By Sulaiman Maijama’a
Since after the emergence of the Former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadiq Baba Abubakar as the glag bearer of the APC for Bauchi governorship race, there have been controversy and mixed reactions as regards to what could possibly transpire during the 2023 general election. While some people believe that Governor Bala Mohammed has had the weakest contender to defeat easily by a landslide, some believe that Air Marshal Sadiq is formidable and awe-inspiring, therefore will wrest power from the incumbent Governor Bala Mohammed. Some say that, of course Sadiq is a heavy weight, thus even if he eventually does not scale, Governor Bala must suffer to remain in power.
There is no doubt Sadiq is not as weak as some people assume and must not be joked with, looking at the fact that he has network and financial wherewithal for he recently quit service as the Chief of Air Staff, recent past Nigerian’s Ambassador to Chad. Not only that, his wife who is a serving Minister, can support him emotionally and financially. What could be more supportive than this, and how could someone with this be underestimated?
However, is financial capacity the only requisite qualification politics takes? what about experience, sagacity and political savvy? Unlike Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinibu who are old political friends, having similar personal credentials and both had held high political office since 1999 (as Mahmud Jega compared them), Senator Bala and Air Marshal Abubakar are two different figures. While Governor Bala has been into politics, contesting against sitting governors, having encounters with cabals in both local and national levels for a decade and the half now, Sadiq Abubakar has just ventured into the arena as a neophyte a year ago; a situation that can be described as a contest between a seasoned politician and a fledgling one.
Not only that, the campaign team of Air Marshal Sadiq is weak. Their structure is yet to be seen, their manifestos are yet to be heard. There are even accusations that some close political associates of Sadiq are plotting anti-party, some of whom are planning to defect for PDP.
On the other hand, in every political landscape, there exist some powerful figures (the Ulamas, Traditional rulers, Public figures etc). No serious-minded politician underestimate them, because they dictate where to go. Ask MA Abubakar! What is the level of rapport has Sadiq Abubakar established with these influential people in the state? If any, for how long? Remember “brand loyalty” in Advertising.
I saw his picture with Sheik Ɗahiru Bauchi. While the Sheik is seated modesty, Air Marshal is standing with his shoulder high as if he posed for the picture while in military spirit. How could he dare, in all conscience, do that? Who tells him that people of the Sheik’s calibre, age and knowledge are treated that way? This spells how politically unskilful he is, despite being a political scientist.
For Senator Bala, his relationship with religious leaders of all sects has been curdial since he was FCT Minister and with his emergence as a Governor it was further strengthened. When he was FCT Minister, he built a world class Masjeed for Sheik Ɗahir in Kaduna. His relationship with the Sheik is a father-son like; he calls him a father, respects and treats him like a father. In 2019, the Sheik had to categorically called all his followers to vote for Senator Bala, which played a vital role to his emergence as Governor. With his emergence, he appointed the Sheik’s biological son as the Chairman State Universal Education Board (SUBEB). What could be a better time to campaign for Kaura than now.
Similarly, Izala sect is not an exception. Bala Mohammed has been supportive to them. Since he was Minister he built a concert hall named after Late Sheik Ja’afar Mahmud in Gwallaga Masjeed, Bauchi, being the headquarters of Izala in the state. With his emergence as Governor, Senator Bala appointed the Masjeed Chief Imam’s biological son as Executive Secretary Bauchi state Pilgrims Board. This is apart from other appointments members of the sect have secured.
Traditional rulers have also been wooed by Bala Mohammed. Some of them have had their palaces renovated and upgraded to standard level, some have their sons and daughters occupying positions. Waiting Bauchi who is believed to be one of the elderstatemen in the state has had his daughter appointed as commissioner. Families of the heroes past are not left out. A biological daughter of the first Nigeria’s Prime minister was appointed Chairman BASOVCA.
Weather you like it or not, the aforementioned influential people are part and parcel of this government and we know how influence play a role in politics. Do you think they will afford to let Senator Bala go in 2023? Never!
Maijama’a, Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano