For the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Jigawa State, this is not the best of times, as it grapples with widening disunity amongst its ranks over concerns and conspiracy theories about the choice of its gubernatorial flag bearer ahead of the 2023 general elections by the leader of the party and immediate past governor of the state, Alhaji Sule Lamido.
The fortunes of the PDP in Jigawa began to nosedive with the choice of Aminu Ibrahim Ringim as its flagbearer for the 2015 general elections. In protest, the party was immediately hit by a gale of high-level defections.
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Ringim was Lamido’s Chief of Staff for the entire two terms he was governor of the state between 2007 and 2015. He had also served in the same position during the tenure of the second elected governor of the state, Sen. Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, between 1999 and 2007.
However, the aftermath of Ringim’s second defeat in the 2019 general elections plunged the party into a protracted crisis with the former accusing the entire Lamido’s political establishment (including Lamido himself) of selling out to the ruling party in the state, the APC, with the long term objective of installing one of his biological sons Mustapha to succeed Governor Badaru Abubakar, when the latter’s second and final term ends in 2023.
Mustapha was the party’s senatorial candidate for Jigawa Central Senatorial election during the 2019 senatorial election.
The youthful, charismatic younger Lamido, who enjoys large followership of the youths, narrowly lost to the incumbent and current chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) Sen. Sabo Muhammad Nakudu.
It took Lamido over a year to rally around and consolidate the party in the state. Even this did not come easy. It would be recalled that ahead of the party’s congresses that produced its current leadership in the state, the Ringim faction approached a Jigawa High Court asking it to stop the processes. But the court threw out the case in January last year, citing lack of jurisdiction.
Not satisfied with the outcome, the faction approached the Court of Appeal sitting in Kano, seeking it to quash the judgment of the Jigawa High Court. The appellate court last month upheld the judgment of the lower court. The faction is currently at the Supreme Court.
This protracted and bitter struggle for the control of the party in the state in the last two years has sown in its wake a very fertile seed of an enduring political conspiracy around Lamido and his son that has continued to haunt the party and very likely determine its fate in the 2023 general elections which is barely just a year from now.
Therefore, in the face of the decline in the fortunes of the Ringim group, the battle seems to be shifting to the inner political house of Lamido, where opposition is already brewing over Mustapha’s 2023 gubernatorial project in the PDP, with Bashir Adamu Jumbo, another of the former governor’s “political sons” said to be its arrowhead.
Jumbo is a former federal lawmaker, who represented Kazaure/Gwiwa/Yankwashi/Roni Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives for 16 years between 1999 and 2015.
Though his face is regular at the Bamaina residence of Lamido, there appears to have been no love lost in recent times between the duo.
But what started as a mere rumour in the last six months about the alleged governorship ambition of Mustapha, popularly referred to as Santuraki for 2023 last month, acquired a life of its own of recent.
As far back as between June and August last year, Mustapha’s large billboards had surfaced on some strategic locations of some major towns and cities, especially within his Central Senatorial zone.
The call on him by 22 out of the former 27 council chairmen, who served under his father to come out and seek the governorship ticket of the party was a confirmation of what has always been discussed in hushed tones.
Under the auspices of the Forum for Local Government Chairmen of PDP, the group, which met at the Gumel Emirate Foundation in Jigawa north-west on a lone agenda, rose from their extra-ordinary meeting with the resolution to call on the younger Lamido to seek the governorship ticket of the party, come 2023.
Presenting what has become famously referred to as the “Gumel Declaration” to newsmen, the secretary of the forum and a former chairman of Yankwashi Local Government Council, Alhaji Musa Abdullahi, appealed to younger Lamido to join the race.
As expected, the decision of the ex-council chairmen to publicly throw their support behind a particular aspirant to contest the governorship of the state come 2023 has been generating diverse reactions from the rank and file of the party.
Nasiru Laraba of the Ringim faction who expressed outrage about the resolution by the former chairmen described it as a project that was dead on arrival. He stated this on a radio programme monitored in Dutse.
Also speaking, Comrade Abubakar Suleiman Kudai, a well-known supporter of Lamido, noted that the decision of the ex-council chiefs was not in the best interest of the party in the state.
On his part, Atiku Umar Katanga, another supporter of Lamido’s faction, but unrepentant support of Jumbo bemoaned the action of the ex-council chairmen which, he said, was capable of throwing the party into further crisis.
In the contrast, however, for Usama Birnin Kudu, a die-hard supporter of Mustapha’s governorship ambition, there is nothing wrong in him contesting the election, describing the growing opposition to the project as misplaced and for selfish reasons.
Similarly, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Federal University Dutse, (FUD), Dr Muhammad Bello, does not see anything abnormal, so long as the process was not manipulated to favour him.
This is even as another of his colleagues, Dr Kamal Lamidi, of the same department cites hunger in the land as the major driving force behind such “hurried endorsements”.