BY: BENJAMIN JIBRIN
In projection, year 2015 means many things, different things for many people and different people. Thus, for the Nigerian political class, the period in reference is a year of struggle for political powers via elections at the state and federal levels between political parties, most especially, PDP and APC. For other Nigerians, the outcome of the ensuing struggle is monstrous, giving the threats and counter threats that expression of interest, as far as the issue at stake is concerned, is generating.
Previously, we had 53 registered political parties in the country and about half of them contested the 2011 general elections. Today, they have reduced the parties to less than half of the number that featured in the last elections. This was done by way of deregistration and mergers of parties, a development that shows that very few political parties would participate in the 2015 general elections.
By all standards, election is a test of popularity and political strength of candidates for position. So far, only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) are strategizing for the forth-coming electoral war. Therefore, like in many other states of the federation, the battle line is drawn in Kaduna state between the opposition and the ruling parties, APC and PDP respectively, as we move closer to the dreaded 2015 political dispensation.
While PDP is nursing the ambition of retaining power with a view to consolidating its past effort at delivering service, the seemingly vibrant opposition party, APC, alias Armored Personnel Carrier, has declared its determination to send the sitting Governor, Dr. Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, packing saying PDP has outlived its usefulness to the people of Kaduna state. As the verbal war between these two political parties that are oiling their campaign machineries razes on ahead of the most interested electoral year in the political history of Nigerians, PDP says their opponent, APC, is talking and acting out of frustration and selfish concern.
In pursuit of its determination, APC which most Nigerians see as “New Party for a New Nigeria” has already put in place a changing agent with the mandate to sensitizing the people of Kaduna state why they should consider giving APC their mandate to manage the affairs of the state in 2015. That changing agent tagged “SAVE KADUNA 2015 GROUP” under the coordination of Mallam Shuaibu Gimi of DITV Kaduna and Ambassador Sule Buba who serves as Chairman and Director General (DG) respectively, is more of a media committee in nature. The committee was made public at a dinner the Group organized recently to introduce themselves to media practitioners in the state and launch the committee into action ahead of the 2015 electoral struggle.
Sule Buba is a disciple of late Mallam Aminu Kano who people knew to be standing for equity and justice in his days. Close associates of the former Ambassador rates him as one of the politicians in the north that hardly fail in whatever venture they set for themselves. In the advent of this Republic, former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him, based on his credentials, as Nigerian Ambassador to Senegal from 1999 to 2003 and South Korea from 2003 to 2007 when he finally returned to the country. Back in his home state, Kaduna, Ambassador Buba had served in various capacities, which included General Manager, Kaduna state marketing development and the Executive Secretary (ES), Kaduna state Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board.
In-between this appointment, the late Governor, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa cum PDP appointed the famous Ambassador, for his political synergy, as his campaign director in the 2011 gubernatorial race. Amidst fears that PDP would fail following the feeling and believe that southern Kaduna cannot win election to rule the state as if it was a curse, Ambassador Buba went into the field and delivered the state to PDP from the jaws of the defunct CPC among other opposition parties, thereby returning Sir. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, who earlier became Governor by divine intervention, to Sir Kashim Ibrahim House and made him the first ever-elected Governor from Southern Kaduna in the history of Kaduna state. But less than two years to the end of the administration that his effort gave birth to, Buba has now thrown in the towel and pinched tent with APC for reasons not far from undemocratic ethos, which he felt ran contrary to his political philosophy. “That Ambassador Buba accepted to take charge of a special political group, SAVE KADUNA 2015 in APC, amounted to an indication that undoubtedly, a battle line is clearly drawn between PDP and APC”, a political analyst observed.
After a critical assessment of this republic, Buba gave kudos to those leaders who paddled the affairs of the country with particular reference to Kaduna state from 1999 to 2008 and berated successive administrations with a declaration that the ruling party is short of progressive ideas, hence the formation of SAVE KADUNA GROUP 2015.
According to him, “you are very much aware of the political situation in the country and of course, Kaduna state in particular. From 1999 to 2008, there have been significant developments in both human and physical but we have to dichotomize between what transpired in those eight years of our democratic system and what is obtaining from then to date. Kaduna state, as we are all aware, is the political hub of the entire northern states. Some people often said that when Kaduna sneezes, the country catches cold but that was then, not now. Kaduna state was able to dictate the tune because there was a lot of development, political awareness and so Kaduna was the centre of all activities”. Buba recalled. The period in reference was when the former Governor, Senator Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi was in office and repositioned Kaduna not only to the admiration of the people of the state but to the admiration of the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasonjo.
It would be recalled that Makarfi’s first six months of “purposeful leadership” witnessed unprecedented transformation of the state in terms of rural electrification and road construction projects, which are the key factors for economic and social development. This remarkable achievement was brought to ruin by the Sharia crisis that visited the state with its orgy of destructions, a development which forced tears down the eyes of President Obasonjo when he visited Kaduna for first hand information. Nevertheless, less than one year after that “mini war”, Makarfi was able to rebuild Kaduna beyond imaginations. With this effort, when Obasonjo returned to Kaduna for a three-day state visit, he commended Makarfi and advised other state governors to pay state visits to Kaduna for a borrowed idea from Makarfi on how to deliver service to the people.
Makarfi quitted office in 2007 after the completion of his second tenure and handed over the soul of Kaduna state to Arc. Namadi Sambo. In his assessment, Buba, a graduate student of Aminu Kano’s political ideology lamented that since that period in review, political games in the state have changed for the worse. “From 2008 to date, there seem to be what is called learning period when nothing is happening, no political activities, no physical and human development is taking place. In fact, it is difficult to know or say that we are getting our due shares from the federation account because we don’t see development taking place. If you look and compare what is happening in our neighbouring states (Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and a host of others), there are significant transformation in all facets of their social lives but alas, Kaduna is in a big slumber”, he regretted and explained “this is the synopsis of what informed this group. We cannot just fold our arms to see things spoiling in our state. It is out of this concern that we decided to form this Save Kaduna Group 2015 in order to rescue this appalling situation”.
In anticipation of public perception, Ambassador Buba said, “I will like to put it on record that we are not quarrelling or fighting with any individual. We are after the system because we want to transform the system”. He argued, “even if it is individual that now represent the system and the system is not corrected, you will not have the desired result. That is why our intension and our agenda is to have a different focus, to restore the past glory of Kaduna state and Nigeria by extension. That is an onerous task and if we sit down without doing nothing, then the future generations will hold us accountable and so we will like to discharge our responsibilities to the best of our ability. That is why we said we now want to have a change, giving the opportunity of 2015 general elections.
”Many of us were members of PDP but the party has run short of ideas now, therefore, allowing PDP to continue to rule in Kaduna and Nigeria, it would be hazardous. We are not praying for a disaster but this is something that we cannot afford or allow to happen. That is why we believe that by forming this Save Kaduna Group 2015, obviously we are going to bring drastic changes in the art of governance of Kaduna state.
“As I told you, we are after a total transformation of the system”. Out of apparent feeling that the system is derailing, he said “we want to have a government that is accountable to the people, a government that is people base, a government that is grassroots base, a government that the man in the street, village, rural and urban areas will have a say in the way they are being governed. This is because we are moving towards a totalitarian regime, a regime that is not responsive and short of ideas and a regime that is in limbo.
“I think we owe it a duty to form this group so that we can rectify this unfortunate situation. In nutshell, this is what informed the formation of this Save Kaduna Group 2015. We are interested in the betterment or enhancement of the lives of Kaduna state citizens and Nigeria at large. The task of changing this government therefore, is a task that must be done. We are so determined to fight by all constitutional means to reach the Promised Land. We will not deter, we will not waiver, and we would not be discouraged no matter the intimidation and harassment. This is our resolve”.
Responding to questions from inquisitive journalists, the decamped PDP member retorted, “we discovered anomalies in PDP early last year, 2013 but we were hoping that there could be remedy. Naturally, when you see that things are falling apart, as progressive, you give your own counseling. Even if your counseling was not welcomed, you have done your part. We raised alarm that things were not done properly and we did our best to correct the wrongs and solve problems because we care for the interest of the masses but we were ignored. That was when we realized that there was no hope for PDP because as I said, it was short of ideas and we decided to check out, instead of waiting for the system to collapse on us. We belonged to the new PDP before it eventually merged with APC. I am now in APC and we are going to win because we know our onions”, Buba boasted as according to him “what we are doing is for the masses, collective interest of the people and now, if you go to the rural areas, nine out of ten people you may interview, would tell you that they are for APC”.
Speaking further, he recalled, “Kaduna state, in the past history of Nigeria, has been a progressive state. The emergence of PDP was a kind of coalition of different interest groups. That is why you have people of different views in the party”. Apparently predicting more decamping with attendant despair for PDP, he said, “as times goes on, we are going to remove the chaff from the grains because as we move along, we are weeding”.
Ahmed Maiyaki, is the Director General Media and Publicity to Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero. In a swift reaction to political development as it affect his boss, the Governor’s image-maker disagreed with critics of Yero saying in the history of administering Kaduna state, the Governor has distinguished himself in the act of governance. Among the achievements of his boss, which he cited as an innovation aiming at giving people the sense of belonging and of course bringing government closer to the people, is the provision of fertilizers without the involvement of intermediaries. Maiyaki opined that the development is a political gang up against his principal out of personal interest and therefore challenged that 2015 elections would decide who is for the people. He acknowledged the existence of The Save Kaduna Group 2015 with doubt saying, “we are not sure whether they are a change agent” stressing that “the leader of the group has had opportunity in the past to hold position in the past under this same dispensation, what changes has he been able to bring?
“You see, people don’t see beyond their noses and pockets. Whenever something is happening, so long as they are not benefiting materially, they tends to say they want to bring about change. What change do they want to bring when already His Excellency has brought about changes tremendously in all sectors in the state. He has brought about changes in educational sector; he has brought about grate changes in health sector. When they had the opportunity, they never did what the governor has been able to do. It is during the administration of Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, for the first time in the history of Kaduna state, that farmers were given free fertilizers. What changes do they want when farmers are the direct beneficiaries, when people like them were not given contracts to serve as intermediaries where they are political farmers? What changes are they talking about when farmers are benefiting from the decision and policies of government? What changes are they talking about when educational sector in the state has seen genuine transformation in terms of both infrastructural development and policy implementation? What changes are they talking about when the state presently is witnessing infrastructural development which when they had the opportunity in the past, they failed to bring about. Ahmed Maiyaki argued.
Speaking further, he said, “We must as a people distinguish between governance and politics. If you are talking about politics, then you can say whatever you want to say but in governance, they do not have the moral justification to say they want to bring about changes they have failed to bring about in the past. When somebody is bringing about genuine changes in all facets of life, in all sectors that affect people, changes in both human and capital development, they are talking about changes. I cannot imagine, in fact it is laughable for people like that to bring themselves together because they want power at all cost and talk about changes. They should first bring about changes in themselves about their attitude, conduct and failure to bring about changes in the past and not to come out today clamoring for change.
“His Excellency is more than ever before committed and he will remain very firm in bringing about changes in all the affairs of government in the best interest of the good people of Kaduna state. They will always say nothing has been done positively. The case of APC in this country, not only in Kaduna state, is like the case of someone who is walking on water and you look at him and laugh saying you are walking on water, it is funny that you cannot swim. Somebody has done something extra ordinary, walking on water and you are saying it is even funny that he can only walk on water but he cannot swim, that is the case of APC. “When we are talking about people bringing about new ideas, new generational ideas that will touch the lives of our people, yet these people are talking about changes. I don’t know what changes they want. It is very impossible for somebody to walk on water but when he did, people are talking about how he cannot swim. That is funny and laughable.
“The APC they are talking about, as a political party, they have not brought out an alternative polity, manifestoes and plan better than what is going on right now both at the state and federal levels. APC is just a group of aggrieved people from a political party because they have not been allowed to do business as usual and that is why they decided to go out and form a political party”. A number of PDP Chieftains which included the party’s former state chairman, Alhaji Yaro Makama Rigachikwu decided to dump PDP sometime last year as a result of crisis of leadership emanated from the national level, a development which political analysts feared may spell doom for the party in 2015.
Though this development looks like a thing of concern, Maiyaki dismissed the fear saying, “I am telling you that the people of Nigeria, by the time we go to the polls in 2015, everybody will know who is actually for the electorates and who is not. The people of Nigeria and Kaduna state have the ultimate right to decide who they want to govern them, not a few people sitting down in the corner of a hotel room talking that this person will govern, this person will leave, this person would be elected and this person would not be elected. The people of Nigeria have the ultimate power to decide who lead them, who govern them at what time and at what position, not a few people who are aggrieved, selfish and concerned about their personal interest because the present transformation agenda that is against business as usual do not favour them. They will continue to say what they want to say because freedom of expression and freedom of speech allows everybody and anybody to say anything he wants to say. However, we should remember that the primary focus of governance is development and that is the major focus of this administration”.
`As the state move closer to the election period scheduled for February 2015, Governor Yero is seeking divine intervention in his favour saying, “Kaduna state has been a PDP state since 1999 up to date and by the grace of God, it will continue to be a PDP state”. Yero, a beneficiary of divine wind of change that made its presence in Kaduna state in 2010, made his plea to God when PDP held its unity rally in the state recently, apparently in realization of stiff opposition in the forth-coming elections.