KATSINA 2011: PDP, CPC LOCK HORNS
The governorship race in Katsina State presents an intriguing and interesting spectacle. Home state of the late President Musa Yar'Adua, who also ruled for 8 unbroken years, the state is also home to many political generals, including former military head of state and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change(CPC), Gen Muhammadu Buhari(rtd).
The state has remained in the firm grip of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), since the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The formation of the CPC last year by Buhari is however threatening to alter the configuration of politics in the state, and for the first time, PDP is facing a serious challenge.
The CPC has successfully mobilized political heavyweights from the PDP and other parties in the state and has also cut into the PDP stronghold at the grassroots. For effect, it has split the family of the Yar'Adua political clan into two, harvesting the late president's younger brother and one of his daughters.
The governorship candidate of the party, Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke in obvious recognition of the party's strength in the state observed that 'what is left of in the PDP is just a carcass. The main body has left. Check the nooks and crannies of this state and find out which party is popular and dear to the hearts of the people. Our people have embraced the party without much cajoling. They are the ones campaigning for us. It is an instant hit with the people, and when we win and form a government, we will respond by making life more meaningful for them; give them succour by providing facilities. We thank them for their support so far, and promise that we will never let them down.'
While the PDP is still holding out strong, obviously because of the groundbreaking achievements of the Governor Ibrahim Shema, its cohesion and unity have steadied its course and made it resilient to the challenge from CPC. The PDP is further strengthened by the catalogue of crises in the CPC. The crisis in the CPC is enough to erase whatever inroads it has made in the state. Here is a party that is new, and popular, but lacks what it takes to contain its many crises. The result is confusion. That is what PDP will capitalize on,' said Alhaji Baffar Abdullahi, a businessman and politician in the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN).
The governorship tussle for the CPC ticket is one of the worst in the annals of the history of the state. Until three weeks ago, it was not clear who actually is the standardbearer between former speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallam Aminu Masari and Senator Lado Danmake, until the court arbitrated.
The court's intervention rather than thaw the sprawling crisis, exacerbated it, as the Masari groups and others opposed to Lado's emergence as standardbearer are not lending the desired support to enhance the victory of the party in the state.
The uncanny situation, and sitting on the fence by these groups have emboldened the PDP to take bold steps to 'recapture' areas where it appeared it was losing ground. According to Gov Shema, who is also the North-West Co-ordinator of the Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organization. 'PDP is as solid as a rock in the state. The party has never disappointed the people since it took over power here.
'I have never borrowed a dime from any bank to execute the many programmes which the people are enjoying now. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. When you come to any of our rallies, you will be amazed at the mammoth crowd and the effusion of love. I have no doubt that we are the leading party, loved by the people, and we have the support of the masses of the people to retain power next month.'
Last week, the governor's political train was allegedly stoned by Senator Danmake's group.
The senator since been picked up, detained for three days and released on bail by a magistrate court last Monday. Observers see the political situation in the state as testy and highly charged. But while the two parties duel in the elections, other parties are like stand-by spectators. Will the PDP retain power or be swept out by the rampaging CPC? The people will give the answer next month.