Kaduna State Governor Mukhtar Yero nominated the PDP Chairman in the state, Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga, as his deputy governor and the nomination was confirmed during the week by the state House of Asembly. John Shiklam writes on the intrigues, which attended the appointment. He states that Bajoga’s choice may have pitted the Southern Kaduna people against each other…
Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State has just nominated as the deputy governor , Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga, but the nomination has been received with mixed feelings by some of Bajoga’s kinsmen in the Christian dominated Southern part of Kaduna State.
The nomination of Bajoga, 63, who is 19 years older than him, was the first major political appointment Governor Yero made since he took over from his former boss, Sir Patrick Yakowa, who died in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State on December 15, 2012.
His name has been forwarded to the state House of Assembly for screening and confirmation. The House, which at present is on recess, is expected to convene an emergency session to perform the screening and confirmation before the deputy governor could be inaugurated.
Shaping Yero’s Regime
Indeed one of the major political decisions that will shape the Yero administration and indeed the politics of Kaduna State is the appointment of his deputy, which must be a Christian from the Southern part of the state to balance the power equation in the state.
Before Yero made his choice, there was intense lobbying and politicking among politicians in the Southern part of the state. There were those advocating that Yero’s deputy should be a young, agile new breed politician with the requisite experience and within the same age bracket with the governor (Yero is 44). Those who belong to this school of thought are mostly youths and some interest groups in the Southern part of the state. They hold the view that the only way the Southern Kaduna people can define their political future is to depart from the old trend where old breed politicians from the area are appointed deputies to young, new breed politicians from the Northern part of the state.
The youths noted that when Senator Ahmed Makarfi who was then in his 40s was governor of the state, it was the late Stephen Shekari who was in his 50s that was his deputy. When Shekari died in 2005, it was the late Yakowa who was also at that time in his 50’s that became Makarfi’s deputy and who later became deputy also to Arc. Namadi Sambo before becoming governor following Sambo’s elevation as Vice President by President Jonathan.
“We feel that if we must move forward politically in Southern Kaduna, we need young men with the experience and the vision to chart a new course for the generality of our people. The old breed politicians are selfish and self centred and do not represent the interest of the generality of our people but their own selfish and parochial interest and that is why we want a break from the old system.
“We want people who are in their prime, young men who have vision and can point the way forward to the people, not old people who are struggling for what would sustain them in their old age. That is why we are vehemently against the selection of any old breed politician again from Southern Kaduna to be deputy governor,” a politician from Southern Kaduna had said.
Elders Comfortable with Old Breed
However, it was learnt that the Southern Kaduna Elders Forum, chaired by former military governor of Rivers State, Gen. Zamani Lekwat, was said to be more comfortable with the old brigade. The elders were said to have held a meeting at Lekwat’s residence where they were said to have considered those lobbying for the position. Among the old breeds whose names were mentioned as contenders for the position were Ambassador Bajoga, former minister of state for power Arc. Nuhu Wya, former minister of state for power Hassan Hyet and Chief of staff to the late Yakowa, Mr. Abokie Galadima.
Among the younger generation of politicians whose names were mentioned then for the position was Hon. Jonathan Asake, a former member of the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003. Asake was later appointed Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly Matters. He also served in various capacities under the Makarfi and Sambo administrations in Kaduna State.
Others were Mark Jacob, Edward Marshal and Allamagani Yohanna. Jacob was the National Legal Adviser of PDP. He also served as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state under the Makarfi administration.
The youths had expected Yero, being a young man, to have chosen his deputy from among his peers, but he left many people especially the youths stunned when he announced the nomination of Bajoga.
Youth Groups Kick
Prior to the nomination of Bajoga, various youth organisations had vowed to resist the appointment of any old breed politician. One of such groups was the Coalition of Southern Kaduna Youth, who in a letter dated December 19, 2012 and addressed to Governor Yero, said it would reject nomination from any quarter which goes contrary to the wishes of the Southern Kaduna people. The group, in the letter entitled “Our Stand on the Nomination of Deputy Governor of Kaduna State,” asked the governor to chose his deputy from Jonathan Asake, Mark Jacob and Rev. Joseph Hayab. According to the letter signed by Mr. Vincent Bodam and Dr. Shalulu Bonnet and copied to President Jonathan, Vice President Sambo, the Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives and PDP National Chairman among others, the youths accused the governor of being secretive about the selection of his deputy.
“We have noted the heinous manner the politics of selection of the Deputy Governor of the state has taken. The process is shrouded in hypocrisy and complete secrecy without consultation and respect of those the decision will directly affect. His Excellency Ramalan Yero without concern and respect for the Southern Kaduna people has perpetuated the process to make political gains.
“While the process lingers, we keep hearing the voice of Jacob but the hands of Esau i.e. the unwarranted meddlesomeness and manipulation of Vice-President Namadi Sambo. This is perplexing because the vice-president should be performing at the national stage not meddling in the politics of the state in which he is not even popular with the mandate givers.
“As living democrats and people with a long egalitarian tradition, we outrightly reject any nomination from any quarters that is contrary to the yearning and aspiration of the Southern Kaduna people.
“We have found it imperative to clearly state, in unequivocal term, that our nominees for the Deputy Governor are as follows: Mark Jacob Nzamah (Esq), Rev. Joseph John Hayab and Hon. Jonathan Asake,” the letter added.
It was not, however, certain whether the letter was delivered to the governor and others copied.
Several groups in the area have rejected Bajoga’s nomination. According to one of the groups known as “Coalition of Concerned Southern Kaduna Professionals,” the nomination of Bajoga is a calculated attempt to renew the enslavement of the Southern Kaduna people.
“We are against the selection of Nuhu Audu Bajoga, present state chairman of PDP, as Deputy Governor nominee from Southern Kaduna area, because it is a calculated plot to deprive the Southern Kaduna area from holding the PDP state chair that is of immense political value and significance. It is also in the spirit of renewed political enslavement of our people using such a divisive and sinister Greek gift.
“There are more qualified youthful and competent Southern Kaduna politicians and professionals who fit into role expected of a sound deputy governor in all means.
“We are reiterating our stand against Vice- President Namadi Sambo’s choice of over 63 years- old Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga to a 44 years- old Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State despite his co-called assurance of non-interference, which we have unravelled from statements attributed to Bajoga himself in the media,” the coalition said in a statement by John Danfulani.
Also, the Youth Wing of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has kicked against the nomination, alleging that he was imposed by the vice-president and it is against the interest of Southern Kaduna people.
The secretary of the group, Nasiru Jagaba, said Southern Kaduna Elders want Bajoga to remain as state chairman of PDP.
“Let the Vice-President Namadi Sambo know that SOKAPU is the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) in Southern Kaduna and we are against Bajoga’s appointment as deputy governor,” the group said.
“Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga’s nomination is against the interest of Southern Kaduna people,” he said. “We believe the governor selected Bajoga on the advice of his boss, Vice-President, Namadi Sambo,” they alleged. The group also told the state governor not to allow himself to be controlled by external forces, particularly the vice president.
Sambo: Bajoga is Yero’s Choice
Although Yero had held a meeting of stakeholders before selecting the PDP chairman, many people believe the vice-president influenced the selection of Bajoga.
But speaking through his Special Adviser Media, Mallam Umar Sani, the vice-president denied influencing Bajoga’s nomination, saying it was the choice of the governor. “Has the governor denied that Bajoga is not his choice,” he asked.
Yero had at a meeting of PDP stakeholders attended mostly by prominent politicians in the vice-president’s camp solicited for assistance and support of stakeholders in the selection of his deputy The meeting, which was held at the Hassan Katsina House, Kawo, Kaduna was attended by Sambo, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, Senator Isaiah Balat, former chairmen of PDP in the state, Alhaji Makama Rigachikun and Alhaji Ya’u Usman. Others at the meeting included Senator Nenadi Usman, Alhaji Suleiman Hunkuyi, PDP National Organising Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, Hon. Yakubu Barde, Hon. Gideon Gaiya and Alhaji Umar Gana. But a key political player in the state, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, was conspicuously absent at the meeting.
It was gathered that some of the key political figures in the state, including some elders and traditional rulers from Southern Kaduna, had asked Bajoga to step down for a younger politician, but he was reported to have said it was not proper to turn down an appointment from government because such action may have its consequences.
Beside the fact of his age, the Southern Kaduna people feel the position of PDP chairman is of more political value and benefit to the area than that of a deputy governor, which is “just like a spare tyre”.
But a spare tyre may become governor as exemplified in the case of the late Yakowa and now Yero.
“We had wanted Bajoga to remain as the PDP chairman while one of our younger politicians is appointed as deputy governor. We have many qualified and experienced young politicians in Southern Kaduna and we need to groom them for the future so that they can aspire to be governor one day. Now, with the appointment of Bajoga as deputy governor, we don’t know whether the PDP chairman will still come to Southern Kaduna.
“His selection is part of the scheming against our political interest but they will lose woefully if the vice-president thinks that he can impose people on us
“Apart from that, from a moral perspective, does he feel comfortable to be taken instructions and be sent by a young man who he is older than with about 20 years? Whose interest is he serving, his own interest or that of the generality of the people?
“Our people are fast learning from their past mistakes and want to make amends. We don’t want to be playing second fiddle or allow people outside our community to choose our leaders for us. That is why our youths are vehemently opposed to this nomination and if they insist it is at the peril of the PDP in 2015,” a Southern Kaduna politician who pleaded anonymity said.
Bajoga’s Nomination in Order
However, the Southern Kaduna Elders Forum headed by Gen. Zamani Lekwot has described the nomination of Bajoga as appropriate, saying he is a proud son of Southern Kaduna with the requite experience to hold the position
Lekwot, in a telephone chat with THISDAY in Kaduna, described Bajoga as a prominent son of the soil who as PDP chairman in the state had proven that he could be trusted.
“Bajoga is a proud son of the soil and as a community leader, whoever God has chosen we are duty bound to support him.
“As the chairman of the PDP in Kaduna State, he ensured the peaceful conduct of local government elections in the state and it stood him out as a competent leader,” Lekwot said and expressed the hope that the governor and his deputy would work hard to ensure the development of the state.
Bajoga Picked to AvoidPower Struggle in Kaduna
It was also gathered that Yero’s decision to choose Bajoga, a man much older than him instead of somebody within his age bracket, was informed by the need to avoid power struggle between two young ambitious men.
According to sources, bringing a young man as deputy to Yero may lead to friction between the two of them as a result of their ambition and desperate quest for power.
Bajoga was therefore seen as a more matured and more experienced than the young men that were being proposed.
“Because of his age, experience and maturity, we do not think that Bajoga would be a problem to Yero, rather he would guide him as a senior brother, even if he may nurture an ambition he will not go about it the way the so-called new breed will go about it. We believe that Bajoga and Yero will work together in peace than bringing young people who may become desperate for power.
“Kaduna State needs the cooperation of its leaders to move forward and it will be disastrous to bring in a deputy who will be too ambitious and be fighting his boss, which by extension, will cause serious problem in the state given our diversity and how we see things,” the sources who pleaded not to be mentioned said.
Observers, however, noted that Yero’s choice of Bajoga would either make or mar the chances of the ruling PDP given the present outburst of the Southern Kaduna people, especially the youths over the nomination of Bajoga.
The Southern part of the state has remained the stronghold of PDP in the state, going by previous elections. The votes from the area are always block votes to PDP compared to votes from the Northern part.
In 1993, the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) lost the governorship of the state to the National Republican Convention (NRC) following the protest votes from the Southern Kaduna area. On the other hand, the appointment of Bajoga, according to sources, may be deliberate to ensure division among the Southern Kaduna people to the advantage of the Northern part and to Yero’s advantage in 2015.
Already, the youths and elders are divided over the selection of Bajoga. Lack of unity among the over 50 ethnic groups in the area has been one of the things that has been working against their political interest. So all this may be a threat to the PDP unless the Southern Kaduna people resolve their differences, find a common ground and speak with one voice even with Bajoga’s nomination.
However, whatever may be the case, Yero is likely to meet some level of resentment and lack of cooperation, especially among the youths, as a result of the choice of his deputy.
The Man Bajoga
Born on July 4, 1949 in Kwoi, Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Bajoga attended SIM Primary School Kwoi between 1955 and 1959. He also attended Baptist Primary School Keffi from 1960 to 1963. He gained admission into SIM Secondary School, Kagoro in 1964 and obtained his West African School Certificate in 1968.
He was at St. Paul’s College, Zaria between 1969 and 1970 for his Higher School Certificate (HSC) after which he proceeded to the Kaduna Polytechnic between 1972 and 1975 for a Diploma in Accounting.
He went to Slough College, England from 1976 to 1980 where he graduated and qualified into the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA Professional II).
He worked in the state civil service as an Accountant with the state Ministry of Health and later Kaduna State Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives between 1975 and 1976.
He later left the civil service to work with Ashaka Cement Plc in 1980 as the company’s Internal Audit Manager. He was later appointed Area Manager for Bauchi, Jos and Kano in 1981 and served in that capacity until 1988 where he rose to become the General Manager Support Services, a position he held from1993 until his retirement from the company in 2002.
He joined active politics after his retirement and was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Poland from 2004-2007. He was elected the state PDP chairman in March 2012. On assumption of office as the party chairman, he initiated peace and reconciliation moves among aggrieved members of the party. He also conducted rancor-free party primaries of the PDP for council elections in which the party won 22 of 23 local government chairmanship positions on December 1, 2012.