The battle for the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Yobe State is as good as decided with the current national secretary of the party, Mai Mala Buni, being endorsed by the party as the preferred candidate.
The certainty of Buni’s emergence trails the historical fact that the state government is seen as the Siamese twin of the party. This has been the case from 2003 to 2015.
The governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, who has been in power since 2009 when he succeeded his deceased principal, Mamman Ali, was this month given the absolute powers by the party to nominate whomever he wanted to succeed him – providing that the person shares similar “people oriented vision” with him.
To that effect, he settled for Mr Buni, the man he is chiefly credited to have helped to rise on the ladder of politics both within and outside the state.
Though the choice of Mr Buni was applauded by majority of the party, some section feel such decision should have been made at the primaries.
To that effect, five notable politicians and personalities joined the race by buying the nomination form.
These challengers are Sidi Karasuwa, a serving member of the federal House of Reps; Umar Ali; Ibrahim Mohammed Bomoi, a retired federal civil servant and a very rich businessman; and Aji Kolomi, a retired civil servant in the state.
Upon the announcement of Mr Buni as the endorsed candidate, the party had reach out to other strong contenders, like Mr Bomoi, whom everyone agreed has the strong financial capability of either wining the primaries or moving to another party to cause problems for the party.
It was also on record that at the event where Mr Buni was declared the preferred candidate of the party, the outdoing governor, Mr Gaidam and his deputy, Abubakar Aliyu were also given automatic tickets for the senate.
Mr Gaidam was to challenge the former governor, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who is the current occupant of the seat.
But after series of consultation and lobbying Mr Bukar eventually surrendered the seat to Mr Gaidam and endorsed him as well as Mr Buni as the party’s candidates for Yobe East senatorial seat and governor of the state, come 2019.
Sensing the dangers of leaving Mr Bomoi to go into the contest without some kind of horse trade to compensate his years of support for Mr Gaidam, the senator, Bukar Ibrahim, who now assumed the fatherly role of the party, advised that the retired federal civil servant be compensated with a befitting political office.
To that effect, it was agreed that the outgoing deputy governor had to forfeit his ticket for Mr Bomoi. The deputy was reported to have accepted the request unconditionally.
This has now brought down the number of APC governorship aspirants from five to four.
The aspirants, their strength and weakness
Mai Mala Buni
He is obviously the man to beat in the contest.
Apart from being the special adviser to governor Gaidam on politics and assembly matters, those who know Mr Buni said he has long paid his due in the politics of the state.
Mr Buni is known as a grassroots politician.
He later rose to the national political arena when his boss presented him to be elected as the national secretary of the ruling APC.
It is believed that his loyalty and support for the governor earned him the trust and anointment as the next governor of Yobe State.
He obviously has no odds against him in winning the primaries because the party that nominated him controls the entire delegates who would vote tomorrow.
Mr Karasuwa is a renowned grassroots politician who has functioned as chairman of a local government a couple of times. He is among the founding members of the defunct APP that later became ANPP and then merged with other parties to become APC.
He was appointed commissioner in the cabinet of governor Gaidam in 2011.
He was also the director general of Mr Gaidam’s gubernatorial campaigns in 2011 and 2015. He became a member of the federal house of reps in 2015.
Though he was said to have informed Mr Gaidam of his intention to contest the governorship come 2019, the federal lawmaker did not get the blessings of his former principal.
As it stands now, the odds seems against him. Many believe he is almost on his own as the party has already made up its mind on the issue of governor Gaidam’s successor, come 2019.
Besides, Mr Karasuwa, who represents Karasuwa, Nguru,Yusufari, Machina federal constituency, does not have the financial wherewithal to execute a governorship campaign if not backed by the state government.
Most of his supporters that urged him to join the contest from the onset have since aligned with the choice of the party and government.
He is said to be a successful businessman and farmer who is unknown within the political circle in the state.
Many cannot say much about his pedigree apart from claims that he is a philanthropist.
He is not seen to pose any kind of possible challenge in the contest.
He is a retired director of finance at the Yobe state ministry of works.
Apart from his career as a civil servant, Mr Kolomi has not held any political office before.
It is believed the party refused to call him for some kind of negotiation because “no one considers his aspiration as any kind of threat during the primaries,” said a party chieftain who would not want to be named.
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