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KEBBI: ALIERO SEEKS POUND OF FLESH FROM DAKINGARI

By NBF News

Kebbi State was created on August 27, 1991, out of the old Sokoto State with Birnin-Kebbi as capital. It shares boundaries with Sokoto on the North-Eastern axis, Zamfara on the eastern flank, Niger State on the south and the Republic of Niger on the west.

The state is largely agrarian, with groundnuts and cotton as the cornerstones of its economy. It has   an estimated population of 3, 256,541 based on the 2006 population figures.

Kebbi boasts of an average literacy level with over 303 primary schools and more than 59 post-primary schools.

The present administration is the 9th and the 3rd democratically elected. Although the regime of Abubakar Musa between January 1992 and November 1993 endeavored to lay down the basic democratic and governmental structures, it was not until 1999 that these structures blossomed, putting the state on the spot as one of the most politically conscious in the North West geo-political region.

The foundation for the 'intriguing' politics in the state, was laid by Alhaji Adamu Aliero, an ex-Customs officer whose party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) held out admiringly against the fierce forays of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was a testy engagement that was both interesting and incisive.

In 2006, Aliero's ANPP caved in to the PDP, leaving the ANPP in dire straits and clutching the shadow of its past glory. That mass movement to the PDP re-configured the structure and colour of politics in the state, turning Kebbi into a wholesale one party state.

Kebbi politics is like an open sesame. No U-turns. Between 1999 and  2006, the crème   de' la crème among the  politicians were mainly in the ANPP. But the defection of Aliero to PDP changed the swing, swelling up the PDP, and leaving ANPP virtually barren. Not much can also be  said about the presence of other political parties in the  state. With the exception of the new Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which  maintains offices at the state capital, Birnin-Kebbi, the impact of other parties  can hardly be felt.

In the PDP, where the masses of the people presently congregate, there is a  discernible order of operations. Decisions of leaders are sacrosanct, and  hardly questioned. In  the entire political history of the state, the only disregard  to the rule occurred in the wake of the decision of ex-governor Aliero to decamp to the PDP with  his supporters. The then Deputy Governor, Suleiman Mohammed Argungu, stridently opposed the move and  stayed back in ANPP.

Although he is still in the ANPP, most of Argungu's supporters have since abandoned him for the PDP. Opposition in the state is inconsequential, since the few leaders in the opposition parties almost, always crave for government patronage and often attend government functions.

Red  furnace
As  the 2011 polls draw near, the burning issue in the state is the term limit of the governor, Usman Nasamu Dakingari. This issue has generated so much heat that it has subsumed  every other issue or interest in the state. In Birnin-Kebbi, the state capital, normal salutations among the  populace have switched to the air display of two  fingers (signifying two terms) or one finger (one term). The heat  generated by this predilection   has  engendered a tense political situation  especially within the ruling PDP.

There has been no love lost between  Adamu  Aliero and his successor, Nasamu Dakingari,  since the latter got into office  in 2007. 

Sunday Sun learnt that the relationship between them was initially cordial, but took a turn for the worst when the Governor began to assert his independence, embarking on a number of policy  reversals. This undoubtedly pitched the duo against each other, and rekindled the flame of the tortuous process of Dakingari's emergence.

He was not initially a favourite to  clinch the position, although like Aliero, he also retired from the Customs service. Despite their agelong friendship and bonding in the service, Aliero had groomed another retired Customs officer and friend, Garin  Mallam, to take over from him.

According to inside sources, Dakingari was a friend to Abba Aliero, who successfully persuaded his elder brother to go for Dakingari, citing several  attributes in his favour. Against the general expectations of Aliero's associates, he put his money on Dakingari, and the decision elicited initial protest which later subsided.

The deep-seated disagreement  between Aliero and Dakingari, is centred wholly on the control of the PDP  machinery in the state, which is believed will determine who coasts to victory in 2011.

In line with the often touted zoning arrangement of the PDP, the death   of the chairman of the party, Alhaji Kazzim Baura from Kebbi  Central, had brought to the fore the simmering disagreement  over Dakingari's term limits. The late Baura was an associate of Dakingari, who also doubled as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General.

The Deputy Chairman of the party, Alhaji Sulamain Nasiha, though not from Kebbi Central , where the chairmanship slot was zoned to, was allegedly prevented from succeeding the late Baura. Instead, Alhaji Samaila Haruna Jada,  was drafted to take over the seat.

Nasiha, who had the backing of Aliero's group, dug in, as the party became factionalized.  With Aliero's influence in Abuja as the then FCT Minister and close ally of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and the North West zonal leadership rejected Jada. The party recognized Nasiha, while Kebbi government spurned him and related with Jada.

The in-fighting expectedly brought in its wake a number of problems. The first and biggest casualty was the local government polls, which both factions had intended to use to showcase their strength. The elections could not hold because of the confusion and claims to the chairmanship of the  party. The PDP Constitution has no room for acting chairmanship. When it became apparent that the tussle was gradually stifling the party,  truce was brokered to raise a neutral person that would be acceptable to both camps.

Members of the original PDP, who felt marginalized since the defection of Aliero, met with other stakeholders at the Presidential Lodge in Birnin Kebbi , and after a sustained horse trading which led to the screening of four candidates, they settled for Alhaji Mansur Shehu, to lead the party.

Although Nasiha was said to have been promised a retention of his old position as Deputy Chairman, it was not to be. This was a fatal blow to the Aliero camp. Protests to the party headquarters also failed to change the situation.

In the protest, the group had alleged that Dakangari has not been supportive of the party financially. This allegation may have influenced certain insinuations by a national officer for his expulsion. Aliero's camp, in spite of the loss of the party leadership, is insisting that the governor must only do one term, and is strategizing on how to return Garin Mallam to the race to challenge him.

In their desperation, they have raked up series of allegations ranging from austere style of governance, to over centralization of power, against Dakingari, to whip up negative sentiments. These allegations have percolated into the psyche of the people of the state, that the standard response to the performance of  Dakingari in office is that 'no one is empowered financially'.

The craving for financial empowerment detracts from the massive developmental projects he embarked on; and which has put the state forward as one of the leading states in the zone in terms of development.

The fire within
Determined to prosecute a successful second term dream, a pro -Dakingari organization geared towards returning him to power in 2011 had been floated with ubiquitous presence in all the nooks and crannies of the state. Named ' Nasamu  2 terms', the group had been vociferous on the governor's 2011 agenda and has made deft inroads, before it was seized by the unexpected  crisis. This has led to a spate of disorganization and dissonance  in the pursuit of its objectives.

The chairman of the group, who also doubles as the Public Relations Officer ,PRO, of the state chapter of the PDP, Alhaji Kabiru Giant, is leading a faction, while the immediate past chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Kazaura, is leading another.

The crisis in the group had led to suspicions of infiltration and plot by the Aliero camp. The Political Adviser to the governor, Ali Baguado, came short of pointing fingers at the group when he dismissed the crisis as a non issue, insisting that it was a mere ploy to distract attention which has failed.

The Aliero camp is not resting on its oars. Every step taken in the state is construed to be either for a single term for the governor which ends next year, or a second term for him which will end in 2015. This is the single most crucial issue that dominates every political discussion in Kebbi today.

Final onslaught
The 2011 governorship election in the state has already taken the shape of a straight fight between the governor and Aliero. This development may have shifted the ambitions of other non-aligned members of the party. But not so for Dr. Hassan Kangiwa, a retired Comptroller of Immigration and twin to Dr. Hussein Kangiwa , a retired Comptroller of Customs.

Some political elements in the state contend that if the spirit of give and take is not allowed to reign, the party may have a recourse to a neutral person to fly its flag. This thought appears to be the single most potential threat to Dakingari. But the robust attendance at the inauguration of the party chairman, Mallam Dangladi Shehu, recently puts a lie to this.

Political titans from both divides attended, thus giving a tacit seal of endorsement for the chairman. They include Alhaji Abba Aliero (Adamu Aliero's younger brother), Alhaji Garba Mohammed Dandiga, a former Commissioner of Agriculture and Co-ordinator of 'Aliero 2003 Organisation,' his associates, Sule Basaura and Sanni Zauro, among others.

This development easily points to the direction of the outcome of the party primaries and the eventual elections in 2011.