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Taraba 2023: Inside the vicious Political Succession battles (2)



In the first instalment of this article I wrote about the fierce succession battles in the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and how the gladiators are manoeuvring to get the ''anointing'' of incumbent Governor Darius Ishaku (who would have served out his mandatory two terms in office by 2023) in their bid get the party nomination and hopefully win the Taraba governorship elections in 2023.

As it is the situation in the PDP is made no less uncertain by the apparent non-committal posture of the Governor to the candidature of any of the main political figures which brings a sense of suspense to the whole permutations in the PDP.

The Governor does not see any need to support any of the aspirants because he has set his sights on becoming a Senator to represent Taraba south Senatorial zone which is now occupied by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha.

Indeed the two are at daggers drawn on the matter of political succession in the state; the Governor wants the Senator's seat while the Senator wants to succeed the Governor. As one close political associate of the Governor told me in confidence ''Bwacha is wasting his time and money. How can he from the same southern zone as Governor Darius hope to succeed the Governor after the post has been in the southern zone for eight years? What about the other zones in the state? Don't they have a right to aspire to the position too?''.

In the opinion of some of the Taraba PDP figures I sought, Senator Bwacha spirited fight to get the party nomination for Governorship is a ploy to be considered for a Ministerial position or some other top appointment as ''settlement'' should the PDP win the 2023 presidential elections.

While the Taraba PDP is immersed in this imbroglio about the succession in 2023, the situation in the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) is no less so.

On the positive side though, the party has just returned its incumbent chairman Ibrahim El-Sudi to his position by a consensus decision supervised by national officers of the party led by Alhaji Tijjani Tumsa from Abuja. It was the one positive news to emanate from the party in the past couple of weeks. Before then the trending news was of the fisticuffs that took place in Abuja among the political figures of the party's southern zone where they had gone to resolve some knotty issues pertaining to the sharing of party positions to the zone.

Indeed the APC's congresses from ward to state levels had been marred by disagreements which was not unexpected by political observers.

As the 2023 elections approaches, the APC seems to have lapsed into its familiar default mode of lack of unity of purpose amid the vicious infighting among its leading figures. This is centred mainly on who clinches the party's nomination ticket for the 2023 governorship elections.

Unlike the PDP, the APC does not have the issue of zoning of the governorship position to contend with having not been in power in the state. In this regard, there is a level playing field for all aspirants from all the three senatorial zones in the state. Perhaps this is what accounts for the number of aspirants in the race.

And unlike the PDP there is no presence of an incumbent governor who will double also as the leader of the party in the state to decide who gets what. In many respects the situation in the APC as it pertains to the top figures is one of primus inter pares or first among equals. In this regard the party chairman is actually a nominal leader who does not and cannot enforce his will on the party. His only weapon is that of persuasion when matters get out of hand and in this he can only appeal to the good sense of the members especially the stalwarts to consider the supremacy and interest of the party in their undertakings.

In the APC race for Taraba governorship, the familiar names being mentioned are former acting Governor Senator Abubakar Sani Danladi, Former Acting Governor Garba Umar UTC, Senator, Chief David Sabo Kente DSK, Chief Ezekiel Afukunyo, Ahmad 'Gamalia' Yusuf, Senator Anthony Manzo among others.

Two prominent names who had not featured in the past but who are now in the reckoning are Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf and former Minister of Power Engr. Saleh Mamman.

Engr. Mamman's ambition for the Taraba governorship which was strong enough when he was Minister of Power has now suffered a considerable dip as he is no longer in the Federal Cabinet. Indeed many now think he may not even continue in the race as the law of diminishing returns sets in on his political career.

 Senator Yusuf on the other hand seems to be enjoying a bounce in his ambitions. As the highest ranking elected member of the APC in the state he is the de jure leader of the party in the state by the reckoning of the party. He is also highly connected at the National Assembly and in government circles. In the Taraba APC as a new entrant to the governorship race he enjoys the advantage of novelty against the other aspirants. Some of the other aspirants are seen as familiar old faces who have been tried and found not to be up to it. People are simply tired of them.

Just as he has some advantages, Senator Yusuf also has some factors on the other side of the equation.

His constituents in the Taraba central zone consider him inaccessible. They complain that his impact as Senator representing the zone has not been as effective as it should be. As I wrote in an earlier column on him, his greatest political albatross may well be the fact that he took his eyes off the ball with regards to the Mambilla project which is sited in his local government. That he could not muster any concerted effort to see to it that the project took off up until this moment might well come back to haunt him.

And it is no cert that Senator Yusuf will clinch the APC nomination despite his seeming advantages. From all indications he will face a bruising neck and neck fight for the ticket from the other likely front runners like Abubakar Sani Danladi, DSK,  Chiefs Kente and Afukunyo. It may well go to the wire.

My take on the succession battle in both the PDP and APC is that it will be combustible smash and grab affair. The winners in both parties will not emerge by handshakes. There will be acrimony and I will not rule out anti party activities on both sides.

But whatever happens though I give the PDP the edge to defeat APC. And this is not because of any positives from the experiences of Tarabans under the party. PDP will beat APC because once again the latter will be beset by internal wrangling such that it will snatch defeat from imminent victory. The default mode that always comes to play when APC goes for governorship elections in Taraba will kick in and the party will bite the dust once more.

APC simply has not done enough to convince Tarabans that it is by structure and conviction, the alternative to that the PDP that the people of the state wants it to be. The party wants and expects to be voted into power because Tarabans under Governor Ishaku have suffered enough to welcome it with open arms uncritically like someone who has been jilted by a lover. In this Tarabans believe APC is being opportunistic and may turn out to be worse than PDP.

Another factor that will see to the defeat of APC will be the factor of the poor performance of the APC at the national level. This will likely rub off negatively on the party in the state resulting in its possible defeat.

With all these factors a weak and abysmal PDP will very likely defeat an uncoordinated APC in the 2023 governorship elections.   

Taraba state has unfortunately entered one chance as they say.       





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