THE battle line is drawn in Borno State and the outcome of tomorrow’s senatorial election will, to a greater extent give a hint as to which party will form the next government.
Seven political parties have fielded candidates for the senatorial election. They include ANPP, APGA, APS, CPC, PAC, PDP and NAP. While some of the candidates are seen as forces to reckon with, observers believe that some of them are mere jokers, who want to show their faces so that at the end of the day, the party that forms the new government will carry them along.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who is about completing his second term as governor of Borno State is working relentlessly to go back to the senate where he was elected three times under the NRC, UNCP and APP.
Sheriff has secured the ticket of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to vie for the Borno Central senatorial seat for the fourth time. He is also believed to have helped his protégées to secure tickets of the party to run the senate election for Borno South and Borno North. Observers say the move is meant to consolidate the firm grip of the ANPP which has remained the ruling party in the state since 1999.
However, Alhaji Ali Ndume, erstwhile right hand man of Sheriff and former minority leader of the House of Representatives has defected from the ANPP to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and clinched the senatorial ticket for Borno South. Sources said his defection was the result of his failed relationship with Sheriff who was said not to be favourably disposed to the initial senatorial ambition of Ndume under the ANPP.
It is believed that Ndume’s defection had, to a great extent, depleted the influence of the ANPP in Borno South, the zone that controls about one million votes of the electorate in the state. This development has prompted Sheriff to mount serious campaign in the area.
In order to checkmate Ndume, Sheriff has fielded Dr. Asabe Vilita Bashir, his erstwhile commissioner and one-time minority leader in the state house of assembly as the ANPP senatorial candidate for Borno South. “We believe there will be no contest in southern Borno because Asabe is no match to Ndume,” Ibrahim Shafa, a seasoned politician from southern Borno said.
Bashir had equally dislodged Senator Umar Hambagda, the incumbent senator representing Borno South.
“Southern Borno has been marginalized for decades, they have never produced a governor, their last resorts are their representatives at the national assembly and Ndume has been in the forefront of championing our cause,” Ibrahim said.
Similarly, Sheriff has supported the candidature of Maina Ma’aji Lawan who is the incumbent senator and former governor of old Borno State under the umbrella of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Before he emerged as the senatorial candidate, Lawan had to slug it out with the incumbent secretary to Borno State government Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda.
Shortly after the primary election, there were resentments here and there over the choice of Lawan, a development which culminated in the resignation of Jidda even though he later made a u-turn after sustained persuasions.
“The reason why Sheriff prefers Maina Ma’aji Lawan is because of the later’s grassroots support, generosity and deep rooted political muscle,” Mohammed Mohammed, a member of the ANPP said.
Despite the strategy adopted by Sheriff and the ANPP family to survive beyond the forthcoming elections, other parties are not also taking it lightly towards unseat the ruling government.
The PDP has fielded Alhaji Ahmed Zanna to slug it out with Sheriff in the struggle for the Borno Central Senatorial Zone.
A successful businessman and member of the boards of many federal establishments, the PDP believes that Zanna will give Sheriff a good run for his money. “The fact that he defeated the former secretary to the state government, Dr Bukar Abba is a clear indication that he will make an impact in the election,” Kashim Babagana, a PDP stalwart in Bama said.
The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) on the hand has fielded Mohammed El-Nur Dongel as its candidate for Borno Central. As a university don, Dongel is said to be banking on his friends in the academia as well as the Buhari factor.
Other parties that filed candidates for Borno central include ACN (Umaru Baba Goni); ADC (Alhaji Abdulkadir Suleiman); APGA (Hassan Muhammed Mustapha) and PAC (Mohammed Bunu).
In Borno South, the CPC had fielded Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, a former registrar of the University of Maiduguri. It is believed that his contribution towards the enrolment of the children of southern Borno into higher institutions, coupled with the Buhari factor, Ibrahim will give Ndume and Bashir, the candidates of PDP and ANPP respectively, a good fight.
Other senatorial candidates for Borno South include Adamu Silka (ACN); Ali Abdullahi (APGA); Saratu Mari (NAP) and Mohammed Yunus Ibrahim (PAC).
In Borno north, the PDP has fielded Aliyu Kyari to counter the strength of Maina Ma’aji Lawan of the ANPP. Kyari was a former chairman of Mobbar local government area and a successful dealer of Michelin products. He was once a commercial manager at Borno Radio Corporation (BRTV)
Other candidates for the Borno North include Dr Bulama Mali Gubio, a former Head of Service in Borno State; Rufa’i Monguno (APGA); Sadiq Mohammed Bulama (APS) and Alhaji Kasim Amin (PAC).
Evidently, 20 people from different political parties are eying the three senatorial slots in Borno Sate but political pundits believe the fight is solely between ANPP, PDP and CPC.
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In Borno, Sheriff fights old foes for another stint in senate