2023 presidency: How candidates may fare in Adamawa as Obi banks on ex-SGF, Lawal

Two political parties are in the lead in Adamawa State ahead of the February 25 election.

They are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with son of the soil Atiku Abubakar as candidate, while the other is the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as candidate.

The Labour Party, with Mr Peter Obi flying the presidential flag, comes next in the reckoning of Adamawa people, with the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) which has Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso as leader and presidential candidate coming in distant fourth position.

Some of the other parties and presidential candidates are not even known in Adamawa State.

The PDP has two major advantages in Adamawa State which should count greatly, considering history. It is the governing party in the state, and it is the one with a citizen of the state, Atiku Abubakar, as presidential candidate.

Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has through delivery of projects in the last four years endeared himself to many residents, except for the few highly placed ones who believe more in what is in it for them personally, but are losing it to the roads and other projects that Fintiri has been executing.

It is widely believed that a large number of the voting public who appreciate the flyovers, roads, hospitals and schools that Fintiri has built will not only vote for his return as governor but will take their cue from him during the presidential election and vote for Atiku.

Atiku himself is widely favoured to win his own state. Atiku comes from Jada, a town and local government area in the southern part of the state, but his political base is Jimeta, Yola North Local Government Area where he stays anytime he is in the state and where he regularly casts his vote.

He had come into the limelight politically in 1999 when he won the state governorship election, only to be catapulted immediately to the national level where he became the Vice President after the PDP Presidential flagbearer at the time, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo nominated him.

He has since that time become a pride of many in the state, and his PDP has always won the presidential election in the state since that time, more so in the last election, 2019, when Atiku first flew the PDP presidential flag.

So, beyond the mere sentiment of Atiku being son of the soil, some other factors predispose him and his PDP coming tops in the February 25 presidential election.

For the APC and its candidate Bola Tinubu, the strengths are in some prominent individuals who are rooting for its candidate, and in the party itself, being the main opposition force in the state.

Tinubu has over many years done favours to many Adamawa citizens who remember such favours. Only last week, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, a son of former Governor Murtala Nyako, spoke glowingly about Tinubu.

Abdul-Aziz, who holds the Adamawa Central APC senatorial ticket for the February 25 election, recalled how Tinubu offered his father a roof in 2014 when his father was impeached roughly a year to the end of his tenure as governor.

Abdul-Aziz had described Tinubu as a good man and vowed that he was going to support Tinubu come rain come shine during the presidential election. Such testimony counts in Adamawa State where the Nyako dynasty has prominence.

Another APC man who pulls some weight and has been drumming support for Tinubu in Adamawa State is a House of Representatives member, Abdulrazak Namdas who gained some more political weight in the countdown to the APC governorship primary of last year after doing a statewide campaign that projected him massively.

Although Namdas lost the primary, he has since been a pillar of support to eventual winner, Senator Aishatu Binani and the presidential candidate, Tinubu.

Namdas, who is the Secretary of the Logistics sub-committee of the APC Presidential Campaign Committee, has over time donated offices and vehicles to the presidential campaign, and he is expected to swing many votes for the party.

Also in Adamawa State is a Tinubu right hand man, former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu. Ribadu who has also benefited personally from Tinubu in the past and who is a former governorship candidate and then aspirant in the state, is expected to impact on Tinubu’s fortunes around the state.

A minus does exist in the whole APC story in Adamawa State. The party is not one. The party appears as divided as it was towards the 2019 elections, and the division was widely attributed to the loss of the governorship election that year.

Senator Jibrilla Bindow who was the governor at the time had secured the APC ticket to seek a return, but he lost the election.

Nuhu Ribadu and Mahmoud Halilu who contested the APC ticket with him openly rejected Bindow’s victory and the two and their supporters were believed to have worked against Bindow during the 2019 general election.

Nuhu Ribadu who came out again last year to seek the APC ticket and lost it to Binani, went to court to challenge Binani’s victory, and it took a while before Binani got her ticket back at the Appeal Court level. Ribadu has spoken of accepting his fate, but many doubt the genuineness of his appeal for support to Binani.

And Bindow, who was also guber aspirant, has questioned that primary, though not in court, and has since defected to the PDP to work for Fintiri and for Atiku.

Perhaps a more significant blow for the APC Presidential election in Adamawa State is the party’s same-faith ticket. The Christians around the state have been so angered by the combination that many have spoken out loudly against it and even took unexpected steps to prove their anger.

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal who was so close to President Muhammadu Buhari that his separation from him was inconceivable, found himself ditching the APC when the same-faith ticket became a reality.

Lawal, who was also very close to Tinubu, has long gone to the camp of the Labour Party and has been campaigning for Peter Obi.

For the Labour Party and Peter Obi, his chances in Adamawa State will be decided by individuals among the electorate, as he has wide appeal among the youthful population.

Lots of youths across the state believe in Peter Obi and are likely on their own to cast their vote for him, but outside this, there is little to the party and the candidate.

The party does not have vote influencers, and the members that exist are not united, as made evident in a move late last year that produced parallel executives, the only party with such a history in the state since 2019.

The man who is credited with the revival of the party in the state, Christopher Nicholas managed to remain the chairman after the national leadership of the party insisted on dealing only with him, but the party remains deeply divided in the state.

This showed clearly earlier this month when Peter Obi visited the state for his presidential campaign and the party’s governorship candidate, Mustapha Umar, kept his distance.

Mustapha Umar and his campaign team had issued a statement on the eve of Obi’s visit that they would not be part of Obi’s campaign because the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council did not give them proper invitation.

Now, NNPP. When the NNPP was revived in Adamawa State last year, a former deputy governor, Sa’ad Tahir, became its leading light and was actually credited with the party’s revival and growing strength in the state.

A former APC big name, Phineas Elisha was later named as its state chairman, and with Tahir, they gave the NNPP much impetus around the state.

For a long time now, however, the NNPP has been silent. Little is heard of even Tahir who became the governorship candidate.

The party’s presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso is of course known in the state, but principally on account of his national prowess, meaning that he is not expected to win many Adamawa votes.

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