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Gombe North: Dankwambo, Alkali back for another bout

The race for the Gombe North Senatorial District of Gombe State is going to be a straight contest between former Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of…

The race for the Gombe North Senatorial District of Gombe State is going to be a straight contest between former Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Sa’idu Ahmed Alkali of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

As the election draws closer, political pundits say the contest is going to be a “replay” of the 2019 elections, when the incumbent Senator Alkali polled 152,546 votes to defeat Dankwambo, who got 88,016.

Political observers say Senator Alkali has the advantage of incumbency.

He was first elected to the red chamber in 2010 during a by-election, replacing the late Senator Kawu Peto Dukku.

Also, between 2011 and 2015, he was in the Senate. He did not contest the 2015 elections. He later dumped the PDP for the APC, where he contested and won the election by defeating Dankwambo, who was concluding his second term in office.

According to pundits, being a serving senator will be to Alkali’s advantage, especially with the recent empowerment projects he is attracting to the five local government areas of Dukku, Funakaye, Gombe, Kwami and Nafada that make up the senatorial district.

In Gombe at the moment, the APC occupies the governorship seat, has three senators, six House of Representatives seats, 21 out of the 24 state legislators, 11 local government chairmen and 114 councillors.

However, Senator Alkali’s major problem is said to be his alleged nonchalant attitude and making himself inaccessible to the people of his constituency.

Also, politicians and other stakeholders that worked hard to ensure his victory are accusing him of abandoning them. There were allegations that he hardly visits to interact with them to know their problems first-hand.

Political observers say that the people of Gombe LGA, the most populous in the senatorial district, are lamenting the inability of the lawmaker to look into the unemployment challenges bedevilling them. They also worry that the lawmaker is far from them.

On the other hand, Ibrahim Dankwambo is said to be battle ready to take over the Senate seat from Alkali in the 2023 elections.

Despite losing the election in 2019, Dankwambo, is said to have continued to offer financial assistance to the party by sponsoring the PDP’s activities in all 114 political wards across the 11 LGAs of the state.

For instance, he singlehandedly purchased forms for all the executives of the party across the state during the congresses that ushered them into their respective offices.

Similarly, during the December 2020 local government council elections, he bought the nomination forms for all PDP candidates for councillorship and chairmanship positions in all 11 LGAs of the state.

Residents said the gesture has further endeared him to the electorate, who now see him as a ‘leader’ that can salvage the state from the “misgovernance” of the APC-led administration.

A political analyst, Malam Umar Ahmad, said Dankwambo will also capitalise on the popularity of the two candidates for the House of Representatives from the zone, to clear his way to victory.

He said the incumbent Yaya Bauchi Tongo, who represents Gombe/Kwami/Funakaye, and Abdullahi El-Rasheed, popularly known as Bala Kelly, who is contesting to represent Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency, will be a boost to his (Dankwambo’s) contest.

“These are two popular contenders that have the backing of their people. So, it is very likely that they will influence their supporters to also vote for Dankwambo, as you know, the two elections will take place on the same date.

“Likewise, the Director-General of the PDP Campaign Council, Senator Usman Bayero Nafada, has strong followership in the entire Gombe-North zone, and that will also be to the advantage of Dankwambo to easily dislodge Senator Sa’idu Alkali,” he said.

Nevertheless, Dankwambo’s long absence from the state after he left office in 2019 is still on the minds of the voters.

A political observer said people in the state are still angry over how Dankwambo ‘abandoned’ the state and his teeming supporters after he handed over power to Governor Yahaya on May 29, 2019.

“People of the state vehemently complain that it took him almost three years to set foot in Gombe, again after his party, the PDP, was rejected at the polls.

“During these three years, two first class monarchs passed away, one of them from his senatorial zone. Numerous respected sons and daughters of the state also died, including his uncle, aunt and biological brother, but he did not visit to offer his condolences.

“Also, during that period, there was massive flooding in Nafada and Dukku LGAs, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed several lives, but Dankwambo did not bother to visit. These are offences that people will hardly forget,” he said.

However, a lecturer with the Department of Political Science at the Federal University of Kashere, Dr Babayo Sule, said the contest in 2023, is going to be a clash of the titans.

According to him, the contest is not going to be only between the political giants, the APC and the PDP, but there is also a candidate of the Labour Party on the balance.

“Starting with Senator Sa’idu Ahmed Alkali of the ruling APC, he has many advantages that may see him returning to the seat. One of them is because he is an incumbent and a member of the ruling party in the state.

“You know the power of incumbency is an advantage and always a factor in our elections.

“Secondly don’t forget that his strength manifested in 2019 when he defeated the then sitting Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo to clinch the seat he is now occupying.”

Dr Sule said defeating a sitting governor is a feat that cannot be easily eradicated from the memory of the people of the state. “And it may likely repeat itself, being that Dankwambo is not a sitting governor now but a contestant for that seat.”

The political analyst added that as a sitting senator, Alkali may have utilised his constituency allowances and projects for the people of his constituency, in terms of community services, interventions, and empowerment projects.

However, he further stated that there are other factors that might affect Alkali’s chances at the polls.

He said: “People are complaining that he is far away from the people of his constituency. Many people could not feel his impact and representation. And now the campaign train is changing toward performance, credibility, and showing what you have done and what you are doing and that may be a factor that will affect him.”

For Dankwambo, the university don stated that he has many advantages, as his party is recently gaining momentum nationwide.

“As I mentioned, people are tired of the ruling party and they are dissatisfied that it did not meet their expectations, yearnings and aspirations, therefore, there is a likelihood that people are looking for a change.

“Secondly, he has a strong presidential candidate that he may tap into the advantages of people voting for, which may also influence voting for him,” he said.

Sule added that Dankwambo has the financial strength, being a former Accountant General of the Federation and a two-term governor.

“At least he would have enough resources to spend on financing his own campaign activity. So, one cannot override him even if you take the issue of money, vote buying and other practices, he is equal to the task, if he wants.”

Nevertheless, being in the opposition means that Dankwambo has a lot of work to do. “Also, he was defeated by the same incumbent senator in 2019 even when he was the sitting governor. Now that he is not a sitting governor, just an ordinary member of the party and its leader in the state. There is a likelihood of history repeating itself.”

Also, he said the internal crisis in the PDP is another factor that may affect Dankwambo’s chances.

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