By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The dramatic nomination of Senator Usman Albishir as the Yobe State gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP during the recent nationwide primaries of the party is indeed remarkable. Albashir beat the veteran PDP leader of the State, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri to the coveted ticket.
In other words, this is the first time Maina will not be contesting governorship election since 1999. In 2003 and 2007 he lost as the PDP candidate, first to the then incumbent and now senator, Alhaji Abba Ibrahim, and then in 2007, to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP candidate, Senator Mamman Ali.
The defeat of the likeable Waziri must have come as a shock to many political observers and notably to the ANPP which was probably dusting its election blue print for another round of battle with Waziri. The primary defeat of Waziri, however, poses fresh challenges for the winner, that is Senator Albashir as he is now faced with the daunting challenge of mobilizing the party behind him ahead of the general election.
Albashir was arguably the leader of the ANPP in 1999 who played the godfather and helped in the installation of Alhaji Abba Ibrahim as the governor of the State. He eventually lost out in his bid to succeed his one time political associate, Abba Ibrahim as he was outfoxed by the late Mamman Ali.
How he intends to navigate the political landmines ahead of the gubernatorial election were addressed by the Director General of his Campaign Organisation, Ambassador Umar Iliya.
Asked on how he intends to reconcile with the Waziri forces, he said:
“My candidate (Alhabshir) has sat with some of them; he has made efforts to reach out to others but they were not forthcoming. But I can assure you that he has made several attempts to reach out.” Remarkably, Albashir has not met one on one with Waziri. Does that not portent disharmony?
“Well we don’t know because I have not had the opportunity to hear from anybody that sat with him. But in his conceding remarks, he promised to abide by the promise he made before the election that he would support whoever wins among the aspirants so as to ensure victory in the main election.” Irrespective of the lack of harmony, the former envoy is quite confident on the capacity of the Albashir machine to overwhelm the incumbent governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam.
“That guy is no more in control; he is already packing his things to leave government house, Damaturu,” he said.
“Our candidate is a household name in Yobe and everybody knows what happened in 2007. I think we should be more proactive because we are in a democracy and you don’t just force yourself on people. People have decided, they have chosen who they think would give them good representation and I think we should allow it because everyone is destined to be where he is. This is what God has placed before us; it is not our own making. God has decided so let us burry our hatchet and move forward for the progress of the people of Yobe.”
Noting the activities of fifth columnists to cause disharmony between the Albashir campaign and the Goodluck/Sambo campaign, Illya cited the recent newspaper advert where a group claiming to be supporters of Albashir castigated the President.
“Any right thinking person who goes through the content of that advertorial knows that it was merely sponsored to cause disaffection between us and the presidency as well as the party, PDP. Everyone knows Jonathan worn in Yobe. We know those that voted for Atiku. We know those that are really for Atiku and we know those who were asked to vote for Atiku so that what happened in Kano would also happen in Yobe. And we know their aim, but God is watching”
“We leave them to God. I want to make it categorically clear that we in the Albashir campaign organisation do not have any ‘solidarity group’ or ‘forum’ that is talking for us. We have no knowledge of any exiting body representing us in any way. So it is pure blackmail and we will get to the bottom of this thing.”
“But before then we are calling on all people to disregard this campaign of calumny we believe it is the work of our detractors who, like I told you earlier, could not achieve wanted through popular means and they want to achieve it through this medium. In any case I want to say without mincing words that they are too late; I am sorry for them, let them repent and join the moving train.”
“And let me also emphasis that we are members of the PDP and our allegiance lies with the party. We will work assiduously to ensure that the party records success right from the state assembly to the presidency. We believe in democracy and we believe that what happened during the congresses of our great party was a taste of democracy. Now a victor has emerged and as loyal part members, we are going to work for them to ensure their success.”
Illya also responded and denied to assertions that the Albashir Campaign Organisation was behind the series of violence that recently engulfed the state prior to the primaries. “Everyone knows Usman Abishir. He is a father, a grandfather, a mentor and a peace loving person. But you see sometimes, nobody has the monopoly violence since people can decide to resist it when they can no longer bear it or when they want to rise up to protect themselves,” he said.