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2023 Kaduna Governorship hopeful: their chances, factors

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

As the buildup to 2023 democratic dispensation gathers momentum, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to reposition to retain or takeover power.

In Kaduna State, while the ruling APC has already marked down five notable politicians as successors of Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai in 2023, the opposition PDP has equally realigned, with four political stalwarts to wrestle power from APC.

One thing that’s obvious and realistic, however, is the fact that, all the nine governorship hopeful so far identified came from a particular Senatorial Zone of Kaduna State, with exception of one aspirant.

While the faith of Uba Sani, who is current APC popular Senator representing Kaduna Central, remains unpredictable and hanging in the air because of the odds against him in APC, his alleged planned cross-carpeting is already counting against him as a difficult task to be accomplished.

And, while it’s widely believed that the popular Senator Uba Sani’s name has reportedly been removed from APC in Kaduna State, insider sources also alleged that all his men have also been expunged from the party exco by Governor El-Rufai and Speaker, Yusuf Zailani of the State House of Assembly.

Recalled that, it has been the practice of the APC party’s leadership to give liberty to a strong member to write all the exco of the party when it’s time to unjustly remove a high profile member.

In 2019, Governor El-Rufai’s leadership of the party reportedly gave Uba Sani the liberty, pen and paper, to write all the exco of the party when they wanted to remove Senator Shehu Sani from the exco. 

The scenario played out recently, when Yusuf lbrahim Zailani, the State Assembly Speaker, and Governor El-Rufai sat down and wrote that any member, who associated with Uba Sani, should be removed from the party.

Clarifying the allegations, Senator Shehu Sani confirmed that “Because in 2019 when the Governor wanted to remove me from party, he gave Uba Sani the liberty, pen and paper, to write all the exco of the party.”

Trouble started when Uba Sani and Speaker both openly demonstrated vested interest in becoming Governor of Kaduna State, come 2023, but the Governor wanted the Chief of Staff, Sani Datijo, to be his successor. 

Uba, it was reliably gathered, is currently being denied even the Senate seat because he doesn’t have anybody in the party anymore. “Uba is even at the verge of being denied the Senate seat currently because he doesn’t have anybody in APC anymore,” an ardent supporter of Uba, who confided in our reporter, revealed.

“They’ve removed everybody associated with Uba Sani from APC, making Sani Datijo the No.1 Governorship hopeful in APC,” the source added. 

A peep into the profiles of other governorship hopeful of APC clearly shows that people like Bashir Jamo (DG NIMASA) and Bashir Saidu (Finance Commissioner) are, however, among those in the list of the 2023 party’s top contenders.

Indeed, Sani Shaaban the former Guber aspirant and ex-State House of Assembly member from Zaria are also in the race. Shaaban whose son is married to Buhari’s daughter, is also eying the No.1 seat of the State in anticipation of villa support.

On the side of Kaduna PDP guber hopeful, there are basically three main intending contenders for 2023. The main contenders warming up to vie for the hottest positions in the state include Senator Shehu Sani, who is reportedly moving to the party any moment from now.

The other persons seriously in the race on the platform of PDP are the 2019 governorship candidate of the party, Hon. Isah Ashiru Kudan, his 2015 senior colleague and former Governor of the State, Ramaran Yero, respectively.

As usual, it’s impossible to rule out the stuff like Senator Suleiman U. Hunkuyi from the race as a staunch member of PDP with structures all over the State. As earlier observed, findings revealed that of all the intending contestants, only Senator Shehu Sani originally comes from Kaduna Central.

The eight other aspirants of both APC and PDP are from Kaduna North Senatorial Zone in Zaria and environment, with the exception of Senator Shehu Sani, who was born (and bread) in Kaduna Central. 

Even though, the  question about who was born in Kaduna Central or was not may not be the issue, but whether there’s any especial advantage attached to it and how would that add value to someone in the race to Sir Kashim Ibrahim House? On whether Sen Shehu Sani is the only bonafide son of Kaduna Central Zone by birth, and whether that has given him an edge over other aspirants, is a matter of conjecture. 

Senator Shehu Sani who, however, confirmed the allegations to our reporter when contacted, further explained that “I’m the only Kaduna boy, originally born in Kaduna Central; the rest are impostors.”

Based on the forgoing, the chances of Shehu Sani could be seen as much brighter, especially with a zoning arrangement on one hand, and on the other hand, where familiarity and closeness to the people of Southern Kaduna could translate into potential votes.

Be that as it may, the Southern Kaduna factor, with regards to determining Shehu Sani’s victory is key when compared to all contestants, irrespective of party affiliation in terms support-base.

Notwithstanding their positions, Senator Shehu Sani has more advantage over his opponents because of his closeness and support to Southern Kaduna people compared to Ramaran Yero, Suleiman Hunkuyi as well as Hon. Isa Ashiru, respectively.

This relationship could only be add value in area of primary elections of the opposition PDP, if Shehu could garner same support from both central and little from the northern part of the state as well.

It may also not be in doubt that the 10 Southern Kaduna local governments, with two in Kaduna Central, could not only add more advantage and good value to Shehu Sani as someone, who has a long standing relationship with people, but could influence their voting.

Coming down to APC, the El-Rufai factor may not only apply; the incumbency factor would undoubtedly favor the likes of Chief of Staff, Sani Datijo, who’s most favorite candidate of El-Rufai during APC primaries, even though, the likes of finance commissioner, Bashir Saidu, has been jostling for top seat.

Also in general elections, the factor of 10 Southern Kaduna Christian local governments could come into play with two of it in Kaduna Central, including Chikun and Kajuru LGs. 

Why it’ll be extremely difficult for Southern Kaduna delegates to vote any other aspirant outside Shehu in primary elections of PDP: “Indeed, it could also be a dream-pipe for them to also vote any other candidates, if Shehu Sani emerged PDP candidate in general elections, especially with what they’re passing through under APC-led Nasir El-Rufai administration in terms insecurity, a Southern Kaduna frontline PDP supporter, Mr. Maigari Ango Mathew,” stated. 

However, popular observers could strongly argue that Bashir Jamo, whose son is married to Buhari’s daughter, may be the choice of the APC cabal from that point of view.

Other schools of thought could hold on to their opinions on the chances of Isa Ashiru of PDP as one that has contested for Governor in 2019 and, therefore, could be given “sympathy votes” by electorates.

For Ramadan Yero, even though the factor of been former Governor of the State still remains fresh in memories, he may no longer have the financial muscles to stand the rigour of “money bags” politicians enshrined in the nation’s polity.

On alleged moves to cross-carpet to PDP, even though all efforts to get him to speak failed, Senator Uba Sani is rumoured to have been taken money to the former two times’ Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and even gotten his son a job in CBN. 

The problem Uba is still going to face is that, PDP people are going to view him as ‘an agent of El-Rufai’ or a mole coming to destroy their party. 

Another problem Uba is going to have is the fact that El-Rufai is going to fight him dirty; because for four years, he has been benefiting in contracts from Kaduna State Government as Special Adviser on Political Matters to the Governor. He has also gotten a lot of houses and estates. 

“So, the day Uba decided to transmit from APC to PDP, war is going to break out of him. Uba is afraid to fight El-Rufai because all his secrets are in the hands of El-Rufai. That’s why he cannot reply, despite that Nasir has been blasting Uba in APC meetings in which none of Kaduna journalists have interest or access to the meetings of APC in Kaduna to publish. None … nobody reports it because they don’t even know.

“The only relationship they have with APC is when they’re invited to come and cover press conference. And the only press conference, which APC has been doing, was the one which I was in office and to tell them I’ve been suspended.

“APC has never held any general press conference in Kaduna. The dilemma of Uba Sani now is that, if he attempts to move from APC, El-Rufai is going to expose and demolish him. Uba Sani has lost out in APC in Kaduna by loyalist of speaker. Uba Sani, too, is from Zaria not Kaduna Central.

“I’m the only one born in Kaduna. El-Rufai is aware Uba Sani has been taking money to Makarfi and waiting for the day Uba will declare decamping. If Uba moves from APC to PDP or any party, it has rubbished El-Rufai presidential ambition, because it’ll be that APC has only one Senator in Kaduna State.

“So, any attempted for Uba to leave APC will spell doom for him. Uba got Makarfi’s son a job in CBC and El-Rufai knew about it,” he said.

“What Uba wants some journalists to know now is that in all Sallah periods he tries to snap with El-Rufai to camouflage that he’s still with El-Rufai. So, people will not know. El-Rufai went out of his way to remove Shehu Sani for Uba even when Buhari wanted Shehu to be there in 2019.

“Uba has been going about insulting El-Rufai since he became senator. Each time Uba boys want to raise their voice against El-Rufai, he’ll tell them to stop and not to cause problem for him. El-Rufai has cut him short. El-Rufai is ready to do everything to bring the Chief of Staff as his successor. Kaduna Central has never produced a Governor in Kaduna State,” APC source revealed. 

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