Should President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) win a second term in the forthcoming presidential elections, then, the task of Adamawa state Governor, Muhammdu Umaru Jibrilla of the APC to get a second term in the governorship elections, would have been made easy. On the other hand, if Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wins, the PDP candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri stands a bigger chance.
However, in politics, nothing is static. Adamawa politics, since the former Gongola state, has been very responsive to what happens in the centre during elections, with the state constantly submitting to the ‘bandwagon effect of elections’. In the 1979 general elections, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won only one senatorial district- Wukari zone, the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP) won two- Northern and Adamawa senatorial districts, while the United Party of Nigeria (UPN) also won two- Muri and Numan/Ganye districts. But when the people realized that the NPN will form the central government, the former Gongola state despite being stronghold of GNPP and UPN; they voted for NPN’s Shehu Shagari. Equally, in 1983 general elections, when the sequence of election was changed, and the NPN won the presidential election, the first casualty was Governor Abubakar Barde, even his campaign Director General, late Gura Buba left him- Bamanga Tukur of the NPN won the governorship election. Again in 1999, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeated Bala Takaya of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) with just 40,000 votes, when the Adamawa people realised that Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP will form the central government, the margin of vote PDP won against ANPP was nearly 300,000. Same trend of politics of bandwagon effect of election has continued in Adamawa politics up to today. Nevertheless, as earlier mentioned, politics is dynamic, so the contenders for Adamawa governorship race in 2019 are coming into the game with their peculiar strengths and weaknesses.
Had the 2019 general elections dates been in a reverse sequence, with Governorship and House of assembly elections coming first, then, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, the Adamawa state governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) will be the biggest beneficiary. He would go into election shielded from any bandwagon effect. Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako is a product of Hausa-Fulani oligarchy with reasonable war-chest. He has one of the most sophisticated campaign strategies and structured development plans. He is using scientific approach in facing the election and he will also bank on committed and cult-like supporters of his father, Murtala Nyako, who still enjoys strong followership. Whoever waves away Murtala Nyako’s political strength, is committing a political blunder. Senators AbdulAziz of the ADC will contend with voters that will look out for the logo of the presidential election winner’s party.
Emmanuel Bello of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is coming into the race hoping on Christian bloc votes and also with the belief to take advantage of what Marcus Gundiri laid down. But things might not work that way. Gundiri has left the SDP together with his strong base and most of the Christians’ votes that would be ‘faith-determined’ will go to Fintiri. Bello does not have the capacity to challenge any of his strong opponents. However, if Bello wants, he can play good ‘personal interest-politics’ towards the time of the election by aligning with one of the three opponents for certain benefits.
The PDP candidate, Ahmadu Umaru Fintri, became prominent, popular and politically influential within just three months, this is rare in Adamawa political landscape. In fact, few weeks before Fintiri became the acting governor, if he was told he will become PDP’s governorship candidate in 2014 or 2018, he would have laughed it off. He changed the narrative of Adamawa infrastructure and civil service welfare in just three months of acting as governor. Even his staunch adversaries will attest to it. However, Fintiri is coming into the race with lot of baggage that may outweigh his chances. The corruption allegation against him may be used by the APC to distract him. Fintiri will benefit from his posture as champion of the minority cause. He will contend with Hausa-fulani oligarchy – the Kautal Pulaku which controls nearly 85% of the state’s wealth and resources. Fintiri also committed three big political blunders in his choice of running mate. He was not logical and scientific in picking his running mate. He should have picked someone that will appeal to Hausa-Fulani or pick their very close cousins. Secondly, Atiku suggested Maxwelll Gidado to Fintiri, Fintiri did not honor it. Thirdly, Joel Madaki gave Barrister Afremu Jingi’s name, Fintiri did not pick him. This has portrayed Fintiri as someone who wants to have absolute power. Furthermore, he is yet to send olive branches to those he defeated at the primaries- none of his opponents at the primaries follows him for campaigns. Insufficient war chest and dwindling resources will hinder Fintiri’s campaign- perhaps that is why his campaign train keeps on shrinking. Nevertheless, Fintiri is the man to beat.
One cannot analyse the chances of Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow without recollecting how the APC was formed in Adamawa state. The New PDP which had Murtala Nyako, Atiku Abubakar and Senator Bindow and others joining with the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which had people like Lawal Babachir, Abdulrahram Adamu and many others. Bindow was the only PDP senator that defected to APC. The APC victory in 2015 elections was made possible because of this marriage of convenience.
No doubt, Governor Bindow is coming into the 2019 election with absolute advantage over his opponents – incumbency, ample resources and belonging to the ruling party, including the strong chances of President Buhari winning the election. However, Bindow has woefully failed to manage local political patronage and some socio-economic issues. Bindow is yet to fully win back with assurances Nuhu Ribadu, Mahmood Halilu, Lawal Babachir, and Markus Gundiri, among others. Furthermore, Bindow made a mistake by allowing payment of salaries to become a campaign issue until recently. Many political gladiators still believe, a Bindow with a second term in his hands, will still play his politics of self-interest and trust issues. Nevertheless, Gov Bindow has the best chances of winning.
As earlier mentioned; if Buhari wins the presidential elections, Bindow will have an easy ride, if Atiku wins, Fintiri may smile home, but if Atiku wins Adamawa but does not win the Presidential elections, Bindow will still win. AbdulAziz Nyako may pull a surprise, while Emmanuel Bello may go for personal gains. All the same, Adamawa politics and political class are always for the ‘centre’- what happens in the presidential elections, determines the voting pattern in the local elections.
Zayyad I. Muhammad
Jimeta, Adamawa State