By Ibrahim Sani
An African adage says it is only men of little wisdom that would say to a tree: ‘we only need your leaves we don’t need you’. In Africa, we relish our culture as well as the wise words of elders in view of its potency to proffer a specific way-out to some societal puzzles that certain individuals might find difficult or some may ignore at their own peril. It is often said that all politics are local, in view of the unique activities that preclude the grassroots kind of politics. In Nigeria, political strength rests on so many factors and amongst these is the strength of one’s supporters. Every high ranking politician is as good as his supporters.
It is no news that Dr. Jamilu Isyaku Gwamna (JIG) has one of the strongest support-base in Gombe State. Whether we like it or not, political pundits have ranked the Sardaunan Gombe as one of the deeply rooted philanthropists whose unrelenting resolve for better living standards for the people of Gombe State has made many of his supporters insist unrepentantly on following JIG to any destination because of the trust they have that he would lead them aright. This has made JIG a political asset to any political party that means well for the people of Gombe. It is sheer negligence of the political wind that is blowing in Gombe now that would make the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to toy with such a force as Gwamna.
A seasoned Abuja-based political strategist who visits Gombe frequently, while reacting to JIG’s defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) said: “Accepting this now or waiting till February, 2019 to find out the devastating result of JIG’s exit from PDP is a matter of doom from all angles for the PDP. In as much as JIG’s exit is a curse for the PDP, it is on the other hand a blessing to the APC.’’ When a political strategist that has been consulted by different political parties in Nigeria to win elections at local, state and national levels is prophesying defeat for the PDP, then you would know he is only giving a communiqué of his interactions with other scholars of Gombe politics. Many might see this prophesy as a gimmick of sorts, but let’s analyse some events that will take us home as regards the defection of JIG which is viewed as a doom to PDP and a plus for the APC.
On the night of the violence that marred PDP governorship primaries, news filtered out that Gwamna was leading as the delegates had resolved to vote him as the PDP candidate ahead of 2019 in view of the many voices of religious, traditional, social and youth leaders clamouring for the Sardaunan Gombe to become the next governor. Gombe Metropolis went agog as everyone anxiously anticipated the pronouncement of JIG as the winner of the primaries while the youths took to the streets to keep vigil. However, their hope was put in abeyance following the disruption of the election in favour of the ‘anointed candidate’. The implication of this will play out in clear pictures when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lift its embargo on campaigns and the Sardaunan Gombe alongside all his supporters merge with those of the APC in a rally for President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya and our shining light in the Senate: Senator Danjuma Goje. The effect of this highly anticipated rally will send some PDP chieftains abroad for medical check-up. If this coalition were to take place in my dreams, I would rather wake-up and refuse to sleep again than experience this unification, even in my imagination.
The fact that Senator Bayero Nafada needed Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo to threaten and induce the delegates to vote against their will, is an indication that JIG is a force to reckon with in the Gombe political space. Another point to consider is the fact that JIG has been in the party since 2007 and has garnered a lot of supporters who have been in the PDP because of JIG. It is estimated that the Sardaunan Gombe has more supporters than those of Gov. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and Senator Bayero Nafada put together. Now that the Sardaunan Gombe has moved, it is common wisdom that his supporters will not remain in the party because JIG is their beacon of hope and a symbol of good governance as well as the last hope of the grassroots PDP members. With the exit of JIG, it is obvious that the party has lost the last good man that has always given the PDP a reason to campaign.
From the day the Sardaunan Gombe dumped the PDP for APC many youths were seen in their numbers visiting the APC party secretariat to register their membership with APC even within five minutes of JIG’s pronouncement. If the supporters of the Sardaunan Gombe could register with such speed it can only tell one thing; that they were tired of the party and remained there because of JIG. We can point to some of the many reasons why JIG’s defection is a curse for PDP. Before the PDP primaries, some youths went on Facebook for a popularity check to ascertain the popularity of aspirants of the PDP and JIG scored 66 per cent while Senator Nafada scored 34 per cent. JIG’s score is almost the double of Nafada’s. Now you will agree that JIG has more supporters than those of the Governor and Senator Nafada put together.
Many people who are in touch with the real voters at the grassroots predict a hard fight for the APC should the Sardaunan Gombe be given the PDP ticket. But since the mandate of JIG has been stolen by those who see injustice as part of politics in the PDP, the coast is clear for the APC.
The defection of JIG to the APC shows that he is not as desperate as others in the PDP. Today, Gombe people are more enlightened to vote for the right candidate to take the state to the next level. The issue of vote buying which the PDP may be banking on will not work in Gombe State.
Sani, a freelance journalist writes from Gombe