The Peoples Democratic Party seems to be at the crossroads over who will be its candidate in the October 11 Adamawa governorship by-election. BAYO AKINLOYE, assesses how the choice of some of the aspirants can affect the fortune of the party in the state
At least 10 aspirants have so far declared interest to fly the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party in the forthcoming Adamawa State governorship by-election, which comes up on October 11, 2014.
Those who have indicated interest include a former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Maj.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.); a former Senator representing Adamawa Central, Abubakar Girei; a former Political Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak; and a former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Aliyu Idi-Hong. Others are the Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission Dr. Umar Ardo; Dr. Ahmed Modibbo, Mr. Markus Gundiri; the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, and the son of a former PDP National Chairman, Mr. Awual Tukur.
The Acting Governor, Bala Ngilari, is also said to be under pressure from 13 of his colleagues from the state House of Assembly to throw his hat in the ring.
As the party’s primary election, slated for September 6, approaches, not a few political watchers have suggested that the race to Adamawa State Government House will be a three-horse race; that is, among Marwa, Ribadu and Modibbo. Expecting a hotly contested primary, the PDP also have to consider the waiver requests of the former military governor and the pioneer chairman of the EFCC.
The party is expected to take a lot of factors into consideration in picking a candidate for the election.
Aspirants such as Girei, Gundiri, Idi-Hong and Modibbo, who hail from the Central Senatorial zone, are asking the party to consider ceding the ticket to the zone because it remains the only zone which has not produced a governor since the creation of the state. Available records indicate the northern zone has ruled the state thrice while the south has done the same four times.
This has put the leadership of the PDP in Adamawa under intense pressure to zone the governorship ticket to the central district of the state. But the national leadership of the PDP has assured all its aspirants there will be a level-playing field going in the primary.
Ribadu, who just defected from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP last week applied to the national leadership of the ruling party to grant him waiver in order to enable him contest the party’s governorship primary in state. According to Ribadu’s political associate, Ahmidu Mahmoud, the former EFCC boss is confident of getting the waiver.
He said, “We have commenced the process of getting waiver. The waiver clause in the party’s constitution was not inserted because of him. He is expected to enjoy the waiver. We have applied for the waiver and we expect that he will get it.”
He dispelled the rumour making the rounds that Ribadu was banking on the support of President Goodluck Jonathan to win the primary and the election.
“We are not aware the President wants him, but some PDP chieftains in our state called him. He doesn’t need to have any structure on ground to win. He is ready to contest the primary,” Mahmoud added.
Marwa too was a former chieftain of the APC and a defector. A former military governor, who is said to enjoy a large following in the state, contested the last state governorship election with Nyako under the defunct Congress for Progressive Change. He claimed his supporters were marginalised while in the APC.
Marwa left the PDP for the defunct CPC in 2011 after the conduct of the governorship primaries which nominated Governor Murtala Nyako to run for second term.
The former military administrator in Lagos and Borno states promised to replicate his achievements in the two states if elected the governor of Adamawa in the coming election. According to him, the impeached governor of the state, Nyako, left the state in a comatose and it needed a man of his status to resuscitate it.
He said the issue of waiver for him to contest on the party’s platform was a concluded business, adding that the party needed him to win the election.
Marwa said, “Adamawa State is in a comatose after Nyako’s administration. It is half-dead and it needs a Marwa to resuscitate it and bring it back to where it belongs. Free education, free health care, infrastructure, the roads that I did in Lagos like 700, we will double it in Adamawa if not more, by the grace of God. In terms of water supply, the most difficult area in the country is Borno State. I was governor there and I did over 1,000 boreholes and wells there. Agriculture, fishery jobs for the youth. We will work for the PDP and the people.”
A former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak, said he had informed the President about his desire to become the next governor of Adamawa.
Gulak said, “Mr President is the leader of the party and father of the nation. Everybody is supposed to intimate him on his intention to stand for election. But he is always by the people and he knows that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
“I have informed Mr. President of my ambition just like other aspirants ought to have done and he will not tell you not to since it in an ambition.”
All the aspirants are to be screened by the party on August 28, while those who are dissatisfied with the outcome will face the appeal committee two days later.
But political analysts have argued that out of the aspirants, Modibbo, Marwa or Ribadu will be the PDP governorship candidate.
A leader of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Muhammed Abdulrahman, said if the PDP picked Ribadu as its flag bearer, it might cause a rift among the party members, not only in the state but at the national level. He argued further that Ribadu was untested and his tenure as the EFCC chairman could not be used to consider him as the party’s choice.
“Nyako was put there by Olusegun Obasanjo’s fiat. Obasanjo imposed Nyako on Adamawa. Some people want to do what Obasanjo did with Nyako by imposing Ribadu on Adamawa people. The same thing will happen: the way Nyako ended will be the same fate of Ribadu if he becomes the governor of that state. Even if Ribadu manages to win, they will impeach him within 180 days.
“If Ribadu was successful as EFCC boss, he did so because he was manipulated and teleguided by the powers that be. Ribadu hasn’t been tested for his organisational ability and maturity. Chasing criminals and handcuffing them isn’t the same as running the budget of a state. Ribadu is a greenhorn,” Abdulrahman said.
He also dismissed the chance of persons like Gulak, Modibbo and Tukur emerging as the choice of the party. He suggested that the former political adviser to the president would be a ‘liability’ to the party because of his controversial disposition. Concerning Tukur, the ACF leader noted that the past PDP chairman’s son still exists in the shadow of his father, Bamanga Tukur. According to him, Marwa is the party’s “best bet.”
“I think Marwa will be a better governor than Ribadu. In terms of governance and serving the people, Marwa is the candidate to pick. Marwa is PDP’s best bet. Ribadu’s candidacy will bring about some crises in the party. Marwa has the ability to bring fortune to the PDP.
“PDP has never been straightforward in terms of choosing candidates for elections. They have always been bending backward and manipulating things. PDP has never had a straightforward way of choosing candidates for elections. Gulak’s behaviour while he was in the presidency did not show him as someone who ever aspired to be governor of a state. Gulak cannot be a good governor. Tukur’s son has humility and attitude. But this business isn’t about you being the son of this or the son of that -it is about being able to hold your own anywhere you are. He’s yet to exhibit that,” he added.
Similarly, a political scientist at the University of Ibadan, Dr. Idowu Johnson, said, “Fielding Nuhu Ribadu as a candidate in the Adamawa governorship by-election will throw the PDP into another loss as seen in Osun State. Ribadu isn’t a grass-roots politician; he’s not on ground in the state. It will be wise and politically expedient if the party fields someone who has been on ground and enjoys the popularity of the people.”
While he thinks Modibbo may be the best choice for the PDP without leaving the party polarised, he said the ex-military administrator, Marwa, is the most popular and most reliable of the aspirants.
“I believe Buba Marwa will be the best candidate for the party if it is serious about good governance. The experience of Marwa as a military governor in Lagos State stands him in good stead. During his regime, he performed creditably well. He’s very refined, very intelligent and he’s a gentleman to the core; but talking about Gulak; that’s a controversial figure, not only in Adamawa State but in Nigeria as a whole,” the UI don stated.