Yobe: Democracy On Trial -By Ahmed B. Gulani

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

This week is a decider for Yobe state and many other states in Nigeria. Particularly, it is a week worth watching in Yobe state. Who APC fields as the candidate for gubernatorial aspirant will determine so many things. First, it will determine whether the state can make progress or it will end up being the continuation of business as usual. It will also determine whether APC is going to be the same or it will fall apart and lose its stronghold. It will also determine who has power between the people and the incumbent governor who, by his recent actions shows that he controls the state and its people in the manner of ancient kingdoms and emperors.

Yobe state is backward. There is no argument about this. The state is littered with so many jobless youths and farmers who cannot get the support they needed to produce enough food to sustain themselves. Once again, this year too Yobe was at the bottom of WAEC performance. Just this week the commissioner of health announced that 61 have died of cholera across the state. The death toll, according to information from home is higher. People of Yobe state are among the poorest in the world. Everyday people sink into more squalor of poverty. Lack of good leadership is the reason why Yobe state found itself where it is. There is no vision. No plan and no financial discipline to give the state the progress it desperately needs.


Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State


The state house of assembly which constitutionally should check the excesses of the executive is just going to round up four precious years of doing nothing. One can as well say, there was no legislature in Yobe state since May 2015 because they do nothing. Members who should have been pushing people’s demands for water, roads, good schools, access to good health care were nowhere found. They are simply not there for the people. Every statistics only further show how the state missed the opportunity to make progress. Not because of lack of resources but because of the lack of good management of resources.

Elections brought excitement and hope. But that hope had almost been dashed by the overbearing manipulation of power. The governor wants to impose on us a person he deemed can do his bidding, not the best person that can govern the state. People of Yobe state want a direct primary election. But the government insists on an indirect primary election. The same government that organized local government elections successfully claimed that direct primary elections cannot hold. Many APC members believe a direct primary election is the best way of ending the imposing influence of governors. Indirect primary election is easy to manipulate.

Delegates in Yobe state are already under intense pressure to do the bidding of Yobe state government. How can there be free and fair primary election if the plan to hold it at Government House Damaturu is allowed to stand? How can aspirants who are not ‘anointed’ by the state expect justice if the primary election held in a place that is not neutral in the race? APC provided that primary elections must be open secret ballot that gives politically privacy to voters. It protects voters from blackmail and intimidation because of their choices. It also reduces vote buying; which is becoming more rampant. In Yobe state open secret ballot must not be compromised – for any reason.

We the people of Yobe state have never been as helpless as this. We are watching while some people want to manipulate every process to deny us the opportunity to freely choose our leaders. The imposition of candidates on the people is cause of the Osun nightmare for APC.

For APC to retain its firm grip on Yobe politics it has to make sure that direct primary elections take place in the state. All efforts must be made to stop anyone or any forces from manipulating the process. There is a need for all well-meaning Nigerians and institutions to come to our rescue. People in our state are so helpless to the extent that they are increasingly becoming fatalistic. That fatalism gained more grounds when Yobe state governor announced his anointed candidates for all positions, including governorship. The implication here is already people feel the state’s resources and powers will be thrown behind aspirants anointed by the government. This can only be possible in a state with as much poverty as Yobe state.

All that we are asking for is free and fair primary elections. Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam has done ‘his best’ for Yobe state. It is now time for the people to decide who should govern them.

-Ahmed Bulama Gulani, School of Law, University of Sheffield, Winter road, Sheffield S3 7ND, UK.