By Kemi Yesufu
The event was the launch of the Adamawa South campaign office of frontline governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas. At the formal opening of the campaign office of the member representing the Jada/Ganye/MayoBelwa/Toungo Federal Constituency of Adamawa State, stalwarts of the APC took turns to express support for his candidature with the common theme in their speeches being the commitment of the lawmaker to returning Adamawa State to the APC. The North-East State is currently being governed by Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), who defeated Sen. Jibrilla Bindow in 2019.
At the carnival-like ceremony, APC bigwigs took turns to express support for the aspiration of Hon. Namdas. Former commissioner in the state and member of the House of Representatives Hon. Abdulrahman Shuaibu described Namdas as APC’s best bet to take power from the ruling party in the state. Arguing that as with charity, politics equally begins at home and APC can only win the next governorship election with a candidate like his former colleague in the House. He noted that Namdas enjoys massive support in the nine LGs which make up his Adamawa South Senatorial District, giving him an obvious advantage that no other aspirant can flaunt.
Shuabu who also spoke with journalists after the launch held on Saturday February 5 in Numan said Namdas single-handedly revived the APC in Adamawa State, hence he is best person to fly the party’s flag. He said: “A lot of people thought that by now APC would be dead in Adamawa, but Namdas has created activities and programmes for the party. You heard what the Vice-Chairman of Adamawa APC who was representing the chairman of our party said at the opening of the campaign office earlier today. He said that activities like what happened today is what has kept the party alive. It is someone like Namdas who has been moving around, keeping party members active and this is galvanizing majority of our members.
“PDP winning in 2019 wasn’t a case of our not having support, rather it was a case of APC supporters angrily voting for the PDP. This is why we are saying that all we want is a level playing field. We are not asking for favours for our preferred aspirant, all we want is for the party to do justice to all aspirants. But for now, Namdas is the only aspirant moving around, funding the party and creating activities for the party”.
Speaking in the same vein, Coordinator of the Women For Namdas organization, Hajiya Halima Mohammed-Hayatu opined that, it may just be too late for aspirants coming after the reps member. Mohammed-Hayatu who served as commissioner for Women Affairs under the Muritala Nyako Adminstartion said Namdas took it upon himself to rebuild the APC when many others stayed away after the party’s loss in 2019. “Namdas is gaining a lot of support because he is the candidate who can successfully challenge the current governor. We have a PDP governor because of the internal crisis in the APC back in 2019”, she opined.
“Hon. Namdas has gone round all the stakeholders in Adamawa State, he has talked to the upper class, the middle class and everyday people. He is the only aspirant who has gone round the 21 LGs in Adamawa to tell people about his intentions. He has held meetings with women, youths and elders and he has gotten these people on board.
“More importantly, Hon Namdas reached out to those who lost out during our party’s congress, some of those who lost out were angry. Some of them wanted to leave the party, but Hon. Namdas called them back. He pleaded with them that they should remain in the APC, so we can all work together to return the party to winning ways. So, Namdas has worked so hard to build bridges and reconcile aggrieved members and this singular act of his endeared him to people. The peace that he has brought to the APC, the bridges he has built has made people in the APC love Namdas across the 21 LGs”, Mohammed-Hayatu further said.
For another strong supporter of Hon. Namdas’, Barr. Ibrahim Tahir, the lawmaker’s timing is good. Tahir, a former Attorney-General of Adamawa State, said being an experienced politician and administrator, Namdas who chairs the House Committee on Army hasn’t come out too early for an important race.
“Namdas has done so much that he is incomparable to those who hold similar or even higher positions in the state. We sat down and discussed with him why he is wants to be governor. The discussions revealed him to be very serious minded, a man who has the common man at heart and he is willing and prepared to work for the people. I feel that nobody can do it any better judging by what we have experienced in Adamawa now and in the recent past.
“I was part of the Admiral Muritala Nyako’s Administration. This was a government that performed creditably well and Abdulrazak Namdas appreciates what Admiral Nyako did in the state, the indelible marks he left and Abdulrazak Namdas is focused on achieving far above what Nyako did. We appreciate what others did, but I tell youl that with the programmes Namdas has developed he will surpass what others have done. We chose Namdas because of his sterling qualities and experience, and yes, it’s not too early to start, when something is good, you have to start talking about that good product you are marketing”, Tahir stated.
Immediate past Legal Adviser of the Adamawa APC Barr. Fomaddi Shagnah is one more high ranking APC member who believes Namdas will return APC to power as its governorship candidate. He however agreed that the lawmaker is more concerned about ensuring the victory of his party, than his personal ambition.
Shagnah said: “Namdas may be younger than some other aspirants but he older than other aspirants due to his long career in politics and his understanding of Adamawa politics and governance. Right from his graduation up until when he was elected into the House of Representatives, Namdas has been part of politics and governance. Also important is his detribalized nature, in Adamawa we have a diversity of tribes and religious beliefs, making it imperative that whoever becomes governor really is acceptable across the tribes and religion in our state. He has a high-level of acceptance, some of us have done our homework and have found out that Namdas has endorsements across ethnic nationalities in the state. All we are doing is to make sure that these endorsements come to bear for our candidate.
“One unique thing about Namdas is his ability to work across divisions in the party. It’s well known that we had many problems within the APC leading to our defeat in the last election. But Namdas is one person that any critical stakeholder in APC will tell you that they have no beef with. He is one person that has successfully visited all aspirants interested in the APC governorship ticket. He met with them preaching that, ‘let us all go into this race with fairness, let us do our campaigns based on issues and not sentiments, let us meet at the field and if I win the primary please support me. But in the event that you win, I will support you’. So looking at all the issues on ground, you will agree that Namdas is the best man to support to clinch the APC ticket and even win the PDP in the forthcoming election”.
In Adawama State politics the defeat of Sen. Jibrilla Bindow by the incumbent governor is still a major topic of discussion. Worst still, his deafening silence on 2023 has seen many APC members backing Namdas who they say has shown admirable faith in the party. “Namdas is the only aspirant who has been able to consult with different stakeholders and other aspirants including our immediate past governor. Apart from consultations, he has visited all of the LGs in the state speaking with high ranking stakeholders and I can tell that majority of them are on Namdas’s side”. Chiming in on the silence from the former governor, Mohammed-Hayatu said: “I am just hearing that the former governor is interested in contesting from you, till date, he hasn’t told anyone he is contesting. He is the immediate past governor of our state, so, if he is vying for election we should be seeing evidence all over. But we have not heard from him or his supporters and apart from Namdas, nobody else has come out to say he is interested in the APC governorship ticket. So far, it is only Namdas who we know and he has as high as ninety percent of our members behind him. It just may be too late for anyone coming after him”.
There is no gainsaying that the Atiku factor cannot be ignored in Adamawa politics. Supporters of Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas say though former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who happens to be Namas’s constituent looms large in the state, their preferred candidate proved his mettle by surviving the PDP hurricane in 2019. The also opined that the Adamawa electorate are too politically aware to return a PDP government in Adamawa which they are unhappy with just because Alhaji Abubakar is of the PDP. “Agreed in 2015, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was with Namdas, he (Namdas) even piloted one of Atiku’s campaign organizations. He (Namdas) actually enjoyed the endorsement and support of the former Vice-President in 205, but in 2019 they parted ways politically speaking. Namdas contested to return to the House and despite the heated campaigns by the PDP, he emerged victorious. I am telling you that if Namdas succeeds in securing the ticket of the APC, he will have the same result like in 2019 in his constituency and all other LGs in our state”, Shagnah said.
On his part, Namdas has continued to preach the gospel of politics without bitterness or rancor. Speaking to journalists after Saturday’s event, he said: “You will see that the campaigns that will be coming will be issued based. We should stop seeing politics as a dirty game. As much as the population of people here is very large, there hasn’t be any fighting, everything has been done in orderly fashion. We have not said anything against anybody. What we have been able to do is tell the people what I have to offer and that I have the capacity to lead the state.
This is the message that we are sending, it is now left for the people to decide.
“I am the son of the soil; I am the son of the downtrodden. I started from the scratch to the top. I have gone through the leadership processes. I haven’t said I was born at the top, rather I started from the ground and God is lifting me up, so I all the challenges the poor man is facing in Adawmawa, I have seen them all. Again, I am highly experienced in governance. I have been in government from 1999 till date. I have gained ample experience from working in the executive arm in Adamawa State to the National Assembly where I even served as a member of the international parliament. I will deliver the dividends of democracy”.
In an earlier interview with Frontline News Online, Namdas analysed the major players in Adamawa politics. He said: “What I understand in politics is loyalty. You should be loyal to anyone who has helped you. Even when you part ways politically like the instance of my principal, Boni Haruna, his being a member of the PDP, while I am of the APC…..I still recognize the fact that he is my boss anytime, any day. Our being in two different parties shouldn’t stop us from relating. He (Haruna) can still send me on errands and I will go. It is the same thing for Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. I still have respect for him”.
“(Former) Governor Bindow and I are in the same party and we have always been together politically. As young men, we need to remain loyal to those who gave us the opportunity to serve, we need to show this kind of example. I prefer to be a symbol of unity, so much that other aspirants and I relate well. When you have it at the back of your mind that power belongs to God and He gives it to whom He pleases, you will relax your mind and do whatever you can to sell yourself to the people and let them decide”.
On the looming influence of Atiku and how it can affect his electoral fortune the lawmaker said: “People have asked me this question a number of times. But you see, we are looking for two different offices. He is operating at a higher level. I seek the highest office in my state and he is a big person, who is interested in the highest office in the land.
‘We don’t belong to the same party. We will play the game according to the rules. I have respect for him, but I know Adamawa is an APC state, never mind what happened in the last election. We lost though we were on ground because some people were aggrieved and got involved in anti-party activities which contributed to our defeat. But now, we have learnt from our mistakes and have decided that whoever emerges from the party, we will rally round him to ensure that he wins”.
Kemi Yesufu, who recently travelled to Adamawa is the Editor-in-Chief of Frontline News Online