The race for the chairmanship of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Borno State is gathering steam following the elevation of Ali Bukar Dalori, as the Deputy National Chairman North, Daily Trust reports.
Already, politicians from the ruling party in the state have begun scheming and consultations for the vacant seat as Dalori has vacated his office and is set to hand over soon to whoever emerges victorious.
Expectedly, political gladiators and those that matter are scheming to push for their preferred candidates in the struggle for the soul of the party and position themselves ahead of the 2027 general elections.
Analysts say this may test the political strength of the incumbent governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, in the latest battle to win over or lose to top politicians, who believe his interest does not matter.
Unlike in other states, where the APC is embroiled in one crisis after another, it has always been a united party in Borno, but the recent screening of cabinet members by the State Assembly indicated all was not completely well.
However, some political analysts said what played out was a mere gimmick by key players in the party serving the interest of a political godfather to frustrate and divert the interest of the governor.
“Now, their target is who should occupy the position of the outgoing party chairman. The clique had shaken the table intentionally to make the governor feel threatened and agree to their terms whenever they brought it to his table,” a politician who does not want to be named said.
He described the situation as a classic example of the truism that the only thing permanent in politics is interest, saying: “They are the same politicians who served under him working against his interest to please a political godfather.”
He said, even without taking the path, Zulum will definitely respect the choice of his political mentor in who becomes the new party chairman.
“What they are after is to hold the soul of the party ahead of the 2027 general election,” he said.
However, another analyst said the initial disagreement by the assembly members over the list of Zulum’s cabinet was purely in protest against the crop of people the governor nominated.
“As in the case of Buba Saina, he had allegedly stepped on many toes including a former governor who is in the position to decide his fate now, and other echelons of the party in the state.
“Also, the governor brought two professors and six engineers, some of whom are not even politicians or contributed anything to the success of the party.
“Even the vice president and the party executives were not happy with some of the nominees, that’s why stakeholders are afraid that the same thing will happen if they allow him to produce the party chairman,” a source close to the party disclosed.
Even though there are calls for balance, by shifting the chairmanship position to southern Borno, the body language of the northern political warlords shows they’re all out to slug it.
So far, the secretary of the party, Bello Ayuba, who’s from Borno South, a former lecturer and one time deputy speaker of the House of Assembly, has taken over leadership of the party, in acting capacity.
But, some political analysts are of the view that Ayuba’s selection to act as chairman of the party leader was a game plan by the northern and central APC elites to deny the south a substantive chairmanship position.
Those in Charge
However, as the battle for the soul of the party begins, pundits believe that it is a contest between the state governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, and Vice President Senator Kashim Shettima.
It is without doubt that the bond between Shettima and Zulum is a rare occurrence in Nigerian politics, but the pendulum of who produces the chairman swings and points at the two chieftains.
What is not certain is whether they would be able to navigate the pitfalls of political maneuvers and avoid the banana peels of their ambitious aides and associates in this contest.
As things stand now, sources within and outside the party told our correspondent that among those contesting for the APC chairmanship are commissioners and legislators, who either have the support of Zulum or Shettima.
With the atmosphere being charged, there are fears that the godfather and godson may be poised for a battle to differentiate between their long time bond and political interest.
While Shettima is angling for a loyalist to retain his long and strong political influence for the soul of the party, Zulum wants a fearless die hard he can rely on to subdue the wielding of too much influence on him.
“Yes, Zulum is not happy with the last interference, so he will not make the mistake of allowing his enemy to occupy that sensitive seat.
“While Shettima is desirous of Hon. Zakariya Yau to succeed Ali Bukar Dalori, Zulum is disposed to having Saina Buba or Sugum Maimele to occupy the position, and they all hail from Borno North.
“I think it all centres on the 2027 ambition and beyond. Both have not come out in the open to admit that but it’s widely believed that they are working underground to realise their next political steps,” he said.
Sources within the party told our correspondent that apart from those three, others angling for the chairmanship position include; Hon. Mustapha Fannarambe, a onetime commissioner under the now vice president, Shettima.
Also, the former speaker of the state assembly, Musa Inuwa Kubo, who was a local government chairman, is said to be another favourite of Kashim that may likely fill the vacuum.
Another strong contender is the former deputy governor, Usman Mamman Durkwa, who was a member of 2023 APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), North East.
Others jostling for the job in southern Borno include, Auwal Hamza, a former Special Adviser to the governor and Barrister Isa Audu Buratai who hails from Biu Local Government.
As it is now, loyalists from both sides are banking on the influence of either the godfather or the godson for victory, to emerge as the chairman of the ruling APC in the northeast state.