The 2019 election is drawing to a drastic close and politicians are returning to their drawing boards to draft out strategies that can ascertain a win. Many are nurturing ambitions to run for various offices. While some governors are planning on taking a seat at the red chambers, some senators are having hopes of taking over the government houses and the circles go on. Obviously, could there be a Nigerian politician who would not want to be on the political scenery in 2019? The dramas are enormous to unfold, and every politically minded person would want to be a part of.
Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has already released a tentative timetable for the 2019 elections. The timetable shows that party primaries are slated to hold within the intervals of August 18 and October 7 for all national and state elections. The FCT area councils would be having primaries come up between September 4 and October 27.
Campaigns and rallies are slated to commence anytime from November 18 for presidential and National Assembly elections; December 1 for governorship and state assembly elections and December 2 for the FCT Area council elections.
Recently, Indications show that some members of the Executive cabinet of the federal government have ambitions to partake in the upcoming elections. The expected participations is not out of solidarity to support the APC, but in interest of contesting in it.
Ministers like the Aisha Al Hassan and Adebayo Shittu have dropped obvious hints to join the race for the government houses of Taraba and Oyo states respectively. It is only a matter of time before President Buhari request their resignations to give them ample time to prepare for the elections.
To this end, I have browsed accross different platforms, made phone calls, asked questions, interview people to know the ministers aside Shittu and Alhassan who have interests in running in the governorship races. I have been able to draw a speculative seven man list of Buhari’s ministers that have eyes on the gubernatorial offices of their respective states.
Below are their names;
1. Aisha Al Hassan: Bold Mrs. Aisha Al Hassan, fondly called “Mama Taraba,” was the gubernatorial candidate of the All progressive Congress (APC) in 2015 for the Taraba governorship race. Though, indications showed that she would have won the election, the PDP won the election and Darius Ishaku became the governor of Taraba state.
Many still believe Aisha Al Hassan was the rightful winner, but hatchets had to be buried, and President Muhammadu Buhari made her minister of his cabinet despite ongoing petitions at the electoral tribunal. Indeed she could have been the first democratically elected female governor in Nigeria.
In 2017, controversies arised when Bold Aisha Al Hassan pledged loyalty to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. She had even called the former Vice President “My president 2019”. Being a female political giant in Taraba, hints indicate that Mama Taraba is planning to oust Governor Ishaku from office in 2019.
2. Adebayo Shittu: Two times governorship aspirant of Oyo state, and current minister for communication has made statements to adduce his intention to succeed Governor Abiola Ajimobi in 2019. The minister had told correspondent of a newspaper in an interview that he is the best person available at the moment suitable for the office of the Oyo State governor to succeed the incumbent governor.
He said “Today, as Minister of Communication, nobody in Oyo State has the experience I have in utilising ICT to develop the Oyo State economy to the extent that other countries are using the same ICT to develop their country….You need the best, compassionate manager, most honest, experienced, educated manager to run the state so that what comes to Oyo state from federation account and our local resources are put to the best use in the service of our people”.
Rumours have it that the incumbent APC governor, Abiola Ajimobi, and Mr. Shittu are political rivals and their rivalry precedes the Alliance that birthed the APC. Indication shows that the Governor opposes the candidacy of the minister, and this may pose a huge problem for the minister in the party primaries.
3. Suleiman Hassan: Mr. Hassan joined the Buhari cabinet at the tail end of July 2017 to replace Amina Mohammed from Gombe State who had left to take up the post of Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
Suleiman Hassan is a dogged ally of president Buhari and was the pioneer chairman of the Congress for Progress Change (CPC) before the alliance that birthed APC. Rumours have it that there exist a strong rivalry between the faction of the Gombe state APC led by Suleiman Hassan, and the faction led by Senator Danjuma Goje, the former governor of Gombe state. From all indications, the minister is been pressured to run by loyalist and supporters alike and this is in a bid to prevent senator Goje from producing a candidate as he did in 2015.
4. Mansur Dan-Ali: Rumours and political gossips in Zamfara have it that the Minister of Defence, General Mansur Dan-Ali rtd, is also nursing the ambition of succeeding the incumbent Governor of Zamfara state, Governor Abdu-Azeez Yari, who also doubles as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum.
However, speculations show that the minister has not gathered the needed support and that his ambition may be thwarted if drastic measures are not heeded. Many believe the retired general needs the support of Governor Yari to gain momentum and win the party primaries, but nothing has been said from the stables of the minister to indicate that he may be seeking support from the incumbent governor whose tenure is drawing to a close.
5. Ibe Kachikwu: From all indications, the former Managing Director of Chevron Mobil and former Chairman of the NNPC has ambition for the governorship office of Delta state. Although Dr. Kachikwu has strongly denied nursing any governorship ambition, rumours gathered says that machinery is already in motion for his candidature in 2019.
Posters have been seen around Delta state capital and Abuja indicating the minister’s interest in running, but his aides have come out to deny, describe and declare the news false. Nonetheless, whether the minister publicly states his interest or not, sources have said that pressure is being mounted on the minister to save Delta state. However, it is going to be a tough task for the minister to oust an incumbent governor.
6. Kayode Fayemi: JKF as he is fondly called by supporters and lovers alike may be running for the Governorship office of Ekiti state. The current minister for Mining and Steel Development served for a term as Ekiti State governor before he was defeated by Ayo Fayose of the PDP in 2014.
Few months ago, Fayemi’s loyalists and supporters established a campaign structure, JKF Movement, for his yet-to-be declared ambition to run for the 2018 governorship race. Rumours also have it that the minister would be the first minister to take a resignation from the cabinet to prepare for the 2018 election.
The JKF Movement is focused on championing JKF’s development visions and ideals and to create awareness that the current stagnancy in Ekiti’s development process can be out turned.
Indications have it however, that the minister would have to fight for the APC ticket with the likes of Babafemi Ojudu, one of the presidential aides at villa, if he really wants to take over from Fayose.
7. Solomon Dalung: Though the minister have not publicly declared his ambition to run for the Plateau Governorship election, hints shows that he is nurturing an ambition for the apex office in plateau state. He had recently denied all speculation of his interest in running for governorship, however, if at all he comes out to eventually declare his ambition, it’ll be a herculean task for him to oust the incumbent governor, Mr. Simon Lalong who is seeking a second term.
The speculative seven man list may turn out to be speculative indeed. It is important to state emphatically that political offices such as the office of the governor are not for the feeble minded. They are offices charged with the herculean task of managing financial and human capital resources of states, protect and provide security for the lives and properties of citizens within the axial territory of the states, and most importantly protect the goodwill of the state. Persons with experience and wonderful vision and mindset deserve an opportunity to hold such offices. If any of the Buhari cabinet members is one of such persons, it would be proper and incredible to give such person an opportunity to contribute to the development of the state.