Bauchi’s Deputy Governors: The pains and gains of separation
By Omeiza Ajayi
Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State has followed in the way of his immediate predecessor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda in parting ways with the deputy governor with whom he first came to office. However, the circumstances that enthroned a new deputy governor in Bauchi State this year could change the political dynamics of the state. Suzan Edeh reports.
The new deputy governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Audi Sule Katagum was sworn in at the beginning of July bringing a fresh start and unity in the executive branch of government in the state.
Katagum who was the immediate past chief of staff to Governor Mohammed Abubakar replaced Nuhu Gidado, who resigned his position unceremoniously when he sent in his letter of resignation to the governor on May 24 2018.
Nuhu Gidado in the letter to the Governor explained that his decision was based on his commitment to serve for only a single term as Deputy Governor of the state adding that, “Ordinarily, I should have remained up to the end of the tenure, but, with the currently dampened spirit and waning zeal as it relates to my official engagements, my continued stay will not be fair and truthful to you as my brother and leader”.
The former Deputy Governor believed that staying on in office would have been unfair to the system and his conscience just as he further reminded the Governor that during their meeting on April 19th he had informed him that he was thinking about stepping aside and then thanked the Governor and the people of the state for the opportunity to serve as Deputy Governor of the state.
It was not the first time that a Bauchi governor would be falling out with his deputy. The immediate past governor of the state, Alhaji Isa Yuguda also fell out with the deputy with whom he won office in 2007, Alhaji Garba Gadi leading to the impeachment of the latter before the end of their term. The impeachment which was believably masterminded by associates of the governor after Gadi refused to follow Yuguda to defect from the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Gidado like Gadi before him also fell out of the political tunes that his principal, Governor Abubakar was dancing to leading to the chasm that developed between the two men.
Indeed, before the shocking resignation it had become almost a whisper in the political circles that Gidado was not going to run with Abubakar in 2019.
Reliable sources in government had revealed that the former chief of staff had been penciled down long ago by the Governor to run with him as his running mate for the 2019 gubernatorial elections when it became glaring that Gidado was not ready to go with the Governor again due to irreconcilable political differences between the two men.
The exit of Gidado who is from Jama‘are Emirate has inevitably opened the window of opportunity to Katagum Emirate also from the Northern Senatorial district to position itself strongly for the governorship possibly in 2023 if Abubakar succeeds in his re-election quest.
The Governor picked Audu Sule Katagum because the zone had been agitating for it coupled with the fact that there is an intense political rivalry between Katagum and the Jama’are Emirates where the ex-Deputy Governor came from. That was why Katagum zone had not been giving the government the needed support because they said they were marginalized despite their numerical strength when it comes to the election.
During the swearing in ceremony of Architect Sule Katagum as the new deputy governor held at the Multi Purpose Sports Hall in Bauchi , Governor Abubakar urged the new deputy governor to adhere to his oaths of office and allegiance in the discharge of his duties.
According to him, Katagum was chosen as the new Deputy Governor after wide consultation after the resignation of Gidado.
He urged the new deputy governor for his support to enable him run the affairs of the state and provide good governance to the people.
Speaking after taking the oath of office, Katagum promised to support Governor Abubakar’s administration to deliver dividends of democracy to people of the state and work towards the re-election of Governor Abubakar for second term in 2019 to finish the good work started by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration in 2015.
Political analysts will now be watching whether the change in the office of deputy governor would in any way impact on the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
The governor has in the past been faced with sharp opposition from stakeholders opposed to his leadership style with Speaker Yakubu Dogara and members of the National Assembly being the arrowheads.
A 2019 gubernatorial aspirant, Muhammed Bala Jibrin who served in the Yuguda administration said, “Even though I know nothing about the inner workings of the government of Bauchi State under Governor Mohammed Abubakar, the resignation came not as a surprise to me”.
“When we said he is running the system on a trial and error mode, we know exactly why we said so. When we said his cluelessness knows no bounds, we know exactly why we said so”.
“What remains now is for the Governor to save himself and save whatever he amassed by doing the most honourable thing (if any honour exists) is to also resign and let there be a bye election within 90 days to put Bauchi State back on track”. Bala Jibril said
“In his own reaction to the development, Professor Abubakar Sani Malami described it as an “open secret following the not too good frosty relationship between the duo since the inception of the APC led administration in 2015”.
Another governorship aspirant who also served in the Yuguda administration, Sani Malami on his part said:
“My reaction would be that, it is an open secret that the relationship between Engr Gidado and his principal had been sour, in the first instance it had been a marriage of strange bedfellows. The actual surprise was that they could even tolerate each other for so long. I think the Deputy Governor is keen to position himself well to maximally benefit from the opportunities of 2019.”
While also reacting to the development, another former Commissioner in the Yuguda administration, Garba Dahiru said that, “while I think it is the beginning of an end, he has done bulk of the work for us (opposition) if we get properly organized”.
Garba Dahiru who is aspiring for the Bauchi South Senatorial seat under the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) added that, “As for him, it is the best decision taking the variables together”.
As for social critic, Dr. Aliyu Tilde, the development was surprising because according to him, “even the vine missed this”.
Aliyu Tilde who was the Secretary of the Transition Committee of the APC in 2015 said that, “The duo (Governor Abubakar and former deputy) seemed to be moving on well, so one would wonder what went wrong; more so when both sides haven’t expressed the source of displeasure. In any case, Governors and their Deputies in Nigeria and especially in Bauchi State, ride different carts at the end of tenures. As 2019 approaches, each could have something up his sleeves”.
While expressing dismay over the development, Tilde who himself has decamped to the opposition SDP from the APC said that he was not happy over the development, but wished the Governor and his former deputy the best in thier political endeavors.
“But I am saddened, all the same, given that both are friends of mine. Separation brings pain. All the same, I wish both and Bauchi State well”. He said