On May 27, 2022, Adamawa State All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial primary election was hotly contested, very transparent, free, and fair.
Six contestants participated in the election — Former Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu, a member House of Representatives representing Ganye, Jada, Toungo, and Mayo Belwa Federal Constituency, Abdul Razak Namdas, former Chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Wafari Theman, and Umar Mustapha Otumba, a business tycoon.
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Senator Binani won the primaries with 430 votes, while Nuhu Ribadu came second with 288 votes, former governor Bindow got 103 votes, Abdul Razak Namdas scored 94 votes while Wafari and Mustapha got 21 and 39 votes respectively.
Wafari came to the contest unprepared — firstly, his tactics failed to work for him. Wafari solely relied on the strategy that, being the only Christian in the contest, he will get all the Christian votes. Wafari painstakingly took the statistic of all the Christian delegates throughout the state. However, he failed to understand that, in such a contest, this kind of approach doesn’t work. Secondly, and most importantly, Wafari suffered cash flow problems. He wasn’t able to tour most parts of the state nor meet the delegates. Wafari couldn’t even win his local government area – Hong.
Abdulrazak Namdas is the only aspirant that toured the entire state and spent heavily early in the campaigning period. This writer criticized Namdas’s behavior as a candidate instead of as an aspirant. However, Namdas’s behavior of acting like a candidate is borne out of the contentment that he is the only aspirant from Adamawa southern zone- the zone has nine local government councils. Furthermore, Namdas so much believed that he already has the over 200 votes from Toungo, Jada, Ganye, and Mayo Belwa LGAs. Namdas heavily relied on votes from the Adamawa Minority Forum, but he was shocked. Namdas’s errors were that he spent too much, and too early in the wrong ways. He also relied on votes that he had not secured and lacked a robust campaign team.
Former governor, Bindow is one of the most likable aspirants in the contest. Since he lost to Fintiri in the 2019 governorship election, Bindow has remained the leader of the APC in the state. Most of the stakeholders’ meetings were held at his residence in Abuja until the time he asked Boss Mustapha to takeover. Though, Boss never called such a meeting at his residence. The reason is that Boss always tries to avoid controversy and he appears comfortable with his SGF position. Bindow came to the race with a strong war chest but poor strategy. Bindow was convinced that the APC structure would work for him. After all, he erected it. However, he failed to secure the votes of Mubi North, Mubi South, and Maiha LGAs combined. Bindow and his team found it hard to believe he came third, because, on paper, Ribadu and Binani shouldn’t have beaten him.
Umar Mustapha Otumba came to the race with a very poor understanding of real local politics. No doubt that Otumba understands the politics of the first world, he knows how to analyze development, but those are not the languages the delegates understand. Otumba was aggressive and overconfident. He was the first to buy the APC governorship form. What ‘killed’ Otumba’s ambition was, that the delegate and in fact, the ‘politics saw his approach as too artificial. What he did, was just like, he spoke in Chinese while addressing the French- Nigerian local politics doesn’t understand his kind of approach.
Nuhu Ribadu operated his game as the true policeman that he is. His entire approach was covert. Nuhu didn’t open an official campaign office nor set up the traditional campaign team with a DG, he only formed a small committee two weeks before the primaries. What Nuhu did was that he spent a good time working on his weak point – grassroots link. He avoided controversies, he never underrated anybody, built friendships, and tried to localize himself. Nuhu has been silently assisting the APC financially and otherwise. His 288 votes were not a coincidence- he earned them – through constant engagement, mobilization, and support from all the APC executives at the LGA level. He supported the creation of an environment to discuss Adamawa APC’s problems at local government levels and proffer solutions. These were the major factors that facilitated the 288 votes he secured. Nuhu’s biggest error was poor logistics and war chest utilization and over-centralization. He could have segmented the state into its eight federal constituencies with coordinators to handle each.
Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani came to the race with assured votes in her ‘handbag’ – women constitute nearly 40 per cent of the delegates. When Binani entered the voting arena, the entire women among the delegates welcomed her with a melody (Guda). That was a big signal to her opponents that she was ready for the game. Local empowerment, smart political calculations, enormous, and clever application of war chest including grassroots base were Binnani’s weapons, and they worked for her. Most of her votes came outside her zone. She found that Abdul Razak Namdas was ‘sleeping’, she chunked away the majority of the Ganye chiefdom votes. That zone’s votes were the turning point. She also realized that former governor Bindow has underrated them and was carried away by his ‘past glory’- she grabbed good votes that were supposed to go to Bindow. Furthermore, her team realized that Wafari doesn’t know the game and had weak resources- she ‘won over’ a good number of his would-be delegates. Binani didn’t in any way make any attempt at Nuhu Ribadu’s, thus she smartly allowed the Nuhu team to be comfortable in their comfort zone while she carried her operations somewhere else.
Binani has a sweet victory but is coated with a bitter problem. There are allegations of over-voting and financial inducement. The EFCC has already arrested some of the accused while two people have been arraigned in court. If the allegations of overvoting are established – from the anomaly of accredited voters of 1009, while the total vote cast was 1011, the APC has no option but to cancel the primary and organize a new one. The APC guidelines say: “no member shall vote for more than one aspirant, and where the number of votes cast exceeds the number of accredited voters the election shall be declared void”.
If the APC has to conduct a new gubernatorial primary election in the state – the party has three options; conduct direct primaries, conduct indirect primaries or produce a consensus candidate. Some pundits are of the view that due to the expensive nature of indirect primaries; some of the contestants may avoid another contest with Binani. Secondly, if indirect primaries are to be conducted, Binani may attract sympathy votes from many members of the APC and a revolt vote from the women folk. If a consensus candidate is to be carried, and Binani was not chosen, the ticket will come weightless.
The Adamawa APC gubernatorial primary election was an interesting and unique one- apart from producing a woman as the party’s flag bearer for the 2023 governorship election, the ticket is laden with an intricate legal problem. Furthermore, the result of the contest has sent an important message to Adamawa people – religious and ethnic politics is just an elites’ thing; the individuals that came first and second are Fulani, while the lone Christian aspirant didn’t secure even a fraction of the votes from delegates who share the same faith with him.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Abuja