Malami aloof as Bagudu’s supporters tip Gwandu for Kebbi 2023 guber
When recently members of Bagudu Campaign Organisation decided to announce their support for Dr. Nasir Idris-Kaura Gwandu for the 2023 Kebbi State governorship, it left a lot of questions hanging: Were they speaking for their principal, Governor Atiku Bagudu or prompting him to identify with the National President of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT)?
Also, could it be that the political support group in Kebbi State, 4 + 4 Bagudu Campaign Organisation, wants to pit the governor and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) over the 2023 governorship race in the state?
Perhaps, knowing that the AGF, Malami, who contested against Bagudu in 2015 might still be interested in succeeding the incumbent, the support group decided to prompt the two leaders into an early confrontation.
Flagging off a derby
Many citizens in Kebbi State have always expressed the fear that the 2023 governorship could bring Bagudu and Malami into a political skirmish immediately after the 2019 general elections brought back the governor, President Muhammadu Buhari and their All Progressives Congress (APC) into prominence.
With Governor Bagudu winning a second term and President Buhari reappointing the AGF, observers of the power play among chieftains of APC in the state believe that 2023 would present a tough governorship derby for both the incumbent and the minister.
Although Governor Bagudu is said to be preparing to contest the 2023 presidential poll alongside a prospective southwest presidential candidate, who is also a governor, with a caveat that he (the Kebbi governor) would be heading to represent Kebbi Central Senatorial District in the Senate once again in case the other plan fails.
As is to be expected, the governor would also want to emplace his preferred successor to ensure the continuity of his legacy programmes and projects as well as allow ‘sleeping dogs’ of executive shortcomings lie.
How would Governor Bagudu, who is the current chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) balance the weight of his political future against the demands of fielding his successor and warding off the challenges of such juggernauts as the AGF?
Appearing in a hurry to help the governor out, the Bagudu 4+4 Campaign Organisation decided to put forward the NUT President in the hope of driving the governorship campaign as the choice of the masses. But, not prepared to make the development as a veiled attempt to undercut Malami, the campaign organization in a statement it sent out to journalists penultimate weekend, said it was merely conveying the consensus choice of Kebbi youths.
According the chairman of Bagudu 4+4, Alhaji Kabir Giant: “The organisation and the youths across the state have concluded arrangement to support the NUT boss for 2023 governorship position in Kebbi State.” He recalled that the organisation, made up of agile youth, women and active politicians in Kebbi State, played vital roles in the re-election of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and President Muhammad Buhari in 2019.
“After all consolidations with relevant stakeholders, we collectively reached a conclusion that Nasir Gwandu is the only candidate that can lead the state to the Promised Land. Considering Nasiru Gwandu’s vast experience, we believe he can effectively deliver the goods successfully and diligently. He was NUT chairman from local government level to state chairman and now National President and also Vice National Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and he has contributed a lot to the development of the state.”
While describing the NUT boss as a grassroots politician, the chairman said the renowned teacher had empowered youth, widows, orphans and less privileged members of the society.
Further, Giant explained that the Bagudu 4+4 Organisation after visiting and deliberating with youth, women and other groups, as well as, other important stakeholders across the 21 Local Government Areas of the state arrived at a conclusion that the NUT boss was the only sellable person among the 10 known aspirants so far.
His words: “We have about 10 people so far that are aspiring for the Governorship position in the state but after the visit and consultations by our organisation, Nasir appeared to be the peoples’ choice.”
Giant therefore called on the people of Kebbi State to remain calm, stressing that his group is working hard to ensure that the 2023 elections would be free, adding that only a credible candidate would be presented to the electorate.
Bagudu versus Malami showdown
THE defining feature of 2023 Kebbi State governorship election would be the clash of ambitions between outgoing governor and the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami. In the event that the plot to field Governor Bagudu as a possible Vice-Presidential candidate in 2023 fails, the expectation among his supporters is that he should go back to the Senate.
However, some APC stalwarts from Kebbi Central believe that it would be hard for the governor to replace Senator Adamu Aliero Muhammad in the upper chamber, stressing that the governor’s best bet would be to team up with Senator Yahaya Abubakar Abdullahi by supporting him for the governorship.
But, some insiders within the administration told The Guardian in confidence that knowing the governor’s craving for continuity and sustenance of his legacy projects, especially in education and infrastructure development; he might prefer a member of his cabinet to succeed him. Against the backdrop of the recent endorsement of Gwandu for the governorship by the Bagudu 4+4 campaign organization, the incumbent governor’s dilemma would revolve around how he handles his plan B of going back to the Senate and designs to have a preferred successor and still be able to supplant Senator Adamu Aliero. Would the Fourth Republic governor Aliero settle for a gentleman’s agreement and permit Bagudu to replace him? Some APC stalwarts from Kebbi Central are already mooting the idea that Aliero should emulate his former Sokoto State colleague in the class of 1999 governors, Dr. Attahiru Bafarawa, by retiring from active politics to give the younger generation a chance.
While Governor Bagudu confronts those challenges, it would be seen how he would throw up a candidate that can beat Malami’s contributions to the growth and development of APC in Kebbi State. Moreover, knowing that Bagudu crossed over from PDP to clinch the APC governorship ticket at the expense of Malami in 2014, it would also be seen whether the CPC camp within APC, which has been enjoying some ascendancy of recent, would be disposed to conceding the ticket to Bagudu again.
It would be recalled that Malami during the merger arrangement that preceded the formation of APC, ended up as the resource person to the Manifesto Drafting Sub-Committee of the inter-party merger committees from CPC, Action Congress of Nigeria (AC.N) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Some of those pushing for Senator Abdullahi to succeed Bagudu believe that being a former Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources in both Sokoto and Kebbi States, Abdullahi would not only sustain Bagudu’s signature agricultural programme, but also take it to a greater height if he wins the governorship.
However, while Senator Abdullahi and Malami hail from the same Kebbi North Senatorial District, age and need for balance between the legacy parties could favour Malami, who was the youngest minister in President Buhari’s cabinet in 2015 at 48. Senator Abdullahi is a much older person.
Malami could not comment on the purported endorsement of the NUT President for governorship, but sources close to him said he was not perturbed by any such development, stressing that the AGF is preoccupied by the assignment given him by President Buhari.
Although not known for lifting a finger to advance the political interests of his loyalists, the fact that the AGF has continued to enjoy the confidence of President Buhari, starting from their days in Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) could count to his advantage.
As the Minister of Justice also, Malami has positioned himself effectively as a chief supporter of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption battle, a feature that was greatly enhanced by exploits in fight against misappropriation of public funds as demonstrated in the P&ID attempt to seize Nigeria’s assets valued at $9billion.