Barely four years ago, he was in the race to become the country’s number four citizen but lost to the party’s favourite. This time, he would be attempting to rewrite his own electoral history as he goes up against the PDP and its candidate, Muhammad Liman Kantigi. Can Bago bag victory in March?
Ahead of the crucial March 11 2023, Governorship elections in ‘The Power State,’ its political class appears to be leaving no stone unturned in their bid to outwit each other in the bid to curry the favour of the electorate in the North Central state.
HOUSE OF REPS POLITICS
In the All Progressives Congress, Rep. Muhammad Umar Bago, a political science graduate is leading the charge in his party’s quest to retain power for at least, another four years.
A grassroots politician in the true sense of the word, he has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2011, representing Chanchaga Federal Constituency. Barely four years ago, he entered the race to become the country’s number four citizen where he came second to the incumbent Speaker of the Green Chamber, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Bago who is widely reputed to be an ambitious politician ran against his party’s favourite for the Speakership seat in 2019, and is said to have given Gbajabiamila a run for his money.
The banker-turned-politician has chaired various Committees in the House, including the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Administration and Education. Often dismissed as a lightweight politician by critics, His supporters are, however, quick to respond that a three-term member of the House of Representatives cannot be described as such, having won elections back-to-back in his constituency without stress.
They add that the feat indicates his industry, political sagacity and the belief his people have in him.
One major hurdle on his path is his alleged belief in the politics of thuggery, an allegation he has since dismissed. His political adversaries are also quick to say that if given the opportunity to govern the state, thuggery may assume a more dangerous position in the state.
Another snag for the federal lawmaker is the belief that he is the outgoing governor’s anointed amidst fear that he won’t be able to assert himself if he assumes office. Critics argue that he will largely dance to the tunes of his godfather, as ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tune.’
On his part, Muhammad Liman Kantigi, a dyed-in-the-wool member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, that presided over the affairs of the state for sixteen unbreakable years before the ascension of the ‘Broom revolution’ across the North Central geo-political zone in 2015.
Within that period, he presided over the affairs of Edati Local Government Council as Chairman. Also, he capped it up with the position of Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. In that capacity, he supervised the affairs of all Local Government Councils and Emirate Councils in the State. As Chairman of the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee, he was responsible for the allocation and distribution of funds accrued to them.
However, he is accused of corruptly enriching himself during his time in office, an allegation he strongly denies.
He goes further to lay accusing fingers at principalities within his party for oiling the hate-laden narrative to sully his towering reputation and frustrate his imminent drive into the Niger State Government House. His supporters argue that he possesses the magic wand to change the fortunes of Niger for good. According to him, the All Progressives Congress has mismanaged the relative goodwill it has so far enjoyed in the State.
As citizens of Niger State head to the polls, they will have to choose between the young-looking Muhammad Umar Bago or the stupendously wealthy Liman Kantigi.