APC, PDP And Running Mate Concerns In KadunaIn Kaduna State, permutations on how the major political parties would embark on their quest for political power in the state has been the main discuss of pundits even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), released the time table for the 2023 general elections.
While some political watchers made projections on who will take over from Kaduna State governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai from within his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), others were occupied with who will pick the ticket from the main opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Kaduna, being the political capital of the Northern region, the contest for the state was always going to be tough between the two main parties, ruling APC and the PDP.
Expectedly, several persons indicated interest for the number one seat in the state cut across political parties.
After much permutations and intra-party contestations, primaries were held and standard flag bearers emerged.
The question however was whether the ruling party and the main opposition party will be able to weather the storm in the face of a series of controversies surrounding their choice of running mates.
In the ruling APC, Senator Uba Sani who presently represents Kaduna Central Senatorial district in the National Assembly emerged as Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s anointed candidate, as widely speculated.
For his supporters, his political pedigree, achievements stood him out among those who contested for the APC ticket with him, even though those who indicated interest and purchased forms to contest the primaries with him, such as Hon. Mahmud Sani Sha’aban and a retired assistant comptroller general of Customs (ACG) Bashir Abubakar expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of the primaries that produced Sani, as the flagbearer of the party.
In the main opposition party, PDP, Rt. Honourable Isa Mohammed Ashiru who was the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general elections also defeated other contestants including former Governor Muktar Ramalan Yero and former NEMA boss Sani Sidi to pick the party ticket as standard flag bearer for the 2023 governorship election. He was also the party’s candidate in 2019.
However, with the primaries done and dusted, who would be their running mates took the front burner. In the APC, t. were issues over whether or not the party’s candidate would sustain the legacy of the incumbent governor, el-Rufai, who governed the state with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Pundits were mindful of whether such a choice would brighten the ruling party’s chances or not going into the would-be keenly contested election.
Not deterred by these perceived base concerns, Senator Uba towed the path of the same faith ticket by picking the incumbent deputy governor, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe as his running mate.
Although many felt his choice of the same faith ticket in a state like Kaduna was being insensitive to the fragile religious coexistence, others felt it worked for Governor Nasir el-Rufai in his second term and may also work for his successor.
“I don’t think the same faith thing mattered much in the administration of the state if you ask me. I think many would appreciate the governance by the administration as well as the need to get women involved in governance as shown by the el-Rufai administration. I think capacity is the most essential element at this stage of our political journey,” said an APC member and social commentator, Sadiq Abdullahi.
He added, “I believe that the APC candidate has seen the need to follow in the steps of the governor hence his decision to pick the incumbent deputy which will ensure continuity in office.”
On the contrary, a political pundit, Maxwell Obiekwe, said “I don’t believe that competent people exist in every faith. And so in a multi-religious entity like Nigeria, and most especially, considering the sensitive situation in the country today, it would have been ideal for inclusiveness and cohesiveness to pick a running mate from another religion.”
But all is also not calm in the PDP over the running mate saga. The PDP candidate picked a Christian as his running mate in the person of Dr John Ayuba. But the choice has been met with reservations from some quarters on account of Ayuba’s age. They wish he picked a much younger person as running mate.
Even though Ayuba, 68, who hails from Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna State is seen as the man of the people, some youths the running mate position ought to have been given to a much younger person who would have been groomed for higher office in future.
“The older generation ought to make a conscious and determined effort to prioritise youth development.This should be accompanied by practical examples in involving them in the political affairs w. they can participate in decision making of their future,” a resident of the area, Bala Chechet said while reacting to the selection of Dr John Ayuba as running mate to Ashiru.
“The emergence of a 68-year-old John Markus Ayuba as running mate to Isa Ashiru, the governorship candidate of the PDP in Kaduna state, has, once again, and most unfortunately, brought to the fore the issue of youth exclusion in leadership and governance in the state,” another resident, Israel Bawa said.
But the PDP candidate said he chose Ayuba because of his competence and what he will bring to the table when he emerges victorious in the election. He also assured that he will run an all inclusive government with youths majorly a driving force.
Also reacting to the disenchantment claims by the youths, the PDP Senatorial candidate in Kaduna South, Sunday Marshall Katung said Ashiru selected Ayuba based on his competence.
Nevertheless, the narratives of the candidates are already shaping how the political battle for the top seat in the state.
For the APC candidate, Senator Sani, he had told party leaders that he was on a consolidation mission, in his words, “I urge you all to come with me on this journey of consolidation. Power belongs to you. You can put a stamp of approval on my bid and without delay prepare for the task of check-mating our political opponents and ensuring our victory at the polls come 2023. I will be your servant. I will be accountable to you. Your priorities shall be my priorities.
“We shall collectively build on the great works of the incomparable Governor El-Rufai. As we strive to break new grounds, the Almighty Allah shall be our guide and shield. In Him lies our strength” he stressed.
He noted that under Governor el Rufa’i, Kaduna State went through a major revolution with the state totally reworked; and this he said is evidenced in the remarkable milestones the State has recorded in policies, infrastructure, health, education, water re.s, agriculture, agribusiness, to list but a few. He however averred that “the huge challenge before him is how to sustain and build on Mallam el-Rufai’s legacy of outstanding public service and impact”.
But this is not the case with his major opponent of the main opposition party the PDP, Hon. Ashiru, who believes the administration of the APC in Kaduna State has done more harm than good in the state going by most of his policies which he described as mostly anti-people. He promised to give Kaduna people a sense of belonging if voted into power.
Uba and Ashiru both have formidable political pedigree as some pundits would argue. To what extent the burden of inclusiveness will affect the candidates going into the polls will manifest with time.
Battle to occupy Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House in 2023 intensifies amid mixed feelings on the candidates and issues surrounding their choices of running mates for the ruling APC and the main opposition party, PDP. In this write up, ISAIAH BENJAMIN takes a look at their chances.
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