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Battle for Senate: The contenders and pretenders

BY ABDALLAH EL-KUREBE

TWO days to the National Assembly elections, four political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have emerged as leading contenders for the three senatorial seats in Sokoto State.
A peep into the profile of the leading candidates shows that the state will be in for an electrifying race on Saturday.

SOKOTO SOUTH
Sokoto Senatorial District consists of Bodinga, Yabo, Shagari, Tureta, Silame, Tambuwal, Kebbe Local Council Areas. There a number of contenders angling to unseat Senator Umar Dahiru of the Peoples  Democratic Party, PDP.

Prof. Hamza Maishanu, ACN
Maishanu, a Professor of History, was formerly with Usmanu Danfodiyo University, UDUS from where he was appointed as Provost of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto during former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa’s administration. After he left the college, Maishanu went back to the university from where he decided to contest for the Senate.
Although ACN is perceived to be gaining popularity in the state, Maishanu is expected to work hard to outwit his opponents, who are considered to have more political experience.

Alhaji Sani Dogon Daji, CPC
Daji was secretary of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP in Sokoto State. However, he played little or no political roles thereafter, a factor that may affect his chances at the polls

Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal, DPP
Tambuwal was Commissioner for Education during Governor Yahaya Abdulkarim’s administration between 1992 and 1993 and later State Chairman of the PDP. A vocal and grassroots politician, Tambuwal is said to have kept Bafarawa on his toes by criticizing his administration from all fronts. He aspired for the Senate in the 2007 under the platform of the DPP but later withdrew.

Perceived as politically unstable, Tambuwal recently served as Coordinator of General Aliyu Gusau’s Presidential Campaign for Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states. While supporters see him as a political strategist, pundits see Tambuwal as having lost touch with the people of the District in the past years, critics fault his recent role in the PDP primaries where he was General Gusau’s coordinator for Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states.

Senator Umar Dahiru, PDP
The two-term incumbent Senator Dahiru  was elected as senator on the plank of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007 on the umbrella of the PDP. He is going to the Senate, if reelected, for the third time. A close confidante of Governor Wamakko, Senator Tambuwal is said to have a firm grip on the people of his constituency. He is said to have a good chance of returning on account of his life_touching projects for youths and women of his constituency and good relations with Governor Wamakko.

SOKOTO EAST
Sokoto East Senatorial District comprises of Gada, Rabah, Wurno, Gwadabawa, Illela, Sabon Birni, Isa and Goronyo Local Councils. The serving senator, Abubakar Umar Gada was beaten at the PDP primaries and is not re-contesting.

Engr. Abdullahi Ibrahim Gobir, PDP
Gobir, a former chairman of the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria, stopped the serving senator, Abubakar Umar Gada from returning to the Senate by beating him with 1547 votes to 60 votes at the PDP’s primaries. Gada’s protest further fanned Gobir’s popularity.
Among the candidates, Gobir is considered the closest to the people in the constituency right from when he functioned as chairman of the cement company.

Alhaji Umar Suleiman, ACN
The ACN candidate  was a deputy Accountant_General and later Accountant_General during the Bafarawa Administration. He is expected to throw the network of contacts and goodwill he built during his service days into the race.

Alhaji Sadiq Gebbe, CPC
Gebbe was  Permanent Secretary during Bafarawa’s administration. He is now a businessman/politician. Aside his civil service goodwill, Gebbe is riding on the rising popularity of the CPC in the North to sail through.

Senator Salihu Bakwai, DPP
Bakwai belongs to the old breed. He was pioneer Secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and between 1999 and 2003, Special Adviser to the Governor on Technical Education. He was also Commissioner for Science and Technology and Chairman of Education Resuscitation Committee during Governor  Bafarawa’s administration.
Considered as a grassroots politician, Bakwai was in the National Assembly as a Senator and was among those charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC along with former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa but discharged by the Court.

SOKOTO CENTRAL
Sokoto Central Senatorial District comprising of Wamakko, Kware, Sokoto North, Sokoto South, Binji, Tangaza, Dange Shuni and Gudu Local Councils is another zone where a tough race is expected.

Engr. Ahmad Maidamma Tangaza, ACN
Tangaza was Director of Civil Engineering in the Ministry of Works, Administrator of Kebbe
Local Council and Commissioner for Works and Transport during Bafarawa administration. Tangaza was also the National Treasurer of Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC and Sokoto State first Chairman of the Committee. He is the Head of Sokoto State Chapter of the  Izala, IBWIS.
As a religious leader, Tangaza is seen to have an advantage in the deeply religious state and could sway the voters on account of this even though religion is being de-emphasised in the polity as a strong factor.

Hon. Usman Muhammad Balkore, CPC
He was a former staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and a Lecturer with Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. He was a member of the House of Representatives (ANPP) between 1999 and 2003 representing Kware/Wamakko Federal Constituency. The seven years of his absence from the political terrain in Sokoto State seems to have created a vacuum between him and the people

Balkore  is said to have lost touch with the people of Sokoto Central Senatorial zone since he left the National Assembly in 2003. He could not return as a member after his first term because he was said to have fell out with the political bigwigs in his party.

Barrister Suleiman Usman, DPP
He started by serving with the Ministry of Justice from where he left for private practice. He was the legal adviser of the All Peoples Party, APP, which later metamorphosed into the ANPP. He continued as legal adviser when the DPP was formed. The election petitions in the courts between DPP’s governorship candidate, Alhaji Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi and Governor Wamakko during the 2007 elections further fanned his popularity. He contested the Senate in 2007 but lost to Senator Maccido.

As one of the rising, brilliant lawyers in Sokoto State, Barrister Usman made waves but within the legal sphere. Pundits opine that Usman’s prospect is more in the legal area than in the political arena. What could stand for him would have been his being present for supporters of the DPP when they lost contact with party officials.

Senator Ahmed Muhammad Maccido, PDP
He is the serving Senator representing Sokoto Central Senatorial District. A prince of the Sokoto Caliphate, Maccido is one of the sons of late Sultan Muhammad Maccido. He was elected in 2007 having served as Commissioner of Youth, Sports and Culture during Bafarawa’s Administration. The people of Sokoto state have special respect for the Sultanate and members of the family and this could be an advantage for Senator Maccido. Again, as a former Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Culture, he is said to be in the good books of the youths.


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