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2023: Political permutations favour SDP ahead of 2023 Guber race in Adamawa

* A critical analysis of the chances of Adamawa frontline Guber candidates

By Mustapha B Sangere

As the election day draws closer, it is becoming increasingly clear that the governorship contest in Adamawa State will actually be between three key political parties and their candidates as the front runners – the incumbent PDP, the APC and the SDP. The PDP has as its candidate incumbent Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri; the APC has a sitting Sen. A’ishatu Dahiru Binani; and the SDP has as its candidate a longtime political activist, Dr. Umar Ardo. Other political parties such as the PRP, NNPP, Labour, etc. have also fielded in candidates, but only these first three have been able to measure up in terms of statewide party structures, campaign activities and presence. It’s therefore almost certain that the governorship winner of the state will emerge from amongst these three only. And on the bases of the following analysis, the contest is for SDP to win.

As it is, the incumbent seems to have lost out with the electorate as a result of wide range of poor policies, poor management of relationships, non-fulfillment of public promises, widespread corruption allegations, etc. For him, actually, the election is a referendum on his stewardship; he’s either accepted or rejected. This means his performance and governance, and not his campaigns, will count.

His performance on any visible physical infrastructure is the twin overhead bridges he constructed in the state capital, leading to the Government House, with serviceable loans collected from commercial banks. In terms of provision of social services to the public, however, nothing is noticed. While schools in the metropolitan capital remained dilapidated with pupils sitting on the ground with not a single desk or chair, Jimeta-Yola is with no drop of pipe borne water anywhere. The mass of residents rely on unhygienic well water, or on streams from the Benue River, or on buying from water vendors, or of the few that can afford it, including the Government House, on boreholes.

Healthcare delivery services are comatose, poor and expensive. In governance too, things have not added up. The economy has seen no improvement as the state is weighed down with huge amounts of debt and services. Workers and retirees are owed entitlements, and many are sacked on political grounds. His levying of high taxes on foodstuffs and animals not only helped raise up the inflationary pressures on communities, it also politically estranged him with farmers and especially cattle owners. So in governance too it isn’t counting well for the incumbent.

Politically, not withstanding of his public endorsement, the incumbent is also generally believed to be in a cold war and in collusion course with his party’s presidential candidate whose followers’ support he seems to have already lost. There is also a strong schism of opposition from within against the governor by aggrieved members whose ambitions to contest elections under the party platform were scuttled by the governor during the primaries.

As for the APC, its own major undoing is the fielding in of a woman as its candidate. This act is diametrically and totally at variance with the religious and traditional settings of the vast majority of the Adamawa society, especially among the Muslims and traditional rulers. So far, a barrage of Islamic (fatwa) against her candidacy by large and reputable Islamic scholars in the state and beyond have made even the most ardent supporters of the senator among most Muslims withdraw their support for her. Indeed, to all intents and purposes, the religious dimension has technically knocked the APC candidate out.

Still on the gender issue, the incumbent’s act of also himself picking a woman as his deputy pushed further the PDP ticket’s chances away on account of the same religious and cultural settings, in that it has also indirectly placed a woman on the ultimate leadership ladder.

In addition, the APC candidate herself has serious integrity issues hanging on her neck, further denting her reputation. These are longstanding accusations of impropriety in businesses wherein along with her present husband of siphoning over N50b of national education funds. She is also accused of gaining admission into the Ahmadu Bello University with fake documents leading to her subsequent dismissal. Without her so far clearing herself of these heinous allegations, they remain as albatross hanging on her neck. Then there’s the huge gulf in the APC team between the candidate on the one hand and the PCC, Ribadu and the First Lady camps on the other. This gulf only seems to be widening.

On the other hand, the SDP’s candidate has been a long standing opposition voice in the state’s politics, always criticizing and suing in courts acts and policies of the PDP and APC governments and proffering alternatives. Over the years he became recognized as “the voice of the oppressed”. And now as a candidate, he came up with pro-masses principles, policies and welfarist manifesto such as creating a Commission for Widows and Orphans, the enhancement and implementation of the Disability Law, the comprehensive recording and compensating victims of insurgency and violence in the state; his four-point wealth creation scheme to drive his eradication of poverty agenda in the state, his ethical reorientation program, his healthcare and education policies and his practical implementation outlines have altogether resonated well with the masses of the state and are so far unmatched by any other candidate in the race.

The governmental failures of both PDP and APC over the years – such as the collapse of the economy, security and public welfare systems; the collapse of public service and the ensuing banal corruption, nepotism among public operators; the resulting unemployment and endemic poverty in society, etc.; have all been picked as key campaign weapons by the SDP candidate, apparently making these failings manifestly glaring to the people by consistently and unrelentingly hammering on them and putting the blame squarely on the PDP and APC. This strategy seems to be gingering up the electorate to palpably yarn for change. This is so much so that it is putting the SDP campaign on a collusion course with the NBC in the state, which lately started sending “warning letters” to media houses against broadcasting “inciting statements’ on other political parties and candidates.

Furthermore, the practical alliance SDP entered with UPFAN (United Progressive Farmers Association of Nigeria) is most strategic in terms of votes gathering. UPFAN is currently the largest single organization cutting across the entire state, with over 275,000 card-carrying verifiable cult-like members most of whom are women registered voters. With its high level of committed leadership, and its strong and active organizational units at the grassroots, UPFAN is undoubtedly a game changer in SDP’s mobilization ability at the polls.

Also, even though in his long political struggle against the establishment he never portrayed himself as a religious or ethnic champion, however, as it is turning out in the prevailing political equation of the state, the SDP’s candidate somehow seems to have been inadvertently adopted as representing the Fulani/Muslim interest group, by far widest and largest in the state. This group constitutes more than half of the state’s single voting populace.

With virtually no Christian candidate on the gubernatorial ballot that could give a religious dimension to the political scene, SDP here too stands the highest chances of getting the Christian votes. Also, with the current disagreements within the Christian leadership on whom to vote for, it is clear that Christians’ votes is majorly shifting away from the incumbent. SDP is likely to be the beneficiary, especially from the LCCN’s Church, the largest Christian denomination in the state, to identify with and give support for both the party’s Deputy Governor and the campaign’s Director General.

These are actually the key issues driving the current elections politics in Adamawa state.

So as it is now SDP stands a higher chance of winning the Adamawa gubernatorial race if it can muster the needed funds to reach the finishing line.

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