By: Inuwa Bwala

That politics has become the most lucrative endeavor in Nigeria is no longer debatable. This perhaps explains why more people seem to be getting interested in seeking to occupy political offices, either as elected or appointed.

To this effect, we now have the serious and the un serious: the tested and the untested, just as we have the good and the bad, in the various races.

In the quests to control the political space in their enclaves, ahead of the 2023 elections, gladiators seem to be fighting the battle from all fronts: some, according to the rules, others in negation of the rules. Some violent and dirty, and yet others criminally.

In whichever ways it is being fought, 2023 is perhaps Nigeria’s litmus test to survive as a country and thrive as a democracy, or drift into oblivion and thwart democratic governance.

For us in Borno State, the performance of the incumbent, professor Babagana Umara Zulum, may have unsettled every prospective seeker of the office of Governor. Apparently realizing this, the entirety of Southern Borno, which has never produced a Governor and where the clamor for power shift has hitherto been loudest, seem to have resigned their fate to the reality that, it will be a task in futility to try pushing Zulum out through the ballot.

This truism has made the battle to now shift to the Senate of the zone. Even this one promise to be tough, intriguing and interesting. In the face of seemingly weak opposition from other parties, the battle in the governing All Progressives Congress, APC,the struggles to fly the flag at the primaries promise to more fierce than the general election. This is enough indicator that Borno south is going to be the melting pot.

One interesting thing about the contest this time around, is the fact that,the seeming standing principle or unwritten agreement in the South, which saw to the emergence of all senators from the zone since 1999 from Gwoza, while Biu Emirate along with Shani, comprising of five Local Government Areas produced the Deputy Governors all the while, as no longer binding.

Be that as it may, suffice it to say that, the space has been widened and the aspirants are ready to test their credentials against each other. To this effect, the APC parades the incumbent, Mohammed Ali Ndume, from Gwoza, Mohammed Lawan Buba(Bamanga), also from Gwoza, Mohammed Tumala, Gwoza, Musa Bala, from Chibok, Tarpaya Asaraya from Askira/Uba and Idrissa Mamman Durkwa, from Hawul Local Governments.

In the PDP; even in the face of seeming bleak chances; the race is going to be between A Senator Abubakar Mahdi, a onetime Senator from Gwoza and Kudla Satumai from Askira/Uba. Satumari was the candidate of the party in the last elections. No other party has thrown up any candidate yet, and none of those, so far mentioned has made any public declaration, to that effect.

But their posters are everywhere in the zone and their body languages leave no one in doubt, that, the battle line is already drawn.

Against the background that individual qualities and perhaps pedigrees may the major determining factors of success in the race, even as money is a very critical factor. None of the prospective aspirants in both parties is a pushover. Demonstratively, each one of them commands a very wide financial war chest, none of which can be easily estimated. If money is going to play the roles it has always played in the past, it will be safer to surmise that, the battle in the primary elections will be to close to call in the ruling APC.

As it is, the Primaries are the real battle, while the main election is a mere squabble, which outcome can be easily predicted. Whoever gets the ticket of the APC, is as good as being there, given the fact that, the party is too deeply entrenched to be uprooted by any opposition.

But with the emerging new trends in the system, which may lead to alignments and realignment of forces, one may not dismiss the opposition though, but as it stands, the APC is the party to beat in the southern Borno contest.

One does not need a soothsayer, to know that, the current occupant of the seat, Mohammed Ali Ndume, wants to come back to the senate for the third consecutive time. By the roadsides and at most strategic positions across the nine local Government Areas that make up the southern Borno senatorial zone, one could see the pictures of the Senator. Where there are no pictures, one could read in bold black writings, “NDUME AGAIN INSHA ALLAH”, meaning he wants to do it again.

The very first hurdle for any aspirant that hopes to unseat Ndume is therefore the issue of incumbency. Each of the aspirants have their high and low selling points. The next piece will focus on the possible chances of each aspirant, visa aviz the factors that will determine the outcome of the elections. Already we have given each aspirant the chance to market themselves by sending to us a resume of their self-assessments. The days ahead will determine how it goes.

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