By Hamza Idris
Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum
Three days before the scheduled governorship primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress [APC], Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima has accepted the advice of the state’s leading traditional rulers and eminent elders and has endorsed the state’s Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum to succeed him, top political sources told Daily Trust in Maiduguri last night.
Daily Trust learnt that in the past week, Shettima held secret consultations with Borno State’s leading traditional rulers and members of the Borno Elders Forum. At separate forums, both groups indicated their support for Professor Zulum as a worthy potential successor, two highly placed sources familiar with both meetings told Daily Trust.
More than twenty aspirants in Borno State obtained nomination forms for APC’s governorship primaries scheduled for Saturday, September 29, 2018. Prominent among them are former deputy governor Shettima Yuguda Dibal; Nigeria’s current ambassador to China Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda; serving Senators Abubakar Kyari and Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai; the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice Barrister Kaka Shehu; Works Commissioner Adamu Lawan Zaufanjimba, as well as the Commissioners for Religious Affairs and Housing. A director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture also picked the nomination form.
Borno State APC Chairman Ali Bukar Dalori said two weeks ago that the party under Governor Shettima’s leadership decided to give a free hand to all aspirants as against previous practice where aspirants were barred from obtaining forms except those anointed by governors. The party leaders then requested the governor to make wide consultations in order to assist in making an all-inclusive choice. Shettima announced on his Twitter handle that he held closed door consultative meetings with traditional rulers at the Government House last week. He later held similar meetings with members of the Borno Elders Forum at the forum chairman Ambassador Gaji Galtimari’s residence in Maiduguri.
Both meetings, our top sources said, “objectively analyzed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each aspirant in relation to the realities of facing the electorate.” Both meetings advised APC to nominate the most marketable candidate “taking into account the aspirant’s history, character, temperament, unifying nature and track record juxtaposed with the realities of today’s voters who can rebel against an aspirant they do not accept.” APC, the meetings concluded, should not take for granted the weakness of Borno PDP but should rather focus on the strength of its candidate. In politics, no one is too big to be sacrificed in the larger electoral interest of the party, the elders said.
According to our top sources, it was agreed that Professor Zulum is the best candidate whose choice will silence all his opponents and will also connect very well with communities across the 27 local government areas because as Commissioner for RRR he has been going up and down the state rebuilding shattered infrastructure and projects. “The people at the grassroots know him and he is popular with them,” the elders concluded.
Daily Trust however learnt that Governor Shettima will still hold meetings with National and state assembly members, party leaders and other stakeholders. At these upcoming meetings, politicians are likely to oppose Zulum’s choice because they see him as new in politics. Some APC legislators have already expressed doubts as to his ability to withstand pressure from different quarters of the kind that Shettima withstood from the Jonathan Presidency and from his estranged godfather, former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff. The sources however said with the endorsements of the past week, Prof Zulum is widely expected to emerge as Borno APC’s governorship candidate on Saturday.