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KADUNA 2011: PDP, CPC IN NECK-TO-NECK BATTLE

By NBF News
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There are at least more than five gubernatorial candidates jostling for the number one seat in Kaduna State. Of all these, only two seem formidable.

They are the incumbent, Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Haruna Saeed of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

Anyone still in doubt of the CPC's growing influence in Kaduna would have had a change of mind after witnessing the party's North-West Zonal rally in Kaduna, recently.

The crowd by far was more than what was witnessed during a similar zonal rally by the PDP. The CPC supporters compelled motorists on the roads leading to the venue of the rally to receive Buhari's poster and say the slogan: 'Sai Buhari (Buhari is the man),' before they were allowed passage. With Buhari's message that they should be prepared to 'lynch' anyone who attempts to rig, the PDP is in for a serious battle.

As for Yakowa, he needs to do more than engaging in mere rhetorics to demonstrate to the people that he does not indulge in nepotism, an allegation, that has been there, even when he was the deputy governor, under the immediate past Kaduna governor and now Vice President Namadi Sambo. Even if those accusing him of appointing his relations and kinsmen into positions of authority have no proof, the recent PDP primaries in the state appeared to be a further confirmation that the governor accorded preferential treatment to certain people.

A staunch supporter of the governor, who spoke with Daily Sun on condition of anonymity, insisted that the governor should not be blamed, especially for the turn of events, in his own local government, where the candidates for the House of Assembly and House of Representatives are all of the same tribe with the governor:

'To be fair to the governor, we can't blame him for that. The people should be blamed. They should not have voted for them, even though one of them is an incumbent. I don't know if you get my point?'

Yakowa is from southern Kaduna. But except drastic measures are taken, to ensure that PDP candidates for National and state Assemblies elections are not imposed on the people of the area, PDP may as well lose part of the area to the opposition.

The governor hails from Jama'a Local Government, he is from Kagoma tribe, a minority within the area. The PDP candidates for both the House of Assembly and House of Representatives are from Kagoma. As if that is not enough, one of the governor's sisters, who is married to a Ninzom man, also won the ticket of the party, for the House of Assembly election, aspiring to represent Sanga Local Government in the House. Ninzom is the dominant of all the tribes in the local government.

Most of the party's candidates in the Southern Senatorial district are not 'very popular' with the people. In Jabba, the people would have preferred a younger person, to the Deputy Speaker, Yohanna Jato, who is seeking a re-election. The only thing he has going for him, it was gathered, is that his opponent, who is of the ACN, Alex Aliyu, does not have the type of financial resources, needed to prosecute the election.

In Kagarko, the PDP is fielding Peter Adadu, but the people may root for Nuhu Goro of the CPC. Kachia, presents the worse case scenario. The incumbent lawmaker, David Umaru, was said to have admitted before some people that he may not have lived up to expectations in the last four years, but requested for their understanding to give him another chance. His case is worsened by the decision of one of the youth leaders in the area, Sunday Modercai Ibrahim, who had initially withdrawn from the race, to return. He is now contesting for the ACN.

Ibrahim was in the race for the PDP primary, but stepped down for Umaru's opponent. However, once Umaru carried the day at the primary, and owing to the initial opposition to his candidature by the people, Ibrahim, who incidentally is not a novice to the game, decided to join the ACN to dislodge Umaru.

In Kaura Local Government too, Barnabas Bala, known among the locals as Bantex, is in firm control of the area. He is the member representing the area in the House of Representatives. He won on the platform of the then AC in 2007 and now he is contesting for the CPC.

The acrimony and rancour in the area will certainly play a prominent role, either negatively or positively, in determining the outcome of the governorship election in the area. What is, however, certain for now is that, except something happens, from all indications, the area may not deliver a block vote, like it used to do in the past, to the PDP.

Like Yakowa, Haruna Saeed of the CPC, is also from southern Kaduna. Both of them are seen largely by the people as being stingy. But unlike Yakowa, who is a Christian, he, is a Muslim. Besides, for political convenience, his local government, Kajuru, is located within the Kaduna Central Senatorial District, an area, that had been insisting that it was its turn to produce the next governor, since Sambo, did not complete the two terms of eight years, the zone was entitled to. Saeed contested against Sambo, during the PDP primary in 2006.

Saeed is expected to benefit from the ongoing talks, by some notable elders in the state, aimed at ensuring that the ANPP and ACN gubernatorial candidates step down for him before the polls. He is also very close to Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, a PDP chieftain, who contested against Yakowa, during the primary, but refused to accept the outcome of the contest. He is now in court to stop Yakowa. If the outcome of the court does not favour him, he will be confronted with two choices: either to support Yakowa, and see him through to victory, or switch support for Saeed, to wreck the PDP. He is a grassroots man, whoever he supports would likely have an upper hand in the race.

Although, Saeed is yet to flag off his campaign, Yakowa has since flagged off his, and he is already on tour of the local government areas. While acknowledging that those who lost at the primary may want to work against the party, Yakowa said: 'Even though you lost the primaries to me, I do not consider you as losers, but I see you as partners in progress. I had earlier extended a hand of friendship to you and beckoned on you to please join the train to enable us collectively build a Kaduna where both the strong and the weak will operate in peace and security. That hand of friendship is still being extended, believing that you would accept, to enable us to be all winners in the forthcoming elections come April under the PDP.

'This is because; John F. Kennedy once said 'united there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative venture. Divided there is little we can do, for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder. As I stand before you today, I still stand on the statement I made on May 20, 2010, during my inaugural address where I promised to be a governor for all, irrespective of religious or tribal affiliations. None of us has any reason to be afraid or to feel threatened. God gave us our great religions of Islam and Christianity so as to build a world of love.

The fact that we have so many Christians and Muslims in Nigeria should be a blessing to us, not a threat. I have always stressed the fact that we need to concentrate more on what unite us as a people than what differences exits amongst us. We should use the teachings of these two religions to unite and develop our country.

'We need to collectively commit our selves to ensuring that no citizen of this state feels threatened or discriminated against on grounds of his or her status in life, gender, class, faith, or any disability. This is our mission; to unite ourselves as one people, in one struggle, bonded in peace, equity, justice and progress.'