It was difficult suppressing a yawn of boredom when the news broke recently that no fewer than 4,500 members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) defected to the New Nigeria People Party (NNPP), in Bauchi State.
The so-called Green Party, a virtually unknown entity, recently got what could pass for a boost when Bauchi’s former governor, Malam Isa Yuguda, alongside his loyalists joined it after dumping the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But the truth is that, APC is intact and those decamped are the PDP members loyal to Isa Yuguda that decided to follow him to his new party.
Mallam Isa Yuguda was elected governor of Bauchi State, in April 2007, on the All Nigeria Peoples Party platform. In April 2009 he changed allegiance from the ANPP and surreptitiously moved back to the People’s Democratic Party. After a controversial gubernatorial tenure, characterized by many governance deficits, he left the country – according to him on extended medical vacation – after the 2015 general elections, during which his attempt to clinch the Bauchi South Senatorial seat failed woefully.
Meanwhile, the jolly defectors under reference explained that their move to the new party is aimed at electorally dislodging the ruling APC in the state in 2019. The defectors to NNPP, led by a 2015 senatorial candidate under PDP, Umar Farouk, were mostly from Bauchi North Senatorial District, members of the PDP and included supporters of Yuguda who is from Bauchi South.
They were received by the state NNPP Chairman, Engineer Mohammed Barde, at a reception during the inauguration of the party’s Zonal Office, in Azare in Katagum Local Government Area. According to Umar Farouk, they decided to defect to the NNPP because they were not getting dividends of democracy from the APC-led government at the state level – whatever that position meant.
Some fair-weather politicians among the defectors included Alhaji Audu Mai Auduga from Bauchi South, and Alhaji Ibrahim Shetima Gamawa among others.
After Yuguda’s return, he curiously kept away from politics. Apparently, his long silence and refusal to join any of the popular parties created disagreement within his camp, forcing many of his supporters to pitch tent with other political actors in the state.
Many analysts believe that Yuguda was pushed out of the PDP by his political friends-turned rivals, such as a former governor of the state and onetime national chairman of the party, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi and others.
Interestingly, APC’s publicity secretary in Bauchi State, Auwal Jallah recently put paid to claims that the APC had invited Yuguda to its fold. According to Jallah, there was no way the party would have asked the former governor to become its member. His words: “We have already made our stand clear – we will never accept him as a member of the APC.
We know Isa Yuguda as a political jobber who lacks a clear ideology. He only pursues selfish interests.’’
As things stand, many prominent politicians and analysts see the defectors as irrelevant in the state including their acclaimed leader, former governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, because it has become glaring that he has lost political base. Yuguda who has become something of a political nomad was defeated and blocked from going to senate. Even his controversial tenure was characterized by financial irregularities including non-payment of monthly worker’s salaries, allocation of projects to his cronies to loot the state treasury, amongst others.
Today, it’s extremely unlikely that Yuguda could muster enough political clout to pose any serious threat to the Bauchi State-led administration of Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar. There is simply no strong opposition to the ruling APC in Bauchi State. This scenario is powerfully reinforced by the strong governance performance of Governor Abubakar who has brought unusual prudence and circumspection to his job.
On assuming office, Governor Abubakar signaled a clear resolve not to be caged by the liabilities he inherited from Yuguda. He immediately settled backlog of salaries owed by the previous Yuguda administration. As a dedicated governor, he attaches great importance to the agricultural sector which is in recognition of its role as the highest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state as well as a means of job and wealth creation for the teeming population because of the employment opportunities it provides to the people.
He partnered with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in the improvement of food security of about 2, 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state through the provision of 60 metric tonnes of assorted (improved) crop seeds; distribution of artisanal fisheries inputs (nets, floats, sinkers, ropes etc) to about 200 fishermen under the GESS Project. In the 2015 farming season, 10 metric tonnes of fertilizer, while 15,000 and 18,000 was also procured and distributed in over 40 different locations in the 20 LGAs of the state in 2016 and 2017 seasons respectively.
The Abubakar administration also keyed into the federal government’s agricultural financing programmes, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, working to make it easy for farmers to access funds from commercial banks to work on rice and sorghum production for rain, rice and wheat for dry season production. It also highly subsidised the fertilizer with NPK sold at N4,000 and Urea sold at N4,500, provided equity, training and extension services as required by the CBN and targets at least, 100,000 rice and maize farmers in the 2017 planting season.
The Bauchi State government made contacts with commodity companies in China and Lebanon, who have indicated interest in investments in sesame, soybeans and groundnuts, while others showed interest in establishing agro-processing industries. During his visit to the Czech Republic to prospect for investments, Abubakar identified eight models of small and medium capacity tractors that can be affordable to farmers that seek to reduce time and labour farmers spent on land preparation, planting, weed control and harvesting.
Critical infrastructures in the state which were in complete shambles when the present administration assumed office were given the urgent government attention they deserved.
The positives Governor Abubakar has recorded can hardly be exhausted here and anyway is not the main focus of this analysis.
It is against the foregoing background that many stakeholders, especially at the grassroots in Bauchi State, are firmly of the view that former Governor Yuguda’s current dodgy politics cannot influence any significant changes in the states power configuration today.
As things stand, ahead of 2019, many believe that Yuguda would either take a shot at the Senate or even Presidency – a dream he is entitled to. Expectedly, Governor Abubakar would seek a second term while Senator Wakili, who defeated Yuguda in 2015, would clearly love to return to the National Assembly. And they would seek to achieve their political goals on a strong platform. And this one thing Yuguda currently lacks.
Munir writes from Bauchi
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