The major political parties in Adamawa State are in the critical stages in their bid to win the 2023 governorship election.
With the party primaries over, political realignments have become the order of the day. These moves have manifested in defections and resort to new candidates and running mates.
But these schemings are not unexpected especially in a state where the incumbents have been defeated at the polls.
The 2023 post primary intrigues started with the realignment within the ruling party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The party’s candidate who is the incumbent governor, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, picked the vice chancellor of the Adamawa State University (ADSU), Prof Kaleptapwa Farauta, as his running mate for the 2023 governorship election.
Prof Farauta, who is from Numan in Southern Kaduna, had been the vice chancellor of ADSU since February 2020. She had previously served as chairman of the Adamawa State Universal Basic Education Board and then as commissioner of Education.
She replaced the incumbent deputy governor Crowther Seth, in an evidently strategic move ahead of 2023 governorship of polls in the state.
Some pundits advance that the decision to bring in a female running mate for PDP was a welcome development as it had become suspect whether or not the incumbent deputy governor Seth, would be able to mobilise electorates for the party from the nine local government areas of Numan, Lamurde, Demsa, Toungo, Guyuk, Shelleng, Jada, Ganye and Mayo-Belwa which makes up the southern senatorial zone.
For those who argue in this light, the permutation is that the chances of PDP, winning election governorship polls, without majority votes from the zone could be difficult, going by the 2019 governorship result from the state, where Fintiri with 32,476 margin of lead votes advantage, when PDP got 367,471 votes to Bindow’s 334,995 APC votes.
But others argue about her capacity to mobilise the votes, noting that even though she has served as a commissioner, her political clout might be put to test with this poll.
But there is another narrative on why she was picked by the governor. It is believed that the choice of the female running mate in PDP is aimed at tussling for female votes with the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, who made political history by emerging the first woman to emerge governorship flag bearer after defeating some influential male politicians at the governorship primaries.
However, Fintiri during the unveiling of Farauta gave his own reason for the decision to replace his deputy. Mindful of the backlash that was brewing he said, “As we get set to seek for a renewal of mandate, we have found it expedient, with his (Seth) consent and understanding to bring on board a fresh hand to join the ticket.”
He added that replacing his deputy, who has been with him, through thick and thin, throughout the life of his administration was made because it sits well with the global call for gender sensitivity and affirmative action.
Fintiri, who was full of praise for his deputy, said political expediency had left him with no choice and that “such a fine lieutenant will not be on our ticket for the 2023 election.”
He said, “In politics, there comes a time, when beautiful interests are sacrificed for expedience. With this, it has already been made clear that such a fine lieutenant will not be on our ticket for the 2023 election.
“Contrary to what the warped media is spreading, I am not ‘dropping’ him. We were elected on the same ticket with a mandate of four-year term and by the grace of God, we shall complete that term as mandated by the electorates.
“Professor Kaletapwa Farauta, the Vice Chancellor of Adamawa State University, Mubi has been nominated as that fresh hand.”
On her part, Farauta, said the import of her nomination will scale up women representation and access by more women into governance.
She said, “I want to assure you that the doors of our government will now be wide open to women. The women represent a sizable voting block and no government can get to power without the support of women and that is why we are here.”
It remains to be seen how impactful this change will present considering the unpredictable politics of Adamawa State which has a lot of influential political dynasties.
The APC is hopeful that it can reclaim its seat with the forthcoming election. Recall that Fintiri as PDP candidate defeated APC’s Jibrilla Bindow at the 2019 polls.
However, the emergence of Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, as the flag-bearer of the APC in the state, seems to have rekindled hope for the party, ahead of the governorship polls.
Binani, unexpectedly defeated four other contenders with 430 votes to emerge on top of Nuhu Ribadu with 288 votes, Muhammad Bindow, 103 votes and Abdulrazak Namdas with 94 votes, Wafarninyi Theman scored 21 votes.
Still, the opposition APC in the state has to conjure a superior strategy to defeat the incumbent government in power.
Binani has grassroots support of the electorates having won their hearts through her empowerment program, which dates back to when she was a member of House of Representatives, and later as a senator. She is expected to get majority votes from the women folk.
The senator’s popularity is coming at the time when APC is divided by internal wrangling and the party is searching for genuine reconciliation among aggrieved members.
The party is also financially constrained and has mainly been sustained by the generosity of few political office holders, which blunts the force of APC as a threat to the incumbent party.
Still, the inability to address the internal crisis in APC also could be factored as a major constraint in winning governorship elections in the party.
Recall that divisions within APC was at the major cause of its failure to retain the governorship in 2019. And it would seem like nothing has changed.
In this dispensation, the likes of Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation, were alleged not to be on the same page with the executive of the party led by Ibrahim Bilal. But the situation is worse now as Lawal has distanced himself more from the party after the same faith presidential ticket saga.
Another factor was that Binani started setting up political structure at the 21 local government levels, without involving some of the gubernatorial aspirants.
What’s more, the capacity of her campaign director general, former Senator Ahmad Barata, to galvanise support in favor of APC is another issue.
Another issue the APC candidate would have to deal with is whether voters in the state are ready to have a woman to be at the helm of affairs, especially in the executive power, despite her position and political experience of being a legislator representing the Northern senatorial zone for four year.
But she has proven capacity and grit over the years in the political space.
However, Binani, during her acceptance speech, promised to carry everyone along for the party to win.
She lauded the conduct of the election and the delegates for the confidence reposed in her, called on other aspirants to work together for the victory of the party in the 2023 general elections in the state and federal levels.
“I call on all of us to ensure the victory of our party and to have a government of our own,” she said.
She also commended the electoral panel for the transparent election and confidence reposed in them.
Another party that is poised to cause an upset in the polls is the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Its governorship candidate Dr Umar Ardo is no stranger to the politics of the state. As a former PDP chieftain he took PDP to court eleven (11), times hinged her planned success in the forthcoming 2023 elections to failure of PDP and APC in the state.
Ardo, an ex-aide to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, defected to the SDP after several unsuccessful attempts to clinch the PDP governorship ticket.
Ardo contested the governorship position of the SDP unopposed and was declared the winner of the primary through affirmation.
Internal crisis in APC and PDP is considered to factor into brightened chances of Labour Party candidates Umar Mustapha added.
Obviously, time will tell who occupies the Dougirei Government House. In a polity where elections are hardly won by clear interrogation of manifestoes and policies but on sentiments, the actions and inactions of the political actors will be critical to the outcome of the much-anticipated polls.