By Luka Binniyat
The immediate past governor of Kaduna State, the late Ibrahim Yakowa and his successor, Mukthar Yero may have operated on the same political platform, but expectations and experience of the two are different on ground. Why?
While many residents of Kaduna, the Kaduna State capital took the opportunity of the last yuletide break to hang around family and friends, it was not so for Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero. On Christmas eve, the governor with his aides in tow, and escorted by heavily armed soldiers and police went about 150 kilometers south from the capital to Kafanchan to celebrate Christmas with the predominantly Christian population of Kaduna South.
Though a Muslim, the governor apparently did not have any option, not if he still had 2015 in view.
Days before his trip to Southern Kaduna, about 1,200 influential members of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP mostly from the northern part of the state defected to the All Progressive Alliance (APC). The masterminds of the defection in the APC, working with dissatisfied stakeholders within the PDP, apparently had the intention of doing worse in Southern Kaduna.
That would have been a masterstroke that would have inevitably opened up the underbelly of the PDP in Kaduna. Though Yero would have been the immediate casualty as everyone knows, the greater impact would further diminish the political legacy of his boss and political godfather, Vice-President Namadi Sambo.
Already diminished in Northern Kaduna with the APC gaining the ascendancy in many political positions, the Southern Christian population had become the base of the PDP.
The politically astute former governor of the state, Senator Ahmed Markafi had won the people of the area to the party through his open hearted dispensation of projects and positions while he was in power. However, Sambo seemed to have made a reverse for the brief period he was governor of the state. However, with his elevation to Abuja and a son of the soil, Ibrahim Yokowa as governor, the people of Southern Kaduna could breath some measure of fairness in the administration. However, Yokowa’s death and the elevation of Yero to office seemed to have returned them to what some allege as the dark days of Sambo.
Gen. Zamani Lekwot (rtd), Chairman Southern Kaduna Elders Consultative Forum, had visited Sambo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively in 2012 and 2013 to complain about the injustice they were suffering. Out of the 37 federal appointees from Kaduna State, only three were from Southern Kaduna, despite the fact that that was the part of the state giving the votes to the PDP.
Sambo, under whom Yero worked as an accountant in his (Nalado Nigerian Enterpise) private firm, was blamed for the imbalance, considering his past actions on Southern Kaduna.
So given the perception that they were not wanted it was not difficult for Yero, even belatedly, to know that his political enemies within the PDP and in the APC were about to feast on a rich harvest in Southern Kaduna, and hence his Christmas vacation in Kafanchan, the dominant city in the area.
The vacation was, however, not entirely happy for the holiday maker and his hosts. For example, Zonkwa residents in Zangon Kataf LGA and environs, are still unhappy that the governor’s convoy almost crushed a throng going on a yearly procession, tagged, “Celebrate Jesus” on Christmas Day, as he set about visiting local chiefs from the area.
While, Yero was received by high ranking traditional rulers of the area with deserving respect, same as he did Christian clerics when they went to see him at the Kafanchan Governor’s lodge on his invitation, the same could not be said of some respectable opinion leaders of the place, including the politicians and their followers who where supposed to be his major targets.
Many were put off by the disorganised, unruly looking atmosphere at the lodge made worse by unfriendly armed soldiers and police men, who roughened up visitors, including journalists.
The most aggrieved, though, were the PDP foot soldiers of Southern Kaduna, many mused over the handouts they got from the governor. Some political leaders also complained of being neglected and that Yero did not heed to good advice, surrounding himself with sycophants with little political capital. As if to buttress that point, three days after he departed from Kafanchan, an influential member of the PDP from Southern Kaduna, Barrister Jacob Mark – former National Legal Adviser of the PDP – gave a damning assessment of the rot within Kaduna PDP following the defections in the north and the danger waiting in the South.
“In the face of unfolding political events in Kaduna State, it is indeed worrisome that once again, persons shouldered with the responsibility of guiding the PDP boat through troubled times do not seem to care that the boat is threatened by critical weather conditions. They are still enmeshed in the euphoria, size and magnitude of the offices they occupy. Otherwise how does one explain the rascal docility, loud silence and inaction of these major players in the PDP to the serious events that occurred in the last 10 days . . . Available data garnered from on the spot analysis reveal that the PDP is at its lowest rating since 1999 and unless things change, there will be a political disaster if we go into any election now”, said Jacob.
Alhaji Umar Gana, former Director-General, North-West of the Obasanjo/Atiku Organisation during the 1999 general election and also Kaduna state Coordinator for Jonthan/Sambo Presidential campaign of 2011 elections has also expressed similar sentiments.
In advertorials in some major national dailies, lampooning Yero and Sambo, he accused the two of neglecting the PDP in the state. He threatened to leave the PDP to APC with his loyalists if things stayed the same, saying that the PDP was fast sinking in the state.
It was upon these that Sambo and Yero swung into action.