The Bauchi Gubernatorial Election That I Witnessed – By Sanusi Muhammad

Bala Mohammed

When the date earlier fixed (March 11, 2023) for the gubernatorial and states houses of assembly was shifted, I developed cold feat. I erroneously thought, the umpire was up for some funny game against some candidates until I got a convincing reason from Bauchi State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Sen. Bala Muhammed.

Although, I was convinced beyond doubt on what motivated the shift of date, but I still entertained the fear of favoritism from the electoral umpire in favor of an opposition candidate based on past experiences and the Nigerian factor.

Two weeks to the election date, I had lunch with Governor Bala Muhammed during which he assured me of his preparedness for the election despite the gang-up against his victory that never disturbed his sleep. That was reassured by not any other person, than Comrade Mouktar Gidado (Special Adviser), Media/Communication.

“Governor Bala and his campaign team are not leaving any stone unturned. We are fully prepared for the contest. We believe more in the power of God than any other factor. If those making noise from the comfort of their living rooms are the opposition contestants against the re-election of Governor Bala, then be rest assured of our victory with ease. Those in opposition are mere political paperweights making loud noise on social media platforms for recognition and acting the script. We are prepared for a free and fair and violent free election”.

As the Bauchi State gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections have come and gone and fairly won by Sen. Bala Muhammed with majority seats in the State House of Assembly captured by the ruling party (PDP), what then remains is the formation of a formidable State Executive Council and appointing credible and experienced hands to lend support to the actualization of the Kaura Project for the good of the state. in the present system, there exist those who sabotaged the re-election bid of Governor Bala Muhammed. They were APC planted moles that failed woefully to actualize their hatchet plans against the tsunami that swept away their hidden sponsors to the bottom pit of hell. Their time is up. They need compulsory retirement from politics.

The gubernatorial/house of assembly elections were not the first to split votes across contesting parties in elections which we are getting accustomed to. But the worst of the gubernatorial contestants, was the over ambitious young pony who foolishly thought he could buy the conscience of the electorates. He was not only defeated at all fronts, but he lost his deposit and even his ancestral local government, voted him out. That was the highest disgrace ever!

Despites lapses noted by various observer groups in the elections from presidential down to the state house of assembly, most international and national groups found the Bauchi elections to be credible and accurate reflection of the will of the electorates beyond any doubt. As with other democratic nations, Nigeria shall continue to strive to perfect its electoral processes.

Yes, the elections had their imperfections but to the extent that we should obviate what was in fact the most logical and predictable result. Was the ruling party (PDP) with tested and accomplished political leaders, structure and attestants of performance in several areas, including landmark programs and projects not supposed to have won the elections with less stress?

In fact, there was virtually only one senatorial zone that did not yield victory in few of its local governments to any of the contestants but a candidate from that senatorial zone.

Many picked on this to further suggest the prevalence of ethnicity or regionalism in our politics. Yet, in parts of Bauchi north senatorial zone, the PDP gubernatorial campaign director-general who is an illustrious son of the zone lost to opposition APC, a reflection of tolerance, diversity of opinion and other sentimental reasons.

But yet, a campaign of discrediting and delegitimizing the outcome of the election has been drummed up by those who have developed an attitude of ‘me and not others’ towards politics.

Technology reduced the level of malpractices such as ballot box snatching/stealing and multiple voting by individuals. Violence was held to a low and manageable level. No question. Nigeria has to continue refining its electoral processes gradually. However, it is simply unfair for any observer group to ridicule the Bauchi gubernatorial election simply because the outcome did not fit the narrative the group must had constructed. Nigeria should not be made to suffer because of the lack of knowledge of any observer group or a cross section of the media.

In all of these, some of our elder statesmen, a segment of both the international and domestic media are mute about giving credit to one man to whom it is due. That person is Governor Bala Muhammed whose commitment to democracy, steadfastness, doggedness and overall boldness made the elections hitch-free, fair and just.

This was against the backdrop of satanic predictions by political warlords, prophets of doom, turncoats and rabble rousers that there was going to be violence to disrupt the elections. Governor Bala Muhammed had a prepared answer for those alarmists and their hidden sponsors. He ensured maximum security throughout the conduct of the elections not minding the brutality and murderous acts exhibited by some ‘unknown’ gunmen in Duguri, Akuyam, Warji, Maga Gumau and other places during the campaigns by a desperate opposition party. He resisted threats, intimidations and other unruly behaviors by opposition parties. He locked his doors against merchants of violence and other election malpractices. Governor Bala’s lofty place in the history of democracy is secured.

Governor Bala’s achievements in infrastructural development and social welfare in the last four years remain unequalled by any previous government.

Now back to the elections proper, as a journalist of nearly three decades of which the larger part of my professional career has been in Nigeria, I have witnessed several elections, many military coups, annulments and violent ethnic, religious and political disruptions.

Our politics is a complex mix of party, ethnic, religious and regional factors. Yet, ideology and class identification play larger roles than generally appreciated. This multilayered situation does not lend itself to quick, simplistic portraits. Our trends cannot be accurately contextualized in a way that conforms to western political themes often inapplicable to Nigeria’s internal dynamics. Preceding the election, a cross section of supposedly compromised media was flush with accounts depicting All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Air Marshal Sadeeq Baba Abubakar (rtd) in a commanding lead and extolling him as the most reformed minded among the stable of contestants. Experienced players and observers knew both points to be inaccurate but mere imagination of undertakers that caged the political novice to extort.

The true surprise concerning Air Marshal Sadeeq is not that he lost but that he did as well as he did. Bala’s victory might have shocked and deflated many opponents who had to be hospitalized for health stability after the announcement of results. It did not shock experienced and passive pollsters who have been gauging Bauchi political sentiment for decades. A month before the gubernatorial election, Bala’s campaign pollsters forecasted a Bala lead among likely voters of roughly 58 percent over other contestants.

They also measured Bala’s support across the 20 local governments at roughly 60 percent. A few of the local governments registered surprises on the day of the election such as Bogoro and Toro where Governor Bala floored his opponents with good but unexpected margin. Other respected surveys indicated that candidate Bala Muhammed would carry the day as re-elected.

Clearly, Air Marshal Sadeeq was popular in areas he was popular in few electoral wards and surely, within the unregistered voter-groups and lapdogs which ‘helped’ him to get defeated with ease. Despite his over trumpeted popularity, yet, he never made it to the coast of victory which necessitated him to rush to the temple of justice hopefully to be ‘awarded’ victory against the already given by the electorates through a credible and rancor free election.

Frankly speaking, without display of any hate, Air Marshal Sadeeq couldn’t have won the gubernatorial election even by miracle because he was either not prepared to win, or underrated the political capacity of an experienced, courageous and highly intelligent opponent on the seat of power.

Sadeeq unconsciously had lost the race the very moment he joined the race as a novice without reliable political base, robust Think Tank and determined warriors for the battle. He was told by his deceivers and marabouts that victory was his while it was not his by any reasonable imagination. He faced the tiger with a fractured party structure. His party leadership was not with him. Most of the renowned APC members were relegated. Their positions were awarded to selected extortionists masquerading as credible politicians. Of all those who pretended to be political juggernauts, who delivered his polling unit to the victory of Air Marshal Sadeeq? That’s a food for thought!

In Bauchi State of today, Sen. Bala Muhammed is in fact the state’s most progressive major politician on the political turf and its first left-of-centre governor-elect. To state that Sen. Bala reeks of the political establishment yet, describe Air Marshal Sadeeq as a better person to govern is to miss something essential in the entire Nigerian politics or an imagination from shear madness.

A coterie of retired generals and their allies in the financial sector formed the core of Sadeeq’s establishment living in a fool’s paradise and believing in fiction with a fund raising ceremony that net over N700million for the defeat of an anointed. Such as you might, you will never find Sen. Bala among such groups for whatever reason.

By the humiliating defeat of a gang-up of political opportunists and hangers-on, Governor Bala Muhammed is certainly a veteran political figure and an institution for learning and fountain of knowledge. More accurately, he is a veteran of opposition politics. A cerebral and compassionate politician forged in the crucible of Democratic struggle.

But if one may ask, how did the media miss the fact that some influential and their moneyed network sourced from questionable sources vehemently opposed Bala? They supported staunchly the conservative Sadeeq definitely for a hidden agenda against the progress of Bauchi State. They had no simple support for the workaholic realist for fear of the obvious but he still defeated and consigned them to the dustbin of history with dexterity and pride from experience. Governor Bala Muhammed has no doubt added another feather to his cap. I Come in Peace for the Good of Bauchi State!

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues



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