In Katsina, governorship contenders queue up for 2019

Former governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema

As 2019 draws nearer and the nation feels the effect of the preparations for elections, contenders for the top seat in Katsina State are girding their loins for the internal competitions within their platforms and the ultimate contest in the governorship election.

The next general elections is more than a year away, but the fact has not deterred politicians from commencing overt and covert consultations with the aim of forming of new alliances to ensure they are fielded as desired candidates for key political positions across the country.

The national political scene is getting ready with great preparations by highly placed politicians to ensure that they achieve their aims of occupying top positions.

In Katsina, a position that is going through this intense preparations is the state’s governorship seat as those already showing interest have, according to feelers, begun underground consultations to form alliances with the view of clinching their parties’ ticket for the 2019 elections.   

Observers say some of them that have shown interest could be found in key political parties in the state, including the All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

On the platform of the PDP, five possible candidates have tacitly shown interest in the governorship seat:

Umar Abdullahi Tsauri
Popularly known as Tata, he hails from Dutsinma, the same council area with former Governor Ibraihim Shehu Shema. He had tried on at least two occasions to vie for the seat in the past on the platform of the PDP, and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). He is currently a formidable figure in the PDP and is believed to have the financial clout to pursue his ambition.
   
Apart from his financial muscles, Masauri’s strength also includes his popularity among people at the grassroots. He is believed to have the backing of not a few political heavy weights within and outside the state with several of them said to have bankrolled his previous attempts to vie for the position. Within the PDP, he is among the most popular of prospective candidates, with several party members already warming up to him.
  
But he is said to be inexperienced in governance, as he is not known to have occupied any public office before now. Other possible candidates within the PDP, as well as intra-party politics, could work against his ambition.

Abdullahi Garba Faskari
He is from Faskari council area and was the Deputy Governor of the state during ex-Governor Shema’s second term in office. He had tried contesting for a National Assembly position during the last general elections but lost out to another candidate. He is said to be visible during weddings, naming ceremonies and other public activities in his home council and elsewhere.

He has the political experience to his advantage as he is a political heavyweight in his council area and in southern part of the state but past intrigues that characterized PDP’s process of selecting candidates to contest for the governorship seat may work against him. Historically, the party in the state is known for backing ‘anointed candidates’ who may not necessarily be popular among the electorate for the governor’s seat. If financial status is anything to go by, his chances of securing the ticket is dim as he is not known to hold a fat purse.      

Engr. Musa Nashuni
He was commissioner for Resource Development during Shema’s tenure and was reported to be the former governor’s anointed candidate that was to replace him during the 2015 gubernatorial election. He contested against the incumbent governor and lost. He is an Engineer by profession and a consultant owning a private business in Abuja. He hails from Kankia council area.

With Shema still wielding influence within the PDP, it would not be surprising if the former governor decides to support him to contest the position for a second time. 

Due to Shema’s influence, and should he decide to contest, Nashuni would have the advantage of having the executives of the state PDP behind him. This also translates to a strong financial war chest since most of the wealthy members of the party are more often than not, loyal to the party. 

However the unprecedented influence the ruling party has among the state’s population may work against him. Also, he is not known to have a strong support base at the grassroots where elections are decided.   

Mutakka Rabe Darma
He was the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and former commissioner and godson to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He is reported to be currently engaged in programmes that promote youth empowerment in the state. He hails from Katsina council area.

His charismatic demeanor and youth followership is advantage for him. Being a ‘Yar’Adua boy’ as he and others are often called, endears him to the late president’s supporters and associates. His weakness may however be on the financial side.

Ahmed Aminu Yar’Adua
He is cousin to the late president and was Secretary to the State Government during Shema’s first tenure in office. He was former Managing Director of Federal Inland Waterways and hails from Katsina council area. Like Darma, Aminu has the advantage of enjoying the patronage of Yar’Adua associates. His weakness manifests mainly because he is not widely known as a politician but he has the previous experience of being a former SSG, as his only major political stint. 

On the APC platform, three possible aspirants stand out, namely Dr. Usman Bugaje, Abdulaziz Musa Yar’Adua and Governor Aminu Bello Masari.

Usman Bugaje
A university don and former House of Representatives member, he had contested for the position at least on two occasions. Also from Katsina council area, he had been a PDP member before crossing to the APC.

He is a force within the intellectual arena and he is known to have compiled documents on how the state could move forward socio-economically. He is quite popular within the APC and is reportedly part of a faction group, known as AKIDA, within the party.

Being a former National Assembly member gives him the advantage of political experience. He however lacks strong grassroots support base and he is not known to have the financial clout often needed to contest for the governorship ticket. 

Abdulaziz Yar’Adua
Popularly known as Audu Soja due to his military background, he is younger brother to the late president and had contested for the gubernatorial ticket during the last general election. He however lost out in the process. He has his family name as a strong factor and the sympathy of those that respected his late brother while he was both state governor and president.

His demerit may be in the area of political experience, as he is not known to have held any public office since retiring from the military some years ago. He is also not known to have a strong support base at the council areas and may not be up on the financial side for such a quest.     

Aminu Masari
He is the current governor of the state and the first to be elected from the southern part of the state. He is also first to rule the state outside the PDP since 1999. He was Speaker, House of Representatives and had been commissioner in ex-governor Saidu Barda’s administration. He hails from Kafur council area.

The incumbency factor is an advantage for him and this also translates to a formidable financial war chest should he decide to re-contest. He has the advantage of a strong followership at the grassroots. He is not short of political experience.

He however has the challenge posed by the factional group within the APC, which has accused his government of not meeting the expectations of the people.
     
On the PDM platform, a possible figure that could come out to vie for the governorship seat is Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke, a former Councilor in his Kankara hometown before becoming its Chairman. He was Senator representing Funtua Senatorial zone and had held key position in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). He had contested for the gubernatorial position on same platform in the past.

His merits include a strong financial war chest, teeming supporters and political experience. Setback for him includes his diminishing popularity due to political compromises made in the past and the relatively new nature of the PDM in the state. 

Observers are however of the opinion that underground politicking for the top seat in the state might intensify even as the next general elections get closer.  They also said that other interested figures could still join those mentioned above even as consultations and formation of alliances continue among politicians in the state.

AS things stand, it is hard to predict which of the aspirants could carry the day. The political configurations would throw up candidates that are able to weather the storm of intense politicking that is expected to occur in the coming months.

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