to be a double edged sword that could make or mar the party’s chances at the February 2023 Governorship elections?
BASHIR YUSUF JAMOH
The current Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. He was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on 10 March 2020, having risen through the ranks. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, a seasoned administrator is also a Maritime expert. His revolutionary turnaround of the fortunes of NIMASA in just one year which has brought tremendous improvement in maritime safety on our water ways remains a huge asset he would be bringing to bear in the running of the affairs of Kaduna State. His team player spirit is simply legendary just as, his openness, friendly deposition and accessibility stand him out as one of the best thing that has happened to NIMASA.
His philanthropic gestures cuts across ethnic and religious biases and he is lucky that the clamour for the Governorship position should shift to his zone, that is zone one or zone three. But he has more others from his zone to contend with. No doubt he has a big war chest and the connection to the seat of power but would that translate to political asset or liability? Time and indeed fortune would tell.
ABDULLAHI ABUBAKAR MAIKANO
An administrative officer to President Muhammadu Buhari, since 2015, Abdullahi Maikano, is a trusted confidant of President Muhammadu Buhari. He was a former chief security Officer to Former First Lady, Mariam Abacha. President Muhammadu Buhari was then Chairman of the now defunct Petroleum Trust Fund PTF, perhaps that where their closeness and friendship took off. He ran the affairs of the office of the Chief of staff to the President after the demise of the late Abba Kyari.
A trained security expert and former operative, Maikano would be bringing with him eight solid local governments of Southern Kaduna in his kitty to confront any adversary at the APC Primaries next year.
Although, he has not acceded to the clamour for him to throw his hat into the ring, the coast is clear in his favour to pick the ticket.
His eventual emergence would perhaps rewrite Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai’s history as being one who supported a southern Kaduna Candidate to emerged Governor.
Another advantage is that, Abdullahi Abubakar Maikano has the unflinching support of his kinsmen from Southern Kaduna region on this project should he accept to run.
He is within the power circle and has the ears of Mr. President amongst other network of connections, he undoubtedly has the capacity to prosecute the governorship project. He is a very calm personality, unassuming, humble, accessible and above all, a good listener.
SEN. UBA SANI
Sen. Uba Sani is currently representing Kaduna Central Senatorial zone at the upper chamber of the National Assembly. He was the former political adviser to Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai in his (el-Rufai’s) firs term.
Sen. Sani who clinched the APC ticket for Kaduna Central Senatorial District under controversial circumstance having succeeded in ensuring the exit of Sen. Shehu Sani from the APC, is perceived as an arrogant and inaccessible representative to his constituents. Though very vibrant and outspoken, he undoubtedly has a low acceptance level across the state, thus, his attempt to take a shot at the Governorship race can best be described as a futile quest.
IDRIS OTHMAN HUNKUYI
A very successful businessman and former Principal Partner of Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, he has however never been involved in active politics until his current attempt to throw his hat in the ring.
There is no denying the fact that Idris Uthman Hunkuyi has the deep pocket to undertake a gubernatorial quest but the hard truth is that he is relatively unknown in the political circle, besides, he has political juggernauts and grassroots politicians in his Northern zone to contend with. But in politics particularly in our own clime, anything can happen depending on whose interest he is representing. Maybe he could be the dark horse from the Northern zone.
SEN. SULEIMAN ABDU KWARI
He is popularly refered to as the people’s senator by his constituents, Senator Kwari is currently representing Kaduna Northern Senatorial zone at the National Assembly. A former chairman, Sabon Gari Local Government, former member House of Representatives and former commissioner of Finance in Gov. el-Rufai’s first term, he is unarguably a grassroots politician.
The fifty nine year old Senator, is said have used his period as a two term chairman of Sabon Gari Local Government through ALGON to have built a network of friendship across the twenty three local government of the state.
Senator Kwari as a grassroots politician is very humble and always available. He is a philanthropist and a peace maker. Despite intense pressure to contest the Governorship in 2023, he still insists he wants to return to the senate instead but then, in politics, a week is too long and decisions can be rescinded in minutes.
DR. MOHAMMED MAHMOOD ABUBAKAR
He is the current minister of environment in the Buhari’s administration. Dr. Abubakar is a former member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly but very sadly, he has a poor relationship with the politicians in his immediate constituency and across the state.
He is an introvert and that makes it difficult to gain access to him perhaps, because his family lives in the United States of America thus, his scant relationship with his people. From reliable source, closed to him in Abuja, he has always expressed reservations about his aspiration for the Governorship race in 2023.
From the current appointees of Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai who are seeking to succeed their principal, we have Babrabe Abbas Lawal, Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Mohammed Sani Abdullahi, Chief of Staff to the Governor Sani Ja’afaru, Commissioner for Local Government and Mohammed Bashir Saadu, Commissioner of Finance. Amongst them, there has been intense lobbying to get Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai’s endorsement before their public declaration to contest, but so far, the secretary to the State Government has an edge.
The gathering storm hovering around Kaduna State and the 2023 governorship elections could probably harbor showers of blessings to the good and God fearing people of the state as most desire rather than a flood of litigations, ill will and malice which will take the state nowhere to the progress the people deserve, and after all the people of Kaduna State have been through in recent times, the people seek succor and solace that they finally have a leadership that truly cares for them and will improve their standard of living and human capital index and take Kaduna to its rightful place among the states in Nigeria.