The Saturday, March 9 governorship election in Kaduna State is a battle of two political gladiators, deploying all available guts and wits.
Though there are 38 candidates jostling for the exalted Sir Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna, the main contenders are the incumbent governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Hon. Isa Ashiru of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The two governorship aspirants, no doubt are Muslims from the northern part of the state. The incumbent governor, Nasir Elrufai is flying a Muslim-Muslim ticket. This is a clear departure from power-sharing that has been the practice in the State, inclusiveness that had existed since the creation of the state in 1967. But on the contrary, the PDP is presenting a Muslim-Christian ticket.
The election, is, therefore, a straight contest between the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP in the state.
Since 1999, Kaduna had been the stronghold of the PDP, having governed the state for 16 years, but the party lost out to APC during the 2015 general elections in the state.
El-Rufai, believed his experiences, exposure and achievements before, after and as Kaduna governor since the past three and half years will usher him into Sir Kashim Ibrahim House (Government House) for the second term as governor of the state.
Having made his mark when he held sway as Director General, Bureau for Public Enterprises. This exceptional feat brought him to limelight in the political arena.
While serving as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai made tremendous achievements. He indeed was the toast of the people at that time. His emergence as governor raised the hope of the people in the state in their quest for dividends of democracy.
The first assignment of Nasir El-Rufai as governor of the state in 2015 , was to reduce the number of state ministries from 21 to 13 which received resounding applause from the people of the state. His aim then was to reduce cost and ensure efficient and productivity.
He has recruited hundreds of graduates into the state public schools and ministries as he gives preference to ‘qualified’ applicants irrespective of state of origin. Unlike in the past, hundreds of qualified non-indigenes in the state secured permanent and pensionable jobs. These may be an advantage to the sitting governor.
The recent decamping of over 30,000 prominent PDP members in the state to APC, the influence of President Muhammed Buhari whom the state secured and won 15 local governments out of the 23 local governments in the state, in the just concluded presidential elections may in no doubt help to coast home victory for Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
At the flag-off of his campaign in December 12, 2018, El-Rufai said ordinary people will support him because his program aimed at improving their living condition, adding that he was seeking reflection on record of achievements in human capital development and governance innovations.
Since he came into power in 2015, road construction and rehabilitation have been part of his cardinal focus and driven force.
Upon assumption of office in 2015, Governor El-Rufai banned the age-long tradition of sponsoring Muslims/Christians on pilgrimage, thereby saving millions of naira.
He also banned the practice of street begging and introduced a bill to regulate preaching by both Muslims and Christians clerics in the state, but died a natural death due to the controversy that followed.
However, certain factors (if not addressed )may pitch him against his opponent in the march governorship elections in the state. The banning of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)and detention of their leader, Elzakzakky and his wife, the sacking of over 30,000 teaching staff and refusal to pay their benefits. Also, his Ill-motive against Christians faithful in the state. No fewer than 4 journalists in the state were detained as the relationship between El-Rufai and working journalists got soar.
Interestingly, his opponent, Ashiru, a former state lawmaker and member of the House of Representatives who dumped the PDP in 2014 and joined the APC, contested for the governorship ticket with El-Rufai and three others. He lost the primary to El-Rufai who got 1,965 to his 1,379 votes.
He followed the gentleman agreement of picking a Southerner as his deputy. Though, as a new entrant into governorship race in the state, Ashiru believed he will defeat his political opponent I then March 9 election.
One major setback is the fact that the party (PDP) and its governorship candidate do not have a blueprinting upon which a state is governed.
This is one of the reasons why, over 30,000 prominent members of his party (PDP), led by Sani Sidi dumped Kaduna PDP, six days to the governorship elections in the state.
According to Sani Sidi, “Even more worrisome is the mutual mistrust that exists among the party leadership, the gubernatorial candidate and some of its members and above all, the failure to showcase any meaningful blueprint and capacity on how to govern the state when voted into power.”