LESS than 24 months to the expiration of Governor Isa Yuguda’s tenure, the question on the lips of political observers in Bauchi State is who will succeed Yuguda? The political terrain of the state is once again astir as various aspirants have adorned the streets with posters and billboards.
By Suzan Edeh
Now, most political parties in the state have put machinery in motion and perfected strategies to get good candidates to fly their flags at the polls with the newly registered All Progressives Congress (APC) boosting the confidence of the opposition parties in the state that power can still shifts hands.
Looming battle to stop Yuguda’s anointed: According to reports, a battle within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is looming between Governor Yuguda and those who are vehemently opposed to the governor handpicking a successor. Those, who are opposed to the governor’s alleged intention, are not leaving anything to chance by ensuring that Yuguda does not pass the baton of leadership to any of two men much speculated to be his favoured choices for a successor.
The two men are the incumbent Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Salau Ahmed Dandija and his in-law and former National Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Musa Babayo.
While some political analysts argue that it will be extremely difficult for any gubernatorial aspirant that is not in the governor’s good books to clinch the governorship ticket, others are optimistic that the opposition in the state can win the 2015 gubernatorial election if they unite and map out strategies that will outwit the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Why Yuguda anointed his successor
Yuguda’s plan to anoint either Dandija or Babayo is said to be due to a number of reasons. One of them is to ensure that his projects are continued and another is to stop the tradition of successor regimes probing out-gone administrations.
The second reason the governor could desire to have his desired choice as a successor is fortify himself against any harassment from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that may erupt in the course of his pursuit of future political ambitions.
Though the elections are about 20 months away, political gladiators have started jostling for the most exalted office in the state. Currently, a host of contenders and pretenders are on the prowl painting the picture that they are out to stop Yuguda from having his way.
The aspirants: Among those angling to succeed Yuguda include Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, Senator Abubakar Maikafi, Senator Abdul Ningi, Barrister Ahmed Dandija, and Alhaji Umar Nadada, former secretary to the state government under Adamu Ma’azu and SMEDAN boss, who contested the governorship under the platform of PDP against Yuguda in 2007.
Going by the zoning arrangement in the state, the governorship should shift to either Bauchi North or Bauchi Central because the Southern zone, in 2015, would have ruled for 16 years beginning with Mu’azu, who governed the state from 1999 to 2007 and now Yuguda, who took over from him in 2007.
Thus, the zoning arrangement favours Senator Ningi and Dandija who hail from the Central Zone as well as Babayo, former Minister of Police Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, Senator Ali Wakili, Senator Abubakar Maikafi, Architect Mohammed Dewu, Alhaji Shehu Muaa Gabam (former Chief of Staff to Yuguda) and Alhaji Sarki Abdullahi.
Apart from the FCT minister, Maikafi and Ningi, most of the aspirants contested the post alongside Yuguda in 2011 or 2007 and lost.
However, names such as Adamu Dan China, Senator Babayo Garba Gamawa, former Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Abdulmalik Mahmood, Alhaji Baba Tela, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ahaji Yayale Ahmed, former National Secretary of the PDP, Dr Musa Babayo, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, Engineer Sadiq Mahmud, Senator Nazif Gamawa, Engineer Nuhu Gidado and the incumbent Deputy Governor, Sagir Aminu Saleh have mentioned among those interested in replacing Yuguda.
First timers: Currently, those aspiring for the slot for the first time are Dr Babayo, Maikafi, Yayale, Gamawa and the incumbent Deputy Governor.
Among the zones, Bauchi Central has a rich list of top politicians not only in the state, but also the country at large. They include Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Abdul Ningi, current SSG and Yuguda’s anointed candidate, Dandija; former SSG, Alhaji Nadada Umar and another former SSG, Alhaji Shua’ibu Ahmed. It appears the position of the SSG is permanently reserved for the zone but the present SSG and two former SSGs are out to reshape the political perception of their zone by aspiring for the number one seat of the state.
Ordinarily, Yuguda would have loved either Dandija or Musa as his successor in 2015 but he has to surmount electoral hurdles to realize his wishes.
Bauchi state is a very unique state when it comes to elections; the electorate is known for protest voting patterns, especially against the ruling PDP. A clear-cut example is the former governor Ma’azu, who transformed the state in the area of infrastructures and human empowerment. At the moment his projects cut across the 20 local government areas of the state and many residents of the state are still applauding his legacies, saying “Yuguda is busy maintaining the projects of his predecessor in the last seven years of his reign as the governor of the state”.
In 2007, Yuguda portrayed himself as a man who is capable of taking the state to its Promised Land and became the rallying point of Bauchi politics by presenting himself as the saviour of the state and so the people dumped Mu’azu for Yuguda. The electorate ruined Mu’azu’s political career by refusing to vote for him when he contested for the senatorial seat of Bauchi South.
Two years into his administration, Yuguda lost the goodwill of many of his supporters when he dumped the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) for PDP, a party the Bauchi electorate detested. With his exit approaching, the prospect of him easily appointing a crony in his place are undoubtedly challenging.