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2015 Guber Race: Maku, Rufa'i, Shagari, Others Warm Up

By The Citizen
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Governorship aspirants for the 2015 elections are already mobilising their followers and resources to clinch the tickets of their political parties at the primaries. Their behind-the-scenes activities are expected to peak at the end of the year or the first quarter of next year, LEADERSHIP Weekend has learnt.

Prominent among politicians alleged to have shown strong interest in the governorship race are the minister of information, Mr LabaranĀ  Maku (Nasarawa State), the deputy governor of Sokoto State, Muktari Shehu Shagari, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senator Bala Mohammed, (Bauchi), minister of education Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'I (Jigawa), former speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, retired Col. Abdulazeez Musa Yar'Adua (Katsina), retired Col. Aminu Kontagora, Alhaji Abu Bello, Senator Ibrahim Musa (Niger), Senator Magnus Angei Abe, Hon. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside, and Dr Abiye Precious Samuel Sekibo (Rivers).

There are also Sen. Sati Gogwim, Prof. Nenfort Gomwalk (Plateau), senators Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, Oluremi Tinubu, Bareehu Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos), Chief Mike Kaase Aondoakaa (SAN), former director-general of the Suswam/Lawani campaign organisation Chief Terhemba Shija, and managing director of Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority Engr. Mrs Ada Chenge (Benue).

Party leaders, some of the aspirants and their associates, who spoke with our correspondents in 10 states where campaign activities have started on a quiet note confirmed that the would-be-governors are mobilising their supporters for the race. Some of the aspirants are allegedly frequenting the homes and offices of their political godfathers, mostly incumbent governors on their second term, and top party leaders to get their backing.

Among the credentials being flaunted by the aspirants are experience, educational qualification, large followership, loyalty to their parties and godfathers, and ability to provide the chunk of campaign funds. Others are banking on the zoning of political offices' arrangement in their parties.

One of the governorship aspirants, a serving minister in President Goodluck Jonathan administration, according to one of his associates, has been approached by his people to join the contest because of his 'performance in office'.

In Sokoto State, a PDP source hinted that 10 aspirants are strategising to govern the state in 2015. He said four of them come from Sokoto South Senatorial District and included speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, commissioner for local government and community development, Alhaji Faruku Mallami Yabo, the deputy governor, Muktari Shehu Shagari, and Alhaji Dambaba Dambuwa.

The source said Yabo 'seems to be the preferred aspirant for now because Tambuwal is believed to be interested in a higher national office'.

It was also learnt that the private residential house of Muktari Shagari within the metropolis has been turned to a Mecca of sorts by youths, women and the aged who are urging him to go for the office.

In Nasarawa State, minister of information, Mr Labaran Maku, is allegedly favoured by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the presidency and his kinsmen (the Eggons), who form the largest ethnic group in the state. The Eggons, who are allegedly angry with the incumbent governor Tanko Al-Makura of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who they supported in 2011 over alleged neglect of their area, want to present their son (Maku) for the office in 2015.

A notable Eggon leader told LEADERSHIP Weekend that Senator Solomon Ewuga, who is also interested in the office, will be pressured to remain in the Senate to enable Maku secure the PDP ticket. He further said that Ewuga would be advised to play a fatherly role in 2015 by supporting the candidacy of Maku, adding that because of the senator's 'political prostitution' he might not secure the PDP ticket even if he returns to the party. The Eggon leader further explained that in the event of Governor Tanko Al-Makura seeking re-election, it would be difficult for Ewuga to secure the CPC slot.

He said it was against this backdrop that the Eggons opted for Maku, who is widely seen as President Goodluck Jonathan's 'boy' and also accepted by the PDP at both the state and national levels.

Minister of the FCT Bala Mohammed is listed among those seeking to succeed Governor Isa Yuguda in the next dispensation. PDP leaders in the state said his actions had shown that he is eyeing the office. 'He has carried out many projects as part of the preparation for his aspiration which include construction and renovation of multi-million-naira mosques and awards of hajj seats to his constituents.'

Other aspirants are Senator Babayo Gamawa, who was the speaker of the House of Assembly in 2009, deputy governor from 2009 to 2011 and now a senator representing Bauchi North constituency, and Senator Nazif Suleiman Gamawa, who was a member of the House of Representatives and senator from 1999 to 2007. He is in the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC)

Other governorship hopefuls are deputy Senate leader Abdul Ahmed Ningi, secretary to the state government (SSG) Ibrahim Dandija, former national secretary of the PDP Musa Babayo and the former chief of staff to the governor, Shehu Musa Gabo.

The PDP publicity secretary of Kano State, Comrade Sale Aliyu Jili, has said that the time to know who succeeds Governor Rabi'u Kwankwaso is 2014 when almost all his campaign promises in 2011 would have been realised.

He however revealed that 'there are many among the Kwankwasiyya adherents who want to succeed the governor, but only time will reveal the aspirants'.

Among those alleged to be interested in the office are Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, a former commissioner, Alhaji Aminu Dabo and Yusuf Ado Kibiya who contested in the PDP primaries with Governor Kwankwaso in 2003.

There are strong indications that Jigawa State could produce the first female governor in the person of the minister of education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'i. She is adjudged as enjoying wide acceptance among politicians and religious leaders in the state.

There are also speculations that the former governor of the state, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, plans to return to the PDP with the support of the presidency to contest in the race.

Some political leaders in the state claimed that Governor Sule Lamido might support Prof. Rufa'i for the office because of her performance as education minister and loyalty to his administration.

It was also learnt that even the Ulamas (religious leaders) could accept her because they always cite her moral rectitude as a worthy of emulation by Muslim women in public offices.

The two-term deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmad Mahmud, is also seen as a possible successor of Lamido.

Other aspirants are the speaker, House of Assembly, Hon. Adamu Ahmad Sarawa. who has been in the state assembly since the return of democracy in 1999.

The chief of staff, Government House, Malam Aminu Ibrahim Ringim, who hails from the same constituency with Prof. Rufa'i, is also believed to be in the race.

In Katsina State, a series of meetings and political manoeuvrings is in and outside the state, even as scores of political juggernauts are associated with the battle for the Katsina Government House come 2015.

At the last count, 12 heavy weights were associated with the struggle to succeed Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema.

Within the ruling PDP, names that have continued to feature prominently on the list of those likely to take a shot at the governorship race are minister of mines and steel development Arc. Musa Sada, Senator Ibrahim Muhammad Ida, Nura Khalil, and Garba Audu Aminchi.

Others are the executive secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Engr. Muntaqqa Rabe, and a serving commissioner, Alhaji Musa Adamu Funtua.

In the CPC, names that feature well in the race for the coveted seat are Masari, Senator Abu Ibrahim, former minister of agriculture Dr Sayyadi Abba Ruma, Senator Mahmud Kanti Bello and Col. Abdulazeez Musa Yar'Adua (rtd), the younger brother of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

In Niger State, two groups in the PDP have emerged: those in Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu's cabinet and those outside it. Prominent among those in his administration whose names have been linked to the race are the deputy governor, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, commissioner for works and infrastructural development Alhaji Mohammad Muazu Bawa and Alhaji Ahmed Matane, the commissioner for agriculture.

Outside his cabinet but members of the PDP are Senator Nuhu Aliyu Auna, chairman of the PDP Elders' Forum in the state Col. Aminu Kontagora (rtd) and the executive director of Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Engineer Mustapha Bello. In the opposition APC are Alhaji Abu Bello and Senator Ibrahim Musa.

The race to succeed Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is also on. Under the zoning arrangement adopted by the founding fathers of the state, the governorship position would be zoned to the Rivers South-East Senatorial District in 2015. For now, politicians from the three senatorial zones are struggling to succeed Amaechi.

PDP sources in the state said that the deputy governor, Engineer Tele Ikuru, Senator Magnus Angei Abe, Hon. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside, Dr Abiye Precious Samuel Sekibo, Sir Celestine Ngozichim Omehia, Prince Tony Princewill, and Senator George Thompson Sekibo are potential candidates for the office. Although some of the contestants did not deny eyeing the governorship seat, they told our correspondents that it was still early to begin the politics of transition in the state. 'All we want in Rivers State for now is peace,' an aspirant said.

In Plateau State, Governor Jonah Jang seems to have made the race open to all. He recently said, 'I want you to join me in praying. I don't know who will take over from me but I am praying that God should anoint me to anoint the right person who will continue the projects that I have started.'

But Professor Menfort Gomwalk, Ambassador Chris Giwa, Mr Francis Bot, Hon. Emmanuel Goar, Dr. Haruan Kitwe Dabin, and Nde John Gobak are among those believed to be the possible successor of the governor.

From Plateau Central Senatorial Zone, the prominent aspirants are retired commissioner of police Hezekiah Dimka, Hon. Emmanuel Goar, Nde John Gobak, Sen. Sati Gogwim, Prof. Nenfort Gomwalk, Dr Haruna Dabin, and Prof. Shedrach Best.

In Lagos State, there seems to be some sorts of amity and peace in the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is trying to put its house in order.

Those who seek to take over from the incumbent in the ruling party are rather watching the political trends while at the same time watching the body language of their national leader, Bola Tinubu, to know whether the odds would favour them when the chips are down.