In a couple of days, Taraba and nearly all the states in Nigeria will go to the polls again this time to vote for their governors and the state House of Assembly Members. Despite the ruling party, PDP, won the presidential election in the state, with a marginal victory, against the opposition party, APC, it’s still very difficult to predict the outcome of the forthcoming election.
Many probable factors are at play. Major among them are the crises that marginalized PDP’s primaries, which tore apart the party into two, and the popularity of the APC candidate compared to the PDP’s. One may ask, ‘why then the PDP won the presidential election?’ Here’s my take on some of the reasons regarding the two largest political parties, the rest is left for Tarabans to prove me right or wrong comes April 11, 2015.
Let’s first examine the factors that are likely to give PDP chances. Apart from the 1990’s election, which brought Rev. Jolly Nyame under Social Democratic Party (SDP), Taraba state has been under the leadership of the ruling party, PDP. In spite of the wind of change that altered the course of elections in many regions and states across Nigeria on 28th March, the state still fell in the hands of PDP.
To be candid with you, I was not surprised by PDP’s victory, but I also commended the APC for the highest triumph ever achieved in a Presidential election at a state level. Despite a perceived alliance between PDP and the opposition party, you don’t expect the Acting Governor, Sani Abubakar Danladi, given his political background, especially his dramatic ousting as a Deputy Governor early 2013, to relinquish to the APC the only chances he has remained to keep his relevance! He did not only secure his Senatorial seat but also made certain PDP had majority seats of the National Assembly. Unfortunately, most of them are the same carpetbaggers who played a significant role in the unfortunate Nyame’s administration. All these members will be there to work for PDP governorship on Saturday.
Other factors on the side of the PDP could be the historic state return of an ‘unpopular candidate.’ Taraba has a long tradition of returning an ‘unpopular candidate,’ though sometimes under the platform of a popular party. With a hugely divided PDP, this may sound awkwardly superstitious. More so, beginning with 2007’s election which brought Pharm. Danbaba Suntai, religion and regional sentiments have surfaced to be playing a major role in who wins elections. The recent ethnoreligious crises alone, which persisted in the state, particularly in the southern zone may make the prediction on this ground a bit tricky. For APC candidate, it’s not only that, being a Muslim, she might be unpopular among Christians, but she also faces a strong ideological opposition from a large population of Muslims who strongly doubt the legitimacy of woman leadership in Islam.
Now, on the other hand, looking at the potentials of the APC candidate against the backdrop of events, one would observably understand that Hajiya Aishatu Jummai Alhassan is a big contender in contrast to Mr. Dariyus Dickson Ishaku of PDP. Despite Mr. Darius was a state minister for Niger Delta Affairs, but was little known to Tarabans. His coming to limelight as a gubernatorial candidate proclaimed to be influenced by General T.Y. Danjuma rtd., was what aggrieved many PDP members, and eventually led to the decamping of the alleged flag bearer of the party, Mr David Sabo Kente alias DSK, alongside many others, to contest on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP). Since both Mr Darius and DSK are from the same geopolitical zone, there is a strong likelihood that this factor also will provide APC with an upper hand in the race.
Aishatu Jummai is a serving Senator from the northern zone who may have done some last hour projects here and there that I often see people post on social media. She started featuring prominently in the state politics in 2007 when her brother, Senator Abdulaziz was in the race for the gubernatorial seat. I still remember, some electorates then saying how they wished Aisha was the person contesting and not her sibling. I’m sure they’d be happy to vote for someone they metaphorically see as a man and a vigorous fighter.
On the side of APC, also, the party’s recent victory by holding PDP to a closer margin at the presidential election is a factor to be measured thoughtfully in this Saturday’s fierce battle. Many electorates, carried by the victorious mood of General Buhari’s success, are likely to assume the ‘SAK’ prototype pattern and vote for APC all through, since there is already a proclaimed tradition of an opposition party winning an election in the past, but exclusively in Jalingo, the state capital. By and large, APC, this time around appears to be far stronger at the state level than it used to be.
Hypothetically, elections should be contested and won based on merit and credibility, which should be apparently clear to the electorates based upon track records and or feasible developmental plans of the candidates. However, in today’s politicking, the concept of merit or credibility is almost synonymous with the idea of ‘beauty’ in the saying, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ In essence, therefore, Tarabans need to know who these people potentially are. I wish Taraba and I had the opportunity (unfortunately this is what one as a person lacks when one is far away from home), to bring together all these candidates in a public debate to tell the state, in evident and factual terms, what they contributed so far in the state, also to see their developmental plans on education, health, security, unemployment and national participation.
Taraba is one of the states that are highly marginalized regarding Federal projects distribution, partly due to the incompetence of its Federal representatives. In terms of developmental plans, I must mention here, however, some critics may find partisan, that Taraba wants to see educational and infrastructural transformations, the kinds they saw during Danbaba Suntai!
To these ends, without a clear vision of the two candidates, as far as I’m concerned, the choice is left to Tarabans to consider who appears to be more potentially unequivocal than inclining to religious and or regional sentiments, more dangerously preference of individualistic benefits over the well being of the state. I have no doubt in Buhari’s dispensation there will be no room for naivety, thuggery, extravagance and unpatriotic conducts. Please, Tarabans, as you did contribute at the national level, also tell the world that you are the most diverse yet most robust and united state in Nigeria. All the best!