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Gombe 2019: As The Succession Battle Heats Up

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CHUWANG DUNGS writes on the deft political moves in Gombe State aimed at producing the successor of the Gombe State Governor, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo in 2019.

The Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo has an uphill task as far as his successor in office is concerned. Some of his key cabinet members are already scheming on how to ensure that whoever succeeds him in 2019 governorship election does not come from out side their fold. Dankwambo who is gunning for the nation’s number one seat is yet to pick his favourable candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial ticket in the state. However, it is widely speculated that Dankwambo might be backing Dr. Jamil Isyaku Gwamna, to succeed him. Gwamna, who has extensive commercial and managerial experience at executive and board levels in the water industry, heavy equipment distribution, manufacturing businesses and consultancy is presently the MD/CEO of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO).

The ceremonial and flamboyant entry of Jamil, who also holds the traditional title of Sardaunan Gombe, into the gubernatorial race has triggered serious fears and tension among the other aspirants, especially those in Dankwambo’s cabinet. The resources he is spending and the crowd he is pulling has sent panic across the camp of other aspirants, giving credence to his highly speculated ‘anointment’ by the governor. LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the relationship between the Sardaunan Gombe and the Talban Gombe, dates back to their days as students of the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, and that they also had a good working relationship when Dankwambo was the state accountant general, while Gwamna was the chairman of the state water corporation during the administration of the first executive governor of the state, late Habu Abubakar Hashidu. Political pundits close to the governor are also of the view that Dankwambo who is not ready to inject his or state resources for the Gombe 2019 project due to his presidential ambition, needs a candidate with strong financial strength to finance his campaign and the party at various levels. And he feels among all those indicating interest so far that Gwamna fits this profile as he has the resources for such contest.

Apart from being a bosom friend of the incumbent Governor, Gwamna, who holds the national honour of the Member of the Federal Republic (MFR), also enjoys the goodwill of his late father, Alhaji Isyaku Gwamna, a respected elder statesman, who many testified is a man of honour and high moral character. But LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that some of the aspirants currently serving in the state cabinet have vowed to resist any attempt by the governor to bring an “outsider” to clinch the party ticket. They are strategically scheming to ensure one of them succeeds the governor. Their argument is that it is only an “insider” with better experience that can continue with the legacies of Dankwambo’s administration. But there is the fear that bringing a “stranger” may lead to the termination of their political career as the ‘new comer’ will naturally bring in his own people to take over affairs of the state. Our sources said majority of the state functionaries and political office holders in the state, are keying into this theory, but Dankwambo, including some party leaders and stakeholders within and outside the state are totally against the idea insisting that the party should be allowed to provide a fair level ground for all the aspirants so that at the end the best candidate will emerge.

So far those serving under Dankwambo’s cabinet that have indicated interest for the state number one job are, Ahmad Walama, commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Hassan Ahmed Commissioner of Finance and Economy Development. There are also speculations that the state commissioner for higher education, Isa Mohammed Wade, may also join the race. Besides Jamil Isyaku Gwamna, Alhaji Bello Bala Tinka, is another contestant for the seat outside Dankwambo’s cabinet. Before the appearance of Gwamna, Tinka, was the most influential aspirant. Tinka, a contractor is said to be close and loyal to Dankwambo, but his educational background and limited financial resources to foot his campaign bills are the strongest weapons against his ambition. But those close to Tinka, are arguing that he got all it takes, including the money to deliver the party in the state. But that he deliberately decided to limit his spendings due to the dicey situation in the political atmosphere in the state and the nation at large. There are also speculations that Sen. Bayero Nafada, who recently defected from the All Progressive Congress (APC) to the PDP may also run for the party ticket. Some political observers are even tipping him as the favourite, considering the alleged anti-party role he played in the 2015 election in ensuring the re-election of Dankwambo. Sources in the state, alleged that he secretly entered an agreement with Dankwambo in 2015 to work against the APC gubernatorial aspirant with the promise of getting the support of Dankwambo in 2019, for the governorship slot, while he, Nafada, will relinquish the Northern senatorial seat to Dankwambo in the event that he fails to actualise his presidential ambition. Those who share this thought are using the absence of any serious candidate in the senatorial race for the zone to back up their argument. Another key contender outside the state cabinet who is speculated to slug it out with Gwamna, if he eventually declares his intention to contest is Alh. Abdulkadir Hamasalleh, the MD/CEO of Hamsel Airlines.

Abdulkadir, popularly known as Hamsel, who contested for the northern senatorial seat under the platform of PDP in 2015, but lost out to Nafada, due to the Buhari Tsunami, is said to be eyeing the gubernatorial seat. Insiders close to the governor said, he is very close to the governor and he has what it takes politically and financially to deliver PDP in the state. But the big question is, will he be willing to spend his resources if he eventually declares? Hassan Ahmed, the commissioner of finance who is considered the brain box of the present administration, with many years of experience in the private and public sector, at local and international levels has been pulling his weight since he bowed to pressure from political and Professional groups within and outside the state to contest. Rated as the most acceptable aspirant among the elites, Hassan, enjoys more support from technocrats and professional bodies, who believe he is the rightful successor to office. An accountant and technocrat, Hassan is believed to be the brain behind the success of the Dankwambo administration. But his greatest challenge is whether he has the war chest for the contest. Ahmad Walama, has also consistently told those who care to listen that he is the best man for the job. He is banking on his political experience, which has seen him serve as local government chairman for eight years under former Governor Danjuma Goje and now as commissioner coordinating the affairs of all the 11 local government areas in the state since 2011. Indeed, if the grass-roots level is any thing to go by, Walama, will easily pick the ticket of the party, his supporters will boast. Over the years, he gradually built a formidable structure, inspiring loyalty among the elected council bosses in the state, many of whom he ensured their victory at the primary elections years back.

This way, his reach is enormous with the delegates of the party. A source told the LEADERSHIP Sunday that when the governor entrusted him with the responsibility of handling the last local government election, he paved the way for many of his boys to become council bosses, some of whom were not the choice of their local people, adding that if today, Walama, decides to turn his back on the party at this last minute, it could cause a lot of harm. But his detractors have a counter view. They claim that his political influence isn’t broad. They claim that he lacks the external contacts and connections to fight the opposition APC in the general
ideology you carry,” Yusuf said. The chairman, Alliance National Party (ANP), Asiwaju Moshood Shitu, said just like its motto which is peace and development, added that the political party is funded by like minded people across the country. The 2019 general election is only 180 days way from today. The formal commencement of 2019 general elections began last Friday August 17, 2018 with the publication of Notice of Elections. This will be followed by the conduct of primaries beginning from Saturday August 18 to Sunday Oct 7 2018. While the recently registered parties will not be able to field candidates for the Osun State governorship election holding on September 22, they can participate in the 2019 general elections, having satisfied section 222, 223 and 224 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. But beyond the participation of these parties during the general elections, are the ideological issues and much more, the ugly trend of vote buying.

The INEC chairman, who spoke during the presentation of certificates to the new political parties, underscored the need for them to respect their constitution, abide by INEC guidelines and regulations, obey electoral act and above all submit to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. He said “You should try and make a difference to politics and elective representation by conducting open, transparent, inclusive and peaceful primaries for the nomination of credible candidates for the elections. “By doing so, you will give Nigerians greater choice, thereby adding value to our democracy and strengthening the quality of elective representatives,” he said. He was also worried about the ugly trend that has become a seeming mainstay in the electoral system. He said “the commission is deeply worried about our elections particularly the way they are becoming increasingly monetised. “Vote buying is a cancer to our elections and we must work together collectively to stamp it out. Accordingly and on the part of the commission starting with Osun State governorship election coming up on Sept 22, we change the way our polling units are administered, such that there will be no room for voters to expose their marked ballot papers between voting cubical and the ballot boxes. “We shall further restrategise with the security agencies for more robust response to the arrest and prosecution of voter buyers. We will also engage with all well meaning groups for more effective voter education and voter sensitisation.” election.

There are indications that the emergence of any of the candidates not serving in the cabinet as the ruling party’s flag-bearer, a source within the cabinet in the state, said, “will be through a battle of wits, following the brickwall the cabinet members are threatening to constitute.” He however noted that their success will also depend on whether they will be willing to bury their individual ambitions and rally behind one candidate to actualise their mission. When contacted the state PDP chairman, Barr. Joel Jagafa, urged the people of the state to dismiss the rumour that members of the state cabinet are ganging up against other aspirants outside the cabinet, noting that any member of the party who is qualified has the constitutional right to contest for any position of his choice, irrespective of his or her individual affiliation. He insisted that the governor being the leader of the party in the state, had nobody in mind but promised to support anybody that emerges after the party primaries which will be fairly contested. “Please, there is nothing like gang up and his Excellency Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, has nobody in mind. I am saying that in all sincerity and honesty. I am sure the governor who is also contesting for the President of this country would support whoever emerges after the party primaries.” While the events keep unfolding, opposition candidates in the other parties, especially the APC, are keenly watching and re-strategising. One of the possible consequences of the current development is that a number of the protesting aspirants and their followers are likely to look elsewhere in the event they are not guaranteed a level playing field.



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