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By Patience Ogbodo-Iwuagwu/Bauchi
As 2015 general election continues to gather momentum, with some opposition parties merging together to form APC, and the current crisis rocking the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) continuing unabated, both at National level and in some states, the political scene in Bauchi State is also changing as various aspirants line up to battle for the Government House.
Governor Isa Yuguda, who is currently serving his second term, was first elected in 2007 under the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), amidst controversy as a result of PDP denying him ticket to contest for the office of the Governor, a situation that prompted a man who had served as a two-time minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo, to decamp to ANPP where he received massive support from the people of the state, especially the youths, and won a landslide victory.
But two years after the election, Governor Yuguda got married to the daughter of the late President Musa Yar’adua and, thereafter, decamped back to the PDP, a platform he used to contest for his second term in 2011 and won.
Less than two years for Yuguda to complete his second term, the political terrain in the state has once again been animated as the streets are now adorned with various posters and billboards of governorship aspirants. Most political parties in the state especially the opposition are working tirelessly to produce credible candidates to contest the election in 2015 and the newly registered APC has vowed to take over the seat of government in 2015 by making sure there is a repeat of what happened in 2007 when the ANPP surprised all bookmakers by dusting the ruling party at the polls.
With the zoning arrangement in the state, the people of Bauchi North and Bauchi Central are agitating for the governorship to shift to their zone, going by the calculation that Bauchi South where the former governor, Adamu Muazu, and the incumbent, Isa Yuguda, came from has ruled for 16 years.
A PDP Chieftain who spoke on condition of anonymity called for fairness in the zoning arrangement saying “there should be fairness in producing the next governor in the state because people from Bauchi South has spent 16 years in Government House, so other zones should be given opportunity too.
He said: “I will advise political parties in the state to present candidates from Bauchi North or Bauchi Central for next governorship election while candidates from Bauchi South should support candidates from other zones.”
Also, the Assistant Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Alhaji Bashir Bukar Rimin, urged the people not to make the mistake of the past. Said he: “We should be careful so that we don’t make the mistake the former governor, Mu’azu, made when he anointed the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Nadada Umar, who came from Bauchi North to succeed him, thereby denying Yuguda the ticket and at the end Yuguda defeated Nadada. So the office of the governor should be free for all zones to contest, whoever wins the primary election should be supported, in the best interest of the state without minding the zones he came from.”
Those in the governorship race includes the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, who was Yuguda’s PA when he was a Minister during President Obasanjo’s administration. Mohammed contested for the Senate seat representing Bauchi South under ANPP in 2007 and won, defeating former governor, Adamu Muazu, who contested the same seat with him. He was later appointed as the FCT Minister by President Jonathan. Mohammed who is popular and loved by the people in the state might get support from the people of Bauchi, especially the youths who has benefited from his education interventions and skill acquisition programmes. He however might have problem with Isa Yuguda, going by the rift between them following the refusal of Bala to decamp alongside with Yuguda to PDP when Yuguda left ANPP. Bala later went back to PDP after President Jonathan appointed him as the FCT Minister, a move that according to him was the only way to show appreciation to the President Jonathan. Zoning arrangement may also be another minus for Bala who is from Bauchi South, a zone that has produced the governor from 1999 till date.
Another aspirant is Senator Abdul Ningi, representing Bauchi Central. Ningi, who is the longest serving Lawmaker in the state, was a member of House of Representatives from 1999 to 2011 before he was elected as a Senator in 2011. He served as House leader and currently the Deputy Senate Majority leader. The fact that his zone has not produced civilian Governor can be a plus for him.
Alhaji Umar Nadada, the former SSG to Governor Adamu Muazu is also interested in the race. Nadada who came from Bauchi North was anointed by Adamu Muazu in 2007 to succeed him but was defeated by Yuguda. Source said Yuguda and Muazu might have buried their differences in order to throw their weight behind Nadada as a way of compensating him and the people of Bauchi North for losing the election in 2007.
Yet another aspirant is Ahmed Dandija, the current Secretary to the State Government and a close associate of the governor. He has been in office since 2007. There were speculations that Dandija who hails from Bauchi Central has been endorsed by Yuguda in order to ensure that there is continuity in project execution and to also prevent any witch-hunting when he leaves office. But political analysts have expressed fear that if Yuguda eventually imposed him on the people of Bauchi there might be a repeat of what happened in the state in 2007 when Muazu wanted his SSG to succeed him and lost the election.
Another person whose name is being mentioned is the former National Secretary of PDP, Dr Musa Babayo who came from Bauchi North and he is also Yuguda’s In-law- Babayo’s daughter married Yuguda’s son in 2012, a marriage that was described as political.
Senator Babayo Garba Gamawa who is popularly called “BBG” is said to be interested in the race. Gamawa was the majority leader at the Bauchi State House of Assembly in 2007 and later became the Speaker after the impeachment of Dahiru Jika. Babayo, who also came from Bauchi North was later appointed as the Deputy Governor when the former Deputy Governor Garba Gadi was impeached. Gamawa served as Deputy Governor till 2011 before he contested for the Senate to represent Bauchi North and won as the former Senator representing the area, Nazif Gamawa couldn’t go back as he contested for governorship election under ANPP and lost. Babayo’s developmental projects executed in his constituency as well as other intervention might be a plus for him, but an analyst argued that the role played by Babayo when he was the speaker to impeach Gadi, who is from the same zone with him might work against him.
The people of the state are fervently waiting for the whistle to be blown to decide who takes over from Yuguda, but many factors would come to play in the days ahead and the challenges are quite enormous.