The ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill may sooner than later explode in a state, hitherto not expected, if the current political permutations and calculations in Niger State are anything to go by. A line up of aspirants as seen from their posters that dot every nook and cranny in the state show a harvest of significant youthful representations. These young aspirants seem to have burst in the political fray with brave disposition and want to stand out to be counted, and are doing so with all sense of conviction, bravado and exuberant energy. Suddenly, the youths who seem to have been suffocated and threatened with “No Vacancy” sign post seem to have found a platform to upset the stable cart with the assemblage of youth aspirants over all the state and all parties. Niger State seems to be on the march again with its unpredictability and you begin to wonder how far they can go with traditional political kingmakers keeping an uncomfortable silence so far to win an election it is not the tonnage of posters that an aspirant churns out or the goodwill he gets to secure victory but the “anointing” from the close –knit trading floor to the state’s political stock exchange.
Looking at the well oiled, entrenched and insular political kingmakers, the question to be asked is, can these youthful aspirants successfully navigate the political mines? The elders may be keeping quiet but they are silently active realizing that the sudden burst of youth power represent clear and present danger to their long held privileges. The youths in union have cried out and are still crying over the near prostrate situation in the state across all indices of development. They are tired of being recipients of deficits in development, inability of custodians of power to grow the state, tired of imposition syndrome, aristocratic tendencies, tired of insular friends and family ‘paddy paddy’ rule, tired of absentee governors, tired of docility, lack of accountability horse trading, religious intolerance and insensibility to indigenous considerations and other complexities. With this kind of development and attempt to make a incursion into the unpredictable nature of Niger politics, the youths seem to say they are tired and sick of the present political climate that assign them to various “committees” of violence, thuggery, arson, ballot snatching and other unedifying activities. Fortified that the elders are busy perusing the shopping list to see who best suits their template, there is a “Catch 22” situation to them. Their list is made up of those who have left the PDP for APC and other parties. For the decampees,it might be a reckless proposition to go back to their former parties, while accepting the hopeless situation they have found themselves in their present parties. By and large, the youths may be in the front seat for now, but a quick check on their intent and aspirations in the various party secretariats in the state reveal a different picture completely. Among them, there are no indications of having made any formal commitment. The secretariats are not aware of any notification of their interest, but only claim that they see posters flying around and have not indentified any structure to actualize their dreams. Perhaps two candidates stand out for now: Alhaji Isa Kawu, ADP, a former House of Assembly member and short-lived Speaker under the PDP in the last dispensation and Alhaji Idris Badakoshi who wants to be on the ticket of the PDP. At the last count, there are 4 candidates for PDP, 2 for APC, 3 for the SDP who have been identified with youthful credentials. Badakoshi and Kawu seem to be front runners and acceptable among the spectrum of the electorate but there are remarkable differences for their preferences. Badakoshi, youthful, private sector chieftain, started his campaign on clear terms; he has notified the party that he is constantly in touch with all strategic stakeholders of the party, he also remains a loyal party member despite the hiccups that have affected the party, while Kawu had to move to ADP, in order to fulfill his ambition. Badakoshi comes in as a candidate with no baggage and is not tied to the apron strings of political and economic god fathers. All others are tied and unfortunately linked with all manner of high profile citizens in the state as their backers. Time will tell who will either break lose or maintain this discredited old tradition. With the rumoured alliances and reliances that may usher in a mega platform to challenge the present APC-led government, this head start for Badakoshi may play out in his favour. Do not forget, the incumbent governor is not taking things lying low. Pumped up by supports, he is also poised to do battle with the present upsurge of youthful awareness that has engulfed the state. The zoning may be critical factor for the PDP candidate in term of vote delivery. It is not certain, but he could be the face of a paradigm shift in Niger politics if and when he clinches the ticket. He has to understand the complexities of Niger politics if he wants to steer the ship of state to safe anchorage.
At the end of the day, it is the Tenancy of Badakoshi and the young turks angling for ticket, discounting the circumstances of their background and marshalling the critical forces that make up the political engineering that can make or mar their chances and ensure seismic shift in the politics of the State.