From 1999 when the present democratic dispensation was ushered in till date, Southern Kaduna (“the Zone” for short) has had five (5) Senators: Haruna Zego Aziz (1999-2003), Late Isaiah Balat (2003-2007), Caleb Zagi (2007-2011), Esther Nenadi Usman (2011-2015), and Danjuma Tella La’ah (2015-date)
All of them, except La’ah, had a single term. Late Balat defeated Aziz in the primaries and won the general election. After his term, he honourably opted to vie for the governorship slot and lost. Zagi succeeded him in thereafter. He served for a term and was defeated by Usman. She, too, served for a term and was also defeated by La’ah who is currently enjoying his second term.
Except in instances where any of the candidates for the positions of Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President or President is from a senatorial district, the senatorial position is generally seen as the highest elective political office from any zone.
Aside from it being an exclusive preserve of a particular senatorial district, the seat is also always contested by only sons and daughters indigenous to that particular district. This is what is normally obtainable across the country. Thus, like all other senatorial seats, the one for Southern Kaduna is constitutionally reserved for the Zone.
In view of the above settings, one would have expected a fair and non-hostile campaigns and contest for the seat since it is supposed to be a family affair.
For me, however, there has never been a tensed and charged atmosphere in the build up for the contest of the seat as it is presently being witnessed in the Zone. I may be wrong, though.
Why is it so?
There are about six aspirants for the seat under the platform of PDP: Danjuma La’ah (retired civil servant, business mogul and the current Senator); Nicholas Shehu Garba (business mogul and Member, House of Reps); Sunday Marshall Katung (Lawyer, former House of Reps Member and one-time Deputy Governorship candidate); Jagaba Adams Jagaba (farmer, two-term House of Reps Member and one-time senatorial aspirant); Samson Monday Dikko (Member, KDSHA); and Zacharia Dauke Suleiman (retired civil servant).
Those that have so far indicated their interest to contest under the platform of APC are: Caleb Zagi (former House of Reps Member and former Senator); Anthony Hassan (retired civil servant, business man and university proprietor); Nasara Auza Rabo (a second-term Executive Chairman, Kagarko LGC) and Samuel Bature (a Jos-based Legal Practitioner).
We may see more aspirants emerging from both parties in due course. But for now, the checklist of the APC aspirants is not as loaded, heated and charged as that of the PDP. The current political tension is therefore built around them.
There is everything right to vie for the senatorial seat if an aspirant feels he has something to offer to his people. Aside from being a respected constitutional right, it is also a sure way for the aspirants to make positive contributions that will impact on the lives of the constituents if ultimately elected.
On this premise, any qualified person may throw in his hat and contest for the seat. This way, the people will have the option to elect the best from a plethora of aspirants.
In spite of the large turnout of the aspirants this time around, the contest in the Zone is ordinarily supposed to be a family affair that is devoid of any unnecessary political feud among them and their followers/sympathizers. This is the ideal thing.
Unfortunately, the social media is engulfed these days with cross-cutting hot insults, banters and jabs thrown from all angles among the different camps of the aspirants, each trying to outwit the other(s). This is not politically healthy for the Zone. Some things may account for this.
When the contestants are too handful, it may lead to a harmful brawl amongst them. If not properly managed, the rules of engagement and courtesies may be thrown to the wind and substituted with entanglement and curses. This is the card that is currently playing out in the struggle to occupy the senatorial seat in the Zone.
The quests for the seat and the different interests shown therein by many people have over-saturated and over-bloated it unnecessarily.
This is because the seat is generally seen by most people in the Zone as the zenith of all political positions. On their part, the aspirants apparently see its occupation not only as the high point of their political career, but also as their terminal political ambition. Therefore, no other positions matter to them. After serving their term(s), they will go into political oblivion. And, that’s all!
On record, only Late Balat voluntarily opted out after serving a term and went ahead to contest for the governorship position. Although he lost, I expected others that had occupied the seat after him to toe that line and work for a better outing and outreach. Sadly, none of his successors did that.
Because of the above reasons, coupled with the implosive tension created as a result of the contest, the focus on the bigger picture of other political seats, like the governorship and presidential, are missed or overlooked in the Zone. Almost all eyes are gazed and fixated on the senatorial seat.
The truth is that the Zone has capable and competent politicians, including all the current aspirants for the seat, that can contest for the governorship position. It is inexcusable for them to foot-drag.
When all that matters to the aspiring political heavy weights in the Zone is to ultimately vie for the senatorial seat, it goes to show that they are merely localising their ambitions. The result is that the Zone will end up producing isolated politicians that are only celebrated locally. Their political popularity starts and ends within the Zone. This is not a sign of good omen.
Aspiring politicians from the Zone must be exposed, courageous and confident enough to build broad-spectrum inter-ethnic, inter-zonal, inter-regional and inter-religious political friendships, bridges, structures and network so that they will have friends, followers and sympathizers across board. Late Balat did that; and that is why he was able to get substantial votes from Northern Kaduna during their primary election.
When aspiring politicians from the Zone explore political options, opportunities and fortunes outside, they will thereby ease the tension within and create a more family-like atmosphere for contest. The hostilities and feuds will be reduced to a manageable level.
If the build-up to the contest is not properly managed by the aspirants, it may lead to in-house fighting, implosive tension and animosity which may leave deep wounds after the primary and general elections. This, in turn, may further widen the political disunity which, unfortunately, has always been the bane of the Zone.