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The recent governorship primaries in Borno within the two major political parties in the state, the All Nigerian Peoples Party, [ANPP] and the Peoples Democratic Party, [PDP] have no doubt thrown up fresh issues and concerns, as the people of the state prepares for the April polls. ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, who has been monitoring the developments, reports.

Before the 1999 general elections, All Peoples Party [APP], as it was then known paraded the who- is- who in Borno politics. The list included Kashim Ibrahim Imam, Gambo Lawan, Senator Maina Ma'aji Lawan, late former Governor Mala Kachallah and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the incumbent governor of the state.

When it was time to choose the governorship candidate, the big wigs in the party lost it to Kachallah, a situation that forced Senator Lawan, Gambo Lawan and Imam to move with their supporters to the PDP.

With their defection to PDP, which equally had known names in Borno politics, many had thought the PDP was set to win the governorship, especially because the candidate, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, is a tested bureaucrat, who was just leaving government then as the Secretary to the Government. But it was a misplaced hope as PDP big wigs, led by Architect Ibrahim Bunu, allegedly went to work to campaign against Jidda's candidature.

Daily Sun also learnt that the late Kachallah and Bunu, who was seeking to represent Borno Central, at the Senate, had struck a deal with Kachallah. He backed Kachallah during the governorship election, against the party's candidate, and Kachallah, also backed him against Sheriff for the Borno Central Senatorial district. In fact, that scenario marked the beginning of the intra-party crisis, that later saw to the dislodging of Kachallah, by Sheriff in 2003.

Though PDP lost the governorship, it put up an impressive show in all the other elections, as it had upper hand in the National Assembly elections, producing two out of the three senators, and even had more members in the House of Representatives, than the rival APP. But because Bunu was rewarded with a ministerial position after allegedly working tirelessly to ensure his party's loss, the practice became a norm in PDP, for chieftains to work against the party candidate.

This, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal, has been the bane of the party, since 1999.

The only time it got close to working for a common goal, was in 2007, when after repeated assurances by former President Obasanjo to deliver the state to the PDP, some of his top aides, with his discrete support, allegedly connived with Governor Ali Modu Sheriff, to undermine PDP. In the 2007 gubernatorial election, votes were still being counted in Maiduguri, the state capital, when Sheriff was declared the winner of the contest from Abuja. Once that was done, the party met and decided to withdraw from all the other remaining elections, especially the National Assembly elections.

Before 2003
The elders in Borno were the ones who decided Kachallah must be the governor. This, Daily Sun further learnt, has always been the practice, until Sheriff broke the cycle in 2003. Apart from probably Sheriff's father, who incidentally was part of those who installed Kachallah in 1999, no single elder supported Sheriff's ambition to be governor in 2003. But the youths rallied support for him, having suffered what one of them referred to as a 'monumental' obliteration, under Kachallah. Because of his old age, he was surrounded by old men who lacked vigour and capacity to work.

Although, Sheriff too may not have lived up to expectation in terms of transforming the state, he has nonetheless demonstrated that one could be something in Borno, without necessarily genuflecting before the elders, who will after installing candidate hold him in hostage.

'So, Sheriff is having sleepless nights because he miscalculated the outcome of the PDP primaries. He thought the PDP will give the ticket to a lay-back person but alas! Goni won overwhelmingly. Because of the anointment of a dour, difficult and tight-fisted Gubio, he (Sheriff) has dug our political grave and our supporters are moving over to Goni's camp in droves,' Daily Sun source said.

Borno and gerontocracy
Goni, former Borno governor is 69 years now. He was 37, when he became governor in 1979. Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal that he is being sponsored for the governorship by some old men in the state, one of whom is about 90 years. Incidentally, Bunu, a former F.C.T minister, is among those sponsoring Goni for governorship.

Goni's track record, since he left government in 1983, has remained unbeaten till date. But he would certainly no longer have the same capacity for work like he had some 30 years ago. But he appears to be the unifying factor not only in the PDP, but in Borno State.

As for the ANPP, it gave its ticket to a relatively unknown person, Modu Fanami Gubio, who is not a tested politician, but perceived to be an honest and straightforward fellow. Gubio is an uncle to Governor Modu Sheriff.

A 1981 Engineering graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, he was a banker with the defunct Merchant Bank. His first political appointment was courtesy of Sheriff, during his first tenure when Gubio was appointed Care-Taker-Committee, CTC, chairman of his local government and was later appointed the state Information Commissioner.

Daily Sun have it on a good authority that Sheriff, is not too comfortable with the emergence of Goni, as the candidate of the PDP.

One of the close associates of the governor told Daily Sun on condition of anonymity that 'Goni is from Kareto, in Mobbar LGA of Borno North Senatorial District. Fanami Gubio is from Gubio LGA, also in Northern Borno. Both of them belong to the Badawi clan of the Kanuri race.

Goni on the other hand, while making his acceptance speech said 'the delegates said it is time to pay me back what I did for Borno and Yobe about 30 years ago which has never been done by any other governor since my exit,' adding that 'I promise to restructure the civil service, revamp ailing industries, build schools and improve the capacity of teachers, when elected.'

Like Gubio, Goni is also a graduate of ABU, Zaria. But unlike Gubio, he started his working career in 1967, when he joined the government of the former Northern Region and held a series of administrative positions in Kaduna, Bauchi, Azare, Katagun and Gombe.

By 1970 he was posted to the Ministry of Finance headquarters, Maiduguri, and in 1971 he was seconded as General Manager of the North-Eastern Transport Corporation.

Four years before his election as governor, 1975, to be precise, he returned as a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Establishment,

North-Eastern State, and two years later, he was transferred to the Nigerian National Supply Company, and exactly two years after he resigned and joined politics, and was elected on the platform of the defunct Great Nigerian Peoples Party, [GNPP].

Who rules Borno?
For now, the PDP looks good to capture power in Borno in 2011, a thing that has eluded it since 1999, provided the party stalwarts decide to work together, unlike in previous contest.

But feelers from the Sheriff's camp revealed that the governor may eventually drop Gubio and substitute the ANPP governorship candidate with a more formidable person to slug it out with Goni, in order to remain on track and coast home to victory with ease again.