As moves by political gladiators to outwit one another, either to consolidate grip on power or wrest power from the incumbents across the country gather momentum, in Jigawa State, the race to the Government House is becoming tense.
The forefront runners in the governorship race are candidates of the PDP, Aminu Ibrahim Ringim, the APC, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, and the SDP, Bashir Adamu Jumbo, who have been busy crisscrossing the state wooing supporters, as well as holding nocturnal meetings in the past few weeks.
Prior to this development, it might not have been out of place to say the ruling APC was already on its path to victory in the 2019 general elections in the state, particularly looking at the rate at which it had been receiving decampees from other political parties.
Among the big names that abandoned their parties for the APC are a former Governor of the state and PDP gubernatorial aspirant in the last primary elections of the party, Ali Sa’ad Birnin Kudu, and former gubernatorial aspirants, Engr. Baba Santali and Tijjani Ibrahim Gaya.
Others are former diplomats from the state and commissioners that served under former Gov. Sule Lamido.
However, all the leading parties in the state: APC, PDP and SDP, had their members decamp across parties, although going by statistics, PDP suffered the highest causalities.
In December, 2015, 370,000 PDP members decamped to APC, among who were a former Deputy Governor of the state, Ahmed Mahmood, a former Minister of Power and Steel and Ambassador of Nigeria to Turkey, Abdulhamid Mallam Madori, former members of the House of Representatives, Bashir Adamu Jumbo and Yusuf Shittu Galambi, and a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
But despite defections to the ruling party, there are indications that the 2019 polls will not be a walkover by the APC-led government as earlier envisaged by most analysts.
If pulling of crowds at campaigns is anything to go by, PDP will be a force to reckon with looking at the crowd it pulled at its flag off campaign in Dutse, the state capital, as well as the zonal campaign rallies in Gumel and Hadejia.
However, it may not be out of place to say the ruling APC has seen the handwriting on the wall, hence the new momentum in its wooing supporters; as the Gov. Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar has been on campaign tour in all the local government areas of the state.
To ensure that no stone is left unturned, the governor’s campaign train does not limit its tour to the headquarters of the local government areas; reaches goes to the villages.
In most places, the governor challenged the people on whether all he promised during the 2015 campaign was delivered or not.
Gov. Badaru may not have much issues with the electorate on the delivery of promises made as he has been able to finish all the projects he inherited from the previous government; particularly roads. He has also embarked on new ones which have endeared him to many in the state.
However, his rigidity in handling finances, which many view as poor policy for human development, may be a cog in the wheel for his re-election, although many have started reasoning along his line that government funds are not for charity.
On another hand, the governorship candidate of SDP, Jumbo, is cherished by many, particularly the people from his senatorial district. His posters have taken over all the major streets of Kazaure, the town he hails from.
SDP is also at home in Babura, the home local government area of the governor. The emergence of SDP in Babaura followed a disagreement at the top hierarchy of APC in the state that saw the emergence of a former Special Adviser on Inter-Governmental Affairs to the governor, Barr. Kaloma Musdapher, as an SDP candidate for the House of Representatives.
According to some analysts, whichever way the pendulum swings at the general elections, SDP is a party that has come to stay in the state looking at the way it is enjoying the support of the people.
The main opposition party, PDP’s governorship candidate, Ringim, was reported to have been leading his supporters in nocturnal campaigns with reports indicating that the top echelon of the PDP has over a long period relocated to the rural communities in the state, canvassing for votes.
Mustapha Sule Lamido, a son to a former Governor, Sule Lamido, is gunning for the position of Jigawa Central Senatorial District in PDP. The popularity he is enjoying, especially among the youths, has raised hope for the PDP governorship candidate to make a great impact at the polls.
Ubale Shitu is another puller the PDP can rely on in Jigawa North East. He is the serving senator from the zone, as well as the candidate of the party for same position.
Sen. Shitu is one of the relevant politicians at the grassroots of his zone. He defected from APC to PDP and his popularity will add weight to the support the PDP will enjoy at the gubernatorial election.