Many people knew APC headquarters in Abuja did the right thing by submitting the name of Malam Muhammad Bima Enagi to INEC as its senatorial candidate for Niger South Senatorial District.
But I didn’t realize how much of a fiasco the party avoided or how deeply Bima’s popular support runs until we started the campaigns. Here I mean the Governor’s campaign, not even Bima’s own campaign.
Because we preferred to drive ahead of the convoy, and because our car was unbranded with posters, every Nupe village we passed through hailed us with “Sai Bima!” when they recognised us as part of a campaign trail.
It is when they started seeing posters on the cars behind us that the song changed to “Sai Buhari, Sai Lolo!”
However, the point of this story or the question I’m struggling with is how did Bima become such a household name among his people in such a short time?
That answer was unintentionally given to me by a friend from Kontagora, Dr. Isah Adamu.
Every day he would tell me “this your Bima is very popular.”
One day, on our way back from Borgu after Gov Lolo’s campaign tour there, I mentioned to Dr. Isah, when we passed through Mokwa, Enagi, Kutigi and Bida, that Bima was busy campaigning in the area and I needed to call my people to hear which village Bima was at the time.
“The interesting thing about Bima,” Dr. Isah said, “he has not taken the people for granted. He knows he is popular, yet he goes from village to village to meet the people.”
And that was my answer: he doesn’t take the people for granted. That is why he’s the most recognised politician in the area now. That is the reason why Bima is synonymous with political campaigns even in the hamlets.
And if you calmly reflect on this phenomenon, he didn’t start it today – even though it may appear so.
For about three years now or so, he has been strategically engaging with his people to the extent that when the primaries of APC were conducted, he left his opponents in the dust – trailing behind him with thousands of votes.
And when it was rumoured that his victory was going to be given away, the people were livid. They went on VOA Hausa, the social media and local stations to warn the party leadership in Abuja with a simple message: “do it and lose Niger South!”
We thank God that the party listened; if not, it would have been a problem for all concerned and our party would have lost the Nupe land.
Indeed Saidu Musa Abdul (SMA), APC House of Representatives candidate for Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency (himself a popular candidate) confessed to me that if the party had given the senatorial ticket to another person that would have “affected my election.” I agree. It would have negatively impacted other elections too; including the Governor’s and that of Baba Buhari.
Dr. Ibraheem Dooba is the chairman media committee of Bima Campaign Organisation