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How Ambode’s fall retells Mbadinuju, Shinkafi examples



Lagos State governor must have learnt from the former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi, who rose from being a deputy governor to a substantive governor, only to challenge the very political forces that catapulted him to power.

As part of his gambit to checkmate attempts by some state governors to deny him a second term in 2003, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had prompted the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to award automatic ticket to all governors on the party. However, in Anambra State from where his Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Dr. Andy Uba, hails, Mbadinuju’s performance was adjudged as abysmally poor and as such could spoil the chances of the party to produce another governor.

Uba’s younger brother, Chris, working in cahoots with party functionaries and security agents, ensured that Mbadinuju was denied the automatic ticket against the complaint of year-long closure of schools in the state and the killing of NBA chairman, Mr. Barnabas Igwe and his wife.Irked by what he described as glaring injustice, Mbadinuju defected from PDP and pitched tent with Alliance of Democracy (AD), from where he contested the 2003 gubernatorial election. Mbadinuju did not win the election. But the same political forces that supported him to emerge victorious in 1999 rigged out the winner of the election and installed Dr. Chris Ngige.

Ever since that electoral encounter, PDP never regained the governorship in Anambra State because Peter Obi, whose mandate was stolen, reclaimed it and ensured that his party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) continued with a cycle of electoral victories following his superlative performance in office.It is too early in the day to say whether Ambode’s decision to let bygones be bygones would heal the bad blood his systematic removal might have spilled, but the outgoing governor has saved himself the pain and shame of losing a second term in the election field.

The Zamfara paradox
FOR APC leadership to turn around and uphold the outcome of Lagos governorship primaries that was earlier cancelled and return the new political godson of Tinubu, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is a sad reminder of the Zamfara spectacle of 2011, when the estranged godfather of the state’s politics, Senator Ahmed Sani, stopped his godson, Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi from winning a second term.

In 1999, Senator Ahmed Sani, became the first civilian governor of Zamfara State on the platform of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). Since 2007, he has remained the Senator representing Zamfara West Senatorial District. After serving as governor between 1999-2007, after which he handed over power to his deputy, Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi in 2007, he became the first governor to handover to his deputy.

But before 2011 general elections, Sani fell out with his godson, Shinkafi following the latter’s defection to PDP without Sani’s support and approval.Before the general 2011 elections, Senator Sani had boasted that he would stop his estranged godson, Shinkafi, from realising his second term aspiration on the platform of the ruling PDP.

Not many people took Sani serious or believed that he had the capacity to do so considering that PDP was the ruling party and Shinkafi was an incumbent. To actualise his aim of stopping Shinkafi’s reelection, Sani picked another of his godsons and member representing Anka/Talata Mafara Federal Constituency and made him governorship candidate of ANPP.

True to his stand, Sani made sure that Shinkafi lost his second term bid by losing the governorship race to Yari, the new kid on block. Apart from Shinkafi’s loss, PDP lost majority of the elective positions in the elections. Sani also won his senatorial reelection. Before the election in 2011, Sani, who was a Senator and one of the powerful stakeholders in ANPP, played a major role in the arrangement of Government of National Unity (GNU) between PDP-led Federal Government and the opposition ANPP. Sani was accused by the party chieftains of betrayal in the whole arrangement, which did not only weaken the opposition, but made ANPP a lone ranger opposition without direction.

For the people of Zamfara State, and particularly Sani, the victory of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari in the elections as the third democratically elected governor of the state was more than just an electoral victory. For Senator Sani, it was more of regaining a lost treasure having faced tribulations in the hands of his successor, Shinkafi. While the fight between the duo lasted, the elder brother of the former governor, who was also the Emir of Bakura, was deposed by Shinkafi. The former Emir was removed in August 2010 for alleged misappropriation of the emirate’s funs and disloyalty to the state government.

Also, many supporters of Senator Sani and indeed members of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) were disappointed when the then governor decamped from the party to join Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).What is more? Winning his senatorial seat for the second term and also getting back the state under the control of ANPP after years of war and attrition between him and his erstwhile deputy was definitely the beginning of an era for the Senator and the people of Zamfara state.

Before the general elections, it was obvious that the battle for the state was a straight one between Sani and Shinkafi, who was seeking a second term. Though the former governor was at the time campaigning for his second term in the Senate where he had represented Zamfara West Senatorial District, it was obvious that Abubakar Yari, who was flying the flag of ANPP in the governorship race was a scion of Sani, who holds the title of Yariman Bakura.

According to Yari,  “My victory is the return of Yerima because people sympathise with Yeima in Zamfara. There was massive campaign against him by the state government, therefore whether I, Abdulazeez, like it or not Yerima plays a gigantic role in the governance of the state. Therefore, you can give it any name, whether godfather or whatever.

This much played out on Sunday, May 29, 2008 at the Zamfara Trade Fair Complex, venue of the inauguration of Governor Yari as the new governor of the state. Senator Sani was the cynosure of all eyes where he was sitting and each time his name was mentioned by the Master of ceremony at the event, “Allahu Akbar” rented the air.While both the outgoing governor and his deputy stayed away from the inauguration with the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mohammed Bawa Gusau, in attendance on behalf of the state government, the Chairman of the State Traditional Council, emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, got a raw deal in the hands of irate youths who forced him out of the venue of the inauguration.

The emir was accused of supporting the PDP government and his royal umbrella was seized and destroyed as they insisted it (the umbrella) resembled the PDP umbrella.According to politicians in the state, Shinkafi’s tight fist made him unpopular throughout his administration and counted immensely against him in the battle for the soul of the state.

Governor Yari also gave one of the reasons that made Shinkafi lost the last governorship election in the state.According to him, “He (Shinkafi) quit the party that brought him to power and jumped to another one. People have that in mind and what he did really gave us sympathy. Initially, the plan was for me to be governor. Later, after a consensus, they said ‘okay, Mr. Man, leave it and take deputy governor. I accepted it.

“But the group said governor, ‘this guy is the party’s secretary and if he becomes the deputy governor he will be in charge of the party machinery and that I was the one who sponsored more than 80 per cent of members of House of Assembly and as a result the governor would be impeached’, but I had no such thing in mind whatsoever and the governor started fighting me. When I observed that, I said ‘if that is the case let me look at an independent seat and contest.”

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