By Wole Mosadomi
NIGER State is generally believed to be the home of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the second political dispensation. In fact, it was the belief in 2003 and 2007 general elections, that all available political seats would be swept by the party in the state.
It actually did. Since then even the national body of the party has also regarded Niger as the real home of the PDP .
However, since the present administration under the leadership of Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu came into power, the absolute loyalty of members to the party began to dwindle.
The search for candidate in 2007
Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu was not actually the choice of the party for the governorship election in 2007. The partyâ€™s flag bearer was former permanent secretary in the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Jibrin Bala Alhassan.
His nomination was however faulted and nullified for alleged financial mismanagement while in office. An immediate replacement was then needed. Eventually, Dr. Babangida Aliyu was named as a replacement and crowed immediately.
His ambition then as the most senior civil servant at the federal level was to become the Head of Service and thus crowing his civil service career not knowing that God was already preparing him for a greater responsibility. Out of all odds, he won the governorship election and swung into action immediately.
Governor Aliyuâ€™s mission:
In his maiden broadcast to the state on May 29, 2007, Dr. AliyuÂ made it clear to the people that it was not going to be business as usual again especially in regards to the management of the scarce finances of the state.
The declaration was taken by people of the state especially civil servants, politicians and contractors who have soiled their hands as a mere threat by various political office holders whenever they asume office. But that of Dr. Aliyu was different.
He marched his word with action by inaugurating Judicial Commission of Enquiry headed by Justice Maiyaki Judicial commission of inquiry. The purpose of the commission according to the governor was not aimed at witch unting anybody or group of people but to put government records straight as it relates to contracts awarded by the previous administration during its eight year tenure.
The outcome of the inquiry brought out a lot of revelations as many contracts were paid for but not executed at all, wastages and financial recklessness were identified while those who legitimately won their contracts and executed but not paid were identified and settled gradually. Inf act, some of the civil servants, politicians and contractors indicted are on the run and fighting the government from within and outside.
The beginning of his problem
Since the inauguration of the Justice Maiyaki commission of inquiry, the battle line had been drawn between the present administration of Dr. Aliyu and major contractors on one side who are prominent members of the state PDP, the government and top members of the immediate past administration in the state on the other side and the incumbent governor and his predecessor, Engineer Abdulkadri Kure on another side who sees the probe of his administration as a deliberate step to rubbish his eight_year regime and indict him.
Till now, the battle is still on as some of the prominent party stalwarts especially from zone A which is the political nerve centre of Niger politics have resigned from the party and waiting to defect to yet to be disclosed party.
The perceived animosity between Governor Aliyu and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida seen as father of the state has also been identified as a minus on the path of the present administration.
Though both personalities have denied having any confrontation against each another, the disagreement was so glaring at a time that some traditional rulers and elders had to be invited to intervene.
While the disagreement between the governor and Gen. Babangida could still be denied, that of the incumbent and his predecessor cannot be covered up as both Generals Abdulsalami Abubakar and Gen. Babangida have on several occasions intervened but without success.
Implication of the feud
It is a known fact that Gen. Babangida has an open heart to accommodate, dine and wine even with hisÂ perceived and known enemy until the day of reckoning will come. It is also undisputable that all is not well with the PDP in the state as a result of the indictment of the big wigs amongst them by the commission of enquiry, which led to their resignation recently, and expectedly, many of their supporters are also preparing to follow suit.
Immediately he was sworn in, Dr. Babangida Aliyu inaugurated a Committee of Elders to reconcile the aggrieved members of the party and bring them back into the fold. While some came back, others remained adamant.
Recently,Â Governor Aliyu at a political rally, said he has tried his best in reconciling those at war either with him or the party in order to move the state forward saying, adding that â€œI donâ€™t have problem with anybody; we have succeeded in reconciling those who have genuine relationship with us and for those still adamant, our doors still widely open.â€
Aliyu is yet to declare his intention for a second term. He has at different fora declared that second term to him is not a do-or-die affair pointing out that power belongs to God and that he giveth it to anyone he feels like and get it back form anybody already given.
The PDP in the state has however endorsed and adopted him for a second term but made it clear that the development does not forbid or foreclose any other aspirant from showing interest in the governorship election in the party. AtÂ a political rally organized by women wing of the party, the governor was also endorsed for a second term and expressed their unalloyed support for him in order to actualize the dream. The governor is yet to respond.
While waiting for an appropriate time to make an official pronouncement over his political ambition, the governor is basking on his numerous achievements so far in office which he sees as good enough to see him through for a second term if he wishes.
Some of the achievements include his free education programme and payment of WAEC/NECO fees for all categories of students in public schools, ward development projects across the state which is now a reference point to other states across the country, road constructions across the state, the vision 202020 project which is being religiously pursued.
Others are the mass transportation for electorates, increase in wages of workers, settlement of arrears of pension for workers among others.
Out of the registered political parties in the country, only two, ANPP and PDP, are seen to be visible in the state. Since it came to power in May 2007, the ANPPÂ has strongly opposed to the victory of the present administration at the polls and dragged it to the tribunal but failed to prove its case. Meanwhile, it has not relented in its bid to unseat the governor.
Besides, the ANPPâ€™s challenge in court, former Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Local Government, Alhaji Jubrin Bala Alhassan is also in court challenging the victory of the incumbent at the polls.
Also faced with the face off between the incumbent governor and his predecessor along with numerous politicians and civil servants who are loyalists of the party of which most have defected, the battle for a second term for governor Babangida Aliyu may not be won easily as he did in 2007 except strategic steps are taken for genuine reconciliation between the warring parties.
However, if the reconciliation finally fails, the goodwill of the governor, through his articulated and people oriented programmes, will perhaps see him through.
The factionalisation of ANPP in the state has even made opposition in the state irrelevant as it has collapsed giving the PDP an upper hand.
Recently in Delta state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) took Nigerians by surprise when he publicly declared his intention to contest the 2011 presidential election. He is a member of the PDP ruling party and certainly, will contest on the party’s platform.
Perhaps with his declaration and bid to contest on the platform of the PDP, there is hope that all the warring parties in the state will retrace their footsteps back to fold and rally round their own and presidential candidate, Gen. Babangida and by extensionÂ the incumbent governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu and see him through to have a land slideÂ victory.
Besides the internal wrangling, no opposition seems capable to unseat the present PDP administration in Niger State.