Wadada faces daunting task to succeed Almakura.
Ahmed Aliyu Wadada, by Nigerian standard and perhaps elsewhere, is a politician to be reckoned with. Having occupied a seat in the House of Representatives for two consecutive terms, Wadada has maintained his status as a grassroots politician who is always in touch with the people.
Born on October 15, 1964, Wadada first came into political limelight when he contested for the House of Reps seat to represent Karu/Keffi/Kokona Federal Constituency in 2003 under the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He won the election, defeating the then incumbent, Salisu Muhammad Raj.
During his first 4-year term, analysts say Wadada, who was then seen as a young and promising politician, reached out to all those that mattered in the constituency, in addition to good representation he provided for his constituents.
He was said to be among the few lawmakers who were not only vocal and articulate in presenting their case on the floor of the House but also eloquent in doing so.
Wadada, who holds the traditional title of Baraden Keffi, spent four years as a lawmaker in the Green Chamber without much hassle, and when the 2007 elections came, he re-contested and won again under PDP, defeating a number of candidates of other political parties. In fact, political observers believed that Wadada had it easy in 2007 elections because of the way he had established himself at the time.
The Keffi-born politician became more popular during his second tenure. He was made the first chairman of the House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions. He piloted the affairs of the then newly created committee diligently and made his mark.
Having enjoyed eight uninterrupted years as a lawmaker, Wadada wanted to go for the third term in 2011. However, this time around, his aspiration met stiff opposition from everywhere in his constituency, including his hometown, Keffi.
He lost to a then member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, who represented Kokona West, Ishaq Ahmed Kana. The political atmosphere at the constituency then was so tensed, but in the end, Kana, a member of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), carried the day in what some analysts believed was one of the most difficult elections for both parties.
But some said Wadada was only deceiving himself to have believed that after spending eight straight years, he could still play a fast one on the people of his constituency, a sizeable number of whom are considered educated in the state.
He approached the Elections Petitions Tribunal to challenge the election, but he still lost at the tribunal. Despite the loss, Wadada remained a member of the PDP until late last year when he joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He then got an appointment as a Senior Special Assistant to the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Mohammed, on Budget, Project Monitoring and Evaluation as well as National Assembly matters, a position he held for some time.
When the 2015 elections came, Wadada garnered courage once more, but this time around, he wanted to go to the Senate, challenging the political godfather in the state and a two-term governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
Adamu, himself a former PDP chieftain but now in the APC, became a senator in 2011 for Nasarawa West, but Wadada made an unsuccessful attempt to take the seat away from him. Theirs was a keenly contested battle that left many surprised for the fact that Wadada was seen as one of Adamu’s political godsons.
In fact, without Adamu’s backing, it is believed, Wadada would not have won his 2003 and 2007 elections. But here he was biting the very finger that fed him. In the build up to the elections, their campaigns became so acrimonious that they called each other names.
Once more, Wadada approached the elections tribunal for Adamu’s victory to be cancelled. Even before the matter was considered, Wadada, with the intervention of some elders in the zone, made a u-turn and withdrew his petition. The rest, as they say, is now history as Wadada and Adamu are back to their old-good relationship.
It did not take long after that when he joined Adamu in the APC, hoping to either succeed him in 2019 or take a shot at another position.
But it is now clear to all political observers in the state that Wadada is now gunning for the top job in the state, which is the governor’s seat.
The questions analysts ask are does Wadada have all it takes to throw his hat in the ring for the governor’s contest? Does he have the backing of those that matter in the state to so aspire? Will he be able to make any impact in the end?
First, as a 53-year old politician, Wadada is seen by many to be promising. He has been going round the state to reach out to all kinds of groups and interests to have his ambition realized.
He is the founder of the Keffi Polo Club. He also established an FM station in Keffi, the Maloney FM.
The Keffi Polo Club holds two tournaments every year, one in support of education and the other in support of orphans. Nasarawa State University and Government Secondary School, Yelwa, Keffi are both beneficiaries of the proceeds. Six orphanages in and around Keffi are also said to be beneficiaries.
He runs a foundation known as the Wadada Education Foundation, which has been supporting the children of the less-privileged and orphans to be able to go to school. Wadada also recently conducted skills acquisition programme for about 300 youths across the three senatorial zones of the state.
But are all these in addition to the things he did as a lawmaker enough to make him governor of Nasarawa State? Analysts believe that he still has a long way to go and a number of hurdles to cross.
First, as a new comer in the APC, having joined the party late last year, Wadada is still considered as a stranger in the party by those that feel they started the party in the state. His ability to make them see reason with him and gain wide acceptance may be a turning point for his aspiration.
Another daunting task he has to face is the fact that even within his party (APC), in Nasarawa West, he has a number of formidable aspirants to struggle with. There are people such as Arch Ahmed Tukur, who is one of the earliest to show interest in the contest for the governorship.
There is also Arc Mohammed Jaafaru Ibrahim, who is the member representing Nasarawa/Toto Federal Constituency in the House of Reps. Ahmed Kana, who defeated Wadada in 2011 to come to the House, and Musa Maikaya are also aspirants that Wadada may have to contend with in the end.
From Nasarawa North, which is Akwanga zone, the likes of Engr Abdullahi Sule, Danladi Ebulanza and Senator Musa Nagogo, are said to be warming up for the seat. Analysts also believe that the Deputy Governor, Silas Agara, may give it a shot to succeed Umaru Tanko Almakura.
The current political permutations in the state, where some are seriously making case for Nasarawa North to produce the next governor, may also work against Wadada.
Abdullahi Adamu, who served as governor from 1999 to 2007 is from Nasarawa West, which has Keffi, Kokona, Karu, Nasarawa and Toto local governments. While former Governor Aliyu Akwe Doma and the current one, Almakura are all from Nasarawa South, made up Lafia, Obi, Doma, Keana and Awe local governments.
Suffice it to say that since the creation of the state, nobody from the Northern part of the state ever occupied the governor’s seat.
Should the pendulum swing in favour of the agitation for Nasarawa North, which has only three local governments of Akwanga, Nasarawa Eggon and Wamba, Wadada’s aspiration will suffer a major blow.
Again, the political scenario in the state is not devoid of godfatherism with Adamu as the main actor. It is believed that for anybody to become governor in the state, that person must have Adamu’s blessing as was seen in the case of both Doma and Almakura.
But as it stands, Adamu, it was gathered, is pushing for Arc Jafaaru to succeed Almakura. On the other hand, even Almakura himself is said to be more at home with the aspiration of Engr Sule, a one-time managing director of Dangote Sugar.
Most importantly, Wadada will have to grapple with the notion created in his senatorial zone that he is just a son of a ‘settler’ in the state, because his grandfathers were originally from Sokoto/Kebbi.
This much surfaced during his senatorial contest with Abdullahi Adamu in 2015, but the former lawmaker countered that, saying if he could represent Karu/Keffi/Kokona for eight years, the issue of being a settler was just a campaign of calumny against him. Now that he will be dealing with the entire state, he has to do more to convince the citizens that he is truly not a ‘settler.’
Also, the powers-that-be in the state believe that he cannot be trusted with power. Thus, he has to prove himself otherwise.
When asked on phone about his aspiration, Wadada told our correspondent that: “Mine isn’t just an ambition that got developed within myself. My people, particularly from the southern part of the state, started calling on me to vie for the office of the governor.
“Eventually, it got spread around the state. I looked at it and concluded that I should give it a shot because for obvious reasons and with due humility I know I’ve got what to offer. I’ve got the requisite qualification, knowledge and experience to bring to bear. I was born a native and bred a native. I’ve always associated with my people and contributed the best to the betterment of my people even before I joined politics.”
Reminded that for fairness, Nasarawa North should be allowed to go for it, Wadada said: “They should be given the chance and that’s why they have the chance to run with whoever wants to run now. In democracy, there’s nothing like being given the chance. You go for it, and if you have it, you take it. The people of Nasarawa North have participated in all the elections so far in the state.
“In 1999, when Abdullahi Adamu became the governor, the people of Nasarawa North contested with him. After Abdullahi Adamu, during Aliyu Doma’s time, the people of Nasarawa North contested with him. From the first term of Almakura to his second term, the people of Nasarawa North contested with him. That’s to tell you that ab initio, there has never been any agreed zoning formula in Nasarawa State.
“There’s a deeper political education and enlightenment among the electorate. Anybody that is aspiring to be governor of Nasarawa State, even outside APC, we’re all brothers and sisters. We all had one relationship or the other before now. We’re all one. I see no reason why there should be enmity or quarrel over it.”
It remains to be seen if the former lawmaker could weather the storm to succeed Almakura.