Monday, March 27, 2023

Kaduna APC governorship race: who will succeed El-Rufai?

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By Yahaya Bashir

In the last seven years, Kaduna state has witnessed an unprecedented development in all ramifications by the El-Rufai administration. The reforms taken so far will leave a lasting impressions in the hearts of the people of the state and country. I am particularly enthralled by the governor’s conscious efforts to give youths platforms in his administration to showcase their talents, to get trained in leadership and to thrive in their various fields of endeavors.

He is almost the first governor to have given women and youth a chance to participate actively in governance. We have seen so many young people around him, taking many positions of authority. That is one the reasons many of us in the academic circle are in support of him.

Also, there is no point for anyone who resides in Kaduna to be surprised about many feats of Governor El-Rufai in Kaduna state given how he transformed Abuja when he was the minister of FCT, and what he has done. The governor has been adjudged so far as one of the great leaders in the country, with vast knowledge and leadership skills.

With these solid foundations laid by the governor, in many years to come, people will continue to make reference to his style and qualities of leadership.

Now, the time has almost come for Governor Nasir El-Rufai to anoint his successor in Kaduna State after this arduous journey, and as usual there have been so much intense intrigues in so many quarters within and outside the conclave of the inner caucus of the governor and the government.

While the governor has since given a hint on who to succeed him by words and by actions, still speculations are ripe across the state as to who is the candidate, especially in relations to his recent statement during his State House Press Briefings on the 24th February 2022, where he was heard to have reiterated his preferences for the type of persons he wished to succeed him.

It is within the context of this speculations, that I draw a tentative names of 10 prospective candidates in no particular order whom I tagged “10 Pendulums in the air” Since the Governor has given some clues as to where the next governor should come from; let us take a journey to explore the identities, uniqueness and pedigrees of those hanging in the air as the pendulum swings across Kaduna state.

They are: Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, Muhammed Sani Abdullahi, Senator Uba Sani, Hafiz Bayero, Dayyabu Paki, Bashir Jamo, Balarabe Abbas, Dr. Muhammed Mahmud, Abdulmalik Durunguwa and Abdullahi Mukhtar

Before I go into the details of these personalities, I will have to re-emphasize the fact that the governor has already given the template on which any of his successor would be drawn from. Continuity, age, and being member of the team, popularly known as “Team Kaduna” are some of the factors the governor has earmarked as the indices. Also, given his recent stance on power shift at the national level in the interest of fairness and equity, it will be assumed that, such factor would come into play as the basis for consideration in selection of his successor in the state.

Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe: The current deputy governor’s name has been rolling on the rumor mills as one of the likely successor of the governor, given the circumstances she emerged as the running mate to the governor out of the blues. Prior to her emergence as the deputy governor in 2018, she was working as the Chief Executive Officer of the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Agency.

As the deputy governor, the governor had elevated her beyond the traditional “spare tyre” mantra and gave her full powers to act and to execute. A type of delegation of authority that was never seen before anywhere in the country. And true to her name, she has been performing wonderfully. All the times she steers the affairs of the state while the governor is away, she exhibited high sense of duty and uncommon simplicity. That simplicity gained her affection and love even within the corridors of power. Again she was able to blend so fast, with the complex structure of the government. Even while she was given the latitude to do and undo, she is extremely careful with the sword that she never bled anyone with it.

The enormity of the power she wields across every strata gives the general impressions that the governor is preparing her to succeed him.

But the snag is, she can hardly be sellable as the candidate for governorship election for many reasons. One, she hails from Sanga Local Government Area, one of the most isolated LGAs in the political affairs of Kaduna State, couple with the fact that it’s in zone 3. In the present political arrangement and by history, zone 3 cannot produce governor due to the limitation of their population in relation to the other two zones. Two, and most important factor is that, due to the nature of the state, where religion and culture play a very critical roles in our affairs, a female candidate can never be voted as the governor (at least for now and the foreseeable future).

Even as the deputy governor, it was the greatest gamble the governor took and escaped through the needle’s hole (because the margin between APC and PDP was not over 200,000 votes). I don’t see any possibility of female deputy governor again in the state.

Muhammad Sani Abdullahi: Dattijo, as he is fondly called, became Chief of Staff to the Governor at the age of 38. He joined the administration as Commissioner of Planning and Budget Commission in 2015, leaving his position at the UN Under Secretary’s Office. With global exposure and experience from the United Nations, he brought to bear a vibrant network of ideas that moved the administration to international recognition. Through him, multinational corporations were able to find the enabling environment to implement global policies and programs that earned Kaduna State many medals. He drives many development initiatives including but not limited to the State’s Development Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan and recently Kaduna Urban Renewal Project. By all accounts, he is part of “Team Kaduna”

Many factors stand to his favour as the likely successor of the governor. These are his age, his international exposure and his agility in driving the reforms of the APC led administration in the state.

Also, he is highly active on the social media where he reaches out to the youths who see him as an inspiration; this is also a political tool for mobilization in his hand.

Youth’s organizations and support groups that have sprouted recently across the state yearning for him to declare his intention to contest may be an indication of his broad-based acceptability within that demography.

But his darkside is, even though in the last seven years he has been involved in every top-level politics and politicking, but yet he seems not to fully grasp the art of politics. Politicians in the state still consider him as a neophyte, and they created a narrative that is going round that he disdain people.

Nevertheless, his rising political career (from commissioner to CoS) has attracted him a lot of political enemies within the government, as most of the governor’s senior aides at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, especially the so called ‘cabals’ fell out with him when he became the CoS. They felt that he carried himself as the potential successor to the governor.

Senator Dr. Uba Sani: Dr. Uba Sani is a serving Senator representing Kaduna Central, with a well-known desire to contest for the position of the Governor, a one-time Political Adviser to the Governor, even though it was merely advisory, as he was not fully part of Team Kaduna that drive the Kaduna Urban Renewal and other reforms. But he has a good personal relationship with the governor.

He has used his position as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to grant loans to many of his supporters which has given him so much power and privileges to create a strong political network across state.

Again most of the governor’s loyalists have maintained an open-secret relationship and by extension a substantial part of their loyalty to the Senator. Though the loyalty of the governor’s men is however highly limited to making him the governor as he lacks the courage to make his ambition openly known to the people of Kaduna State especially as he is an elected Senator and not an appointee of the Governor.

Another roadblock for him is that he came from the same zone with the governor, and the governor was heard to be canvassing for power shift. And with the recent electoral law, the senator is also not likely going to risk losing his senatorial seat to pursue a governorship which is less certain.

Hafiz Bayero: Hafiz Bayero is one of the typical examples of young men that Governor El-Rufai picked up and mentored from obscurity to political and leadership limelight. The name “Hafiz Bayero” is now the name that is ringing the bell all over Kaduna State as one of the ‘rising stars’ in the administration of El-Rufai. He is no doubt the foremost blue-eyed boy of the governor who took him like a son. He is also the bosom friend of the governor’s first son Bello El-Rufai who has technically become like a son to the governor too.

He was assigned various portfolios since from 2015, and the governor used to applaud him at various fora including in the presence of vice president and president when they visited the state on different occasions. This has given the notion that the governor is preparing him to succeed him. His closeness to the governor as member of his kitchen cabinet, his age and his active participation in the decision making, and governance; as one of the principal drivers of the reforms taking place in the state, he has greater chance of being nominated by the governor.

However, one factor that stands in his way is the fact that everybody in the state is aware that Hafiz is from Kebbi State. In fact that is the part of the de-marketing strategy some politicians deploy the moment the governor gave the impressions that Hafiz would succeed him.

Also the story going round is that he lacks the temperament of a public officer and grassroots appeal needed for the office of a governor.

Mal. Balarabe Abbas Lawal: As the Secretary to the State Government since 2015, Malam Balarabe is one of the highly influential people in the government. A seasoned administrator with unblemished record in the service, his name has also been going round as the potential successor to the governor. This is even more so given the fact that he is a longtime friend and contemporary of the governor for over 40 years, and served as his Chief of Staff when he was the FCT Minister.

However, age is a disadvantage to him considering the public comments of the governor concerning who may succeed him. He is over 60 years. Also in the course of discharging his duties as the SSG, he has also acquired some political enemies in the state, especially as regards to some hardline policies.

He has no political structures to run a political campaign as he is more of a technocrat than a politician.

Muhammed Daiyabu Paki: Paki is the Director General of the Kaduna State Facility Management Agency, (KADFAMA), one the agencies driving the reforms of the government. He began his political journey with the APC administration as a member of the Transition Committee on Projects in 2015 and was thereafter appointed as the IMC Chairman of Ikara Local Government Area for 3 consecutive times. He is a grassroots politician and technocrat.

His performance as IMC Chairman in Ikara LGA, (from June 2015 to March, 2017 was credible with many projects to his credit.

As a quiet achiever behind the scene; his quality delivery of critical infrastructure projects through KADFAMA is outstanding, and there is what is now known as the “KADFAMA Signature” on all structures that his builds or renovates in the state.

Daiyabu’s performance as a project manager has endeared him to the governor where his agency became one of the key drivers of the Urban Renewal Programme. He has successfully delivered huge projects since his appointment as DG KADFAMA 3 years ago.

Daiyabu has many qualities to his advantage, one of which is his age. He does his work diligently and quietly and does not engage in political bickering. He has used his office to successfully manage very vital relationships especially within the inner caucus of the government in a manner that combines both quality project delivery and good human relationship management.

His another advantage is being a former council chairman for 3 times gave him the chance to acquire knowledge of local politics.

Also being from rural area in zone one, in the event the governor picks him as gubernatorial candidate, he will get the support of all the rural local governments in the zone, because for quite some time, there has been this agitation that rural people should occupy the number seat.

But factors that could limit his chances are the fact that he doesn’t belong to the inner caucus of the governor and he is being considered as a lame duck, perhaps due to his cool mien.

He does not appear to have the resources needed to execute his campaign, couple with the fact that he has not identify himself with a particular bloc to rely on in the state.

Dr. Bashir Jamo: The current DG of NIMASA has been touted as one of the most visible contenders for the seat of Sir Kashim House Kaduna. He hails from Zaria Local Government, and is said to have a strong blood connection with the Villa. Having solidified his the ties with marrying off his daughter to President’s son and Personal assistant, Tunde Sabi’u, it is expected that Dr. Jamo would leverage on that to get the ticket from the Nasir Elrufai, and couple with the fact that he possesses the financial strength to run a political campaign for the governorship of the state.

He however does not have any political structure in Kaduna. The one he is building now consist of aggrieved members of both APC and PDP who will end up draining his political fortunes putting him at great disadvantages among his political peers.

Dr. Muhammed Mahmud: The current Minister of Agriculture is an academician and former lawmaker.  Having served as the Member Kaduna State House of Assembly for 12 years, he has a network of former members in the state. He is also very close to President Buhari, and would want to leverage on that to get the ticket of the governorship. By any means he has an advantage of a serving Minister with resources and connection to run a political campaign.

Sadly, age is not on his side and also he is not a member of the governor’s circle. He does not maintain any meaningful link with the party at the state and has no any grassroots appeal, especially in his locality of Tudun Wada where many of his constituents are seen grumbling for lack of his ‘largesse’. It is difficult to trace any member of the party that he has empowered so far. And another limiting factor is the fact that he came from the same zone with the governor.

Dr. Abdulmalik Durunguwa: A serving Permanent Commissioner at the National Population Commission, Abuja representing Kaduna State, Durunguwa hails from Ladduga in Kachia Local Government Area an so far the only candidate from Zone 3 who has indicated interest to contest for the position of Governor.

Dr. Abdulmalik is a grassroot politician and someone who has a larger following both among the masses and the elite.

His strength is his large followership and his capacity to connect people across the various divides of religion and ethnicityhe is however a minority in a Christian dominated area and not within the age bracket Governor Nasir El-Rufai is considering for succession.

He could stand the chance of being picked for the position of a deputy should the governorship candidate come from Zone 1 or 2.

Abdullahi Mukhtar: Mukhtar is a former chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). Prior to that, he was the chairman of Kaduna State Pilgrims Board for 8 years. Abdullahi Mukhtar is a complete gentleman and a successful administrator with great self-discipline. He is said to be from Kubau Local Government.

He has the resources to run a successful campaign for the office of governor, and has a network in the aviation industry. Most of those mobilizing for him are airline operators.

Recognizing his lack of political structure and connection to any political bloc, he is likely to play a supporting role in case the mantle of power does not get to him.

His closeness to members of the opposition party may cast doubt on his real desire to contest under the APC.  Another problem he might face is the question of origin. While he is bearing Kubau Local Government, many people are insinuating that he is not from there.

Dr. Yahaya Bashir, a lecturer at ABU Zaria can be reached at Email: [email protected]

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