A Closer Look At Buhari’s Ministers Who Are Vying For Guber In 2019 Elections
As the primaries of the political party draw closer for election of candidates for the 2019 general election, politicians and their supporters are gradually getting prepared for and they have commenced campaign to ensure that their aspirations see the light of the day. With the release of the election timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), it is expected that all political parties should hold their primary elections between September and October.
Among those aspiring to seek elective posts in 2019 are members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet. Some of the ministers have already declared their aspirations to be the number one citizens in their respective states, while some are still consulting with political gladiators at state and federal levels and waiting for clearance to join the governorship race. Among the ministers nurturing governorship aspirations are Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan; his Communication counterpart, Adebayo Shittu; Minister of Defence, Brig-General Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd); Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Engr. Suleiman Hassan and Minister of State for Transportation (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika. It would be recalled that on June 26, former Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State governorship election.
And with overwhelming support from the presidency and the leadership and members of his party, he was able to defeat the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the deputy governor of the state, Prof. Kolapo Olusola. With Fayemi’s victory at the Ekiti gubernatorial poll, some of his former colleagues may join the league of ministers who may became governors after resigning from the federal cabinet.
Senator Al-hassan, who is fondly called “Mama Taraba” is not a new comer in the governorship race. She took part in the 2015 governorship election as APC candidate in Taraba State. She lost the election to the incumbent, Governor Darius Ishaku, who contested on the platform of PDP. Alhassan was elected into the Senate in 2011 to represent Taraba North Senatorial District under the platform of PDP in the Seventh Assembly, but she later defected to the then main opposition party, APC and became the party’s gubernatorial candidate.
She was defeated in the election, but on November 7, 2015, the election petition tribunal removed Ishaku and declared Al-hassan as winner of the election. The tribunal’s verdict was later reversed by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
A lawyer by training, Alhassan became the first female to be appointed Taraba State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and the first woman to be appointed as Secretary FCT judicial council and later appointed the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on 17 December 2003. After her retired from civil service, she ventured into business and later politics.
During the January 2011 PDP primaries, Alhassan defeated the then incumbent Senator Manzo Anthony to emerge as the party flag bearer and defeated the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Rev Jolly Nyame with 92,004 votes.
She was made minister by President Buhari even when the election tribunal had already declared her Governor-elect and then waiting for the outcome of the appeal filled by Governor Ishaku. She later lost the opportunity of becoming the first female governor in Nigeria. Senator Alhassan as a serving minister caused a stir last year when she was seen in a video pledging her loyalty to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. She told the Hausa service of the BBC that even if President Buhari decides to run in 2019 presidential election, she would still support Atiku.
She has already declared for the governorship race and also wrote to President Buhari to notify him that she will be running for the gubernatorial poll on the platform of APC. There is no doubt that Senator Alhassan is still popular in Taraba and is considered the APC leader in the state with a strong structure, but many people believe that she has many hurdles to cross to become the number one citizen of Taraba State.
And of the hurdles she need to cross is defeating Governor Ishaku, who will be running for a second term. With President Buhari declaring to seek re-election and Atiku defection to PDP and declaring his presidential aspiration for 2019, Senator Alhassan will face integrity test over who to support for the presidential poll. And whoever she pitches her tent with will determine how far she will go in realizing her governorship aspiration.
The issue of religion may also be a challenge for the minister, considering that the state in the past have been governed by Christians. But irrespective of the odds against Alhassan’s gubernatorial aspiration, as an experienced politician and with necessary backing from the party at national and state levels, she might scale through to become the first female elected governor in Nigeria.
The Minister of Defence is among those warming up to take over from the Zamfara State governor and chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari, who will bow out of office on May 29, 2019 after completion of his two terms in office. This is not the first time that Dan- Ali’s name will pump up for gubernatorial election in Zamfara State.
New Telegraph gathered from a reliable source that since his retirement from the Nigerian Army on August 30, 2013, his name has been mentioned severally as a likely contestant for the governorship seat of his state. Born on August 25, 1959 in Zamfara State, Dan-Ali, a retired Brigadier- General, attended Birnin Magaji Town Primary School from 1966 to 1972) for his elementary education and Government Secondary School, Shinkafi from 1972 to 1977) for his secondary education.
He attended Kaduna Polytechnic from 1977 to 1982 for Higher National Diploma (HND) in Photogrammetric and Surveying and obtained a Master’s degrees in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) from Bayero University Kano in 2005 and a Master’s degree in Security Studies from the Bangladesh University of Professionals in 2009. Dan Ali was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1984 through the Short Service Commission at the Nigerian Defence Academy.
He retired from the Nige- rian Army on August 30, 2013. He was confirmed as a cabinet minister by the Senate in October 2015 and was appointed Minister of Defence by President Buhari in November 2015. Dan-Ali is one of the powerful members of Buhari’s Kitchen Cabinet and he also enjoys the backing of some power brokers within and outside the state to vie for the governorship seat. Therefore he may likely clinch the APC ticket in Zamfara if he is in good terms with the state governor.
The Minister of Communication is aspiring to succeed Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State. He had already declared his ambition and his quest had pitched him with the governor, who seems not to be favourable to the minister becoming the next occupant of the government house. Shittu’s gubernatorial aspiration has also caused division in the party as the APC structure is presently shared between him and the governor. Shittu who hails from Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State was born on March 23, 1953. He gained admission into University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State in 1974 and obtained his first degree in Law in 1978.
He ventured into politics at the age of 26year in 1979 and was elected as member of old Oyo State House of Assembly during late Bola Ige administration and later served as Commissioner for Information, Culture and Home Affairs in the Victor Omololu Olunloyo administration between October and December, 1983. After the military took over from the civilian government in 1983, Shittu retired into legal practice. He later returned to politics in the present Fourth Republic by serving as Attorney-General Commissioner for Justice in the Rashidi Ladoja government. He was also a member of the National Political Reforms Conference in 2005. He contested for Oyo State governorship election on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011 and lost the election to Governor Ajimobi.
He was a pioneer member of APC in Oyo State as a result of CPC merging with other political parties to form APC in 2014. He stepped down for Governor Ajimobi to seek re-election. Based on his relationship with President Buhari, Shittu against all odds was picked by the president from Oyo State as ministerial nominee in 2015. His appointment generated a lot of issues among the party leaders who rejected his choice but after weeks of persuasion, he scaled through, appeared before the Senate for screening and was later appointed Minister of Communication. Shittu is from Oke-Ogun, one of the zones agitating to produce Ajimobi’s successor, but he has many hurdles to cross for him to realize his aspiration.
The minister is going to face a herculean task in securing the APC gubernatorial ticket, considering the fact that he is not in total control of the party’s structures in the state. And the decision of many politicians and technocrats from his zone and other parts to contest the governorship poll may affect his chances. He is regarded as political opponent to Ajimobi within the APC as both of them presently lead different factions within the party. In fact, the minister in an interview he granted some months ago said he is going to jail Ajimobi if he becomes next Oyo State governor.
The power tussle between Ajimobi and Shittu was deepened by the APC ward, local and state congresses in the state as the minister lost the congresses to the Ajimobi’s group, who produced majority of the executives and delegates during the congresses. But irrespective of the odds against his aspiration, Shittu’s closeness to President Buhari might help him scale through the hurdles and pick the APC governorship ticket.
The Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, is from Gombe State and he was appointed in 2017 to replace former Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who resigned from the federal cabinet to take up the post of Deputy Secretary- General of the United Nations. He is believed to be one of those aspiring to succeed Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo. As a politician, he has occupied different position in the party at state and national level. He was one of the 46 noncareer ambassadorial designate the President sent for confirmation by the Senate last October.
He was the pioneer chairman of the CPC formed by President Buhari to prosecute his 2011 presidential aspirations and he has always been a great supporter of his principal and this is one of the reasons why he followed Buhari to APC when the party was formed in 2014. According to reliable sources, there is pressure on the minister to declare for governorship and barring any last minute change of mind, he is expected to take part in the party’s governorship primaries. There are two strong blocs within APC in Gombe State and the blocs are led by Hassan and former Governor Danjuma Goje, respectively. Goje produced the party’s governorship candidate in the 2015 governorship poll and for 2019 poll, Hassan’s camp is clamouring that it should be given the opportunity to produce the governor and the minister’s name is one of the names popping up.
Although the rivalry between the two groups within the party is no doubt one hurdle Hassan may face in his quest to become a govern in 2019, some political analysts believe that given the strength of the CPC bloc in the party and Hassan’s grip on the party’s structure in the state, it may not be too difficult for him to beat other aspirants to the governorship ticket of the APC. At present, Gombe State is governed by the PDP and taking over the state may be a herculean task for the minister, considering that the incumbent governor is also working hard to produce his successor.
The Minister of State on Aviation is from Kastina State. Born on March 2, 1954, Sirika is being speculated to have governorship aspiration in 2019, but some people believe that his aspiration may be a tall order since the incumbent governor, Aminu Masari would be seeking re-election. Senator Sirika is a former pilot and ex-General Manager of Katsina State Transport Authority.
He was also a former Member House of Representative and later represented Katsina North Senatorial District in the Senate under the platform of CPC. While in the Senate, he was the Vice-Chairman of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) Committee and was also a member of the Senate Committee on Aviation. Kastina State is the home state of President Buhari and the president without any iota of doubt would be interested in who governs the state. If Governor Masari decides to go for a second term, his aspiration will surely scuttle Sirika’s dream of becoming governor in 2019..