YOBE AS ANPP NATURAL HABITAT
The People's Democratic Party (PDP) may be deploying all its political and financial might to capture as many states as it could in the 2011 ballots. This is more so as President Goodluck Jonathan is working to deepen his acceptability across the North where resentment against his candidature appears to be high. Extra efforts are being made to sell the ruling party in the region.
One of the states the PDP eyes is Yobe, a north-eastern state currently in the firm grip of the opposition, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which has ruled the state since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 and appears to be consolidating through what pundits describe as the rising profile of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
Unprecedented human and infrastructural development in Yobe under the Gaidam administration means that the PDP will have to try to deploy every trick in the books to do what it has not been able to do for the past 11 years.
As things stand, however, it does not appear that the PDP will be able to do it even at this time. Pundits say as the 2011 elections draw near, the party is facing some of its worst moments in Yobe State, with internal wrangling and schism threatening to cost it dearly even before the game gets underway.
Recently, a prominent member of ANPP who contested the 2006 governorship primary election with the late Governor Mamman Ali, Senator Usman Albishir, defected to the PDP. Although his defection was greeted with fanfare, the celebration had not even ended when supporters of the leader of the PDP in the State and current Police Affairs Minister, Adamu Maina Waziri, began to express dislike for the manner Albishir supporters were edging to 'take over' the party before they even settle down as members.The argument of Albishir supporters is that the PDP had remained stillborn in Yobe for over a decade and that a 'new deal' is needed to move it forward. They believed Albishir could do it for the party. Waziri supporters, however, say that he (Waziri) remains the party's greatest financier and needs to consolidate on what he started.
Now at cross-purposes, the two camps have taken their fight to the public sphere with newspaper articles condemning each other.
As Waziri and Albishir lock horns for the party's governorship ticket in the state, supporters of the former firmly believe that he is the right man for the job because of his rich political experience and insider knowledge of the party's affair.
They believe that Waziri is the only candidate that can guarantee the party's success with his formidable structure which can confront the ANPP's powerful machinery in the state, coupled with its record performance under Gaidam who has also got the nod of his party to go for another term next year.
On the other hand, some party leaders are equally afraid that Albishir may again defect to another party if he fails to get the party's ticket.
The dilemma for the PDP in Yobe at the moment, therefore, appears to be more of who becomes the governorship candidate for the 2011 election; a person that would be acceptable to the diverse interests within the party and put up a good fight against a performing incumbent governor who has resources and power at his disposal.
Although the ANPP also has its challenges as a party, the socio-economic and political reality on the ground in Yobe do not suggest victory for the PDP which is dogged on one hand by internal wrangling and tension and, on the other, by the performance of Governor Gaidam who, analysts say, is hugely popular with the grassroots. This popularity, coupled with what pundits say is the sterling performance of the ANPP government in Yobe, has given its leaders and followers renewed sense of confidence.
According to the Yobe ANPP chairman, Sani Inuwa Nguru, 'Yobe State is a natural habitat of the ANPP not because we are the most colourful in the country but because the party has posted some incredible achievements that most people thought were impossible.'
The argument is that, based on the rising human resources and infrastructural developments in Yobe, the Gaidam administration may again win election to continue the ANPP rule beyond 2011 in view of an atmosphere of overwhelming public support.
Whichever way it goes, pundits believe that the general election would eventually 'separate men from boys'.
•Maimudun-Dawa, a political analyst, writes in from Nguru, Yobe state.