By Abdul-Azeez Suleiman
Though nobody wants to openly admit it, electioneering for positions in the coming round of fresh elections in 2019 have kicked off in most states of the federation.
For instance, offstage intrigues, moving onstage indicate that political actors in Kaduna have dusted their war chests in preparation for what promises to be the most fierce battle for political ascendancy ever in the state.
On one hand are those who hold political positions in the state since 2015, battling to justify their stay. On the other hand are challengers from within and outside the ruling All Progressives Congress hanging in the wings to make capital out of perceived failure of governance and broken promises by the former.
Aware that the key to winning elections is to make great promises, and the key to maintaining power is keeping those promises, both sides are already in a frenzied scramble to convince the electorate.
In 2015, campaigners for the APC promised to cure the ills of society including illiteracy, disease, unemployment, and poverty which caught many supporters and independent voters in a sort of mass delusion of inflated expectations.
The people hoped for urgent results and when the results failed to materialize, they began to react by searching for replacements through a critical review of the prevailing leadership selection process.
Voters accuse the current administration of being misled by its retinue of aides into failing to bring about the promised vast improvements in health, education, employment, the civil service and the economy.
They lament that the government in which they built absolute trust some three years ago, has failed to deliver even at the local level, from where it extracted most votes after promising to improve specific problems that the people care about the most.
Consequently, negative climate in politics got worse in the last three years, with voter discontent openly exhibited in the first elections to local government executive councils conducted in the state since 2015.
In many ways during last week’s local government elections, voters across the state have tried to prove they are not the optimists who can’t learn from experience.
As a result, likely challengers to various positions are capitalizing on this growing angry mood of disillusioned voters in the state by simply basing their candidacies on the premise that they would fulfill a new set of realistic promises.
So far, the one office that promises to be hotly contested for in 2019 is the Kaduna Central representative in the Nigerian Senate.
It does not take much effort to see that Shehu Sani, the current occupant of that office is already estranged and is slowly but surely losing his long-drawn battle with the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai.
el-Rufai is widely believed to have made up his mind to stop Sani from returning to the Senate at the expiration of his first tenure of four years, a development that may force the Senator out of the APC to have a fresh start on another platform.
In this circumstance, it will require much more than Senator Sani’s wits to be able to turn the tide in his favour if he decides to remain in the APC.
Those who read el-Rufai’s body language are concluding that he is already shifting his support in favour of Uba Sani, a bossom friend and critical ally who serves as his special adviser on political matters.
Largely banking mainly on the state government’s support, Uba Sani’s reach is basically said to be limited to confined areas of just one out of the seven local government areas that make up the Kaduna Central Senatorial District
Conclusively therefore, Uba Sani’s chances are as gloomy as those of many other competitors in his category despite the state government’s weight that is believed to be swinging in his favour.
This is partly because the typical Kaduna voter is quite unlikely to risk another chance with a politician that is seen to be out of tune with grassroot realities after the bitter experiment of the past three years.
Partly also, like many other despised politicians, Uba too is categorized among those labeled urban politicians – and this could be his undoing.
Waiting to reap from the wreckage of the battle between Uba Sani and Shehu Sani, is a much younger and more skilful political predator in the person of Lawal Adamu Usman, simply referred to as Mr LA.
Given that each and every politician possess their own political styles to be attained with strategy in mind, quite and calculating Mr LA is by every definition, a stealthy player actively involved with both rural and urban politics.
By his style, LA is best known through his success in people-oriented politics from the earliest stages in his career. He thus takes his constituency one person at a time, with the capacity to convince each person that his concern, no matter how small it might seem to other people, is the most important thing in the world to him.
His unique style of getting to know people on the most personal level that he could, is therefore bound to pay him off greatly as he prepares for the Senate contest next year.
In politics, it may not be fair, but it is about who you get to know, and Mr LA had without a doubt mastered this art, and made it the trademark of his political styling to be humbly friendly to both the big and small influencers across the country.
He always keeps track of people’s differences, and knows exactly who he is talking to, so that his good relationships with the people really help him to get many of the things he wants, especially in politics.
With his growing personal acquaintance with, and concerns for the people – big or small- Mr LA has certainly worked himself into the position of the man to beat in the 2019 race for the Kaduna Central Senate seat.
Suleiman, a Journalist writes from Abuja