By Emeka Mamah
The former Governor of Kaduna state and the current Vice President, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo is one of those who believe that the state is a mini Nigeria with all the complexities. Namadi would not complete any of his public speeches when he was in charge without reminding his audience about the enviable position of Kaduna in the north in particular and the country in general.
Sambo will then reel out the 11 point development agenda of his administration. That is not to say that the former governor was wrong.Â The advent of Abuja has taken the shine off Kaduna as many of those who constituted the dreaded â€œKaduna mafiaâ€ have either died or relocated to the new Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which is only about two hours away.
Also, politics in the state has changed with another Lion taking over the den as Governor following the elevation of Sambo as Vice President. He is Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, a minority Christian from Fadan Kagoma and former Deputy Governor fromÂ Southern Kaduna, which has brougt in its trail, realignment of forces even in the entire north.
The change of baton at the federal and state levels has brought new issues which were not in earlier calculations for the 2011 elections. But the fact that Kaduna has almost similar features with the Nigerian nation is not in doubt.
The political situation in Kaduna State is similar to what now obtains at the federal level as relates to the issue of zoning within the ruling Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. The same zoning arrangement which led to the emergence of the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration into power in 2007 brought in the Namadi Sambo and Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa as governor and Deputy Governor also.
Sambo as governor was expected to be in power until 2015 when he would have served two terms before power will shiftÂ to Southern Kaduna which had not produced any governor in the over 34 years of the existence of the state. Now that Sambo has suddenly left the governorship seat to become the Vice President, his northern zone is clamouring to retain power in the state from 2011 till 2015, according to the zoning arrangement in the PDP. It is the same kind of arrangement that some northern elders want to endure at the federal level.
As at now, nobody has openly complained about zoning but the pressure from North against the swearing in of Yakowa ws enough indication that the 2011 elections in the state would be influenced by ethnicÂ and religious considerations. In any case as things stand in the state, the man to beat in the 2011 race is Governor Patrick Yakowa.
Although he has not come out openly to declare his interest, his posters already adorn some strategic places in the state capital as well as Kafanchan which is the capital of the southern part. Records waxed on the necessity of allowing Yakowa to continue as governor are now ruling the airwaves just as vehicles painted in PDP colours and fitted with loud speakers have been plying all the nooks and crannies of the metropolis singing the praises of both the governor and his deputy Yero.
In fact, his interest in the race is not in doubts. Yakowa is the first Christian from the southern part of the state to becomeÂ governor of Kaduna State (by providence) since its creation in 1967. The feeling, especially among the Southern Kaduna people is that, although Yakowa wouldÂ not have been a candidate of their choice if they wereÂ to make a choice because of his subservience to the Hausa/Fulani, he should be supportedÂ to continue in office, given the fact that he isÂ in power, so as to avoid wastingÂ this long awaited divine opportunity.
â€œHe may not be the choice of Southern Kaduna people, but he is the governor now and holds the lever of power; so whether we like it or not, we must rally round him to ensure that we do not allow this opportunity slip off,”a top politician from Southern Kaduna told Vanguard.
â€œWe cannot have power on our lap and allow it slip off, the man will contest, I assure you that he will contest. There is nothing like zoning again because, the zoning arrangement in the state was bastardized when they appointed the former Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero who is from the same zone with the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the Chairman of the PDP in the state, leaving the Central zone with nothing,â€he said.
However, even if Yakowaâ€™s loyalists had not indicated his readiness to run in 2011, his body language indicates that he will. The governorâ€™s advice to his area when they celebrated his elevation at Kafanchan showed that he was not taking the support of the people from the northern part of the state for granted. He had told his people not to brag about his coming into power asÂ the governor of Kaduna. However, a lot of forces may be up against Yakowa.
For example, there are speculations that Vice President Namadi Sambo may be grooming Yero, his deputy to be governor in 2011. Sambo was said to have been instrumental to Yeroâ€™s appointment as deputy governor. Yero was an accountant in the vice presidentâ€™s private company- Nalado Nigeria Ltd before he was brought into government as Commissioner for Finance at the inception of Samboâ€™s administration in 2007. If this is true, Yakowa is then likely to be on a collision path with his predecessor and former boss.
The governor is nonetheless said to be working hard to set up his own political structures so as not to be overwhelmed by his likely political opponents. He has already appointed his commissioners and is said to be relating closely with the local government chairmen by releasing all their allocations with a view to having their loyalty in 2011.Yakowa, a former minister and federal permanent secretary was appointed deputy governor in July 2005 following the death of the then deputy governor, Mr. Stephen Shekari.
In 2007, YakowaÂ was among the few people from the southern Kaduna who were believed to have scuttled the aspiration of Senator Isaiah Balat in becoming the governor. He was serving then as the Deputy Governor when he resigned to contest the governorship election but lost at the primaries. He was later picked as Samboâ€™s running mate.
Furthermore, another formidable politician in the state, Alhaji Suleiman Hunkuyi has already started setting up his structures in preparation for the governorship race. Hunkuyi is a grassroots politician from Kudan Local Government Area, which is located in the Northern Senatorial zone. This would be his second attempt in the governorship race.
Hunkuyi who served as commissioner in the Sen. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfiâ€™s government decamped to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003 and became the flag bearer of the party in the governorship race. He fought his former boss gallantly and lost. He later returned to the PDP and was the Chairman of Samboâ€™s Governorship Campaign organization in 2007 before the duo eventually fell apart. Hunkuyi, as at now is the only governorship aspirant who has been traversing every nook and crannies of the state to once again mobilize the support of the people.
He is determined to pick the PDP thicket this time around. It was learnt that the Makarfi camp in the PDP is said to be sympathetic to his candidature and might join forces with him even as the Vice Presidentâ€™s camp is believed to be against his aspiration.
Another governorship aspirant in the state now is Alhaji Shuâ€™aibu Idris Mikati. This is the second time that Mikati is showing interest in the race. In 2007, Mikati, a Director of Finance with the Dangote Group of Companies contested the PDP governorship primaries in the state and lost. Now, Mikati is said to have resolved to run for the primaries and may give Yakowa goose pimples, considering his war chest. Already, his posters are all over the state. He was also believed to have been mobilizing the rural areas for support. Mikati hails from Birnin Gwari in the Central Senatorial zone.
Apart from Mikati, there is also the former Commissioner of Agriculture in the Makarfi administration, Alhaji Lawal Samaâ€™ila Abdullahi Yakawada who is also a political war horse in the state. Yakawada is said to be still keeping his intentions close to his heart but not a few politicians in the state believe that he has gubernatorial ambition in 2011.