Time to acknowledge Niger state’s role in national politics

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The 2023 general elections are over, but surprises and imaginations persist. Despite a significant decrease in the number of votes cast by each state, which resulted in the All Progressives Congress (APC) losing ground to opposition parties in its strongholds like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, among other states, the people of Niger state managed to withstand the opposition’s attack and produced the highest number of votes in the North-central, and the third-highest among the 12 states won by APC nationwide.

Niger state produced the highest number of votes in the North-central, enabling Bola Ahmed Tinubu win the presidency of Nigeria. It was only surpassed by two states in the country, Oyo and Jigawa, from the 12 states won by APC in the elections. This may be due to the fact that the people of Niger state recognise Tinubu as their own. Jagaban, which became very powerful on the national and international political scenes, is a title conferred on him from Borgu Kingdom in New Bussa, Niger state.

It has also been a trend for President Muhammadu Buhari’s parties to win in Niger state since he threw his hat into the ring for the presidency in 2003. During the 2007 presidential elections, Buhari, running on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), won in Niger state by a landslide, and close to half of the seats in the Niger State House of Assembly were won by his party. He left ANPP and formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), on which he contested the presidency in 2011 – Niger state was the only state he won in the North-central. In the 2015 elections that produced him as the president, Niger state gave him the highest votes in the North-central and the 17th highest across the country. Niger state maintained this lead in the North-central and across the country in the subsequent election of 2019.

Several gains ranging from appointments into influential positions in the government to some considerations as rewards for consistent patronage of the ruling party can be counted in many states that constitute the Middle Belt of the country (North-central). Kwara state had a senate president (2015-2019). Currently, it has two ministers and a chief of staff to the president. Benue state produced a senate president for eight years (2007-2015). Plateau state had a deputy senate president (1999-2007) and currently has a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. Despite the outstanding contributions of Niger state to the success of the party, it is always settled with a slot of minister for state in the Federal Executive Council. This happened from 2015-2019, and it is repeating itself now. Just recently, two sons of Niger state attempted to clinch the position of the national chairman of APC, but the party leaders prevailed on them to step down to allow a candidate to emerge through consensus. The consensus favoured the current national chairman from Nasarawa state.

Naturally, supporting any political party to gain power is accompanied by expectations of huge benefits either in the allocation of political positions or consideration for infrastructure development. As President-elect Tinubu prepares to assume office, arrangements for the distribution of power across the six geo-political zones in the country in-line with the principle of federal character are ongoing. Likely, any of the key positions such as secretary to the government of the federation, senate president, deputy senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, etc will be zoned to the North-central.

Therefore, it is incumbent on stakeholders in the state to close ranks to lobby Mr. President-elect and APC on behalf of the people of Niger state for special consideration in any key position zoned to the North-central. It is our prayer that this time around the Power State will be recognised and rewarded handsomely for her steadfastness.

No doubt, Niger state is blessed with sons and daughters who have excelled and made positive marks around the globe in their chosen professions and careers. Therefore, getting competent hands from there that can help Mr President-elect drive and actualise his developmental plans for the country is not a big deal.

Engr. Dodo Almustapha,

Minna, Niger state

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