The scramble for all what the political space in Adamawa State can provide has begun. Six political gladiators- Governor Murtala Nyako, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Jibril Aminu, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, General Buba Marwa and former Governor Boni Haruna are at the centre-stage. Nyako and Marwa being contestants in the January 14, 2012 Governorship elections will be in the battle solely for themselves, while the remaining four will be there by proxy - political sons, daughters and associates. It will be high-wired politics full of intrigues and horse-trading. Indeed, the battle will be a reverse of the 2007 political game- the bigwigs behind Nyako’s installation as Governor then, are his adversaries now. Politics, they say, is all about interest.
Since the inception of the former Gongola State, the tradition had been that the political bigwigs in the state often times swayed direction of the state’s politics. However, things have now changed; the politics of the state is sometimes determined by geography, faith and public impression of a candidate.
Looking at the results of the last National and State Assemblies election in the state, a logical analysis can be derived. The results showed that the opposition parties collectively had an edge over the ruling party- the PDP. Out of the 707,294 votes cast, the PDP scored 249,351, ACN scored 185,535, CPC scored 81,269. The Labour Party scored 123,131, while the other smaller parties garnered 68,008 votes. The PDP had 35% of the votes while the opposition parties collectively got a whopping 65% of the votes. The point here is, if the opposition parties can form among themselves, a workable alliance- it would be game over for Governor Nyako. However, the likelihood of the opposition parties coming together to challenge the PDP seems unfeasible. The reasons are obvious, especially to political pundits.
One of such reasons is because the opposition parties have lost the only man who could have given them the much needed political and financial strength. Challenging an incumbent is a herculean task; it requires having a leader with a huge political war chest. The man with such capacity is former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. The opposition in Adamawa State dearly need a ‘snapper gun’, and Atiku is the only ‘shooter’ available. But a reliable hint coming from Atiku camp is, he has directed his supporters to work for Governor Murtala Nyako. With this situation, Gov. Nyako has scored a crucial political point, while for his opponents it is a colossal loss. This means that, the more than 17% votes the Labour Party garnered during the last National and State Assemblies elections in the state will automatically go to Gov. Nyako. Pundits are of the view that, the seasoned lawyer, investment banker, chartered stockbroker and politician- Adamu Modibbo, who is Labour Party’s governorship candidate, will certainly toe Atiku’s line. Reason being that, he is Atiku’s son in-law; and a confidant.The duo political association gets stronger day after day.
Another reason the opposition parties cannot come together, is, that the political gladiators in the state have different political interests, as well as irreconcilable personal grudges. For instance, on the day Professor Jibrin Aminu called a meeting under the movement- ‘Adamawa Forum’ to strategize on how to scuttle Gov. Nyako’s second term comeback bid, on the same day the ACN reaffirmed its support for its Governorship candidate- Marcus Gundiri and his deputy Abdulrazak Namdas. Another issue worth noting is Gen. Buba Marwa’s stand. In his recent interview with journalists, the General reconfirmed his candidacy on the platform of the CPC. Marwa is believed to be the only aspirant among the array of Governorship hopefuls, with an intimidating credential- an army General; a PhD holder, a former Governor that performed excellently and a one time diplomat. But sadly, the Nigerian politics is beyond credentials, and his party the CPC was only able to get a little over 11 % votes cast during the last National and State Assemblies election in the state.
The ACN is the strongest of all the opposition parties in Adamawa if the result of the last National and State Assemblies is to be used as a benchmark. However, the party is facing three critical issues- fragmentation of its members along Hausa Fulani and the minority line; lack of strong coordination at the local levels, and the party’s sole dependence on former Governor Boni Haruna. Though party’s impressive performance in the last elections was due to Boni’s political wit and influence especially among former members of his government and the youth.
As it appears, Governor Nyako might have an easy ride at the PDP Governorship primaries slated for December 2011.This is because he will face little or no opposition. The only candidate challenging the Governor- Dr. Abdullahi Ardo, is seen by many as a political merchant. The real challenge Nyako would have will be at the general elections. One issue that might haunt Nyako, which his opponent would also capitalise on is that his administration has been shrouded with controversies since birth- the Governor has been accused of cronyisms, policy blunders and increasing disconnect between the government and the ordinary people.
Nyako’s opponents are quick to point out that some of his colleagues have established broadly-based governments and strengthened institutions of good governance, which have led to significant socio-economic progress and improvement in the lives of a large number of people in their states. They say, Gov. Nyako seem to still be living in the world which experienced the two world wars. In Adamawa today, the state is virtually grounded due to industrial strike almost across the public sector, worthnoting among this is that of the health workers. Most local government councils in the state today cannot pay salaries. Some are oweing their staff up to three or more months salaries. In a state where per capita income is very low, access to basic education and health is poor and there is a noticeable absence of basic infrastructure. Thus, Nyako’s adversaries see his handlers as penny wise pound foolish, for tagging the governor’s performance outstanding.
On the other hand, Nyako’s supporters believe that his administration has been busy putting in place programmes and projects aimed at bringing development and free the Adamawa people from the prison of poverty. But the opposition camp both inside and outside the PDP, are quick to point out that, what obtains in the polity is not what ought to be.
The fact is, despite the apparent odds against Nyako, he would have a upper hand against his opponents.The opposition parties are strongly disunited and lack resources. Besides, the governorship election may likely experience voter apathy because there won’t be elections into other offices that would have elicited local’s interest. This will hurt the fortunes of the opposition. However, the fact still remains that if the opposition can come into the election with a common front- it will be game-over for Nyako.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, email@example.com, 08036070980