As the 2019 general elections draw closer, struggle to succeed Governor Yari hots up.
In Zamfara State, the incumbent governor, Abdulaziz Yari ,would be completing his second term in 2019. For some times now, speculations are rife as to who would likely succeed him.
Political pundits had earlier observed that the successor to the coveted seat in the state might be chosen from some of the governor’s closest political associates.
Governor Yari is not known to be grooming a successor. But insiders told Daily Trust on Sunday that Yari would never pick some one he believed might betray him. Some people said that the decision to pick the APC’s next gubernatorial candidate solely lies with senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, being the godfather of Zamfara politics.
However, some pundits have contrary opinions.
According to them, even though Governor Yari has not been doing enough to build his political structures, especially after he was appointed chairman of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum where he is dissipating much of his energy, he, nonetheless, still has the power over all decisions regarding who will succeed him.
Some are thinking about the well known Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Muttaka Rini.
To many observers, Rini is one of the men with a brighter chance to cling the APC’s gubernatorial ticket being one of the most powerful cabinet members of Governor Yari.
However, with Rini’s unexpected redeployment from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs two weeks ago, many observers opined that it was done to tame his political move to become the number one citizen of the state.
“You know Alhaji Rini declared his intention to run publicly and since then his supporters have been campaigning for him. Rini’s early declaration and campaign irked Governor Yari and he sounded a warning to him to stop that but he did not,” a source said.
“Then Governor Yari made a sudden announcement of cabinet reshuffle and many people in this state felt that Rini was the main target in that cabinet reshuffle. Even the night before the announcement was made, rumours spread that he sacked as a commissioner, but ultimately redeployed to the eventually of education,” the source said.
The ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs is one of the most vibrant ministries in the state, and Rini had been commissioner in the ministry since the inception of Yari’ administration in 2011.
With the recent development, many pundits observed that the relationship between Rini and Governor Yari might not be as strong as it was, even though this could not be independently verified due to the fact that people close to the two politicians are reluctant to talk on the issue.
That notwithstanding, there are suggestions that Rini has the clout to be a good successor in the event Yari, and by extension Yarima allow him to ascend the throne.
But the clamour for Zamfara Central Senatorial zone to produce the next governor may thwart Rini’s effort of becoming the number one citizen of the state.
Zamfara Central has never produced the executive of the state since the return of democracy in 1999 and Rini is from Zamfara West Senatorial district, where former Governor Yarima and Yari come from.
Here lies a serious impediment for Rini’s ambitions.
If is beheved that this time around, the party bigwigs might seek to balance the political equation by picking the next party’s flag bearer from the Central Senatorial Zone.
Even the other zone, Zamfara North, had had former Governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, thus putting other aspirants from the zone like the incumbent member of the House of Representatives, Aminu Sani Jaji representing Kaura Namoda/Birnin Magaji constituency at a political disadvantage in this regard.
Jaji has a relatively big movement tagged ‘Jajiyya’ and he draws must of his support from the youths and is very courageous. He is said to be among those warned by Governor Yari to stop early campaign.
Putting all these political permutations into consideration, many political observers in the state opined that the current Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad, who is from the Central Senatorial District, stands the brightest chance of becoming the next executive governor.
Wakkala had been a core loyalist of former Governor Yarima; and had served as commissioner for religious affairs for eight years.
He was made to be the running mate for Governor Yari and collectively they defeated the then PDP’s Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi in 2011.
The Zamfara’s number two citizen never hides his ambition to run for the coveted seat in the state.
At a time, his campaign posters flooded the towns and villages in the state. He has a good number of supporters, especially in his hometown of Gusau.
It is said that former Governor Yarima is behind his political ambition.
“The reason why the political pendulum swings more to the side of Wakkala is that he is from the zone that has not produced the number one citizen in the state. Therefore, barring any last minute change, Wakkala has the backing of Yarima who still remains a force to reckon with in Zamfara politics,” a source said.
It was also reported that Yarima might sacrifice his senatorial ambition for Governor Yari, since they are from the same zone and he, Yari would as well allow senator Yarima to nominate the next party’s flag bearer in return.
Yarima has been in the Senate since 2007.
“Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala has grassroots support from youths and even party chieftains, as well as some civil servants in the state and based on these political calculations, the deputy governor currently has an edge over all other aspirants” another source opined.
“Forget about parties coming out to endorse certain aspirants, if Wakkala receives the blessing of the political godfather in the state, Yarima, which is likely to happen, the deputy governor would clinch the party’s ticket,” he added.
Other oberservers said that the decision to nominate the next party’s candidate almost solely lies with Yarima, owing to the fact that he single handedly anointed Governor Yari, who easily defeated Shinkafi in 2011.
Now that there is no glaring battle of supremacy between Senator Yarima and Governor Yari, sources said this would go along way in shaping the politics of the state as to who gets what in 2019.