APC members and political cycles in Kaduna are still weighing the emergence of Senator
Uba Sani as the gubernatorial aspirant that the supporters of incumbent Governor Nasir El-Rufai will back in the primaries. Preliminary feelers are that the development has given supporters of the governor direction which some APC members in the state say has strengthened their base.
Persuasion, opinion polls, regular meetings and assessments were said to have all played a role in shaping the decision that has favoured Uba Sani.
On the procedures adopted before the group settled for Sani, a stakeholder said of the governor:”He showed us again that he is a leader that values consultation, allowing divergent opinions to be expressed and skilfully guiding stakeholders to a collective decision.
“El-Rufai is a leader guided by science, data and logic. This allows him to see beyond the emotions that cloud human relations and keep everyone focused on the goal, rather than unhelpful distractions.”
Kaduna APC sources disclosed that there were pressures by some of the aspirants to make their interest public much earlier in the year. But the aspirants deferred to El-Rufai’s counsel that it was more urgent to first safeguard the corporate health and viability of the APC through a national convention before focusing on aspirations that could only be realised through a strong and united party. El-Rufai also admonished the team to prioritise securing a consensus among the aspirants for primaries.
After the successful conclusion of the APC national convention, the Kaduna governorship aspirants revved up their engine. Senator Uba Sani and Muhammad Sani Abdullahi (Dattijo) publicly declared their interest in the job at about the same time, a development that created some confusion since they are regarded as members of the El-Rufai team.
Shortly after, it also became known that the Deputy Governor Dr. Hadiza Balarabe was consulting several key groups about the race. This led to expressions of serious concerns that having three aspirants for governorship from the El-Rufai team would divide party members and invite uncertainty about the outcome of the primaries.
The sense of anxiety was said to have increased considerably as the viciousness the supporters of Uba and Dattijo launched against each other alarmed many party leaders, especially as each aspirant was saying that they had secured El-Rufai’s endorsement to run.
Checks with informed sources in Kaduna confirmed that El-Rufai, senior party leaders and stakeholders were aware of this growing apprehension among APC members and had reminded all aspirants to educate their supporters that this was a democratic process within members of the same team..
“El-Rufai was holding regular meetings with key personalities to reinforce the sense of team cohesion above the emerging ambitions,” a knowledgeable source disclosed.
Sources confirmed that while some of the aspirants were busy building alignments, El-Rufai had also commissioned series of opinion polls to gauge public perceptions of the likely aspirants. The three in-house aspirants had strong credentials and it was considered important to track them on several issues and against other likely aspirants to test their public acceptability.
Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, the first elected female Deputy Governor in the state, had acted as Governor on several occasions and is seen as capable. A consultant in public health, she had led the state’s strong response to Covid-19 and enjoyed unique status as a powerful Number 2 to El-Rufai. On his part, Uba Sani had impressed as an effective and influential first term senator who had gotten two bills passed and signed by the President.
He was political adviser to El-Rufai prior to becoming a senator, and had used his influence to secure funding for the construction of Faculty of Engineering at the permanent site of KASU, among others. Dattijo, the youngest of the three, is an international development expert who served twice as budget commissioner and was El-Rufai’s chief of staff. He is bright and hardworking.
The polls showed that these three aspirants were well regarded, but Uba was consistently the strongest of the aspirants in the rankings. El-Rufai is said to have given Uba the nod to declare after the first set of polls showed that he was most popular within the party and the electorate. El-Rufai is known to commission opinion polls regularly, right from when the APC merger was concluded and throughout his first and second-terms as governor.
Some APC stakeholders did not take the claim of endorsement made by the aspirants at face value. According to a member of the House of Representatives, when they sought clarification from El-Rufai on the matter, he confirmed having no reservations about Senator Uba Sani declaring and encouraging the Deputy Governor to engage in consultations.
He also acknowledged that Dattijo had told him he was joining the race. The federal legislator said that this disclosure further swung momentum to Uba Sani’s way, helped by the fact that the Dr. Hadiza Balarabe did not make a formal declaration of interest after the series of consultations she did.
The latest meeting of the El-Rufai core team was held on Wednesday, 4 May 2022. The major outcome was settling for Uba Sani as the team’s consensus aspirant. His record in the Senate, his experience as a presidential aide in the Obasanjo years and service as a political adviser and senior member of the Kaduna team all helped to swing influential figures behind his aspiration.
As an insider noted, “when El-Rufai made his choice, it was another masterstroke of consultative but bold leadership. Just as he had carried all stakeholders along in the ward, local government and state congresses of 2021, he led the team to a clear choice. He also created a path for Dattijo to continue his political career at the national level.”
Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari has also been endorsed to retain his seat as the senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District.
Relieved APC members in Kaduna State now have a clear direction as they await the primaries. Rather than the bickering among supporters, they are now touting the strengths of the members of the team that are pencilled to contest offices.
Party members are now drawing attention to Uba Sani’s contributions in the Senate where he has been ranked as number one over the last three years for bills presented and passed into law. He got the revised Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act passed.
He has earned a reputation as a reformist, proposing bills to create state police and state judicial councils, apart from the landmark laws passed At the Senate, Uba Sani and Kwari have demonstrated loyalty to the governance objectives of the Kaduna State Government.
While declaring his aspiration, Uba said that as governor, he would consolidate on the achievements of the El-Rufai government. It is now his job to persuade the Kaduna APC to give him the ticket at the primaries.