In 2015 before the governorship primaries, Alhaji Isa Ashiru was among those that abandoned the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) and actively participated in the alliances which gave birth to the All Progressives Congress ( APC) .
Rich , urbane and politically skillful, Ashiru who is a title holder from Zazzau Emirate, had deployed his wealth , energy and experience to get the APC ticket and contest the governorship election in 2015.Hard as he tried, he couldn’t perhaps ,matched the deep pocket of his major opponent then, Malam Nasiru Ahmed el-Rufa’i who sailed to victory .
Till date, Ashiru’s close allies may not forgive President Buhari in a hurry, whose public anointing of the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), robbed their principal of his chance of occupying the number one seat in the state .
The political journey afterward was faced with series of disappointments and accusations against Governor El-Rufa’i as Ashiru teamed up with other dissatisfied members of the APC to form their faction .
The aftermath as time goes on, was open confrontations and attempts on life as was exemplified when hoodlums carrying machetes and cudgels dispersed Ashiru and his co travelers during an anti El-Rufa’i press conference in the premises of the Nigeria Union of Journalists ( NUJ) Kaduna.
Of recent, the season of high profile defection from the APC in the state gained flavor when Ashiru, at a colorful ceremony in his native Kudan, publicly disowned the APC and returned to the PDP, a party under which he had remained in the House of Representatives for over a decade .
Again , Ashiru has not hidden his passion and love for the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House Kaduna as barely a month after coming back to the PDP,his name has dominated the political landscape in the state while even critics had affirmed that he had staring struggling like a gladiator to clinch the PDP ticket at the primaries .
With renowned political stalwarts by his side such as Ambassador Sule Buba, Alhaji Yaro Makama Rigachikum and their likes, coupled with the seeming hope by the opposition in Kaduna state that the incumbent administration might not be in the good books of the public due to alleged anti people policies,Ashiru, they believe, could be the right person to chase out the APC government in the state.
Pundits however, argued that a lot needed to be done by Ashiru and his close allies to get the support of a former governor and immediate past National chair of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi. Makarfi, it was observed, wield enormous influence in the state and beyond and has the power determine who carries the flag of the PDP in the state.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that there were early contacts between Makarfi and another aspirant for the state governorship under the PDP, Alhaji Sani Bello Mainan Zazzau who had been in the PDP all through, committing his time and resources even when others found solace in other political climes.
Also, former Vice President Namadi Sambo is another force to reckon with in the PDP and whoever would fly on the party’s ticket may need Sambo’s blessings and support.
It’s not hidden in the state that the body language of two politicians in Kaduna who were traditional members of the Sambo camp , Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, a former governor and the immediate past boss of the National Emergency Management Agency,NEMA, Alhaji Sani Sidi, tilt towards the number one seat in the state ahead of 2019.
For now, no one could tell whether attempts by the anti graft agencies to scrutinize the politicians may ultimately put a halt to their seeming ambition or not.
For Ashiru, there seems to be no going back as he had kept Kaduna busy over the period, striving like a gladiator to woo support from across board .
At a press briefing over the weekend ,the Ashiru Project 2019 said that Kaduna under the leadership of Isa Ashiru will ‘unlock’ Sir Kashim Ibrahim House being occupied and ‘ locked’ against the citizens by the El- Rufa’i Administration.
The Project’s Media team led by Malam Shu’aibu Gimi noted with regret “a wrong person was enthroned to occupy Sir Kashim House in 2015.”
“Our task is to put all hands on deck to take over the reins of government to relieve the people from the worst so far experienced.
“We Urge our people to join hands to democratically remove the badman in the Government House”, he said.
Describing Ashiru as a man to beat come 2019, the team said the gubernatorial hopeful is a man of integrity and sound in character who desires to see Kaduna has a new look.
According to the team, the Ashiru thinks Kaduna first before any other, saying he is the man who the cap fits.
Asked why Ashiru had been silent over the happenings in the State, the team said being a member of the ruling party, the APC, and a contestant in the primaries that brought El- Rufa’i to power, it was dignified for Ashiru to remain silent.
The team appealed to the media to be friendly, saying it was wrong for one to corner government as his personal right.
The team noted with regret that it was in the period of campaigns Nigerians were informed that the country had up to 30,000 policemen that could be pushed to Ekiti State in the name of capturing power, while hundreds of innocent Nigerians were left and being killed in states like Zamfara, Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba among others.
The team was accompanied by the Director General of Ashiru Project 2019, Ambassador Sule Buba, former member of the House of Representatives, G. Gaiya, former State Chairman of the PDP,Yaro Makama Rigachikun, among others.
For now, the political atmosphere in Kaduna is charged. Party members , especially the executives are preparing to exercise their sovereignty of choice during the primaries.
Just like Ashiru, APC strongmen in the state such as Senator Shehu Sani, Senator Uthman Hunkuyi, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan and others
had either left the party in protest against the “domino factor ” of El-Rufa’i in the state, or are preparing to do so .
If Ashiru eventually gets the ticket , would the anti graft agencies allow him to have a smooth sail considering widespread allegations that such agencies go after individuals who pose a threat to those in power ?
Kaduna, the defunct capital of Northern Nigeria, remains the political heartbeat of the North. It was said that if Kaduna sneezes politically, the whole of Nigeria catches cold .The APC will therefore, not fold its hands and allow Kaduna to slip away.
The political struggle for power in the coming weeks ahead, would definitely be an interesting and exciting contest in the state .
*Ibrahim , the Sardauna of Hayin Banki Kaduna and immediate past Northern Bureau Chief of the Nigerian Tribune, writes from Abuja.