By; IBRAHIM UMAR BIDDA
As a keen observer of the politics of Niger State, I have noticed that the mindset of the voters has started changing in the last one year. The reason is clear: many people believe that their choice of governorship in 2015 was not so good. Bad democratic choice is not peculiar to Niger State, many states in the country have had to contend with poor performance by their elected representatives at various levels.
I was among the voters of Niger State who voted for Governor Abu Lolo because we had expectations that the man was the best choice. I personally campaigned for him in my backyard and luckily, many of my neighbours voted for him for that reason.
But today the story has changed. Governor Abu Lolo’s once towering political image is slowly diminishing even before 2019 and this leaves me worried. I keep on asking myself, why and how did I even vote for a governorship candidate without a second thought? Why is development very slow in Niger State today? Was Governor Lolo fully prepared for the responsibility of leadership? At what stage did he make the wrong step that has now changed sweet news into bitter one?
The answers these questions may not be immediately available and we are more than two years down the road, to even make corrections. I think Governor Lolo has squandered the political goodwill of Nigerlites. For more than two years what we had was noise in the media about plans for massive projects. I cannot pinpoint a single one worth considering as a tangible achievement. It is disturbing to see just how Niger State has been brought to its knees through political misadventure. As a son-of-the-soil, I feel heart-broken.
Now, the talk of a certain Honourable Yusuf Ayuba is dominating the political space in Niger State. I discovered that Honorable Ayuba is a retired civil servant with enormous political goodwill. I saw the arguments presented in favor of Ayuba’s candidacy, namely his tirelessness to help the children of the poor secure jobs in the public service.
Ayuba has been proudly in the forefront of every effort to help the masses. He does his empowerment quietly, building the battered lives of the poor people in Niger State. Now, the people are struggling to woo him, so that he comes out as their real choice for Niger State governorship in 2019. As a man of less talk and more action, it is obvious that Honorable Ayuba would get Governor Abu Lolo to start writing handover note as early as January 2018.
It is obvious that the 2019 election in Niger State would never be the same as that of 2015. Now is the moment the voters of the State are eagerly waiting for. They would like to prove to Governor Abu Lolo that they have a better replacement of him, come 2019. The history of Niger State’s politics is beckoning on Honorable Yusuf Ayuba. The way Ayuba’s name is ringing a bell ahead of 2019 signals the weakening of incumbency advantage.
Some may wish to argue that Governor Lolo has the state apparatus in his hands, the wealth of Niger State and cannot be defeated. But why was Mala Kachalla beaten in Borno State? Why was Shinkafi thrown out as Zamfara Governor? Why was Shekarau defeated by Kwankwaso in Kano? Why did Governor Ramalan-Yero lose out in Kaduna governorship race of 2015, even when he had the Vice President as his political godfather?
As we reflect on these shocking electoral defeat of incumbents, the Honorable Ayuba storm is very likely to repeat history in Niger State. Incumbency is not a structure cast in stone! Not even in Niger State, with its millions of angry voters looking eagerly for a better replacement.
For now, the Honorable Yusuf Ayuba political storm is closing in on the empire of incumbent Governor Abu Lolo. The challenge of bad choice in 2015 is now a big lesson for Niger voters. The under-performance of the incumbent is now a good ground for Nigerlites to take all the necessary democratic steps for a change-over from Governor Abu Lolo to Honorable Yusuf Ayuba. Those who forget history, they are doomed to repeat it. I rest my case.
Bidda wrote this piece from Niger State and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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