Politics, some people say, is a dirty and tricky business. But it is a field full of excitements- some of it is comical; some of it is scary; while some of it is beyond one’s imagination. The governorship elections in Adamwa State has come and gone, but the intense political manoeuvres and heat that preceded the elections has and would continue to determine the direction of the state’s politics in many ways.
How the Election Was Won and Lost
The February 4th 2012, Adamawa Governorship Elections results proved bookmakers right- Admiral Murtala Nyako won. Nyako won the election because of many reasons- the absence of a united and formidable opposition; the polarisation of the state along geographic, ethnic and faith lines; the influence of his political appointees, support from some key political bigwigs in the state and sheer luck.
The opposition came to the election highly disunited, and made some costly political miscalculations. In terms of number of votes, the main opposition parties ACN and CPC have clearly defeated Nyako. They garnered 355,300 votes which is 54% of the total votes cast, while Nyako got the remaining 302,953, i.e. 46%. One thing clear is, most of the votes got by each candidate were due to some reasons. Nyako won in mainly Hausa/Fulani dominated communities. His political appointees and handlers were instrumental in his getting votes from some minority communities who happen not to be in full support of Nyako. Some people voted for Nyako just because they are PDP supporters, but they don’t admire Nyako as a person, while some people voted for PDP just because they belong to same ethnic group or faith with Nyako, but they are strong PDP antagonists. Incumbency and support from the centre also helped Nyako.
The ACN did very well in the election. The PDP took away victory from the ACN with just a margin of 61,930 votes. The ACN committed serious mistakes, missteps and plain misses that caused it the election: its leaders were carried away by the signs of massive support the party enjoys from the minority dominated areas of Adamawa state, but they failed to extend the ‘hand of friendship’ to the Hausa/Fulani areas. The ACN became a victim of ‘You won't get what you don't ask for’, thus the PDP took advantage and defeated the ACN with wide margin in Fofure, Girei, Madagali, Maiha, Mayo Belwa, Yola-North and Yola-South local government areas. The Adamawa Unity Forum (AUF) - a sort of minority ethnic group socio-political organisation; became an albatross to the party- AUF’s actions and inactions coloured ACN’s struggle to wrest power from Nyako as a struggle against the Hausa/Fulani. The ACN leadership is to be blamed for forgetting one essential political strategy which is: look forward, reason backward-. Had the ACN massively campaigned in the Hausa/Fulani dominated areas, it could have been game-over for Nyako. The ACN also forgot that election day is a turnout game; they didn’t make last minute effort to get their supporters to the polls. ‘Get-Out-the-Voters’ was a major tactic the PDP used to scoop vote in ACN strongholds. Another of ACN’s misstep was its failure to gather and utilize the type of political war chest needed to face a party like the PDP. What actually saved the ACN from what could have been political humiliation was former Governor Boni Haruna’s influence and that of his supporters and that of a section Adamawa people who feel the Nyako government has suppressed it.
Gen. Buba Marwa, the CPC candidate, on the other hand, played ‘Kick the Can Games.’ On the outside he appeared to be the good guy, while on the inside he tried to capitalise on the polarisation of the state between Hausa/Fulani and the minorities lines. It was believed that, Marwa contested with the brainwave that the heat generated by the polarisation of the state along geographic, ethnic and faith lines would work in his favour. ACN also employed this tactic, it however failed for both paties because they forgot that politics require consensus, engagement and give and take.
What Next For the Opposition?
The big problem facing opposition parties in Nigeria is, they do not present themselves as alternatives to the government. People simply see them as another group of people similar to those in power, waiting to grab power by all means. The opposition in Adamawa state needs to present themselves as alternatives that are relevant to the people’s day-to-day lives. To win, they need to have the confidence of the people; regardless of geography, ethnicity or faith.
The CPC in Adamawa state may become weaker and toothless- Marwa and his co-travellers may eventually leave the party to their old nest- the PDP. In addition, the party was built around the personality of one man- General Muhammadu Buhari- no Buhari, no vote for the party, so to speak.
The ACN has a bright future. Since the 2007 elections in Adamawa state, the party has been getting stronger by the day. However, it has mainly been benefiting from former Gov. Boni Haruna’s leadership of the party. This is because during his administration, he spread resources, development and appointments equally throughout the state. His government was truly a representative one.
The Road to 2015/2017
It is pretty too early to predict what shapes the politicking for 2015/2017 election will take, but one thing certain is, the dangerously heated political scenario generated by the politics of the February 4th 2012 governorship elections in Adamawa state; Nyako’s incumbency advantage; the Atiku Abubakar factor and the numerous political organisations springing-up will shape the paths for the road. Nyako may wish to have his anointed candidate as his successor; as any Governor will. But many of the bigwigs is his camp are believed to be nursing ambition to be Governor. Pundits’ opinion is, Abubakar Madawaki, the commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who happens to be Nyako’s classmate and childhood friend is actively working underground to position himself for Governor. Senator Bello Tukur, with formidable political war chest and stealth tactics would be a candidate to beat; the seasoned lawyer and investment banker - Adamu Modibbo would have political experience and strong network as his weapon. Bala Ngillari, being the Deputy Governor is naturally expected to seek to succeed his boss, but he is keeping his cards closed to his chest. Chief Felix Tangwami, Nyako’s campaign coordinator is also a strong contender- he showed his political strength, acumen and capability during the February 4th, 2012 Governorship election. Other likely contenders with potentials are Senator Bindawa Jibrilla; Awwal Tukur, Mr. Kobis Ari Thimnu, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government and, perhaps, a dark-horse may emerge- because in politics, things can change within a gleam of time or because of a trivial event. However, the road to 2015/2017 would be bumpy and complicated. It would witness blind ambitions, suppressing betrayals, unexpected cross-carpeting, disillusionment and huge political casualties.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, email@example.com, 08036070980