2023: Tight Guber Race Imminent In Kaduna

2023: Tight guber race imminent in Kaduna

By Abdulgafar Alabelewe
Mar 27, 2022

In Kaduna State, no fewer than 12 aspirants have so far indicated interest in succeeding Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai from both the ruling and the major opposition party. A tight race however lies ahead, considering the issues that will shape the governorship poll.

Unlike the 2019 poll where El-Rufai was the consensus candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), many aspirants are already springing up within the APC, majority of whom are in the Governor’s kitchen cabinet. In 2019, El-Rufai was returning as a second term governor and as expected, he was rallied by the key party stakeholders to bear the ruling party’s flag against the opposition. The sitting Governor eventually defeated People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) Candidate, Hon Mohammed Isa Ashiru.

However, a hot battle for who gets the APC ticket has been ignited with Senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, Mallam Uba Sani and the immediate past Chief of Staff to Governor El-Rufai and Commissioner for Planning and Budget, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, popularly known as Dattijo leading the contest.

Though, Senator Sani and Dattijo are the only ones that have made public declaration for the race, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, immediate past Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barrister Mukhtar Abdullahi and a National Commissioner in the National Population Commission, Dr. AbdulMalik Durungwa have also indicated interest and since started consultations.

However, some political spectators have expressed strong belief that, Governor El-Rufus’s deputy, Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe is equally interested in taking over her boss’ job, and that she would be making a public declaration anytime soon. The Deputy Governor who is a medical doctor, would be the only female in the race across the two major political party, if the eventually throws her hat into the ring.

In the opposition, the contest for the party’s flag is between a former Governor, two former National Assembly members and former heads of federal and state parastatals. The most prominent among the aspirants are; former Governor Mukhtar Ramalan YeRo, former House of Representatives Chairman on Appropriation, Hon. Mohammed Isa Ashiru, the Senator who represented Kaduna Central in the 8th National Assembly, Comrade Shehu Sani and a Business Lawyer, Mohammed Sani Abbas.

Others gunning for the PDP ticket are; former Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Sani Sidi and one time Accountant General of the State, Haruna Saheed Kajuru, who just defected to the party from Social Democratic Party (SDP) where he contested the 2019 general elections as the party’s governorship candidate.

Of godfathers and merits

Many of the aspirants in the ruling party are obviously banking on Governor El-Rufai’s support and their individual financial and other political strengths. For Senator Uba Sani, his supporters argue that, he is the preferred candidate of the Governor. Aside that, the Senator seems to be the darling of the party officials, as he flaunted his financial war chest last week when he distributed 59 vehicles to the party officials at state and local government levels during the occasion marking his official declaration.

The Planning and Budget Commissioner on the other hand is banking on his expertise as a technocrat who has international experience in planning and development. The 42-year old Dattijo served as a policy adviser at the Executive Office of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York. He formed the core team that developed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He also prides himself as someone who was part of El-Rufai policies formulations and Governor’s right hand man.

On his part, the NIMASA DG is said to have the support of the Presidency, as he is an in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari’s close associate, Mamman Daura. Dr. Jamoh is also of good financial standing, but except the President publicly support him like he did for El-Rufai before the party’s primary in 2015, Jamoh will have it tough to win APC primary election.

Dr. AbdulMalik Durungwa is banking on the agitation for zoning of the APC ticket to Southern Kaduna. Durungwa who is from Kachia believes he will emerge the party’s consensus candidate once the ticket is zoned to Southern Kaduna. But, that may not work for him, especially if the Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe who is equally from Southern Kaduna joins the race.

The former NAHCON Chairman has a strong base of support among the Islamic scholars, most of whom he encountered during his service as Kaduna Pilgrim Board’s Executive Secretary and later as NAHCON Chairman. The clerics consider Abdullahi as one of them and they are ready to preach his candidature to their followers.

The PDP aspirants like Yaro and Ashiru are banking on their loyalty to the party and the fact that, they have been there for party members and executives through thick and thin.

Senator Shehu Sani on his part is enjoying his popularity among the opposition, as someone who has been consistent in criticism of El-Rufai and Buhari’s governments, even right from his days as APC Senator. But whether that can win him the gubernatorial ticket, is a question of time.


The two major political parties are silent about zoning. They both seem to be interested only about winning the seat. Therefore, majority of the aspirants are from the northern part of the state. Analyst will also say that, the political parties have tactically settled the southern Kaduna, as the area has produced the chairmen of both APC and PDP.

The parties are tactical about wining the poll and having realized that, Kaduna Central and Kaduna North senatorial districts hold the ace in terms of the voting population required to win. None of the party is considering fielding a candidate from the South, as that will automatically give victory to the other party.

One major determinant to which party wins the gubernatorial seat at the end of the day is the choice of party candidate. Any party that makes the mistake of presenting a weak candidate or person questionable character will certainly lose the election. But of course the power of incumbency will work in favour of the APC. Though, Governor El-Rufai is no longer in the race, he will certainly throw his weight with the paraphernalia of his office behind the party candidate to ensure its victory.

The opposition party which appears to be cohesive more than ever today, will at the end of its primary rally whoever emerges the party’s flag bearer in its battle to seize power from the ruling APC.

The PDP is determined to capitalize on the negative effects of the El-Rufai’s urban renewal projects, by amplifying the cries of those whose property or business had to give way to the infrastructural development of Kaduna city. They are also going to be using the security challenges in the state to campaign against the ruling party.

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