DAKINGARI, ALIERO RENEW RIVALRY
In Kebbi State, all the political gladiators are already perfecting different plans and strategies on how to conquer and checkmate each other in the next gubernatorial election.
The fresh election that is coming up in the state is as a result of the Supreme Court verdict of February 24, 2012 which nullified the election of the Kebbi State's People Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the April 2011 gubernatorial election, Alhaji Usman Saidu Dakingari.
With this development, all the political stakeholders are already bracing up for fresh election.
The judgment delivered by a 5-man panel of justices led by Justice Walter Onnoghen, was sequel to an appeal lodged by the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and its candidate in the April 26, 2011, governorship election in the state, Malam Abubakar Abubakar.
In an unanimous judgment, the apex court nullified an earlier verdict of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal which affirmed Dakingari as the winner of the April 26, 2011 polls.
While setting-aside the appellate court's verdict on the premise that it was legally defective, the Supreme Court panel noted that the lower court erred in law when it deferred the reasons behind its judgment to a date outside the 60 days that was prescribed by section 285 (7) and (8) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, for the determination of governorship appeals.
It held that it was wrong for the appellate court to give its judgment within the constitutionally stipulated period for the determination of such cases and reserve reasons behind its decision till a date outside the period, saying such action ipso-facto rendered the said judgment nugatory.
The apex court observed that whereas the appellate court gave its judgment on December 29, 2011, it was unable to justify the verdict with reasons until January 24, 2012.
Consequently, the Supreme Court made an order setting-aside the decision of the appeal court, and upheld the verdict of the Kebbi State Election Petition Tribunal, which had earlier sacked the governor and ordered a fresh election in the state.
According to the apex court, the Court of Appeal not being the final court in the determination of appeals arising from the conduct of governorship elections, lacked the constitutional power to deliver judgment and defer the reasons for its decision, more so, to a date outside the mandatory 60 days prescribed by Section 285 (7) of the Constitution.
'It is obligatory for the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court to dispose an appeal within 60 days from the date of the decision being appealed, since section 285 (7) implies that both the decision and the reasons for that decision, must be completed within the stipulated time. Any decision without a reason is no decision at all. The Judiciary has no option than to work within the time frame provided by the law,' Justice Onnoghen stated.
For those who are familiar with Kebbi State and its politics will know the intrigues and the power play, of how the sacked governor (Dakingari) became the governor of the state, while majority of the stakeholders in the state accepted that the forth coming poll goes beyond just who wins the election alone, but a thug of war and renewal battle of supremacy between Senator Adamu Aliero, two time governor of the state, and also a chieftain of CPC, and his ex-political son, Dakingari.
The foundation for the intrigues and power play politics in the state was laid by Senator Aliero who was two time governor of the state on the plat form of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
From 1999 till 2007, Aliero was at the helm of affairs of the state. Toward the end of his tenure as the governor of the state, precisely in 2006, Aliero's ANPP caved into the PDP, leaving the ANPP in dire straits, and clutching the shadow of its past glory in the state. That mass defection of ANPP members to the PDP re-configured the structure and colour of politics in the state.
Before the defection of Aliero to the PDP then, almost all the strong political gladiators in the state were mainly in the ANPP. But the defection of Aliero turned the table round, making PDP political gladiators to increase while the ANPP was virtually left barren.
For many years, Aliero, Dakingari and the current governorship candidate on the plat form of CPC, Abubakar were close friends, colleagues in the Nigerian customs, and political associates.
Both Aliero and Abubakar had been friends right from their days in the school of Basic Studies (SBS) Zaria in 1976. While Aliero's relationship with Dakingari started right from secondary school, Aliero was a year ahead of Dakingari in school. They later went to the same university, and also worked together at Sokoto State Government before joining Nigerian customs service.
Since May 29, 2007 when the former governor of the state Aliero handed over the mantle of leadership to the ousted governor, Dakingari, there has been kind of love-hate relationship between them and among their supporters.
The rift between Dakingari and Aliero was said to have begun as a result of the ousted governor's refusal to be a stooge to his predecessor, while Dakingari was also alleged to have masterminded the probe of Aliero's administration by the State House of Assembly which gave birth to 50 billion debt scandal in the state.
During the reign of Dakingari as the governor of the state, different dimensions of disagreements, ranging from the issue of handing over note, 50 billion debt scandal, leadership tussle within the ruling political party (PDP) which Aliero was a member then, amendment of Local Government chairmen's tenure by the Kebbi State House of Assembly, defacing and destroying of Dakingari's second term campaign billboard, alleged attempt to impeach Dakingari by some members of the State House of Assembly who are loyal to Aliero, massive defection of PDP members to CPC which Aliero now belong to, among others strained their relationship.
Now that the battle line is drawn, all the gladiators have one point or other to prove to each other, most especially, Aliero and Dakingari who now see each other as political enemies.
For Dakingari, the acclaimed ex-political son of Aliero, it is another chance to prove that he is no longer a schoolboy in Kebbi State politics. Besides being the candidate of the PDP in the next poll, he still wants to prove that his more than four years at the helm of affairs in the state is not just as a figure head leader, but an influential one who has everything under his perfect control, and that his earlier victory was not just a fluke, but dividend of his hard work. It will also showcase his leadership style, and his imposing credentials in the state, which has put the era of godfatherism in Kebbi State politics over.
Aliero who is regarded as an icon in the North West politics of the country, still wants to prove that he is an authority in Kebbi's politics, and that the influence he had then, as two time governor , senator and minister during the era of the late President Musa Yar'Adua, it's still with him, and that the foundation on which Dakingari built his political empire belongs to him.
Apart from these, the poll is going to be a better avenue for Aliero to seek his own pound of flesh from Dakingari.
Again, another gladiator which the poll means a lot to is the CPC governorship candidate, Abubakar better known as Gari-Mallam. He has once tasted the bitter pill of Aliero' style of politics, and is making his third attempt at occupying the Government House, Birnin Kebbi. Having contested against Dakingari in 2007 on the platform of Democratic People Party (DPP), and lost to him, he dragged Dakingari before the election tribunal sitting in the state, claiming that he was the duly elected governor in 2007. Although Abubakar won at the election tribunal then Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto State upturned his victory.
Already he has the blessing and support of his old friend, Aliero who also doubles as the captain of the ship he will be using for the battle. Abubakar believes that this is God's time for him to reclaim what belongs to him after so many years.
He also seems to be receiving the sympathy of some people, who felt he did not lose the election, because PDP always played around with result.
Another stakeholder that will be under the search light during the poll is INEC, an organisation led by Kebbi State indigene, Prof. Attahiru Jega, due to the role the organisation played in the last poll, which led to the current scenario in the state.
INEC was not at its best in Kebbi State during the last gubernatorial election, it was based on this that the CPC candidate, Abubakar went to the election tribunal to challenge Dakingari second term victory. This time around, INEC must put its house in order so, that it can justify what its leader, Prof. Jega has been preaching for long.
Very soon, we will know who owns the soul of Kebbi's politics, who has the final say in the affairs of the state, and whether Abubakar will be able to break the jinx.