GOMBE 2011: As the clock ticks down

Source: burningpot.com

Kabiru Danladi Lawanti
As the 2011 general election approaches, so many people at various levels have started jostling for various political offices from the minute to the exalted. Although in some parties, like the PDP – the so-called biggest in Africa, this is a closed matter, however, in actual sense it is not, considering the fact that even within the PDP there are people who opposed the decision of the party leaders to give all their political office holders an automatic tickets.

Last year I did what I regarded as an honest and down to earth speculatory analysis of the likely contenders for the gubernatorial seat in Gombe state, (Sunday Trust, November 9, 2008. Pg 28). The responses I received through text messages, phone calls and email messages showed the fears of people of Gombe on who to succeed the present governor. This is obvious considering the fact that in its ten years of existence, the state was able to witness tremendous achievements under the leadership of the present Governor, Danjuma Goje, especially in his first four years. I also received bashing from people that felt I have unnecessarily tried to discredit their candidates. In fact, there were people who threatened to send Kalare boys to deal with me.

My intention in the said article was not to discredit, tarnish or undermine anyone who wants to be governor of Gombe state in 2011, but was to draw the attention of all those who have interest and show it and those who for fear are still hiding behind the shadows that, it is time politics take a new direction in the state, from non-ideological, loyalist and focus less politics to a more people and development oriented in which the to be candidates present their programmes to the people and on the basis of those well articulated programmes seek people's votes.

Gombe state is one of the few states where money and violence politics became the determinants of how powerful a candidate is. This is evident in the way and manner political campaigns were conducted prior to the elections in 2003 and 2007. The first criteria to be a gubernatorial candidate prior to 1999 was to be a former minister of the federal republic. The first few gubernatorial candidates in Gombe state before 1999 with the exception of late Alhaji Dahiru Mohammed and Barrister Achana Gius Yaro were former ministers.

The likes of Alhaji Yerima Abdullahi, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan, and Alhaji Abubakar Hashidu were all former ministers. It followed that pattern with the entry of Alhaji Danjuma Goje, and Alhaji Murtala Aliyu to the race in 2003. This continued up to 2007, where the likes of Alhaji Musa Mohammed and Alhaji Aliyu Modibbo, all former ministers joined the gubernatorial candidates list. So no wonder then, anyone appointed a minister is seeing as a likely gubernatorial candidate in Gombe state.

However, people of Gombe have to be very careful this time around, because for now, all those who showed interest, and even those who are still operating behind the shadows, (afraid to show their interest), there is no any candidate that can be said, has a programme that will be regarded as an agenda for the development of the young state. I am not sureb as I am talking to you now that there is any candidate among those who want to lead the state that can give exact figure of primary school going children in the state, or number of malaria cases for 2008. They cannot give you the exact number of unemployed in the state or how many bags of fertilizer the state needs in a farming year.

Furthermore, our desire to see the continuation of the good works we have seen in the first four years of Governor Goje is becoming bleak daily. It is only when we see well articulated programmes and development driven agenda from a person that we believe mean well for the state that we will regard a candidate as serious. It is not enough for any candidate to start going to the press, granting visionless interviews, to think that people will take him serious.

Therefore, the people of Gombe will be left at the mercy of opportunistic politicians whose idea of governance, is to be in power to steal public money. We have seen what they have done in the past and what they are doing now. In fact, we might say these people are not qualified in anyway to be our leaders. I may have love to call them by their names and expose them for what they are and what they stand for, but I feel is better to give them a chance to see before 2010 if they can come out with programmes on how they can continue or build on the foundation built by the present Governor.

Governor Goje on his part should do the people of Gombe state good if he maintains the absolute neutrality he is known for and allow the people to choose their leaders. Gombe state is bigger than each and every one of us. We are not saying Goje is perfect, he has his own problems, but at least he has recorded tremendous achievements incomparable to any of his predecessors. But he has to be very careful, and he knows that, because all those shouting to succeed him today are people whose sole interest is to be in power in order to revert the state to pre-Goje era of money sharing government.

Anyone interested in contesting the governor's seat should first of all do away with the idea of kalare politics, which in recent years turned the state into a lawless society of sort. He should present a programme on how to tackle the issue of unemployment, his policies on agriculture, education and health care. He should also try to ensure that apart from the existing projects, which ones he is trying to come up with. How is he going to address the issue of environmental degradation and energy etc.

These are some of the issue any political candidate ought to have presented to the electorate, not the number of kalare groups that support him or support he gets from above or from the Governor. It is then that we can be able to address the core issues that become bane of development of our young state.

Kabiru Danladi Lawanti writes from Abuja,
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