CHWUANG DUNGS, writes on the subtle scheming for the 2019 governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gombe State.
Barely two years to the end of Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo’s second tenure in Gombe State, there is a subtle tussle for who will pick the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and possibly succeed him.
Presently, the political game in the state, especially in the ruling PDP is becoming hot with many interested personalities reviving their machineries and making consultations in preparation for the impending battle for the government house in Gombe.
Although Dankwambo has vowed to ensure that his party remains in power after his tenure, political observers in the state are of the view that PDP’s chance would depend largely on who emerges as its flag-bearer.
Without a doubt, the unfolding political scenario in the state indicates that the battle will be fierce and interesting between the PDP and APC.
The APC has never hidden its desire to ‘capture’ the North-eastern state. Most political observers are of the opinion that PDP’s chances of retaining the state’s number one seat largely depends on the outcome of the party primaries.
Although the APC in Gombe is locked in a crisis which gives PDP an added advantage, nevertheless it behooves on PDP to present a reputable and acceptable candidate, if it hopes to win the governorship poll, analysts opine.
For now, none of the aspirants or their top strategists would talk openly about their plans. But interviews with political players and our findings revealed that behind-the-scenes arrangements and consultations are going on for the number one job.
Meanwhile, about 10 aspirants are contemplating to run for the PDP governorship ticket ahead of the 2019 election. The aspirants cut across political, business and professional class. They are said to have begun to seek the support of party members and have reached out to interest groups and trade unions in their bid to clinch the party ticket.
So far however, four contestants believed to be close associates of the governor are perceived to be jostling to take over from him. They are Alhaji Bello Bala Tinka; Alhaji Ahmed Yayari; Ahmad Abubakar Walama; and Hassan Muhammadu.
Expectedly, all the leading aspirants are putting up serious fights to ensure they emerge the party’s gubernatorial standard bearer. From all indications, the outcome of the governorship primary will be influenced by four key factors: the relationship of the various aspirants with the party leadership, their loyalty and commitment to the party, their personal pedigree and marketability and the senatorial zone they hail from.
Alhaji Bala Bello Tinka
At the moment he is the frontline contender for the PDP ticket. His campaign office is located in a very strategic position in the heart of Gombe metropolis with his posters and billboards all over the town. Tinka, who is believed to have made fortunes in his chosen profession as a contractor is a close associate of the governor. Political observers are of the view that he will maximise the privileges of his closeness to Dankwambo to enhance his acceptability.
Tinka who was the convener of ‘Neighbour-to-Neighbour,’ a campaign group that provided the political structure for Dankwambo to return to power in 2015, is also the proprietor of one of the most famous private schools in the state.
As the Gombe-North coordinator for Dankwambo in 2015, he played a vital role in returning Dankwambo to power and survived the APC tsunami that swept 16 governorship seats across the northern states.
Political observers are of the view that he has the financial muscle to finance his campaign without soliciting for the support of the incumbent governor, but he is perceived as arrogant by some section of elites in the state.
Alhaji Ahmed Yayari
He is the chief of staff to Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo for the past seven years. Before his appointment as chief of staff, he was a commissioner for eight years during former Governor Muhammad Danjuma Goje’s administration.
Prior to his appointment as a commissioner in 2003, Yayari worked with the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for years, before venturing into politics. He contested and won election to represent Akko Local Government Area at the Gombe State House of Assembly in 2003.
Shortly after his inauguration as member of the House of Assembly, Danjuma Goje nominated and appointed him as Commissioner of Land and Survey. He also serve as Commissioner of Youths and Sport during Goje’s second tenure.
He was first appointed as Chief of Staff by Governor Dankwambo after his victory in 2011. Yayari was able to retain his position of chief of staff when Dankwambo was re-elected in 2015.
Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar Walama
Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs since 2011, Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar Walama was the chairman of Dukku LGA for eight years during the administration of former governor Muhammad Danjuma Goje.
Being a successful businessman before venturing into politics, Walama having served as a local government chairman for eight years and now a commissioner coordinating the affairs of all the 11 local government areas in the state since 2011, must have made enormous savings to give any of the aspirant a run for their money.
The biggest obstacle to the ambition of Walama is said to be coming from Alhaji Hassan Muhammadu, who is also a member of the state executive council serving as commissioner of finance and economic development. Hassan is being pressurized to run for the state number one seat by different groups and individuals.
Alhaji Hassan Muhammadu
Rated as the most suitable and perfect candidate by the elites and most political analyst, Hassan Muhammad, the present commissioner for finance and economic development is seen by many as a gentle, straightforward and sincere.
Many believed he is the rightful successor to Dankwambo, especially as regards continuity of vision. A professional accountant and reputable technocrat, Hassan is believed to be the brain behind the success of the Dankwambo administration.
He also flaunts an enviable record in public service. For instance, prior to joining Dankwambo’s cabinet, he was at different times a technical assistant to former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonja Iweala.
Though he is yet to openly declare his intention to join the race, groups and individuals are already calling on him to contest the governorship ticket.
A group of young politicians in the state, Gombe Political Awareness Forum (GOPAF) recently appealed to him to heed to the various calls on him to contest the Gombe governorship seat in 2019.
“Gombe Political Awareness Forum has observed with keen interest the clamour by various communities and groups in the state for Alh. Hassan Mohammed to contest the Gombe governorship seat. We have no option other than to join in the plea,” GOPAF said.
The group chairman Suleiman Ahmed Kumo who made the appeal in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Gombe, described Hassan as the most appropriate, most deserving and most suitable aspirant across political divides in the state to occupy the governorship seat.