2019: How rivalry, jostle for power enlivens Niger politics

In this piece, AIDELOJE OJO tells how rivalry and jostle for positions ahead of 2019 general elections, enliven the socio-political space rather than ignite fire and fury as is the case with other states across the country
Keen rivalry The socio-political space of Niger state is upbeat in recent time the reason is not farfetched.
Watchers of the development will easily agree that the vibrant moments being witnessed across the state is caused by the race for the governorship of Niger state in the 2019 election, which kicked off with several aspirants expressing interest in the job.
The incumbent Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has also indicated interest to seek the mandate of the electorate for a second tenure, presumably to build on the foundation of his first term administration.
In the face of strong rivalries, Governor Sani Bello is brandishing kits of democratic dividends and sustainable development delivered in three years to secure second tenure in office.
Gov Bello and second term Niger state Governor Bello has recently expressed interest to contest 2019 governorship election towards actualizing second term in office.
Addressing journalists at Government House recently, Governor Bello popularly known as “Lolo” confirmed his desire to seek to mandate of the people to continue in office beyond 2019.
He gave cogent reasons for the decision to run, including the need to complete numerous infrastructural projects which foundations have been laid.
Although the governor appeared to have shied away from blowing his own trumpet at the event, the general consensus was that the administration score card as presented, earned excellent marks especially in areas of road infrastructure, water supply in major cities, educational development and security of lives and property.
Analysts believe that although there is room for improvement in certain areas, the score card showcased enough merit to earn second term.
Our correspondent learnt that the general argument of many associates of the governor is hinged on the need for continuity considering the numerous people oriented projects embarked on by the administration.
The leaders of the ruling APC in the state must have given credence to this line of thought when they recently endorsed the governor to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming governorship election.
Stakeholders’ endorsement of Bello and matters arising The APC in Niger state recently held a rally attended by majority of members and all stakeholders in Minna, capital of Niger state.
At the peak of the rally, the Senator representing Niger North Senatorial District and Chairman Senate Committee on Media, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, took to the podium and moved a motion for the endorsement of Governor Bello and President Mohammed Buhari , for second tenure in 2019 in view of their excellent performances during the first tenure.
He x-rayed the performance of the governor in the past three years especially in the areas of revamping the educational sector, rapid infrastructural development going on in the state, enhanced provision of basic amenities to the people including water and electricity supply.
Our correspondent in Minna reports that there was no objection, and that the motion was unanimously adopted by the crowd of party members who shouted yes to the endorsement.
It was learnt that in order to give the second term endorsement of the governor a stamp of acceptance throughout the nooks and crannies of the state, the Niger state Chairman of APC, Engineer Mohammed Gawu Imam, summoned an enlarged state executive working committee forum attended by all the 25 local government party executives and other prominent stakeholders of the party in Minna.
Continuity in office The agenda, it was learnt was to have thorough look at the potentials of Governor Bello’s continuity in office and modalities available towards achievement of the goal.
After brainstorming for hours, the forum was said to have adopted the earlier endorsement of the governor for second tenure.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent in Minna, the party Chairman, Mohammed Imam explained that several factors worked in favour of the Governor, one of which is the general acceptance of the administration and the goodwill of the people due to excellent performance in his first tenure.
He said, “the good works of the governor speak for themselves all over the state.
We have witnessed rapid development in the state more than what was witnessed in the 16 years of PDP government.
It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that the governor has earned the goodwill of the people for the second tenure mandate.
For now, there is no other person that can convince us for the governorship flag of the party in 2019 other than Governor Sani Bello”.
The chairman also said that the governor was favoured by the zoning arrangement that had enabled zone A and zone B to produce the governor of the state for eight years each.
According to him, zone C is also entitled to occupy the governorship seat for eight years, pointing out the fact that since the governors of the other zones were allowed to run for second terms, the case of Governor Bello will not be an exemption.
Infrastructural and socio-economic developments It is a general consensus that APC administration at states and federal level came at the time the country suffered cash crunch and economic depression which hampered smooth take off of infrastructural and socio-economic developments.
Despite these economic and financial challenges, the APC administration in the state was believed to have come out with clear cut development policies which checked unnecessary expenses through prudent management of meager resources.
Block wasteful expenditures The state commissioner of Finance, Mohammed Zakari , gave credence to this assertion while speaking with journalists in Minna recently.
He said that the administration has been able to block wasteful expenditures while focusing on finances of only vital people oriented projects.
The commissioner explained that the prudent management of finances by Governor Bello has enabled the administration to execute hundreds of projects across the state, he said, “we have managed our finances prudently and this is one of the reasons why people are happy with this administration.
We have the records of thousands of projects in cities and communities to the benefit of our people.
It is therefore not surprising that people especially those in rural communities are eager for Governor Bello to continue in office to complete his good work beyond 2019.
The state commissioner of Works and Transport, Balarebe Kagara corroborated the assertion of his colleague when he presented update of the score card of the governor in the area of execution of road projects.
According to him, “the administration of Governor Bello has awarded over 120 roads and electrification projects several of which have been completed”.
He added that township roads in Minna, Bida, Suleja, Kontagora and other major cities worth billions of naira have also been constructed by the administration.
The commissioner described these achievements in roads construction and rural electrification of several communities in the state as a fulfillment of campaign promises which earned the governor and APC the support of the people for another mandate in power in 2019.
Still on the score card, the state ministry of Health has a beautiful display of achievements to showcase the governor in the provision of medical care to the people.
According to the state commissioner of Health, Dr.
Mustapha Jibrin, the administration has awarded over 30 contracts in the health sector including construction of general hospitals, procurement of equipment, furniture, drugs and other essentials for hospitals and clinics across the state.
Analysts believe that all these achievements including prompt payment of salaries to civil servants are essential part of the credentials of the governor in the race to secure second term in office.
Decision to contest Governor Bello’s score card has no doubt come to public scrutiny following the decision to contest for second term in 2019.
However there appeared to be divergent opinion on scoring the performance of the administration with majority awarding pass marks.
It was learnt that few others have reservation on the performance of the governor claiming that much needed to be done for the governor to deserve second term.
For this school of thought, the governor’s performance is low based on the projects done by the administration.
Analysts however believe that although these few individuals might have a point when view against the backdrop of high expectations in the change mantra of 2015, it would also be totally wrong to hinge performance assessment of the governor on sentiments arising from bloated expectations.
A businessman based in Minna, Usman Abdullahi told our correspondent that only those who cannot do business as usual as was obtainable in previous administrations were against the governor.
According to him, “it is true that we put lots of hope on the APC government to change things for the better but I should say that they are doing their best.
We should be patient with government and the governor in meeting our needs.
In my opinion, the governor deserved to continue in office in 2019 with our popular mandate”.
Opposition and Bello’s chances As it stands, Governor Bello might not have serious in-house opposition to his second term bid probably due to the mature way the APC leadership has handled it.
It is believed that it will be the strongest point in the party’s electioneering campaign because of the seamless selection of the flag bearer in person of the governor for the 2019 election.
Our correspondent gathered that the decision to endorse the governor for second tenure has forced out governorship hopeful of the party, Ambassador Ahmed Musa Ibeto to the main opposition party, PDP where he is expected to join forces against the incumbent governor in 2019.
But Ibeto will have to slug it out with other popular contestants for the PDP ticket at primaries.
Prominent on the list for the PDP gubernatorial ticket is the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Umar Nasko, Hannafi Sudan.
Analysts are however of the view that with the alignment of forces to stop the second term bid by Governor Bello, intrigues, smart moves as well as power-game drama are unfolding each passing day.
But the question is: are the forces formidable enough to stop the governor? For now, there is no dull moment as activities are upbeat in Minna and its environs.

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