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Nigeria: Southern Kaduna Divided Over Choice of Gubernatorial Candidate

By Bello Adisa

KADUNA ( Nigeria) – There was a mild drama in Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria when a group named Concerned Citizens of Southern Kaduna said it has reached a consensus agreement with people of the region and gubernatorial contestants of Labour Party candidate, Mr. James Bawa Magaji and that of All Peoples Grand Alliance, APGA, Mr. Polycarp Gankon – the latter to step down for James Bawa Magaji.

But in a swift reaction, the APGA guber candidate said he had not stepped down to anyone as he is still in the governorship race.

Spokesman of the group, Peter Hassan told journalists in Kaduna that the consensus was reached after a consultation by the concerned citizens in the area and involving 5 representatives from both parties.

In a communique read by the group, “we have been shortchanged severally in every political event despite our commitment and consistency to the politics, peaceful co-existence and the unity of Kaduna State. We have been promised severally on rotational gubernatorial candidacy in the leading political parties in the spirit of balancing the state’s political equation; however the process has always been manipulated in favour of the northern candidates to the exclusion of candidates from the south. Appointments have been skewed, empowerment deprived, physical developments and provision of social infrastructure criminalized and our security unguaranteed in addition.

“We also observed the humiliating “one vote episode” for a southern candidate during the PDP primary elections, the result of which was from less than free and fair primaries: and the APC equally and wittingly schemed out the zone systematically in her gubernatorial primaries in favour of the northern candidates.

“That if the North will hold the President to ransom by claiming the right to rule the nation due to the demise of Yar’Adua, it is equally justifiable to similarly present a strong case due to the demise of Yakowa and claim the right to govern Kaduna State.

“We have however observed in pains that our elites have tactically jettisoned this vision and abandoned their people by setting for the crumbs that will fall on the ground after elections instead of mobilizing the people to go for the real substance.

“We refuse to be comfortable or be content with the situation. We the people of Southern Kaduna then set up among ourselves a team with plausible character and unflinching records of sound repute, comprising of men and women that are seasoned politicians, businessmen, members of the academia, spiritual leaders and other credible members of the society to discuss our plight as a people.

“The team met severally along with some campaign officers representing Polycarp Gankon and James Bawa Magaji argued adequately and sufficiently on the inherent qualities of both candidates, acknowledging the virtues in each of them and believing that any of them could adequately serve the interest of Southern Kaduna in the present dispensation.

“It was rightly observed and unanimously agreed by a cross section of Southern Kaduna citizens, the team and the representatives that no matter what; only one candidate will eventually emerge as governor. Therefore, the general opinions favour the presentation of a common front by adopting one candidate so as to articulate strongly and consolidate our votes to enhance our chances of winning the election.

“A criteria was therefore designed to sincerely consider and fairly assess the two candidates with the aim of getting one person that will strategically be supported for easy acceptance among all the geopolitical zones in the state, the criteria thus: Quantitative results of opinion polls initiated and conducted by independent concerned citizens. General experience of the candidate in politics, popularity, wide acceptability and influence among all sections of Kaduna state, competence if elected as governor, reputation of the candidate and passion and contribution to southern kaduna developmental history.

“After serious analysis, it was generally agreed to go on voting which ended in favour of James Bawa Magaji as the gubernatorial candidate to support for the 2015 governorship elections.

“On this note, it was resolved that a team be commissioned to meet Mr. Polycarp Gankon to unite his campaign machinery in support of Mr. James Bawa Magaji so as to consolidate the votes. Henceforth, all efforts would be consolidated in presenting a strong case on behalf of the choice and candidacy of Mr. James Bawa Magaji. We appeal to all and sundry to support this common course,” they resolved.

Within a short period of intervals, the APGA candidate, Polycarp Gankon drove into the NUJ Secretariat to debunk the allegation by the group saying he remained in the governorship race till the end.

According to him, “I have not discussed to step down with anybody. I said it clear that I’m not a stooge for anybody. I stand in the contest to the end.

“My candidature is not supervised or directed by anybody. I’ve been contacted directly to compromise but I turn it down because I know my candidature is not under anybody but Almighty God,” he said.

Gankon however threatened to take legal action against the group which claimed to have consulted with 5 person from his camp on the agreements that he has stepped down challenging them to produce the names of the 5 people as highlighted in the communique.

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