A former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, is one of the “three musketeers” in the politics of Bauchi State. Others are the two former governors: Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu and Malam Isah Yuguda.
Senator Mohammed has never hidden his interest to become the state governor because he has contested the ticket but lost in the past. But will he realise the ambition in the midst of his political “adversaries”?
His ambition to become the governor, which was allegedly thwarted by former governor Yuguda, was said to be the reason behind the frosty relationship with the former governor and other party chieftains who opposed his dream of becoming the number one man in Bauchi State.
Senator Mohammed’s political profile and influence in Bauchi State rose significantly when he held sway as the FCT minister office because of his closeness to the former first lady. Apart from the influence of the office he occupies at the time, the former minister was said to have been very generous to party members from the state.
He was said to have also wielded significant influence in the state chapter of the party, almost outshining the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairman, Mu’azu and former governor Yuguda, a development which allegedly earned him more supporters and political foes.
Already, the former FCT minister had declared his intention to contest the governorship election on the platform of the PDP again in April, 2017.
Mohammed spoke about his intention when he paid a courtesy visit to the newly inaugurated state PDP executives at the party’s secretariat.
That pronouncement made him the first person in Bauchi PDP to have expressed his intention to go for the governorship ticket in 2019.
He said that he decided to contest for the PDP governorship ticket because of the poor performance of the Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar- led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
The former FCT minister said that he was confident that the PDP could unseat the ruling party in the 2019 election and reclaim its mandate taken away by the APC in the last general elections.
He said that the Abubakar-led APC administration had failed to deliver dividends of democracy to the citizens since its assumption of office two years ago.
Senator Mohammed, however, is one aspirant among notable politicians in the Bauchi PDP still eyeing the gubernatorial ticket. Others are Senator Abdul Ningi, Senator Adamu Gumba, Senator Mohammed Abubakar and Senator Abubakar Maikafi. So, he should expect a fierce battle for the ticket.
Meanwhile, Senator Bala’s interest has been endorsed by a group, Rescue Bauchi Group, which has called on him to run for the Bauchi PDP governorship ticket in 2019.
The group made the call at a press conference jointly addressed by its chairman, John Akevi and its Bauchi State coordinator, Abdullahi Gambo.
The group stated that they supported the former FCT minister out of the array of politicians interested in the 2019 PDP governorship ticket in the state.
“After a close monitoring of interested persons and their contributions to Bauchi State in particular and the nation at large, Rescue Bauchi Group, unanimously and without reservations, has endorsed Senator Bala Mohammed and has pitched tent with his camp and solicit the support of all Bauchi State people for this glorious quest,” Akevi said.
According to the group, Senator Mohammed had an outstanding performance as a legislator and had proven to be one of the brightest lawmakers from Bauchi State who contributed to many bills, motions and executed many constituency projects.
The group added that his performance as the FCT minister from 2010 to 2015 had shown him to be a dedicated individual who could address the problems facing Bauchi State.
It promised to deploy all resources at its disposal to mobilise support for Senator Mohammed to get the PDP governorship ticket and win the election on its platform.
Senator Mohammed’s candidature is said to have further been driven by the split in former governor Yuguda’s camp, a situation that has made some of the former governor’s supporters, who opposed the movement to the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), to pitch tent with the former FCT minister.
Many of key supporters of Yuguda, who did not join the GPN with him, were said to be working underground to actualise the ambition of the former FCT minister, especially those who benefited from his ‘generosity’.
The former FCT minister’s political strength is, however, believed to have been weakened by his encounter with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which portrayed him as a ‘corrupt politician’, a scenario which purportedly made many of his associates to keep a distance from his governorship ambition.
Another obstacle to the former minister’s ambition is said to be coming from Senator Ningi’s purported governorship dream.
As a former lawmaker and grassroots politician, Ningi has been a strong pillar in the Bauchi PDP with a large political base.
Ningi’s posters have already flooded the state with groups and individuals calling on him to contest the governorship ticket.
The former senator’s involvement in the recent reconciliation efforts has propelled him to transit from a ‘Bauchi State’ politician to a national figure.
Some political observers also believe that Ningi will use his national connection to influence some decisions in his favour.
The senator from Bauchi Central has an edge over Senator Mohammed, who hails from Bauchi South, where the incumbent governor Abubakar is also representing if the zoning principle is considered by the PDP.
Senator Ningi has also endorsed by a political group, Bauchi Development Awareness Circle (BADAC) which appealed to him to heed to the various calls on to contest the Bauchi governorship seat in 2019.
“The Bauchi Development Awareness Circle has observed with keen interest the clamour by various communities in the state for Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi to contest the Bauchi governorship seat. We have no option other than to join in the plea,” the BADAC said.
The group chairman, Alhaji Adamu Hassan, described Senator Ningi as the most appropriate, most deserving and most suitable aspirant across political divides in the state to occupy the governorship seat.
Hassan attributed the reason why they trusted Ningi to his achievements when he was in the House of Representatives and the Senate. He said that the contributions he made had economic, political and social impacts on the lives of his constituents.
“Ningi is the only representative-cum-senator who despite the termination of his tenure, following the 2015 elections, continued to serve his constituents as demonstrated by his recent donation of ambulances to hospitals and other health facilities in Bauchi Central senatorial district,” he said.
The group solicited the support of all well-meaning people of Bauchi State to the Senator Ningi’s 2019 governorship project to salvage them from the economic, social and political problems.
Apart from Ningi, the biggest challenge to aspiration of the former FCT minister is the incumbency factor being enjoyed by Governor Abubakar who is in his first term of office.
The zoning and incumbency factor may work against Senator Mohammed in the race for the Bauchi PDP governorship ticket.
While governor Abubakar may get the APC governorship ticket, Senator Mohammed will struggle against formidable opponents to get the PDP ticket.
Meanwhile, the PDP spokesperson in Bauchi State, Yayanuwa Zainabari, who was asked to clarify the position of the party on the governorship ticket, said that every member of the party has the right to show interest in any elective position.
Zainabari, who said that the party was aware that former senators Mohammed and Ningi were interested in vying for the governorship ticket, stated that PDP’s door was open to all interested members.
He, however, reminded the aspirants to take cognisance of the current embargo on intense political activities so that their actions would not be misconstrued as campaigns.
Zainabari said that while groups and individuals were canvassing support for their candidates, no official of the party was allowed to align with any of the would-be contenders for elective posts.
As the race for the governorship ticket in Bauchi State garners momentum, especially in the PDP, senators Mohammed and Ningi remain the most visible challengers for now as we approach 2019. Whether a dark horse will grab the ticket from the duo, only time and votes cast at the primary election will tell.