Rumbling in Kebbi State over governorship slot in 2019
Elders want leadership to shift to north
As political intrigues rev up ahead of the 2019 general elections, stakeholders and politicians from Kebbi State have begun to jostle for relevance over who governs the state next.
The state, which was carved out from Sokoto State in August 27, 1991 by the then General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration, was divided into 21 local governments, with four emirates and three senatorial districts.
The four Emirates are Gwandu, Arugungu, Yauri and Zuru. So far Gwandu emirate, which is in Kebbi Central has produced majority of the governors. From January 1992 to December 1993, Yauri emirate produced a civilian governor under the leadership of Abubakar Musa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) while Gwandu emirate had the governors from 1999 to date.
Adamu Aliero who arguably is the most influential politician in the state, won the governorship election in 1999 under the platform of All Peoples Party (APP) later to All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) before he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In 2017, Aliero ensured that Usman Dakingari succeeded him as governor and was in power between 2007 and 2015. Both of them hail from Gwnadu emirate in Kebbi Central. Prior to 2015 general elections the relationship between Aliero and Dakingari went sour prompting Aliero to dump PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC). Aliero subsequently teamed up with Senator Atiku Abubakar after Atiku failed to secure the PDP governorship ticket for 2015.
Together they decamped to APC where he emerged the governorship standard bearer and won the election to become governor. Atiku Like Aliero is also from Gwandu emirate in Kebbi Central.
Although the incumbent governor has not indicated his interest about the second tenure, it is expected that like Aliero and Dakingari, he would go for it.
Whereas the governorship race is zoned on the basis of senatorial districts in other states of the federation, in Kebbi, the issue of rotation among the four emirate councils in the state takes prominence over considerations for the senatorial zones.
Incidentally, Gwandu in Kebbi North is the largest emirate in the state. Nonetheless, given the lopsidedness in the way Kebbi Central has had the governorship slot since the creation of the state, it was expected that the other two senatorial districts, North and South would agitate for a chance be given to them.
Already groups and individuals have been angling to ensure that the North and South senatorial districts were allowed to produce the next governor of the state. Their argument is that the zoning formula, which is already playing out in the politics of the state should be a determinant factor henceforth in the governorship race.
For instance, the Kebbi State Elders Forum has appealed to citizens of the state to shift the governorship position to the Kebbi North senatorial district to make for equity and fair play.
The leader of the forum, Alhaji Usman Mohammed Nma contended that kebbi North, which comprises of Arugungu, Augie, Arewa and Kamba local government areas have not been fortunate to have a governor.
He said, “It is better to give the people from Arugungu emirate a chance to govern the state. I am from Gwandu emirate and we have produced the governor. Kebbi South, which comprises of Yauri, Zuru emirates have also produced a governor. We need to support Kebbi North.”
He enjoined all stakeholders in the state, not only to pass the message but also ensure that they work towards achieving it. “About 24 of us have endorsed this position and we have to communicate it to the others who were not in the meeting,” he added.
Speaking on the issue, the state chairman of APC, Mr. Mohammadu Maccido said that it is too early to talk on the governorship election, second term for the current governor or any candidate that would emerge in 2019.
According to him, the emphasis is on governance now stressing that people should allow the governor finished the good work he is doing presently. But in another breadth, the APC chairman appealed to the citizens to allow Atiku get his second term like his predecessors in office.
In a separate interview with The Guardian, a prominent politician from the state and a PDP stalwart, Alhaji Alhaji Zuru, who is from Zuru emirate said that is high time Kebbi South produced the governor of the state.
He disclosed that plans were on by Zuru people to enter into alliance with the other emirates like Yauri and Arugungu to enable them get the chance to govern the state.
“Since the creation of Kebbi state it was this time around that we are even given the opportunity of having a deputy governor; we have not produced deputy or even Secretary to the state government (SSG) not to talk of governor from our zone (Zuru). We have been left behind” he lamented.
Observers also noted that people from Arugungu emirate in Kebbi North are working hard to ensure that the governorship swing to them in the 2019 election. At a recent meeting, which was held in Birnin Kebbbi and attended by prominent persons mainly from opposition political parties, it was resolved to fight the perceived injustice in the state.
The public relations officer (PRO) of PDP, Ibrahim Omen informed The Guardian that despite the little crisis affecting their party, they are optimistic that they would win the next election, “they should conduct local government election and used card reader, we are going to defeat them” he added.
He claimed that this would be achieved through proper zoning that will give every part of the state a sense of belonging. It was learnt that so far, about ten persons spread across the three senatorial districts are aspiring to be the next governor of the state.
They are: Comrade Muhhammed Nasiru from Kebbi Central; Alhaji Zuberu Turaki from Zuru; Senator Bala Ibn Alhah; Ibrhaim Mohammed Mera a retired custom officer and a brother to the emir of Arugungu, from Kebbi North; among others.
Recently some youth from Arugungu were seen campaigning for Mera, while sources claimed that Senator Aliro might be grooming Senator Ibn Alhah or Nasiru to challenge Atiku second term.
But a politician from Arugungu area, Sulieman Nuhu denied claims that Mera was interested in the governorship race. He said that though Mera declared for APC he would contest the governorship.
“Nobody wants to contest for anything now but if the present governor is not willing for the second term then our people would come out for the position; to me they should allow him to finish his second term before any other thing,” he added.
However, contended that a second term be by the governor might be easy given the absence of a concerted opposition political structure in the state, insisting that the only fear and possible threat to him is if Aliero turns against him.
Some believe that the governor have also succeeded in impacting the lives of poor in the state and may have just the challenge of convincing and getting the support of the traditional institutions across the state.
In addition, he appears to be in control of the state House of Assembly. Recently, the Assembly suspended two of their member for allegedly allowing political thugs to disgrace the Governor in their area.