Kebbi 2023: Between imaginary and real contenders

AGF Abubakar Malami

2023 general elections beckon and various names are being propped up as real and imagined aspirants for one political contest or the other. ABDULRAHMAN A. ABDULRAUF looks at the likely personalities of those that may join the governorship race in Kebbi state and their chances.

The beauty of democracy is that it affords the electorate varied choices from which they can come up with preferred choice out of the multitude.

With the election just less than a year from now, major players are springing up in Kebbi state to succeed the incumbent governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is billed to complete his constitutionally guaranteed tenure of two terms May 29, 2023.

 Abdullahi Yahaya

Yahaya, a current lawmaker who is the majority leader of the Senate is believed to have his eyes on the state’s plum seat. As a top official of the National Assembly, he looks good for the job. Besides, he has the backing of the backing of a former governor, Senator Muhammad Adamu  Aliero, who leads a rival faction of the APC. Aliero, is not only a ranking senator, but a two-term governor with  wider reach in the state.

However, the challenge of not having a too cordial relationship with the incumbent governor is one hurdle he must seek to cross, considering the fact that an incumbent is always a factor in the choice of who emerges as his successor.   

 Serki Yaki  Bello

The retired military general forayed into the murky water of politics upon retirement in 2014, to “win the war against underdevelopment, unemployment, poverty, in Kebbi state.”

His classic performance as a soldier of soldiers, should ordinarily, give him an edge over other contenders. The reason being that he would bare his military fang on the menace of insecurity plaguing Kebbi and indeed, the entire  North-west.  Although he is yet to officially declare, but there are indications he would also throw in his hat for the prime ticket of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) in next year’s governorship poll.

But his not-too-good strength in terms of structure may be a big impediment towards realising his ambition when he finally declares.

 Abubakar Malami

More than any other contestant from either the APC or PDP,  the name of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami(SAN), rings louder. This is so because he is not only believed to enjoy he governor’s backing, but the federal might also has the tendency to swing the party’s ticket in his favour. In terms of the needed financial  war chest to prosecute the project, he may have no  equal.

However, besides  the perception problem arising from the  discharge of his duties as a top member of  the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government, analysts are of the view that the needed political structure to successfully prosecute the campaign appears not be there. Further to this, coming from Gwandu, an emirate often accused of dominating the three others could be a major setback for Malami.

Aminu Bande

The  political space will further get swollen with the entrance of  Aminu Bande, a retired major general who has pitched tent with the opposition PDP.

Bande, was until his ceremonious exit from the military, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division Sokoto.

Exuding confidence and courage at a media parley to declare his intention, the general dared the incumbency factor.  “I think 2023 will be different, if incumbency factor is anything to go by, the present administration wouldn’t have come to power at different levels. PDP was in power in 2015, but President Buhari and other governors came on board. People will decide on what is good for them…”

Although Bande has what it takes to lead, it is however believed in some quarters that as a political neophyte, he will have to not only learn the rope, but also win the people’s trust in his political sojourns.  

Hussein Kangiwa

 Dr Kangiwa is a former member of the House of Representatives and one with strong grassroots base. Popular and  conversant with issues around Kebbi politics, which to some extent, is an asset.

However, this seeming asset has not in any way translated to further success. At different times, he contested the governorship  seat and severally lost. Except he comes up with a new narrative, the electorate might just perceive him as a serial  governorship aspirant.   

Isa Galaudu

Senator Galaudu, a former lawmaker, was the PDP governorship candidate in the 2019 elections.  He could be described as a mobiliser and one politician with strong networks both at the state and national levels. He served as the chief of staff to former Senate President Bukola Saraki, a position he resigned to  contest  the 2019 as the PDP governorship candidate in the 2019 polls.  

But notwithstanding this, his dismal performance at the 2019 governorship polls could be his greatest undoing as the party may not want to  ‘risk’ fielding him in  2023. Again, in politics, nothing can be ruled out until it’s over

 Umar Abubakar Tafida Argungu

Senator Argungu , a former lawmaker, represented Kebbi North in the 6th Senate on the PDP platform.

Without any doubt, the 62-year-old Argungu has paid his dues in the state, and by extension, the Nigerian  politics. The erstwhile boss of the Nigerian Ports Authority was the running mate to Serki Yaki Bello in the 2019 elections. They were trounced by the incumbent governor during the poll. Yes, he has been around for some time, and this eminently qualifies him to be considered as one of those that could lead the state.  

A subsisting court matter over alleged criminal misappropriation of public funds in the sum of  N419, 744, 612. 30, could be his albatross. The one-count charge was brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The contentious sum was  paid by the Sokoto State government as 40percent equity stake to his company- Hijrah Investment Nigeria Limited- owners of Hijrah Textile Ltd.

Ibrahim Mohammed Mera

Fondly called Ciroman Kabi by his fans and supporters, Mera is a retired deputy comptroller-general of Customs  Service. The passion to serve his people has often increased by the day since retiring from service.  The retired customs officer took the state by surprise when he showcased his strong political structure in 2019 and ran a successful campaign as aspirant. With the experience garnered in 2019, he is in good stead to take another shot at the state’s top seat, all things being equal.

But coming from Gwandu, which has consistently dominated the state politics, one wonders if the erstwhile customs chief would get the buy-in of the other three zones who are calling for equity and justice. 

Samaila Yombe Dabai

Dabai, who hails from the Yauri flank of the state, is the current deputy governor  and is believed to have a good working relationship with the governor. In fact, it is a considered fact that his  present status as the number two man in the state, is enough to earn him that position.  

Notwithstanding his status, it is common knowledge that most governors don’t like handing over to their deputies, considering the power play that often trails such decision  a deputy governor takes over the rein of leadership.

From the above, the race appears set between the real and imaginary contenders. How they hope to get through remains a function of their strength, backers as well as precedents.