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Shema faces many hurdles on the road to 2011

The race to the Katsina State Government House reached a climax even before Shema was midway in his first term. Those who have declared interest to contest against him next year when he will be ending his first term include the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Sayyadi Ruma. Ruma is one of Yar’adua’s kitchen cabinet ministers and strong political ally of the President. He also heads the Katsina PDP in Abuja.

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Others include Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke. Though Danmarke is equally seen as a close associate of President Yar’adua, he still rides on the popularity of his father who is a grassroots politician that gets the nod of those in power when it comes to election. He is the Senate Committee Chairman on Land Transport.

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Next is the Chief Economic Adviser to President Yar Adua, Alhaji Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi. Kurfi was believed to be Yar’adua’s favourite for the governorship position in 2007 before former President Obasanjo indicated interest in Shema. The Yar’adua factor may now work for Kurfi. Engineer Muttaqa Rabe Darma, currently the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), is regarded as another political personality who has an eye on Shema’s office. He worked for Shema in 2007 but later fell out with him. At a time, Darma who was Yar’adua’s Commissioner of Youth was invited for questioning by the state commissioner of police for allegedly instigating some youths against Shema.

Aside from these politicians who are doing all they could to get Shema out of power come 2011, it is not clear whether or not the president has interest in Shema’s second term bid, especially with the recent speculations that the wife of President Yar’adua, Hajiya Turai, has fallen out with the governor. But political observers say that those close to Yar’adua who are nursing the ambition to become the state governor are the ones behind the problem.

Shema was said to have made efforts, like some other governors, to see Yar’adua while he was in Saudi Arabia. He was rebuffed by Turai, it is said, because of the cold war between them.

This perception seems to lack authenticity, however, because the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdullai Garba Aminchi, denied any knowledge of governors’ visit, including the visit of Shema as he categorically stated, “I am not even aware that the governors came, because nobody contacted me if at all they came.”

Despite the apparent stiff opposition to his second term bid, Shema appears to be losing little. Certain things seem to be working for him. One is the likelihood that he could become the person to take over as Nigeria’s Vice President if a situation arises in which Acting President Goodluck Jonathan becomes substantive president.

This is doubtful, though. Already, an intense political warfare is raging in Katsina, and insiders suspect that if not checked, political intrigues could consume President Yar Adua’s own political godsons, including Shema. Believers in this school of thought feel that if the various groups in the PDP refuse to consolidate their efforts, then there is the likelihood that those in the opposition may use the opportunity to take away power from the PDP.

This possibility would make nonsense of the said collaboration between Turai and Shema’s likely opponents in the PDP, namely Tanimu and Ruma who are said to have used the last three months when Yar’adua has been receiving medical attention to further move closer to the first lady who is believed to have always disliked the possibility of Shema going for a second term as governor, or becoming Vice President.

A different factor regarded as working against Shema is his famed refusal to use state funds to gratify individuals. Shema is seen largely as one who does not believe in giving out state funds to win favour from people, however influential such people may be. This attitude is believed to have cost him much political patronage, a development which could thwart his bid for a second term.

Importantly, anybody who followed Yar’adua’s administration in Katsina state for eight years would know that he refused to open the treasury for illegal use by politicians. Shema is believed to be following the footsteps of his predecessor.

Besides the PDP’s in-house politicking, there is much opposition from opposition parties and individuals in the state who are expected to make the going rough for Sheme. There are the leading figures like General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), the Presidential candidate of ANPP in 2003 and 2007; and the National Secretary of Action Congress, Usman Bugaje who contested against Shema in 2007 and is still struggling to wrestle power from him.

But Shema is not alone in his fight. On the heels of the crisis, a group under the auspices of Concerned PDP Members, addressed a news conference and endorsed Shema for a second term. Spokesman of the group, Alhaji Ali Sani, told newsmen that the group had found it expedient to support Governor Shema because of his good works in Katsina.

In the same vein, some local government chairmen in the state have been paying solidarity visits to Shema. Recently the Mashi Local Government chairman, Alhaji Sirajo Mashi, led a delegation on a solidarity visit. Also, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar, while on a visit to Shema at the Government House in Katsina, declared his support and that of the traditional council for him.

Looking at the ongoing political activities and campaigns in Katsina State, one can say that the atmosphere will certainly present an interesting drama come 2011.

A source close to the Presidency told Sunday Trust that President Yar’adua has severally expressed concern over the political development in Katsina. The source said the president has been trying to play a fatherly role but the fighters have remained defiant. He said though they could be compelled to work for Shema in 2011 if the president so directs, none is likely to commit his energy and resources like they did before.

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