El-Rufai’s anointed candidate and the many PDP hopefuls


Kaduna State is the political center of Northern Nigeria and the former capital from which the late Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, administered the late Northern Nigeria as Prime Minister.

The state continues to play an important role in the politics of the North and of Nigeria in general, so interest in its domestic politics extends far beyond its borders.

Kaduna in the millennium

The state is strongly divided along ethnic and religious lines. Since becoming a state in 1967, Kaduna has had 20 governors, nine of them democratically elected, and the rest soldiers.

Until the 2019 elections, the state had been governed by an unwritten principle that when the governor is Muslim, the deputy would be Christian and vice versa.

In 2019, Governor Nasir El-Rufai broke that tradition when he chose a Muslim woman who was his health commissioner, Hadiza Balarabe, as his running mate.

2023, many candidates

The APC in Kaduna has managed to avoid a major crisis in the run-up to the 2023 elections, unlike in previous cycles. Perhaps this is because most of Governor El-Rufai’s opponents have fled the party.

From the looks of it, the party’s primary will be the coronation of the anointed gubernatorial contender, Uba Sani, who is currently serving as a senator.

The senator is a close ally of El-Rufai, having previously served as adviser to the governor on political affairs between 2015 and 2019.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai

Declaring his candidacy for governor at the APC state secretariat along Ali Akilu Road on March 22, Sani said he was determined to cement the governor’s legacy.

Mohammed Dattijo, El-Rufai’s former chief of staff, had also declared interest in the bid, but was asked by the governor to resign from Sani.

Confirming his withdrawal from the gubernatorial race to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Dattijo said he will run for the senatorial seat of Kaduna North, which is currently held by Mr. Sani.

Obstacles before Uba Sani

However, despite the backing of his governor, the APC primaries may not be a cake walk for Sani.

A former member of the House of Representatives and brother-in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, Sani Sha’aban, is challenging Mr. Sani in the primaries. Obviously, he is not happy with the endorsement of his opponent by the governor.

“I can’t be a part of any candidate anointing. My children bought the N50 million form for the contest. That is not a joke. I will fight for the primary seat,” he said after El-Rufai named his horse in the race.

Sha’aban hopes for support from politicians close to his brother-in-law, the president. His son is married to Mr. Buhari’s last daughter, Hanan Buhari.

A family source told this newspaper that he believed Sha’aban would get strong backing from the presidency.

But as things stand, it’s safe to project that it will be Sani’s day in the APC primary.

The many PDP aspirants

The PPD has many contenders in its gubernatorial race. And unless the party shows prowess in managing the primary, it may lose some of the losers to other parties after the event.

Among the contenders is Isah Ashiru, a former member of the House of Representatives who flew the party’s flag in 2019 but lost to Governor El-Rufai in the runoff election. Many observers believe he is still the man to beat in the primaries.


the owner of Baze University, Abuja and a former senator, Datti Baba-Ahmed, is also running. He is a popular figure in Kaduna politics and his candidacy will upset the APC if he wins the PDP ticket.

A former governor of Kaduna state, Ramalan Yero, who lost his re-election bid to the APC in 2015, has also returned. He has campaigned vigorously among delegates and other stakeholders for the primary.

Mukhtar Yero, former Governor of Kaduna

There is also the former state accountant general during Ahmed Makarfi’s governorship, Yunusa Saeed.

Popular senator Shehu Sani, who lost his senatorial seat in 2019 to APC’s Uba Sani, is also in the running for the DPP nomination. Mr. Sani went over to the PDP from the PRP to run for the governor’s seat. He had been in the APC before defecting to the PRP after ongoing disputes with Governor El-Rufai.

Another applicant is a former head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Sani Sidi. Mr. Sidi lost to Mr. Ashiru in the PDP primaries in 2019 and went to the APC. However, at the end of 2021 he returned to the PDP.

PDP on the run

According to Hassan Mamman, head of the PDP in Kaduna,

it will be a disaster for the PDP not to win Kaduna in 2023.

“I said disaster because this is the right time for us to take the governorship away from the APC. But from the looks of it, if we’re not careful, the candidate’s choice will so cheaply give us away to the opposition.

“Obviously, the CPA will have a serious problem choosing a candidate, so we need to get our house in order and choose the right person.”

Mamman urged a former state governor, Ahmed Makarfi, to play a role in ensuring the primaries are successful.

“Makarfi is the godfather of the PDP in Kaduna. His choice will surely be the party’s choice. All the delegates should join him because he has always been with the party in the state since 1999. He is highly respected, ”said the politician.

SEE: Governor Yahaya Bello’s roadmap to Hope 2023

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