#Roadto2023: In Bauchi’s Game of thrones, Can Bala Mohammed be displaced?
NEWS DIGEST – Ahead of the 2023 gubernatorial elections in Bauchi, the state’s political climate is increasingly getting charged by the day with the daily build-up of political activities.
Political actors are also entering into last-minute alliances with stakeholders; all in a bid to shore up the support of voters ahead of the very crucial elections. It is in that spirit that the electorates in the ‘Pearl of Tourism’ are inundated with countless diatribes orchestrated by the dominant political divides.
From the governing Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), and even unto the new kid on the block; the New Nigerian Peoples’ Party (NNPP).
STRENGTHS (VAST POLITICAL EXPERIENCE, INFRASTRUCTURAL DRIVE)
A former member of the Nigerian Senate before he was pulled out to the Federal Executive Council as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under then-president, Goodluck Jonathan.
As Minister, he was instrumental in the implementation of several programmes and policies of the administration in the FCT. It was in that faith that he had to shelve his gubernatorial ambition on the eve of his resignation in 2015 so as to see through to the completion of several projects of the government.
It was therefore not surprising when he threw his heart once again into the ring to run for the state governorship in the run-up to the 2019 elections; booting out immediate past Governor, Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Shortly after his assumption of office, Governor Bala saw to the conceptualisation and implementation of several people-oriented infrastructural projects that have in all sincerity turned Bauchi, the capital of the State into a construction site of sorts to the chagrin of critics.
WEAKNESSES (ALLEGATIONS OF NEPOTISM AND LOPSIDED INFRASTRUCTURE DRIVE)
Close observers of Bauchi politics are, however, quick to point out that the governor concentrates his attention more on urban settlements to the disadvantage of the rural areas who are the actual voters.
He has also been accused of running a government of family and friends; with his elder brother the Wakilin Bauchi allegedly being at the forefront of influencing several decisions of government.
STRENGTHS (YEARS OF PUBLIC SERVICE)
A former Chief of Air Staff, Saddique Abubakar, and immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Chad is the gubernatorial candidate of the APC.
The former military officer comes into the race with a track record of years of service in the Nigerian Airforce ultimately rising to the peak of his career as a service chief under the current administration.
His supporters are quick to point out that due to his love for Bauchi, he influenced the siting of the Nigerian Airforce University in the state. As such, their position is that he could do more when given the opportunity to govern.
WEAKNESSES (NEWCOMER, INTERNAL PARTY SQUABBLES)
A major slight in his quest to govern the state is the intractable crises that have bedevilled his party in the run-up and even after the conduct of the gubernatorial primaries.
Majority of the party stakeholders led by former governor M.A Abubakar feel disenchanted with the happenings in the APC, leading to the defection of two serving Senators; Haliru Jika and Lawal Yahaya Gumau to the NNPP. A former deputy governor, Audu Sule Katagum also left for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC candidate is also seen as a newcomer who is coming in to reap from where he did not sow by trying to displace older party members. Many of these critics believe he should have taken a well-deserved rest after his eventful career in the Nigerian Airforce.
A recent exclusive report published by Sahara Reporters which has also cast a dark shadow on Saddique’s gubernatorial campaign is the allegation that he plans to unleash violence on the people of the state. He is alleged to be training an armed squad of 1000 hooligans for the purpose of compromising the election, which he has strongly denied threatening legal action.
STRENGTHS (YOUNG GRASSROOTS POLITICIAN, KWANKWASIYA STRUCTURE)
On his part, the youthful Senator Haliru Jika, a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly who equally served as a member of the House of Representatives for two terms.
As gubernatorial candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples’ Party (NNPP), he anchors his campaign on the need to have a generational change in leadership with a promise to change the way things are been done in the state.
Senator Jika, a grassroots politician by all standards will also be relying on the structure and popularity of his presidential candidate, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to add fervor and mileage to his gubernatorial aspiration.
WEAKNESSES (SENTIMENTS ON ZONING)
Pundits are, however, quick to add that he won’t garner much support from Bauchi North Senatorial District as they will prefer to go with their son; the former Air Chief.
This is considering that the zone has not had the opportunity of producing a governor in the over 25 years of the state’s existence.
As the 2023 elections draw nearer, the fact remains clear that Governor Bala is surely not going to have a smooth ride to the Bauchi Government House for a second term, as the elections might spring up surprises.
Gaddafi writes from Abuja, he can be reached at [email protected]