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• Gov. Shinkafi
Recently, the Zamfara State Governor, Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi declared his intention to seek re-election in April 2011 polls. Our North-West Bureau Chief, ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, who was in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, to witness the event, reports.

Zamfara is one of the seven states in the North-West zone. And the governor is unique in some way. He has three wives. But the second and third wives are daughters of two powerful retired Generals, Gusau and IBB.

From 1999 to 2008, the state was under the firm grip of the ANPP.

But today, PDP is in charge, following the defection of the governor and all his supporters from the ANPP, to the PDP. But the defection did not accommodate the former leader of the ANPP in the State, who was the immediate past governor of the State, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima.

But Yerima is hell bent on dislodging the incumbent, Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi. And to demonstrate his willingness to do battle with one of his former lieutenants, supporters of the ANPP, led by their leader, had thronged the State capital, last month with hundreds of thousand of their supporters drawn from within and outside Gusau to mobilize the people to support their cause.

Oblivious of the fact that the ANPP event was well-attended, the ruling PDP too last Saturday deployed its arsenal, just to outshine the ANPP. And it was not disappointed as supporters from the 14 Councils of the State, as well as PDP supporters and a few governors from the neighbouring States were on ground to show support to the governor, when he declared his intention to run for another four years.

Buses filled with party supporters began to throng to Gusau, the State capital, from the 14 Councils, as early as 6.00am en route Yankara, the border town between Zamfara and Katsina States to wait for the governor who was scheduled to arrive the State by 4.00pm. All the vehicles had banners indicating their support for the governor and his second term ambition. The inscriptions on most of the banners read: 'MAS 2 Term,' 'MAS Welcome Home,' 'It is MAS or no one else,' '2011 here we come,' among others.

At the border town, shops were closed as residents watched the convoy of the governor pass by. The busy Zaria-Gusau-Sokoto road, which passed through Yankara was blocked by cheering youths, who danced, while chanting party slogans, thus throwing the entire town into a celebration mood. Clad in a white Kaftan and a cap to match, the governor and his entourage arrived Yankara, by 4.00pm. Shinkafi, who was visibly bemused by the large turn out of people who came to welcome him, came out of the car to wave and thanked the supporters who had defied the weather (a windy harmattan) to welcome him and his deputy Mukhtar Ahmad Anka.

From there, the convoy headed for Gusau, the state capital. Ordinarily, the journey should last 30 minutes, but it took them two hours to get to Gusau. On hand to welcome the governor at the venue of the occasion were Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema, and Deputy Governors of Niger, Musa Ibeto and Jigawa, Ahmed Mahmud Gumel. The federal legislators were also not left out, as two serving Senators from Zamfara, Hassan Muhammed Gusau and Sahabi Yau, and other House of Representatives members were on ground to lend their support to the governor.

Others are: Minister of State for Health, Alhaji Suleiman Bello, former Director General of National Security Organization, NSO and elder brother of the governor, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, former governors of old Sokoto State Garba Nadama and Yahaya Abdulkarim, Ambassador MZ Anka, former Environment minister, Colonel Bala Mande (rtd), and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Tijjani Yahaya Kaura.

Speaking on the occasion, the governor said he was overwhelmed by the large crowd of people who came to witness the 'important' gathering, adding that 'it shows the kind of relationship that existed between us and the people of this State. Your support and encouragement has been the main source of motivation for this administration. The little we have achieved in the past three and half years were due to your unrelenting support and guidance.

'As we adjust our belts in preparation for our second term in office, I urge you to intensify your prayers and offer positive advices that will enable us build a State we will all be proud of.' He further said 'I am here before you today to inform you that the screening committee of our dear party for the North-west geo-political zone has cleared me to contest again this year. I want to formally inform you of my desire to seek another term of four years as your governor God willing.

'As you are aware, we have embarked on a number of quality projects but could not finish them due to time constraints as well as the little down turn in the source of our finances. I want to happily inform you that if given the mandate for the next four years, I will complete these projects and add others to the list.' In his welcome address, the State PDP Chairman, Ibrahim Mallaha, said from all indication, Zamfara has finally found the messiah it was waiting for.

He said he was confident that the love shown to the governor by the people will be reciprocated after the party wins the election, adding that 'events of the past few months have shown that the PDP is the only party to be reckoned with in Zamfara. 'You know our aspirant (Shinkafi) and he knows you very well. Shinkafi has been to our hamlet, he has been to our villages, he has been to the local government areas and we all know how he has transformed our state. Today, PDP is the only party in Zamfara and we will prove that much during the election.'

Speaking, exclusively to Daily Sun, the state's party Secretary, Musa Zubairu said: 'this is an occasion we have been planning for before now, we mooted the idea long time ago, but we delayed it to make it one of the best, if not the best of all rallies ever held in the history of the State. He is no doubt the man to beat, come 2011. 'We are all overwhelmed by the turn out and it is a demonstration of the people's firm belief in what this administration is doing. We have touched virtually all aspects of governance, and this is just our first term in office. Our best is well ahead of us. Personally, I was not surprised by the large turnout of the people here because in life you reap what you sow.

'His Excellency's first priority has been the people of this State. All the projects executed have been the ones that have direct bearing on the people. So if they come out in their thousands to identify with him, I think they are only being grateful because he has not let them down in the last three and half years.'