The unspoken messages from the BBC Hausa kaduna State 2023 Governorship debate

The much anticipated Governorship debate among candidates of the leading political parties in Kaduna state organised by BBC Hausa services has come and gone.True to the expectations of citizens and political analysts,the debate was keenly competitive with all the three candidates that participated coming well prepared and armed with strategic information and relevant statistics to sell their candidature and the manifesto of their various political parties.This debate gave them a unique opportunity to showcase their aspiration to be elected as Governor of Kaduna State not only to those that physically attended the event but also to millions of people that followed the debate live through various social media channels.


The Governorship candidates from the three leading political parties in Kaduna state attended and participated in the debate.They include Senator Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress(APC),Hon. Isa Ashiru kudan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi of the New Nigerian Peoples Party(NNPP).The candidate of the Labour Party,Hon Jonathan Asake was said to have declined to participate while Hon. Sani Sha’aban was dropped from the list of participants because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not officially uploaded his name as the candidates of the Action Democratic Party(ADP) as the official information available from INEC indicates that Mr. Jibril Yusuf is the Governorship candidate of the party in Kaduna state.


The debate was anchored by one of the erudite presenters of BBC Hausa service, Badariyya Tijjani Kalarawi who stated in very clear terms that BBC is organising the debate on a non-partsan platform and also further added that the main aim of the organising the debate is to encourage and contribute to citizens engagement and participation in Nigeria’s democratic process.She then went on to caution the supporters of various political parties,students,NGOs and other stakeholders present that the debate will not tolerate any attempt at questions or comments intended to malign,disparage or slander the personality of any of the Governorship candidate participating in the debate.


There is no doubt to a non-partisan observer that all the three candidates that participated in the debate perform well above average in almost all aspect covered in the debate.They all came prepared with documents and strategic information they needed to buttress their points and relevant statistics to back their assertions.This is an indication that their handlers did a good work to prepare them very well for a debate that all citizens adjudged will be highly tense ,fierce and competitive.The delivery of their responses to various questions also indicates that all the three participants understands to a reasonable extent the most daunting challenges facing Kaduna state which includes insecurity,youth unemployment and the best approach to improve healthcare ,education,agriculture and infrastructure.


There is no gainsaying that Kaduna state citizens have heard the different messages from all the three Governorship candidates and the aim of this article is not to repeat them.There are however several unspoken messages which this article inteds to highlights..


A critical post-mortem of the debate clearly showed to a keen observer that it is essentially a parley between the candidate of the ruling APC,Senator Uba Sani and the main opposition candidate, Hon Isa Ashiru Kudan of PDP with Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi essentially assisting the PDP candidate in condemning some of the policies of APC under Governor Nasir El-Rufai that opposition deemed to be anti-people such as restructuring of the civil service and demolition of properties.This can be seen severally during the debate when Ashiru and Hunkuyi talk to each other and shared ideas during the course of the debate .This did not come as a surprise to many as being opposition candidates campaigning to win an election against a governing party made them to have common interest.The two opposition candidates also have been telling any person that cares to listen to their campaign messages that they are rural ( karkara) and grassroot people.They have severally labelled the Government of Governor Nasir El-Rufai as been Elitist in nature that only concentrate development projects in urban areas.Thus,they have a convergence on running a campaign to woo sentiment of rural voters who they often claim they wanted to liberate by bringing development to the rural areas.


The proceedings of the debate did not change the perception of political Analysts that Hon. Isa Ashiru still remains the main opposition candidate because he has a more formidable platform in PDP than the newly formed NNPP of Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi.There is the likelihood that the alliance between Isa Ashiru Kudan and Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi observed during the debate may transcend to a more formidable alliance of working together against the ruling APC at the governorship polls.


It is also imperitive to mention that as candidate of APC, the ruling political party,Senator Uba Sani and his handlers knew fully well that he is not going to find the debate easy.He therefore need to come well prepared to face the onerous task of depending every popular and “unpopular” policy of Governor El-Rufai and sell the policies articulated in his manifesto that essentially sought to sustain and consolidate El-Rufais policies.As rightly expected,the heat during the debate was on Senator Uba Sani and he had to a large extent did well to depend some of the disruptive policies of Gov. Nasir El-Rufai. The APC Governorshio candidate however clearly showed his dissatisfaction with jeering and screaming by some youths that appears to be supporters of the opposition candidates who attempted to interrupt his from

explaining some points during the debate.The good side to this is that Senator Uba Sani was able to remain calm and keep his cool.It is also worthy of note and commendation that Sen Uba Sani is the only candidate that participated in the debate who clearly came out to mention that he is willing and ready to support any of the candidate that wins the Governorship election in moving Kaduna state forward .This is a clear mark of good sportsmanship and a veritable democratic credential that every politician should demonstrate.


It is also worthy of note and commendable that all the three Governorship candidates deploy the use of statistics to back their claims and assertions.However, in some instances there are wide disparities between the figures quoted by Sen. Uba Sani and those of the two opposition candidates.For instance while Senator Uba Sani put the total number of Medical Doctors in the employment of Kaduna state government to over 400,Hon Isa Ashiru Kudan insists that they are about 200.The candidate of NNPP Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi also mentioned severally during the debate that more than 40, 000 shops were demolished in the past seven years by the APC administration.It behoves to the citizens to fact-check these statistical claims made by the various candidates.


The greatest losers in my opinion in this Governorship debate are the students who had a unique opportunity to extract commitment in full glare of the public for the reduction of tuition fees in tertiary institutions in Kaduna state.The anchor offered students a golden opportunity to make all the candidates to commit to making tertiary education affordable and accessible to more youths in Kaduna state but they threw away that golden opportunity by failing to compose themselves and take great advantage of the opportunity.The Students need to learn a lesson that strategic engagement at high level of leadership provides more solutions to societal problems and challenges than screaming and shouting solidarity and customised union songs.


The greatest gainers of the debate are not the candidates that showcase their manifestos but the citizens who were given the opportunity to have insight on the policy direction of each of the three leading Governorship candidate .The citizens in Kaduna state are now better informed about the manifesto and policy direction of the governorship candidates of the three leading political parties.Their destinty is now in their hand to make the best use of their Pernament Voters Card (PVC) to vote the right candidate that will entrench shared prosperity and development of Kaduna state.





Dr. Mijinyawa Bashir Bello writes from Abuja Nigeria. He is a Consultant Physician and a Public Affairs Analyst.He can be reached at;[email protected]


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