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2019: Why Bafarawa is yet to declare ambition

As 2019 general election draws nearer, Sokoto could be a base for a presidential campaign and though there are other likely contenders, a lot of people are pointing fingers towards the direction of a former governor of the state, Alhaji Dalhatu Attahiru Bafarawa. 

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Many are keeping an eye on the former Sokoto State governor and a chieftain   of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Attahiru Bafarawa, for a bid for the presidency.

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Recently, there were talks over Bafarawa’s 2019 presidential campaign posters under the platform of the PDP, spotted across some cities in Nigeria.

But in a statement in November last year which he personally signed, Bafarawa said he did not authorize anyone to produce and share those posters on his behalf.

“While I am appreciative of the wishes of these Nigerians who deem me worthy to lead our country, I am yet to make a decision to contest for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said,

“If and when I decide to contest the 2019 presidential race, I shall communicate my decision to Nigerians in a public forum,” he added.

But some observers maintain such moves may not be far from a prospective ambition for the Nigeria’s number one position.

Some sources close to Bafarawa said the businessman-cum politician will definitely run for the presidency, saying he is only being slowed down by two factors- the initial problems that bogged the PDP leadership at the centre and his case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015  campaign funds.

 “As you can see, nobody is anticipating Bafarawa to go for anything less than the presidency; this is the impression we all have about him because he has all that is needed to lead Nigeria,” a source close to him said.

The source maintained that when Bafarawa was rounding up his second term as governor of Sokoto State in 1997, he made his position clear.

“Unlike other outgoing governors who stampeded their way to the Senate, Bafarawa said it would be unthinkable of him to toe the same path.

“His argument is that it makes no sense for someone who controlled three senatorial zones with an executive mandate for eight years to then reduce himself to the representative of one senatorial district without executive power.

“So his target is the presidency and we all agree with his position because that is where his impact would be felt on a larger scale all over the country; he has his structures on ground,” the source said.

There are insinuations that though the PDP chieftain may have plans to run for the presidency, he is exploring his prospects on the issue of political party.

Some sources say that in the event that he is unable to achieve his ambition in the PDP, he may resort to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), the party he founded and emerged its presidential flag-bearer in the 2007 presidential election.

Besides the issue of platform, various groups rooting for Bafarawa have of recent accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government of making things difficult for the former Sokoto governor, “all in an effort to slow the pace of his political endeavours”.

 In October 2017, the Area Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), faulted the trial process of Bafarawa over his alleged handling of the N600 million disbursed by the office of the former National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sambo Dasuki.

The forum said it was on record that the last time Bafarawa appeared in court over the matter, it was agreed that his case should be separated from that of Sambo Dasuki, in order to accelerate his trial. 

President of the AYCF, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, at a press conference in Kaduna, said “the forum observed that Dasuki had long-standing issues with President Buhari while Bafarawa had none”.

He said it would be erroneous to place Dasuki’s case side-by-side that of  Bafarawa because the former governor never  had  anything  against Buhari at any  point in their interactions over the years.

The forum further alleged that Bafarawa was not being subjected to established procedure of investigation and called for immediate correction in the processes in the spirit of fair play. 

The AYCF president said after following all the developments related to the N600 million given to six influential Nigerian politicians, including Bafarawa, by the office of former NSA, through Alhaji  Bashir Yuguda, “it was not fair to single out the former governor for prosecution, leaving out others with similar charges”.

Ex-minister Yuguda had during one of his appearances at the EFCC office, stated that he gave a total of N600 million to six chairmen of the Contact and Mobilisation Committee of the PDP for the 2015 general election.

He listed the beneficiaries as Bode George (South-West); Amb. Yerima Abdullahi (North-East); Peter Odili (South-South); Attahiru Bafarawa (North-West); Jim Nwobodo (South -East); and Ahmadu Ali (North-Central).

“There seems to be concerted efforts to turn the tables against Dr.  Bafarawa, who is actually the only person who added money from his personal income to ensure that it was judiciously distributed,” the Arewa youths said. 

Bafarawa had in a recent interaction with our correspondent, said for the fact that the matter is in court, he does not want to be contemptuous, adding that his lawyers are doing all it takes to separate their case from that of Dasuki, so as to go forward.

“We have every document to support our argument in court; I want these cases to be over so as to face other things,” he said. 

In December, an FCT High Court in Maitama, dismissed the application by Bafarawa, his son and a company, Dalhatu Investment, seeking the separation of their trial from the joint fraud trial involving former NSA.

Bafarawa’s counsel, Hakeem Afolabi (SAN) and counsel to both his son and company, Dr. Joshua Olatoke (SAN) in applying for the separation of their case, averred that the joint trial had been oppressive because the case had not made progress since their first arraignment in 2015.

Sources said once Bafarawa succeeds in dispensing the cases in courts, he would then accelerate his political machinery towards vying for the presidency.

Bafarawa has been in politics for a very long time since the days of the old Sokoto State, where he once served as a local government councillor.

 Bafarawa, now 63, contested for a House of Representatives seat on the platform of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), in 1979, but lost. 

However, 20 years later, he became the governor of Sokoto State.

The two-term governor (1999-2007), was a member of the National Constitutional Conference  between 1994 and 1995.

Before venturing into politics, Bafarawa, a renowned businessman, was based in the present Zamfara State. When he shifted base back to Sokoto, he “announced” his arrival during an Educational Appeal Fund at the Shehu Kangiwa  Square, with a historic donation of  N3 million. 

As a politician, Bafarawa silenced his critics when in 1999, the then dark horse defeated a well-known political figure, late Modi Yabo, to become the civilian governor of Sokoto State.

As a governor, he was said to have left a track record of developmental projects notable among them were the dualization of Sokoto city major roads, flyover construction to ease traffic congestion along the Sokoto-Kebbi road, improved health/water services and rural roads/electrification.

Bafarawa decided to test his popularity by seeking the presidency in 2007, a project that was unsuccessful.

A Sokoto based political scientist, Aliyu Aminu, said, “the Bafarawa we know can still renew that ambition as he is a dogged fighter.”

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