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‘Disobedient governors’ begin 2011 compaigns against Yar’adua’s instructions

This development has since assumed a worrying proportion despite President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s warning in April, 2009 to the governors to stop campaigning for the…

This development has since assumed a worrying proportion despite President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s warning in April, 2009 to the governors to stop campaigning for the election that is two years away. The governors’ persistence, according to the President of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), Malam Shehu Sani, is a clear indication that, as usual, the governors have never taken President Yar’adua serious on any matter.

The civil rights activist said that the development is “quite disturbing as it is unfortunate. The governors have from 10-15 agenda that are not yet articulated, not to talk of being implemented. Rather than meeting these targets, they are, instead, bogged down by self-delusion and deception.”

The CRC president explained that the governors’ desperation is informed by their “fear of what may turn out of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais electoral reform report.” The governors, according to Sani, have mischievously hinged their apparent inability to perform to the fall in the oil revenue they receive monthly from the federal government.

Instead of utilising the remaining 24 months of their tenure to prove whether they are worthy of second term, through the provision of infrastructural development; the governors are now bent in draining public purse to pursue their whims of securing second terms.          

Yar’adua determines who becomes governor  in Katsina

Notwithstanding the effort the Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema to secure a second term, it is an open secret in the state that President Umaru Musa Yar’adua decides who becomes the state governor in 2011.

Sunday Trust findings revealed that in the last two years, political office holders in the state were engaged in an epic battle to please the president and curry his favour with a view to secure their tickets within the party in the state.

For Governor Shema, since his assumption in office, he was more engaged in completing all projects initiated by his predecessor and even describes his government   as an offshoot of the Yar’adua administration. Shema draws encomiums to himself also, by naming some of the projects like the state university, a modern maternal and children hospital after the President Yar’adua and his wife, Hajiya Turai Umaru Yar’adua.

Already, posters and billboards have adorned strategic locations in the major cities of the state, ostensibly seeking the blessing of the president. Shema is said to have established his own political empire, the Shema Partnership, consisting of mainly his acolytes from the local government chairmen led by his friend, Alhaji Mannir Abukur.

The development has also pitched him against the Abuja camp, led by the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Alhaji Abba Sayyadi Ruma and Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Alhaji Yakubu Kurfi, and many others around the president who endorsed Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke as governor come 2011.

Our reporter gathered that, while this is going on, Governor Shema has begun making political moves to ensure his survival beyond 2011; by convening meetings of party stalwarts in the Government House and pledging to lubricate the state party machinery ahead of 2011.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the president, neither the governor nor any politician in the state has publically begun campaign for the 2011 polls. But judging from the realignment of political forces by the rival camps in the state, the battle for 2011 has earnestly begun.     

Jang is not hiding his ambition

The Plateau State Governor, Jonah David Jang, has never hidden his intention to re-contest the governorship seat in 2011. Having spent only few months as governor, Jang declared at a public gathering that it was his intention to seek a second tenure, and advised his deputy, Mrs Pauline Tallen, whom he suspected of nursing a similar ambition, to be patient till 2015. He added that age was still on her side.

Despite the recent development in the state since that declaration, it is clear that Jang has not abandoned this second term plan. Sources closed to the governor said that the machinery is being put in place to ensure that the governor does not only get the his party ticket but also comes out victorious in the race.

Those who oppose the return of Jang in 2011 have also started putting the spanners in the works to stop him. Already, a parallel executive committee of the governor’s  party, the PDP, has been constituted and has since sacked the party’s executives allegedly installed by the state governor, to work for him during the governorship primaries.

The parallel PDP, led by Chief Emmanuel Mangni has already written the national secretariat of the party to suspend Jang from the PDP, alleging that the governor elevated his personal interests at the detriment of the party.

There are also reports indicating that if the PDP does not allow Jang to fly its flag in the next general elections, he would decamp to another party, in order to realise his ambition. He is said to be conferring with a governor in the South East to enable him do so.

Presently, jingles and documentaries are constantly being run on the state media to showcase his achievements, a move many believe is a subtle campaign to push him forward in the minds of the electorate.

Earlier, members of the State Executive Council had tried cajoling the party chieftains to endorse Jang for 2011. But the Mangni camp condemned the move as well as party members in the State House of Assembly. The lawmakers had to force the Speaker of the House, Istifanus Mwansat, to go on air debunking the claim.

Confusion prevails in Kano   

In Kano, most of those speculated to have interest in the governorship seat do not openly indicate their interests even though the city is awash with their posters. But investigation shows that some latent political moves are ongoing in the camps of both the ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In the ruling ANPP, people like the Deputy Governor, Engineer Abdullahi  Gwarzo, Commissioner for Agriculture, Musa Sulaiman Shanono and  Commissioner for Rural Development, Alhaji Musa I. Kwankwaso are the leading contenders to the seat.

Others include the Political Adviser to the governor, Abdullahi Sani Rogo and the Director General of the State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Sani Lawan Kofarmata.

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau may likely anoint a member of his cabinet, though he has not yet made it public. The governor is said to be confused on the issue of appointing his successor.

But in the PDP, the only person whose interest in the contest seem pronounced is the Member of the House of Representatives representing Bagwai/Shanono, Faruq Lawan. He was said to have no alignment to any of the party factions in the state.

Since his disengagement from the cabinet of President Yar’adua, the former PDP candidate in the last election, Ahmed Garba Bichi, has left the political scene and no one speculates his interest for recontesting in 2011.

But Sunday Trust gathered reliably that the former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso may throw another shocker into the political sphere by picking the party’s ticket at the last minute. Kwankwaso and his allies, a source revealed, are now engrossed in covert political moves to regain their delegate-stronghold and the logic behind that is for Kwankwaso to stand election.

One million man- match for Babangida Aliyu

For Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, campaigns for 2011 elections should wait, pending his fulfilment of campaign promises. Aliyu’s declaration has left the PDP in the state at the crossroads, having concluded plan to stage a one million man-match in Kontagora to drum its support for his second term.

He said that his achievements should earn him a second term. The party had earlier endorsed Governor Aliyu as the party’s candidate in the 2011 election. Despite this, the governor’s giant billboards, banners and posters have dotted every nook and cranny of the state.

A pressure group of PDP in the state, tagged Talba Twice, has emerged with the sole aim of ensuring the re-election of Aliyu in the 2011 polls. The group, like many others in the state, has had a field day during the Democracy Day celebrated recently.

Minna, the state capital, to Kontagora, a distance of nearly 200 kilometres, was  dotted with several bill boards, banners and posters were displayed on houses, trees on customized car plate numbers. Some of the slogans read,” “One good term deserves another, “This good should continue to 2011” etc.

The Kontagora Stadium venue of the rally was decorated in similar fashion with digital banners and billboards, while party supporters were dressed in attires bearing the portrait of the governor and the slogan Talba 2011 boldly printed on them.

As an endorsement of the rally, the governor and his deputy Ahmed Musa Ibeto drove into the stadium in a convertible Wrangler Jeep with special number plate entitled Niger Talba Twice 2011, amidst cheers from his supporters.

Legal tussle determines 2011 in Yobe

Due to the lingering legal tussle surrounding the 2007 gubernatorial election in Yobe State, the battle towards the 2011 elections in the state is not yet impressive.

For instance, in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the incumbent Governor Ibrahim Gaidam is now confused as he is now made to contend with the legal battle he inherited from his predecessor, Mamman Ali, whose election is now being challenged by Senator Usman Albishir in the Court of Appeal, Jos.

As the Appeal Court in Jos has agreed to entertain the case of Albishir against the ANPP and INEC over his substitution, many contenders to the governor’s seat have refused to openly declare their interest. The outcome of the case would determine the new political equation in the state.

It was suggested that if Gaidam wins the case, then those aspiring to contest under the platform of the ANPP would have to wait till 2015. This is because of the indications emerging that the governor would contest for a second term. This is attested to by the fact that the governor is reorganising the state machinery, with many of his confidants getting juicy appointments, preparatory to 2011.

There are reports that all the caretaker committee chairmen of the 17 local government areas in the state, who were appointed recently, have been offered automatic tickets to contest the August 8th local government elections; apparently to do Gaidam’s hatchet job in 2011.

However, the road to success may not be smooth for Gaidam because the ANPP has different factions in the state and it then means Governor would have to slug it out with Albishir again at the primaries.

On the other hand, Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri is still there for the PDP ticket which he rode twice in 2003 and 2007. Dr Yerima Lawan Ngama, an Executive Director of the First Bank, is also being fingered as a likely candidate for the PDP, though the banker has not made his ambition public. The current Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Alhaji Jibrin Maigari, is a likely contender though he is seen by many a green horn in politics.

No vacancy in Benue Government House  

In Benue State Government House, Makurdi, there is a giant billboard reading “No Vacancy in Government House”. And no politician, apart from Governor Gabriel Suswam, has come out to declare his intention. His party, the PDP, has already given him the blessing as it is planning handing him an automatic ticket to run for a second term.

The State PDP chairman, Agbo Emmanuel has declared last week when the governor was endorsed by the seven local government chairmen in his Benue North-East zone; that if the other two zones make same endorsement, Suswam will be automatically handed the ticket without the party looking back.

All Suswam is looking for now is an automatic ticket to execute his re-election bid and this is what his party in the state is trying to achieve. The party chairman has severally gone on air to announce that the governor has performed and therefore must be given a second term to consolidate on this achievements.  

The only person with such ambition, but was shut up recently by Suswam, is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Chief Michael  Aondoakaa, who hails from Benue North-East as Suswam. The AGF is only being rumoured to nurse the governorship ambition, but Suswam exposed this penultimate week in Lessel, where both politicians were attending a church reception in honour of the Director General of National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii.

Suswam, who spoke last, first acknowledged that Aondoakaa has been put under increasing pressure from Benue people to run against him in 2011; but also cautioned that the AGF will be doing so at his own peril.  

So far, the governor has been campaigning and his Special Adviser on Politics, Dr. Cletus Tyokyaa, was on the state radio recently calling on people that want to campaign for Suswam ahead of the 2011 election to register with him before they will be officially recognized.

Tyokyaa told our correspondent that so far, close to 200 groups, including New Benue Foundation Agenda, which was founded by one of the governor’s senior special assistant, Mr. Paul Biam, have being registered by him.

It’s posters war in Jigawa  

In Jigawa State, the battle for the governor’s seat is, so far, between the incumbent Governor Sule Lamido and the dethroned Sardauna of Gumel, Senator Muhammad D. Alkali. Sunday Trust checks indicated that, the struggle is an internal one as Lamido and Alkali are all PDP members.

Posters of both Lamido and Alkali have flooded the state, although none of them has indicated the seat they are vying for. And the supporters of the two politicians are seriously campaigning for their political masters at various locations across the state.

It has been observed that if the supporters of Lamido pasted his posters on the roundabouts and other strategic places during the morning hours, supporters of Alkali, on the other hand, would dot same places with posters of their master in the evening or at night.

Our correspondent also gathered that the Jigawa state chapter of the PDP has since been divided into two major factions. The factions are currently being called new PDP and old PDP. It was learnt that the former governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Saminu Turaki, is leading one faction and Lamido, on the other hand, is leading the other.

Fashola keeps Lagosians guessing  

Unlike some states, where governors have signified their intentions to run for-second term, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has kept everybody guessing despite pressures from party supporters for him to declare his intention for-second term.

However, there are indications that some notable politicians within the Action Congress (AC) have started to lobby the party leaders in the state against Fashola. It was gathered that the Commissioner on Special Duties in the state, Tola Kasali, who contested the primaries against Fashola in 2007, is oiling his political machinery once again towards 2011.

Also reported to be preparing for next governorship race was the former Commissioner for Agriculture and Co-operatives in the state, Chief Kaoli Olusanya. The politician, having lost the bid to contest the 2007 governorship election at the primaries, is said to be preparing to re-launch himself to the political stage.

On the part of the PDP, Sunday Trust learnt that the battle for who fly the party’s flag during 2011 governorship elections in the state would be between the Nigerian Ambassador to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and the Minister of State for Defence, Demola Seriki.

2011 dominates Zamfara

For first time visitors to Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, they may assume that elections would be conducted in two days time, given the flurry of posters, bill boards and political party shades erected on every available space within Gusau metropolis.

The 2011 elections have virtually surpassed all other things, though its two years away from now. On every major street, political office holders and party stalwarts, alike, have erected sponsored billboards with their portraits and those of Governor Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi, campaigning for his second term in 2011. Besides, most of the rounds about are adorned with the governor`s posters with different inscriptions, signifying his candidature for second term.

There are also party shades, where youths are having a field day for 24 hours within Gusau environs, drumming support for MAS TWO TERMS.  Even civil servants are not left out in the campaign as in most of the offices, you find almanacs, either congratulating the governor or giving him support for his second term bid.

Similarly, the campaign has also extended to vehicles plying the township roads, which are either decorated with governor’s posters or in some cases the inscriptions of MAS TWO TERMS serve as their vehicle registration numbers.

Another medium of campaign for 2011 is Zamfara State radio. Most of its programmes have direct bearing with Shinkafi’s second term project. National Television Authority, Zamfara also give prominence to sponsored programmes that have to do with the governor’s 2011 project.

It is a battle of former friends in Kaduna

Kaduna state is already in an election mood, despite the fact that elections are two years away. Posters and billboards, proclaiming Governor Namadi Sambo’s achievements, dot the entire state, urging voters to re-elect him in 2011.

Right now, daram dam dam, meaning “no shaking” is Sambo’s campaign slogan and on every occasion, this song rends the air. Last year, Alhaji Husseini  Jallo, the governor’s  Political Adviser, warned opponents to shelve their ambitions as “there is no vacancy in Kashim Ibrahim House.”`

In several quarters, this statement caused consternation across the state and southern Kaduna, without mincing words, called for Jallo’s removal. In particular, Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) saw the statement as bellicose, insensitive and a negation of a power shift agreement.  

Now, no governorship aspirant, either within the ruling PDP or from the opposition, has showed interest in the governorship seat. Figuratively, ANPP is lying in bed with PDP, having entered Government of National Unity at the state level. AC, on the other hand, had been decapitated prior to the 2007 election, when Alhaji Musa Bello, its main sponsor, left in frustration owing to leadership squabbles.

However, the race promises to test Sambo’s resolve, popularity and political sagacity as Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Sambo’s predecessor, may turn against his former protégé. Recently, their relationship soured and their supporters traded a lot of brickbats. Severally, Makarfi had tried to sabotage the present administration and the governor, according to Sambo’s camp, paid no notice to the campaign of calumny.

Specifically, Sambo was angry with Makarfi over the Zaria water project. The executive, according to reports, had appropriated N3.3 billion for the project but on getting to the senate, Makarfi caused its removal. The governor reached out to the president and Yar’adua, according to reports, intervened and the project was included in the budget.

Thereafter, Sambo and Makarfi’s camps took up arms, sniping at each other in every direction. However, Makarfi’s account presented an opposite picture. It was him and fellow senators from Kaduna, especially Caleb Zagi and Kabiru Jibrin, he said, that included the project in the budget.

With time, party elders and stalwarts interceded and a ceasefire was reached but in spite of this truce, the two keep each other at arm’s length. Makarfi, according to sources, is determined to block Sambo’s second term bid and the former governor, to perfect his plan, will forgo his re-election in order to “focus on this project.” Although the Makarfi camp has denied this game plan, the senator will be turning his arsenal against the very person whom he fought tooth and nail to install in 2007, if he actualizes his alleged plan.

It’s 2010, not 2011 in Anambra

Anambra State is the only state in the country where the governorship election will take place in 2010. As a build up to the race, political parties and their candidates are bracing up to the challenges.

Already an army of aspirants, both contenders and pretenders, are jostling to grab the seat at the end of the tenure of the incumbent, Mr. Peter Obi.

Among the aspirants are Governor Peter Obi, the incumbent governor, who hopes to contest on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Emeka Etiaba, Dr. Okey Umeano, Dr. Chris Ngige, Chief Andy Uba, Chuma Nwofor, Osita Ezenwa, Njideka Anyadike, Senator Annie Okonkwo and Nicholas Ukachukwu.

Others include Dr. Alex Obiogbolu, Dr. Jerry Ugokwe, Barrister Kennneth Odidika, Professor Ilochi Okafor, Professor Dora Akunyili, Comrade Tony Nwoye, Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, Dr. Okey Eze, Emeka Agbapuonwu, Chief Okey Nwosu, Chief Okey Chukwuogor, Chief Kodilichukwu Okelewe, Denson Ugochukwu Okeke, Emma Anosike, Evangelist Kenneth Chukwuemeka and Chief Frank Oramulu.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the highest number of aspirants. Observers are of the view that many of the aspirants would move to other parties to actualize their dream in case PDP denies them the opportunity to carry its flag.

But Obi has said that he is sure of a second term mandate, contending that he had beaten those jostling for the position when he was outside,   talk-less of now that he is contesting as an incumbent.

With APGA’s national chairmanship position still being contested between Chief Victor Umeh and Chekwas Okorie who enjoys the recognition of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Obi’s hatchet planners are not leaving anything to chance to carry the flag of the Progressives People Alliance (PPA) in the forthcoming election.

Mild campaigns, tough intrigues in Borno

Governor Ali Modu Sheriff last year placed an embargo on political moves to succeed him within his party, the ANPP. This restriction has made open campaigns for governorship difficult for fear of incurring his wrath.

Campaigns have, however, been kick started for other positions, though mildly. So far, only the state’s Commissioner for Housing and Rural Electrification, Dr. Asabe Villita Bashir has engaged in open campaigns to unseat Senator Umar Hambagda in the southern senatorial district. Her posters are often displayed at every public function, with even a bus with large sized speakers fixed to it honking her campaign jingles accompanying her.

Governor Sheriff’s recent declaration that his wife will not contest any elective office has ,in a way, doused anxiety over suspicion that she was warming up to succeed her husband. She now seems out of the race, even though it may not be surprising if Sheriff acts contrary to his statement and the wife puts up fight for the governorship.

Those commonly discussed include the state’s SSG, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, Mala Sheriff, the governor’s brother; Senate minority leader, Maina Ma’aji Lawan; commissioners for local governments and chieftaincy Affairs, Kashim Shettima; Urban and Rural Water Supply, and Abu Kyari; Education, Mohammed Imam.

Additional reports from  Ibraheem Musa, Kaduna; Lawal Ibrahim, Katsina; Tahir Ajobe, Lafia; Isa Umar Gusau, Maiduguri; Kayode Ekundayo & Abdulhakeem F. Akinola, Lagos; Jaafar Jaafar, Kano; Sadeeq Aliyu, Gusau; Beatrice Onuchukwwu, Awka; Hamza Idris, Damaturu; Yusha’u A. Ibrahim, Dutse; Hir Joseph, Makurdi;   Ayegba Israel Ebije, Minna and  Andrew Agbese, Jos.