BY WOLE MOSADOMI
ONLY four out of the sixty three registered political parties in the country have structures and relevance in Niger State.
They are Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)..
For the governorship elections, the ACN has former Chief Whip, House of Representatives for eight years, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa Bwari as its gubernatorial candidate while the ANPP is re_presenting its 2007 governorship candidate, Barrister David Umaru as its flag bearer.
CPC has Alhaji Shettima Bako as its governorship candidate while PDP is presenting the incumbent governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu as its candidate.
Alhaji Bawa Bwari was in the PDP until 2007 when the relationship between him and the party went sour.
He contested for the same post in 2007 in the PDP primaries but stormed out of the elections along with several other contestants over what they described as irregularities and manipulations that characterized the primaries. After that Bwari went low just keeping touch with his immediate constituency. It was not difficult for the ACN to fish him out and name him as the party’s candidate for the April 26 governorship election.
He is seriously banking on his political experience in the National Assembly for eight years to win the governorship ticket.
Besides his wealth of experience, most of the reputable politicians who were formerly with the PDP in the state who defected to the ACN are now working round the clock to project him as unbeatable.
These individuals who have transformed into a formidable force are aggrieved with the present administration for biting the fingers that fed it.
Barrister David Umaru of the ANPP is another PDP product who also felt cheated over the outcome of the 2007 primaries of the party and had no option than to defect to the ANPP.
He fought the PDP to a standstill in the 2007 governorship election but his struggle was not good enough to earn him the victory at the polls. After losing at the polls, he took his battle to the Election Tribunal and went as far as the Supreme Court but did not succeed. He is still seeking for a fresh mandate from the electorate under the same party – ANPP. Unfortunately, the ANPP has been in a disarray in the state for almost two years breaking into three factions.
This internal crisis according to Umaru cannot and will not affect his victory at the polls.
For the CPC, the governorship candidate, Alhaji Shettima Bako is a green horn in politics. He is a banker who retired for politics only few months ago after being “persuaded by his people” to come home and join the guber race. One of the major factors in his favour is the fact that he is from zone A which is the Nupe speaking area of the state and which incidentally has the highest population to determine the success of any candidate.
However, the other zones are also of the opinion that since the immediate past governor of the state, Engineer, Abdulkadir Kure is from that zone, the governorship seat should shift to other zones and are therefore bent on either retaining it in zone B which is presently having it or should go to zone C.
Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu who is the incumbent governor of the state is the candidate of the PDP and is hoping to use the various programmes he has done as a bargaining chip to win over the electorate.
Some of his efforts include the payment of WAEC/NECO fees for all students in public schools in the state irrespective of their state of origin, religion or party affiliation of their parents, free education for all students in public schools, abolition of levies, purchase and supply of text books and exercise books to all students in public schools, purchase of no fewer than 300 PHCN transformers to boost electricity supply and economy in the state and purchase of 75 heavy duty equipment comprising of 25 bulldozers, 25 wheel loaders and 25 graders for all the local government council in the state.
However, Bwari and the other contenders are pressing that given the opportunity that they would do better. The die is cast.