The emergence of Umar Namadi from Hadejia emirate as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mustapha Lamido from Dutse emirate as that of the People Democratic Party (PDP), has re-enacted the rivalry between the two emirates in Jigawa State, North-west Nigeria.
The two candidates are considered the top contenders to succeed Governor Muhammad Badaru who is rounding off his second term in office.
The rivalry was aggravated by the results of the just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections which showed that the Dutse emirate went for the opposition PDP candidates and saw the defeat of an APC senator from the zone, Sabo Nakudu. Some members of the House of Representatives also lost the election under the ruling APC.
The results of the 25 February polls provoked suspicion that the Dutse emirate may not vote for the governorship candidate of the APC. The Hadejia emirate is particularly worried about the outcome of the presidential poll because, based on the unwritten power rotation agreement in the state, it is supposed to produce the next governor. But if the voting pattern seen in the presidential election continues, that may be difficult after all. This is because the voting pattern suggests that voters in Dutse emirate may vote for their son, Mustapha Lamido. The PDP candidate is a son of a former governor of the state, Sule Lamido.
The rivalry further intensified after the voice of an unidentified person went viral on social media castigating voters in Dutse emirate for voting for PDP candidates in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
The unknown person in the audio clip claimed that Dutse emirate has always wanted to hang on to power without considering Hadejia emirate which has not produced a governor in the state. It warned that the people of Hadejia would never take it lightly with the Dutse emirate if their candidate (Mr Namadi) eventually wins the governorship election.
“We are going to deal with you (Dutse Emirate) and power will never return to Dutse emirate again. After we finish, we will pass it (power) to another emirate,” the unidentified person suspected to be from Hadejia, said in the viral audio recording.
That comment sparked controversy so much so that the Hadejia emirate had to distance itself from it and reaffirm its usual neutral position in politics.
Also, Islamic clerics in the state warned against the divisive comments. The Chief Imam of Dutse Central Mosque, Abubakar Sani, in a sermon last week Friday, appealed for restraint and cautioned that Islam is against people who are proud of themselves and those who feel they are superior to others for whatever reason.
“Such behaviour of identifying oneself with a particular region existed in the pre-Islamic era. But with the coming of Islam, people are united under one identity. Anybody seeing himself from another region as above someone from another clan and region is still in the dark ages”, the cleric said, warning residents against provocative remarks using emirate affiliation.
For the governorship election in Jigawa, political analysts the race is too close to call between the APC and PDP candidates. Although the candidates of other political parties are vying for the governorship seat, it is projected that the race is between the two major parties.
While the PDP candidate hinged his campaign on better health care, education, and a promise to run an inclusive government if elected, his APC counterpart has not only made similar promises but pledged to build on the achievements of the incumbent governor, also a member of the party.
The candidate of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Aminu Ibrahim, may likely play the role of a spoiler to his former party, the PDP, where he unsuccessfully contested for governor twice in 2015 and 2019.
Background to emirate rivalry, power struggle
The choice of Dutse as the state capital in 1991 when Jigawa was created was arguably the beginning of the rivalry between Dutse and Hadejia.
Dutse was the least considered area for the state capital because of its remote location and closeness to Kano. Hadejia, a bustling commercial town, was one of the emirates in the old Kano State from where the state was created by the Ibrahim Babangida administration. With that status, Hadejia town was naturally expected to be the seat of power. However, last minute lobbying by powerful interests reportedly resulted in Dutse being named the state capital.
Jigawa has 27 local government areas, 30 state constituencies, 11 federal constituencies and three senatorial districts. The state also has five emirate councils, namely Dutse, Hadejia, Gumel, Kazaure and Ringim. It is fairly homogeneous with the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups found in all parts of the state. The ‘Mangawa’ (a Kanuri dialect) and Badawa ethnic groups are found in Hadejia emirate.
Although each of the three dominant groups has maintained its ethnic identity, Islam and a long history of inter-marriages bound them together. Islam is the predominant religion, with over 99 per cent of the population adhering to the Sunni (Salafist) doctrine, according to a report by the United States Institute of Peace, and the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).
Apart from the Gumel emirate, the other four emirates have produced governors in and outside Jigawa State.
The first civilian governor of the state, Ali Sa’ad Birnin Kudu, is from Dutse Emirate. He governed the state between January 1992 and November 1993. Saminu Turaki, from Kazaure emirate, served as governor from 1999 to 2007. Sule Lamido, from Dutse Emirate, served as governor between 2007 and 2015, while the incumbent governor, Mr Badaru, who assumed office in 2015, is from Ringim Emirate.
Mukhtar Muhammed, from Dutse Emirate, was the military governor of Kaduna State, between July 1978 and October 1979. He died in 2017. The Hadejia emirate also produced Hamza Abdullahi as military governor of the old Kano State. Umaru Muhammad, also from Hadejia, was governor of the North-western state during the Murtala Muhammed regime in 1975. A year after, when the North-western state was split, Mr Muhammad continued as Sokoto governor until July 1978. He died in 1980 in a plane crash.
Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Hadejia emirate has been agitating for power shift to the zone but interests among the political actors have made that impossible over the years.
Hadejia and Dutse emirates have the largest voting population, almost on an equal basis. If voters from the respective emirates will vote in the governorship election along the line of the emirate dichotomy, then both candidates will have to seek the winning votes from other emirates – Kazaure, Gumel and Ringim. Interestingly, both the APC and the PDP governorship candidates have nominated their running mates from Gumel Local Government Area – the headquarters of Gumel emirate.
Gov Badaru’s ‘iron fist’ approach
The APC gained control of the North-west state in 2015. In that year’s election, the party won in almost all the 287 political wards in the state. However, things began to fall apart in the APC when Mr Badaru moved and took control of the party structure in the state thereby clipping the wings of politicians and lawmakers whom he considered obstacles in his route to political stardom.
In the 2022 primary election of the party, the governor accumulated more political adversaries for himself and the party. He determined who got the party tickets and dropped the ones he did not like, despite their political relevance at the grassroots. One of them is Yusif Galambi, a member of the House of Representatives from Gwaram federal constituency. After Mr Galambi was denied a return ticket under the APC by the governor, he joined the NNPP and won the 25 February election there.
The senators for Jigawa North-west and North-east districts, Danladi Sankara and Ibrahim Hassan, respectively were the other victims of the governor’s iron fist approach to the party’s affairs in the state. The two senators lost their return tickets for allegedly being active in the upper chamber. They had advocated for direct primary elections for political parties in the new Electoral Act 2022 as against the governor’s preference for indirect primaries.
Mr Sankara withdrew from the senate primary election for the Jigawa North-west after he reportedly discovered that Mr Badaru had directed the local government chairmen from his zone to work against him during the exercise. The lawmaker is still aggrieved. However, he reportedly mobilised votes for the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, in the just concluded presidential election. It is not clear if he will do so in Saturday’s governorship election.
Meanwhile, the senator is believed to have some influence in his district with nine out of the 12 local government chairpersons in his district in his camp. As things are, the APC would need his support to win the governorship election. This is even as his followers have been posting unfavourable comments on social media vowing to bring the APC down.
Four members of the House of Representatives were also denied return tickets under the APC. They are Mohammed Faggen-Gawo, who has joined the PDP, Mr Galambi, who defected to the NNPP, Muhammad Gudaji who moved to ADC and Ado Sani. There are indications that they would work against the APC in the election.
Also, nine members of the state House of Assembly who failed to secure APC return tickets for alleged disloyalty to Mr Badaru may also work against the party. The lawmakers are Sulaiman Musa representing Guri constituency; Garba Muhammad (Garki); Abdulrahman Alkasim (Yankwashi); and Usman Haladu (Kanya).
Others are Ibrahim Kadaita (Gagarawa); Hassan Usman (Roni); Musa Sule (Dutse); Ka’is Abdullah (Malammadori); and Kabiru Abdullahi (Babura – the governor’s hometown).
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Mr Abdullahi reportedly joined forces with other aggrieved politicians during the presidential election and successfully made the governor lose his polling unit in Babura LGA.
‘Baba Mai calculator’
Other factors that may influence the governorship election in Jigawa are the alleged refusal of the governor to fill vacant positions in the state civil service and his ‘tightfistedness.’ Mr Badaru is derogatorily referred to as ‘Baba Mai calculator’ (father of calculator) by some people for allegedly starving party members of funds while allegedly enriching himself. Even so, others say he is a good manager of state resources.
Some APC members also complained that the governor did not do empowerment programmes for the people of the state in the eight years he has been in office. Farmers also complained that farming inputs, machines and agrochemicals he reportedly imported from China were not sold to them at subsidised rates. Some farmers lamented that farm inputs are cheaper in the open market than from the state-controlled Agricultural Supply Company (JASCO), managed by a confidant of the governor.
Some of the farmers even alleged that Mr Badaru’s role as head of the Presidential Task Force on Fertiliser did not benefit them as the price and availability of fertilizer in Jigawa State remain a concern. The opposition PDP and its candidate are exploring these lapses to woo farmers. In fact, Mr Lamido has reportedly distributed free fertilizer to the farmers across the 27 local government areas of the state in a bid to get their votes come Saturday.
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