Reason prevailed, and democracy as well as the rule of law triumphed,when the national leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) promptly stepped in to avert what would have been a major anarchy during the just concluded senatorial primaries in Niger state. But for the leadership of our dear party, the tension occasioned by the fraud that trailed the conduct of the Senatorial primary elections would have consumed us all and eroded the integrity that has become symptomatic with the APC. The peace enjoyed today in Niger and elsewhere across the APC-controlled states, despite the crisis that trailed its primaries,is as a result of robust leadership of Adams Oshiomhole. The national chairman deserves accolades for being able to give the party a new direction, and preparing it for the task ahead.
Oshiomhole’s style of leadership could be more appreciated in the way he handled the post-election crisis in our dear state of Niger. The party had wanted to be magnanimous by giving each aspirant an opportunity to witness, first-hand, the beauty of internal democracy which the party came to symbolise, through direct primary option, but they abused the privilege. They rather resorted to the age-long Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) dirty ways when electoral fraud was the order of the day.
In the Senatorial primaries, election did not take place in several wards across many local government areas in the Niger East Senatorial District. And even where some semblance of election was said to have taken place, there were glaring evidences of vote-buying with certain aspirant deploying fund to entice voters, thuggery and serious electoral malpractices. There are also instances where names of genuine delegates were replaced, even as thugs were deployed to cause mayhem in the areas that are strongholds of some aspirants. The act of brigandage was extended even to the secretariat of the party in Minna where thugs were deployed to force out results in favour of their masters. Returning officers have to be smuggled out to their respective hotels to prevent them from being lynched. In the ensuing commotion, the national leadership of the party had to intervene to douse tension. It is, however, sad that despite the intervention, some aspirants have decided to resort to the use of the media to get at their opponents in the contest in matter that is purely internal. In an apparently sponsored piece in one of the online mediums, one Abdullahi Haruna, apparently a pseudo name, writing from Abuja attempted to analyse a contest which took place several miles away from the comfort of his room.
In the said write up which is apparently targeted at the senator representing Niger East Senatorial district, David Umaru, the writer tried to show how the serving senator has lost his electoral value in the state. He even went ahead in the highly prejudiced piece to reel out the purported votes polled by aspirants in the contest even when the results were not announced. The piece in itself is no doubt a propaganda taken too far. The writer succeeded in further exposing himself to public ridicule, and showing patent ignorance of the politics of the state. Deploying a political minnow, in a proxy war against a tested personality like Senator David Umaru who has come to see politics as an art was a terrible miscalculation which would ultimately hurt the party and undermine its success in the 2019 general elections. And as analysts have repeatedly pointed out since plan to unseat Umaru at all cost became public notice, the Senator hardly deserves such treatment from those who benefitted from his doggedness and commitment which culminated in the party’s victory in the 2015 elections in the state.It bears reminding that Umaru is not just one of the founding members of the APC in the state, but a key financier. In fact, he has come to be synonymous with the party so much so that when the heat became intense and unbearable in the run up to 2015 elections following the onslaught by the then ruling PDP, Umaru was the last man standing. As the coast became clear; when the hurly-burly was done, and battle fought and won, the vultures return to perch on the carcass.
The Senator deserves more than applause; a return-ticket is not too much of compensation either. He more than deserved it not even because he was a founding member of the party but for his quality representation at the Senate. But all that Umaru required was a free and fair contest and a level playing field. While other senators from the state slumber and enmeshed themselves in power play between the executive and the legislature, Umaru’s was among the few voices of reason that served as the soothing balm. The senator has proved to be a true representative of not only the people of Niger East Senatorial District, but the state as whole through the initiation of bills and co-sponsorship of others that have direct bearing on the lives of the people. Beyond the bills which form the core mandate of every legislator at both the state and national assemblies, the Senator has embarked on various constituency endeavours including capital projects, skills acquisition programmes and other empowerment projects and even scholarship for pupils and students from poor background across his constituency and beyond. During one of his many scholarships ceremonies recently the Senator touched on few of such gestures in an interview with journalists in Minna. He said: “During my first tenure, I sunk 150 boreholes in all wards, distributed 30 transformers, constructed 50 kilometres road that linked 150 villages in the zone.
“As part of my contribution to education, 77 students are currently benefiting from scholarship at the university, while 53 students are in Unity Schools across the country enjoying full scholarships.”
Laudable as this efforts are, what endeared Umaru more to his constituents are probably his ability to physically identify with them constantly and also rise in their defence in their times of dire needs.
Umaru was one of the first legislators to maintain a vibrant constituency office where he not only directly interface with his constituents but turned the same into Information and Communication Centres where pupils and students are trained. In the aftermath of the military invasion of communities in Bosso local government area, it was the same Umaru who rose in their defence by ensuring that justice is served in the case.
Many are also wont to remember the yearly devastation done to dams and agrarian communities across the state and the compensation crisis that dog the ongoing construction of Zungeru Hydro-Power Dam. His was the lone voice calling on appropriate authorities to ensure compensation and relocation of people of the affected communities.
This is aside, being at the forefront in the struggle for the assent to the Hydro Electricity Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) Bill he repackaged and resuscitated for implementation into law amongst other interventions.
Sentiment aside, Umaru is a shining example of what a legislator represents; and in this our darkest night, this star twinkles. It is heartwarming that the national headquarters of our party recognises how an asset the senator is to the party, our state and country by stepping in to prevent the eminent drift to anarchy over the last primary. It can go a step further by bringing all stakeholders to a roundtable as the party moves to consolidate its gains in 2019 general elections.
–Kuyabana writes from Minna