BEN NGWAKWE reports on the build-up to the 2023 governorship election in Gombe State as the leading political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – perfect strategies for the battle ahead
Political activities are picking up in Gombe State ahead of the 2023 general election as political gladiators, particularly within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) perfect strategies to unseat the incumbent governor, Inuwa Yahaya of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Among those aspiring to fly the flag of the opposition party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state, include a former Minister of State for Health and presently an associate professor with Gombe State University, Dr. Abubakar Ali Gombe. Also in the race for the PDP’s governorship ticket is a political heavyweight, Alhaji Mohammed Danbarde.
The business tycoon is a former governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He joined the PDP ahead of the 2023 governorship election over what he described as “bad governance and misplacement of priorities” by the APC administration in the state. Danbarde trailed Governor Yahaya at the APC governorship primary election in 2019 and analysts are of the view that the former is likely to throw in everything he has for the governorship contest if he picks the PDP ticket as he will not allow a second defeat by Governor Yahaya.
Danbarde, who described himself as a party man, said: “Since I picked my PDP card in February this year, I have been a loyal and dedicated member.
Though Danbarde is seen by many as a great political mobilizer; time will tell if he will secure the PDP’s governorship ticket. Another technocrat cum politician vying for the PDP’s ticket is Alhaji Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna, who was 2019 PDP governorship aspirant but later left the party for the APC over his claim of being rigged-out in the party’s primary election. Gwamna had in a statement then said the result of the PDP governorship primary election was not a reflection of the delegates’ choice.
“The result is not a reflection of delegates’ choice. The result of this election is a disruption of the democratic tentacles upon which our party stands,” the statement read in part.
It would be recalled that Usman Bayero Nafada, polled 1,104 votes to defeat 12 other aspirants, including Gwamna, who garnered 147 votes in the 2019 Gombe PDP primary election. Gwamna who resigned his membership of the recently to join the race for the PDP governorship ticket, explained that the decision was after consultations with his family, political associates and supporters.
Equally eyeing the PDP’s ticket is Air Vice Marshal Shehu Adamu Fura (rtd). While the APC in the state has only Governor Yahaya aspiring for its ticket at the moment, there is what some analysts described as a “political spoiler” who may rock the boat for him.
According to APC watchers in the state, the “political spoiler” is no other person than Senator Idris Abubakar, whose supporters believe will defeat the governor in the APC governorship primary election. Abubakar has not officially declared for the APC ticket but if posts on his Facebook page are anything, he is likely to throw his hat into the ring for the contest.
Reasons for the fear over Abubakar’s purported ambition are not farfetched. He is a former Minister of Transport under President Goodkuck Jonathan and a one-time senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a technocrat (a lawyer) and respected by the business community.
His seeming rich political profile, notwithstanding, members of Governor Inuwa’s camp are of the view that Senator Abubakar is a mere “political spoiler,” who lacks what it takes to challenge the incumbent. They added that his membership of the APC is also in doubt as his romance with opposition political parties is noticeable. The governor’s supporters cited what they described as the giant strides of the APC-led administration as a major reason why it would be difficult for anyone to beat him forthcoming governorship election in Gombe State. According to them, Governor Inuwa has done well in infrastructural development, particularly the construction of the multi-million naira Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park, which will not only create thousands of jobs, but boost revenue generation in the state. They also cited a network of 11-100 kilometers of roads constructed in all the 11 local government areas of the state; construction of new general hospitals and rehabilitation and renovation of existing hospitals as well as solar streetlights across the state as achievements of Governor Yahaya that will earn him the votes of the people of the state.
Also recently, the governor approved the recruitment of 1,000 fresh teachers by the Gombe State Teachers Service Commission as part of efforts towards consolidating on the objectives and gains of the declaration of a “state of emergency” on education and boosting human capital development in the state. In the same vein, the governor has approved the transfer of 288 staff of the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) who applied for transfer of service into the state Ministry of Education, secondary schools and technical colleges.
Apart from empowerment programmes that had put smiles on the faces of youths, women and the vulnerable in the state, is the issue of people with disabilities, who the governor has touched their lives. The leader of people with disabilities in the state said about Yahaya: “You are the first governor in the history of Gombe State to stand for good two hours under scorching sun to receive the community of persons with disability.
We can also remember that during Covid-19 pandemic, you gave special treatment to our members.” While there is no doubt that achievements and other giant strides recorded recently will speak for the governor during the election, there are members of political school in the state, who believe that Yahaya’s second term bid will not be a smooth ride.
Apart from the governor being accused of not spending enough to actualize his aspiration, he was also accused of promoting civil servants who are due for promotion into different levels and grades in the state civil service.
The governor is also said to have appointed some individuals, who are “not serious politicians” into his cabinet. Most of the appointees were described as political sycophants who have nothing at stake in the politics of the state. Another area of concern noted was Governor Yahaya’s rivalry with Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, which they said “is not healthy for the APC in the state.”
Apart from these sundry observations and comments from the political class in both parties, the coast seems clear for Governor Yahaya in 2023 although the stage is set for an interesting battle.