By Hamisu Ado Nguru
The north-eastern part of Nigeria comprises of six states, the region notably known for the production of crops and livestock which contribute greatly to the economy of the country.
The region is densely populated as compared to the southern region of the country.
The major tribes are Hausa and Fulani and they are largely Muslims; only Borno state has Kanuri people as majority.
There are hundreds minority ethnic groups spread across the region.
In the same vein, the region had never produced President since the country became a federating units. Thus, the region, this time around, stands the chance of producing one; should the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which has the former Vice President, Alhaji. Atiku Abubakar as its Presidential Flag-bearer in the Saturday, 25 February, 2023 Presidential Election, put its house in order.
Analysts believe, if the whole region come together for a common purpose, they may succeed in breaking the jinx. But the question is can they come together?
Atiku, an experienced politician and a two-term Vice President, who attained political fame in 1993 when he lost the Social Democratic Party Presidential Primary election to the late business mogul, Chief Moshood Kasimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola.
Now contesting for the presidency for the sixth time, he became a household name as per as national politics is concern through his sojourn into the various political parties in search of entrance into Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of power as President. He is back again contesting under the political platform of PDP, under which platform he contested in 2019 against the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.
But, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the other hand, is fielding the former Lagos State Governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu paired together with Senator Kashim Shettima, a two-term Governor of Borno State, who happened to came from the same geo-political zone with Atiku.
For now, the zone which comprises six states is evenly balanced between the two major political parties: three for APC and three for PDP. Presently, APC controls Gombe, Borno and Yobe states while PDP is in charge in Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba states.
Available records showed that even during the last general elections, Atiku Abubakar had the upper hand in his state of Adamawa where he defeated President Muhammadu Buhari in term of votes percentage which is expected. It is his state of origin.
Going by the number of the states that make up the region, political observers are of the opinions the APC has certain states considered as its traditional stronghold though the PDP outwitted APC in states such as Bauchi and Adamawa hitherto considered APC’s stronghold in the last elections.
Another contending factor in the North East is Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) who is from the North-west.
The former Kano State Governor has large number of followers who he shares the same political ideology with in the region. For instance, Kwankwaso has significant followers in northern Yobe, which is Zone C. The zone comprises of Nguru, Bade, Jaskusko, Yusufari Karasuwa and Machina Local Governments.
He also has good number of supporters in Zone B, which has Potiskum within its fold. Potiskum is considered the commercial hub of Yobe State.
Kwankwaso also has quite significant supporters in Geidam town, the most popular town in Zone A, it’s one determining point for producing the Senator who represent Zone A Senatorial District in Yobe State.
In other states like Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe and Taraba, Sen. Kwankwaso and his party, the NNPP is a party that pull the crowd.
X-raying The Political Landscape Of The North Eastern States:
Adamawa is a home state to the PDP presidential candidate Alhaji. Atiku Abubakar, and is one of the many states which is inevitably controlled by his party.
Many saw it as a wise decision by Bindow to aligned his political camp with Atiku and Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has lighten up the chances of the former Vice President in Adamawa which many regarded as a good omen for PDP.
APC, the opposition party in Adamawa State, has a woman as its gubernatorial candidate, the first in the history of the state. Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani defeated the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Hon Abdulrahman Namdaz, Umar Mustapha and Wafari Theman, Muhammad Jibrilla Bindow, party’s primary elections to emerge as the its flag-bearer, though this did not go down well with many political gladiators in the state.
Analysts believe APC gubernatorial primary election heated the political landscape of Adamawa, and if the stakeholders refuse to do their home work well and the situation cannot be controlled, PDP may continue to exploit the advantage come February, 2023.
Bauchi State, a unique state in the whole political landscape of the North East, it’s the only state in Nigeria that has the highest number of ethnic minorities groups, therefore, it’s always unpredictable to say which party has dominance over the other particularly between the two major political parties, APC and PDP.
Most of the times, to Bauchi people, it is not about party, it is about the candidates. They cast their votes for particular individuals they support and have belief in.
Similarly, they possessed a sophisticated political awareness which is not obtainable else where within the North East Region. Another remarkable attributes of Bauchi people is their progressive mind set which seems to be homogeneous particularly among the elites.
They are fond of taking collective decisions when ever they deemed it necessary, hence they can change who they feel is not representing them well at what ever level through the ballot box.
Therefore, it is worth noting that Tinubu’s decision to pick Shettima as his running mate has upset the Christian political leaders in the North East, especially the likes of the former Speaker of House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara. Dogara, commands sincere following in his Federal Constituency which comprises of three Local Governments of Tafawa Balewa, Dass and Bogoro, Dogara is a force not to joke with.
Considering how politics unfolds in Bauchi, this time around the APC presents Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar as its gubernatorial candidate who many believes is a strong contender come February, 2023 and may sway votes in favour of the party.
Right from the 1999, Borno state has continued to remain the APC state, despite several efforts put in by the PDP to wrestle power from the party.
This time around the PDP and its presidential candidate decided to flagged off its presidential campaign in Maiduguri, the city not very much far from Atiku’s home state and it was well organised .
The presidential campaign rally was well attended by thousand of supporters of the party and that showed how Atiku is accepted throughout the North East.
In Borno, Baba Gana Umar Zulum wants to be re-elected for second and final term in office and his performance in office has endeared the people to him.
Shettima, the APC Vice Presidential Candidate, is well loved in Borno having ruled the state for eight years. It’s expected that APC will win in Borno in February.
Taraba State is a stronghold of Atiku Abubakar but rivalry existed between Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, a strong chieftain of the PDP and the incumbent Governor, Darius Ishaku, which has posed a great set back to the party in the state.
Bwacha exited and joined the APC, he is struggling to pick the governorship ticket of the party. The matter has turned to a legal issue and is currently at the Appeal Court stage.
Yobe State is controlled by APC and it will continue to be so, simply the opposition party, the PDP in the state seems to be very weak in conducting its affairs.
Now with emergence of the NNPP, political activities is catching up, especially in the Northern Senatorial District of Zone C where the party has different political position candidates.
Gombe is also a state controlled by the APC, now that Senator Danjuma Goje and the incumbent Governor, Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya reconciled their differences, the atmosphere seems to be more appealing and conducive for the APC to reign again beyond February, 2023.
Gombe state was once a state controlled by the PDP when Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo governed the state but with Senator Danjuma Goje moving to APC, the fortunes of the party have changed positively and the party is currently in charge.
Thus, the stage is set and the current stands of the parties showed that APC may likely retain its control of Borno, Yobe and Gombe while the PDP is expected to hold onto Adamawa and Taraba. For now, Bauchi is undecided.
Hamisu Ado Nguru, wrote from Damaturu, Yobe State