By Emmanuel K. Bulus
We all know that aspiring to lead Nigeria pushes the boundaries of ambition to the very end. This is partly because Nigerians have continued to play possum with their future while people facing down the time-ringed barrel have been allowed to continue playing a card of relevance that should have been retrieved from them a long time ago.
Nevertheless, the growing political consciousness around Nigeria gives lots of room for optimism and this is why, when young and vibrant politicians with the competence, knowledge and experience to lead the nation present themselves for selection as Hassan Dankwambo has just done, those in charge of the selection process must as a matter importance look at their credentials and give them the necessary backing to succeed for the sake of all of us.
But for the kind of politics that we practise in Nigeria, serious political parties ought not to joke with their responsibility of shopping for credible, befitting and saleable candidates to fly their flags; this is especially so if the parties are in the opposition. Wasn’t it how APC came to power in the first place?
So, it is even easier for parties like the PDP which frankly have a lot to do to try and convince Nigerians that indeed, they are going through a re-branding that will permanently bury their dark past to take people such as Dankwambo very seriously.
If the PDP, for instance, is at a loss as to who to bank on for the 2019 polls to the point that they will be shopping, as we hear in the news, for people with little or no political capital when they in fact have a colossus right down the street of the Umbrella empire in the person of Dankwambo, what kind of impact do they hope to make at the polls then?
While it will be preposterous to downplay the presidential credentials of many Nigerians, especially those of the Arewa extraction (considering the zoning arrangement), whose education, charisma and other leadership pointers stand them in a good position to make a run for the Aso Rock seat of power, Dankwambo’s education, leadership record and age makes him a perfect fit for 2019.
But for the fear of sounding arrogant, I would have called the entire PDP machinery blind unless they have been making covert moves to get Dankwambo to run their flag at the upcoming polls. I mean, here is the only man to defeat the incumbent APC all the way to the centre in 2015. While his compatriot governors of the PDP were busy puffing and huffing in empty bravado, he deployed a cool, calculative and novel strategy that only accountants can manage, to give APC a sound beating in Gombe; an occurrence that continues to be a source of embarrassment to the APC juggernauts at the centre.
Did he justify his election? Absolutely! You just need to visit Gombe State to see for yourself how not to be a noise maker but a purpose driven and result-oriented leader.
If antecedent and track records are the certificate with which we measure the impact created by the leadership qualities of aspiring politicians, then it will be safe to declare Dankwambo best graduating student of his governorship class of Arewa prospects for national leadership. Besides the much-touted integrity of PMB that Nigerians have now tasted with bitterness and various shades of grimaces, who among the APC golden boys can match the credentials of Dankwambo in all sincerity?
It will be pointless to call them out now, but many are cradling a baggage that will weigh them down for the journey ahead. This is why Arewa regardless of their political affection must begin to think Dankwambo for he is class.
The people of Gombe can attest to his impact in all of the critical sectors of the state. Security, human capital development, infrastructure, economy etc., all areas where the Federal Government is failing, Dankwambo has excelled beyond compare.
The man is a trailblazer for he has managed to do that which virtually every Governor in Nigeria is saying they cannot do. Yes! It is on record that Dankwambo is one among the few Governors elected in 2015 presently not owing workers or pensioners in Nigeria their monthly dues despite the low allocation that accrues to the state. It takes a trained and dedicated financial manager to pull this off.
In place of complaints, the man has delivered result, and in place of despair as a result of the faulty economies of the current administration that have brought nothing but hunger and death, the man has delivered hope to the people through his giant strides in all critical sectors of the economy.
The city of Gombe and environs has been transformed into a peaceful, clean and conducive place to live and do business. However, it is in the areas of rural development that Dankwambo has done wonderfully and this is why he stands out.
Rural linkage roads, rural electrification, agricultural support and a lot more that have been the bane of Buhari’s stewardship are where Dankwambo is excelling. The rural people of Gombe can attest to the clear difference between the impact of this political enigma and those of his predecessors.
Governor Dankwambo is the opportunity that PDP have to show Nigerians that they are truly re-branding with youth, zeal, credibility, education and performance. It will be a big loss to PDP if a man such as Dankwambo who has remained the only shining beacon of the party in the entire North is to be short-changed because his integrity, humility and self-respect will not let him delve into the frenzy of money bags looking to buy their way into the party’s ticket.
No need reminding the Uche Secondus-led PDP that it will take a lot of efforts to convince Nigerians that the money bag whose dirt-filled antecedent is public knowledge, is the answer to the party’s problems. It will be interesting how the new ‘change the change’ party slogan will sound when instead of a new shining start, the party returns with the bitter past as their candidate for “the change”.
Let me also warn the PDP that, the gale of defection that has hit the APC may not necessarily be in its favour if it pushes the party from keeping faith with party faithful like Dankwambo who held the flag with an unwavering resolve despite the persecution they have had to endure from the APC’s well-oiled propaganda machinery.
Let it be known that aside political parties shopping for candidates, I believe Nigerians also owe the nation and themselves a duty to help parties shop for credible candidates, and this is why I am without prejudice, presenting Dankwambo for service. It is left for our great party, the PDP to do the needful. It is my sincere belief that the man has the wherewithal to take Nigeria out of the proverbial woods that she is languishing in right now.
*Mr Bulus, a political analyst, wrote from Abuja.