A youth pressure group, Borno Youth and Students Discussion (BYSD-Forum), has advised former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, not to seek further election at the Borno South Senatorial District in 2019.
The group accused Mr. Ndume of alleged misrepresentation and nepotism. Mr Ndume denied the allegation.
At a press conference in Maiduguri, BYSD-Forum said Mr. Ndume has not been able to distinguish himself in the 16 years of his being at the National Assembly. The lawmaker had represented part of his present constituency as a member of House of Representatives (Gwoza-Damboa-Chibok) between 2003 and 2011, and as a senator from 2011 to date.
The call for his replacement came days after the people of his senatorial district held a national summit in Maiduguri insisting on political power shift within the zone and the state in general.
The summit held last week Saturday.
In Borno, there is an unwritten political structuring that restricts certain elective offices to particular zones or local governments of the state and senatorial districts.
For example it is considered almost impossible for Southern Borno, that is predominantly of the Babur-Bura and Marghi speakers, to produce a governor of the state – as governors of Borno always emerge from the northern and central districts dominated by the majority Kanuri and the Shuwa ethnic groups.
Unlike the north and central, the Southern Borno senatorial district also has its sub-structuring of political power.
While the deputy governorship seat has been held by Babur-Bura people of Biu Emirate, the senatorial seat has been for the people of Gwoza local government.
Other smaller local government areas of the South like Shani, Bayo and Kwaya-Kusar, Damboa and Chibok, are left to sometimes scramble for the position of the deputy speaker at the state House of Assembly.
These arrangements are mostly based on the population strength of the senatorial zones and respective local government areas, though some had argued that the population strength of southern Borno had been grossly underestimated.
The Saturday summit had at the end of the day agreed that though power shift is a good idea, it cannot be used to subjugate people’s free will of choosing candidates via party primaries.
It was on this basis that a seemingly frustrated BYSD-forum decided to embark on a campaign to replace Mr Ndume with a relatively popular personality, from his own local government, Gwoza.
“We call on Senator Ndume to take a rest and allow people that are ready for genuine sacrifice to take over from him,” said Prince Muhammed Hassan, a leader of the BYSD-Forum.
“We have decided to support Alhaji Garba Sanda, as the man for southern Borno senatorial seat come 2019; we prefer him because he has the people of our constituency at heart.”
“We are not saying that Senator Ndume has not tried his best but we are tired of one idea that is not really working for us. For about 16 years now, it is the same people that are around him that are benefiting and no one else. We want a representation by a man like Alhaji Sanda,” said Mr. Hassan.
Mr Sanda is one of the numerous aspirants angling for the seat of Mr Ndume.
In 2011, he was actually instrumental to the emergence of Mr Ndume as senator. During the build up to the 2011 election, Mr Ndume had a clash with the then outgoing former governor, AliSheriff, on the issue of who gets the Southern Borno senatorial ticket.
He had to defect from the then ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to the People Democratic Party (PDP).
At that time, Mr. Sanda was already a candidate, but gave up his ticket to the more popular Mr Ndume to enable PDP win the seat. Mr Ndume won the election but eventually defected in 2014 to the newly formed APC as member of the New-PDP. He won the election again in 2015.
But to the youth group apparently working for Mr. Sanda, it is time for Ndume to retire from the Senate and allow their man, whom they said they trust better to take over.
“We all know that the seat Senator Ndume is occupying right now was meant to be occupied by Sanda; but he willing handed it to him in 2011,” said Hassan.
“But sadly Ndume did not represent himself well at the Senate. For the past seven years as a senator he did not empower the youth, neither did he promote any legislation that bettered the lots of Southern Borno people.
“But Sanda, a man without any political office had been instrumental to most of the appointments and scholarship that most of the youth in southern Borno enjoy all these years.
“Since Senator Ndume has not been able to carry everybody along we believe if another person with large heart comes in, he can as well help reach out to others that have been neglected by the senator and even do better. Southern Borno is just too big and very sophisticated to be left in the hands of just one man.
“I can tell you that even in Gwoza local government where Senator Ndume comes from, there are some wards like Bayan-Dutse which Ndume has never taken any project to simply because they did not vote for him. If he can do that in his own local government, how much more other local government areas within the zone.”
The group said they have long started their campaign by reaching out to all APC delegates from Southern Borno to consider a change in their representation at the Senate.
When contacted on phone by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ndume said he was not worried at all.
“It is a good thing that people of Garba Sanda are coming out to test his popularity,” he said.
“This is democracy and it is time for politics. But the so-called youth should understand that my mandate came from the entire good people of southern Borno whom I have represented so well and this include the students.
“Let the young students not waste their time in granting press conferences but go down to the grassroots and campaign for Sanda,” he said.