2023 polls: Between Bauchi and Katagum

In Bauchi, like other states in Nigeria, the ward, local governments and state congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the biggest opposition party in the state, was relatively peaceful and, as usual, winners declared and inaugurated.

Manipulations during elections of all sorts in Bauchi state have always been shrouded in conspiracy especially governorship contests. Since the beginning of the fourth republic, Bauchi South political oligarchy has held sway over the governorship position in the state, alienating Bauchi North and Bauchi Central. It is politics of dominance, perhaps, perpetually without conscience for equity and justice for other blocks.

Ahmad Adamu Mu’azu governed the state for two terms (1999 – 2007); Isa Yuguda also resigned for two terms (2007 – 2015). Muhammed A. Abubakar took over from Isa Yuguda but had his second term bid truncated by incumbent Governor Bala Mohammed in 2019. 

All these chief executives hail from Bauchi South. It is still doubtful if such an age-long trend can be reversed so easily. It is widely believed that the prevailing political disequilibrium in the state can worsen the rivalry that ensued and widen the already cracked wall between the divides including that of the already disenchanted electorate, now craving for change to better their lots as proletariats.

As a party poised to wrestle power from ruling PDP in the 2023 polls, the APC has not, as a policy, adopted power shift or consensus as a strategy for the party to choose flag bearers for contestable offices in elections or as measure to address its emerging internal squabbles. But as an institution, the party is working assiduously to tailor her fragmenting parts occasioned by the conduct of the state congress. Perhaps when that is achieved, the party may consider all options at her disposal so as to remain intact and face the elections head on.

So far, three notably heavyweights from Katagum are flying kites to contest the state governorship primaries; Dr Musa Babayo, a politician, business man and one-time Chairman of Tetfund, Nigeria’s immediate former Chief of Air Staff and now the country’s ambassador to Chad Republic, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, and another non-career diplomat, Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar Gamawa.

In Bauchi Central, however, Senator Halliru Dauda Jika has also declared intent to participate in the primaries. Most party members and gladiators see him as a featherweight in the contest and may not pull much support. He is seen as someone only desirous of retaining his senatorial seat but adopting a ploy for what he wants.

The story is not different with another aspirant within the same APC in Bauchi South, Dr Danjuma Dabo, a former banker and proprietor of a private school in Bauchi. Both Jika and Dabo like Babayo and Tuggar, had made appearances for the governorship primaries but only Jika made it to the senate. The rest could not.

Apart from Air Marshal Sadique, who, perhaps, will feature in primaries for the first time, Babayo and Tuggar had attempted to secure tickets under the PDP and CPC, respectively, but failed. They had no sufficient spread across Bauchi political divides which accounted for the minimal they got during the primaries.

Again, the oligarchy also found them not suitable for permutations they plotted, thus, failed to support them. Bauchi South will always want to ensure political superiority over other blocks attributing their continuing grip on power in the state to the large voter population the block possesses. 

But this time, pundits say it won’t be business as usual. They opine that one of the aspirants, a novice in politics from Bauchi North, has inroad into both Bauchi North and Bauchi South political blocks, noting that if the stakeholders leverage on that, wrestling power from the incumbent is achievable.

What is fundamental is for the gladiators to close ranks, harmonise their interests, reach out to all divides of the state’s sociocultural and political settings and deploy all essential strategies and armouries for winning political battles.

The fact that there are many underlying factors highly likely to work against Bala Mohammed in getting a second term, pundits believe wrestling power from him is the easiest feat to achieve. They say because there are stronger contenders for the slot in the PDP, like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the pending corruption charges against him, would mar his chances of getting the presidential ticket, not to mention the internal rift over rotational presidency that is set to rock the party.

Meanwhile, PDP stakeholders and other leaders of thought do not see the efforts being pursued by the governor to facelift Bauchi as a priority, they say it’s a departure from the governor’s campaign promises.

The electorate, too, who expressed concerns, prefer execution of projects that have direct impact on their wellbeing. Bauchi is a state that is wholly salary dependent with a poor internally generated revenue. Projects that do not directly trigger growth and development of the state’s economy and alleviate the sufferings of the populace are creating more hardships to the people than good.

With so much of such issues and problems of trust in governance hunting PDP government in the state, the APC, whose majority of aspirants are from Bauchi North, has the opportunity to get back the power lost in 2019. But the road to achieving that is most tasking. The people of Bauchi North must not repeat mistakes of the past where aspirants maintained a hard stance in negotiations that were to produce an acceptable candidate to them. They need to leverage on shortcomings of PDP to be able to have a stronger APC flag bearer in the coming contest.

Certainly, PDP may not conduct primaries but give an automatic ticket to Governor Bala. Leaders of thought from Bauchi North must be guided by patriotism and not individual selfish interest as obtained in previous attempts. The aspirants should be assessed by their records of endeavours and by their wide acceptance and ability to deliver, if voted.

The battle to wrestle power from an incumbent must not be done with kid’s gloves. The time to achieve this is now. And when victory finally comes, governance must be discharged with prudence, transparency, humility, adherence to campaign promises and rule of law and, above all, with inclusiveness. This will indicate Bauchi North, hitherto, perceived erroneously by a cabal as narrow-minded with leadership.

Audu writes from Bauchi, Bauchi state.