The battle to unseat Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State by aspirants from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party is real. John Shiklam reports
With the gale of defections in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the alleged non-performance of Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State in the past three years, the chances of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections in the state appear bright. But this may not come easy unless the party presents a credible and acceptable candidate.
The chances of the PDP will also depend on its capacity to manage the contending political interests among its diverse stakeholders especially, the political heavyweights and the array of governorship aspirants, who have indicated interest in the party’s ticket.
How the PDP conducts its primaries and how it manages the grievances and discontents that always crop up at the end will also determine whether it could wrest power from the incumbent governor.
Desperate Nigerian politicians are always fond of defecting to parties that can give platform for their ambitions. These are some of the challenges the PDP in Kaduna may face if its primaries are not conducted satisfactorily.
An official of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said the “PDP cannot afford to mess itself up this time around. We have learned from our ugly experiences in 2015 and we will not repeat such mistakes again. It will be at the detriment of all of us if we don’t unite,” he said.
He confided in THISDAY that in order to ensure the party is not polarised along key interest camps like Senator Ahmed Makarfi and former Vice President Namadi Sambo, a gentleman’s agreement had be reached between them to avoid showing preferences for any aspirant.
An official, who confided in THISDAY, added further that the party leadership was considering bringing all the aspirants together to a round table to explore the possibility of a consensus candidate.
“If that doesn’t work, then we will have to go for primary elections. But first, the candidates must discuss consensus among themselves. Everything was done to ensure fairness and justice in producing a candidate.”
According to the official, “We will conduct free, fair and transparent primaries if attempts at a consensus candidate fail. The APC in the state has failed woefully. El-rufai has little or nothing to show for all the promises he made. Some of his policies have inflicted pains on many people, so the stage is ripe for PDP in the Kaduna to take back power in 2019.
“But we must do everything possible, including sacrificing our personal ambitions in order to defeat him. That is what we have been preaching to our members especially, those who are aspiring to contest the governorship ticket.”
Among those who have indicated interest in the state’s top job are Hon. Isah Ashiru, a former lawmaker; Mr. Jonathan Adamu Kish, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; Mohammed Sani Sidi, former Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi; a former governor of the state, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and Shuaibu Idris Mikati, a businessman.
He is from Kudan local government area of Kaduna State in the Northern senatorial zone. He is a former lawmaker, who served two terms each in the state House of Assembly and the House of Representatives.
He represented Kudan state constituency in the state assembly between 1999 and 2007, and after serving two terms, he was elected to the House of Representatives, representing Kudun/Makarfi federal constituency for another two terms between 2007 and 2015.
A master’s degree holder in Public Administration, Ashiru was the chairman of the Kaduna State House of Assembly committee on Appropriations and Implementation.
In 2014, he left the PDP for the APC and contested the party’s governorship primaries with Governor El-rufai and three others. He lost the ticket to El-rufai, who defeated him with 1,965 to 1,379 votes.
Ashiru is seen as one of the major contenders of the PDP ticket and is believed to enjoy the support of prominent PDP stalwarts in the state. He said the APC administration has brought about poverty, hunger and increasing wave of violent crimes on the people and should be voted out in 2019.
Jonathan Adamu Kish
Kish is from Kaura Local Government Area in the Southern Kaduna senatorial zone. He is one of the emerging political leaders in the zone.
A former lawmaker in the state House of Assembly, Kish also served as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice during the administration of the late governor Patrick Yakowa.
Kish said his desire to seek for the governorship ticket is out of his desire to serve the people. His catchphrase is: “The people, my heart beats”. He said his approach to governance will be totally different with the people as his focus.
“Running for this position is not a decision you take just like that, it requires a lot of extensive consultations, which I have undertaken over the years,” he said.
Kish is one of those, who are optimistic that the PDP would return to power in Kaduna State in 2019 and urged El-rufai to start writing his handover notes.
“This government should start writing its hand over notes. They should prepare to leave, because the citizens of Kaduna State are not happy. We have never been this divided. The government doesn’t seem to have respect for anybody. I do not see how this government could get its mandate extended,” he said in an interview.
Mohammed Sani Sidi
Sidi is from Kagarko Local Government Area and holds a master’s degree in business administration. He was a special assistant to the former finance minister, Nenadi Usman between 2003 and 2007. He is seen as a political godson to former Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Under the Sambo administration as governor of Kaduna, Sidi served as commissioner in the ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, Works and Transport and Culture and Tourism from 2007 to 2010. He was appointed Director General of NEMA in 2010, following the elevation of Sambo as vice president. He was relieved of the position in April 2018, by the federal government.
Speaking at the declaration of his intention to contest the governorship ticket, Sidi said his decision to run for the position was informed by his passion to rescue Kaduna from total collapse.
“My desire to run for the office of Kaduna State governor springs from my burning passion to rescue our dear state from systematic destruction. My aspiration is a rescue mission – to save our state from further drift into total collapse.
“My vision for Kaduna State is one of a peaceful, united and prosperous state. God has endowed our dear state with abundant human and material resources, and one of my main goals is to provide the necessary visionary leadership that harnesses these resources together to transform the state for our collective good,” he said.
Mukhtar Ramalan Yero
Like Sidi, Yero too owes his rise to limelight to former Sambo, who is believed to be his benefactor and political godfather.
An accountant by profession, he worked at a private firm, Nalado Nigerian Limited, owned by Sambo. He was appointed Commissioner for Finance, when Sambo was elected governor in 2007.
Yero was later appointed by the late Governor Patrick Yakowa as deputy in 2010, when Sambo was appointed Vice President and Yakowa, who was deputy governor, became governor. However, in December 2012, Yero became the governor following the death of Yakowa in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State.
He was the candidate of the PDP in the 2015 elections, but was defeated by El-rufai due to what observers described as “his lackluster and clueless administration” in Kaduna State. He is said to have since fallen out with Sambo shortly before he left office as governor.
In June this year, he alongside three others, were arraigned by the EFCC at the Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna, over alleged money laundering. They were arraigned on a four-count charge, bordering on laundering over N700 million in 2015. The case is billed to come up on September 26, for hearing.
He said his decision to run again was informed by the genuine concern of the people and the numerous calls he received, urging him to contest. He said governance since May 29, 2015 has been a series of half-hearted trial and errors, with disastrous consequences on the people.
“I believe that my humble track record of academic achievements and working experience in both the private and public sectors have earned me tremendous knowledge, skills and capacity to understand the multiple expectations of our people across the state” he said.
Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi
He is one of the APC defectors, who returned to the PDP recently. He was once a member of the PDP before moving to the APC in 2014. He is seen as a kingmaker. He headed the campaign that led to the victory of the APC in 2015.
In 2003, he also headed the Makarfi campaign team. He was a close ally of El-rufai before they fell out and became bitter political rivals. In this heated rivalry, his house was demolished by the state government for allegedly violating “land use laws”, when he converted the house to the secretariat of a faction of the APC. He has vowed to ensure that El-Rufai does not return in 2019.
For rejecting the $350 million World Bank loan approved to Kaduna state, El-Rufai has also vowed to ensure that Hunkuyi, senators Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) and Danjuma Laah (Southern Kaduna) do not return to the senate on the platform of any political party.
An educationist, Hunkuyi was a teacher before he ventured into politics.
He was a one-time Chairman of Kudan Local Government during the Babangida transition programme. He was commissioner for finance during Makarfi’s first term as governor from 1999 to 2003. He has defected from the PDP on several occasions only to return to the party afterwards.
In 2003, Hunkuyi defected to the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to contest the governorship election against Makarfi, but lost.
He later returned to the PDP to also contest for the governorship primaries in 2007 and 2011 unsuccessfully.
Shuaibu Idris Mikati
He is a business man and a former manager of Dangote Flour. Mikati has contested the governorship in 2007 and 2011, but lost at the primaries. He brags of his vast experience in the private sector and wide contacts in the business and corporate world.
He said he has ideas that will transform Kaduna State for better development and insisted that only a credible candidate could defeat the incumbent governor.
“I believe I have goodwill to move Kaduna to greater heights. We should look deep down and see who PDP can present that will match the incumbent in terms of knowledge, intelligence, ability and performance,” Mikati added.