By Mohammed Kabir Ibrahim
The March 18, 2023, governorship election in Adamawa State was unarguably the tightest-ever contested race in the history of the state. The incumbent governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, was up against a formidable challenger, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (popularly known as Binani), a former member of the House of Representatives and the current senator representing Adamawa Central Senatorial District.
The election was shaped to a large extent by ethnoreligious sentiment. While most Christians and ethnic minorities voted for the governor, most Hausa-Fulani/Muslims voted for Binani. Although the election was declared inconclusive, Binani committed avoidable mistakes that denied her the chance for a landslide victory.
Disrespect for elders was Binani’s first mistake. Shortly after the APC primaries that saw her defeat prominent politicians, including a former governor, Jibrilla Bindow, and former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, some concerned Adamawa elders prevailed on Binani to reach out to those who lost the primaries for their cooperation and support towards winning the general election. Rather than heeding their elderly sound counsel, Binani was said to have exhibited a high level of arrogance and dismissed them as “Ribadu’s errand boys”. The elders took offence and refrained from making any further reconciliatory efforts. This singular display of hubris emboldened her opponents to teach her political lessons. While former Governor Bindow, alongside thousands of his supporters, dumped the APC for PDP, the former EFCC boss, Ribadu, opted to challenge the nomination process at the court.
Binani’s second mistake was populating her strategic campaign team with an army of incompetent, immature and belligerent youth under the aegis of “Binani Ambassadors”. These young people, some of whom are still fresh students in universities and colleges, have become her veritable political strategists. They dished out spurious propaganda and disparaged anyone who challenged Binani’s politics. The brazen manner in which the Binani Ambassadors demonised and denigrated Binani’s challengers on various social media platforms without restraint contributed to anti-party activities, particularly among thousands of Ribadu supporters during the governorship elections.
The Binani Ambassadors also misled her into believing that she had sufficient grassroots support and, as such, she didn’t need the backing of APC stalwarts in the state. The case of Fufore Local Government Area is a glaring example where Binani and her incompetent strategists bypassed and excluded renowned APC stalwarts and appointed lightweight politicians to coordinate her campaign.
Preference for political vendetta against perceived political opponents over reconciliation and cooperation preparatory to the all-important general election was Binani’s third political mistake. Perhaps acting on the ill-advised strategy of the insecure Binani Ambassadors, Binani initiated and pursued indiscriminate infighting between her loyalists and anybody loyal to Bindow or Ribadu within the Adamawa APC. The obsequiousness of the former state chairman of the party, Alhaji Ibrahim Bilal, further aggravated the intra-party conflicts. It had reached a point where the party leadership in the state got fed up and showed Alhaji Bilal the exit door.
Binani’s seemingly conceited and domineering nature is another mistake that cost her a sweeping victory at the end of the March 18 election and may likely work against her at the forthcoming supplementary polls. Those who know her say she always insists on having her way at all costs, even when her actions are supposedly unreasonable. For example, she allegedly stormed Ribadu Ward in Fufore Local Government Area and unilaterally sacked duly elected ward officials of the party. A senior ward official made several pleas for reconciliation and cooperation, but Binani was said to have dismissed his overtures and challenged him to go to court. A cursory look at the results from IREV shows that she narrowly won the Ribadu Ward, a largely Hausa-Fulani domain that could have given her an edged advantage.
Binani also shot herself in the foot when she started an unwarranted battle against the party officials at her Ward in Yola South Local Government Area. She was alleged to have orchestrated the suspension of some key party officials loyal to Ribadu, although her antics were not successful. Binani’s relentless pursuit of political vendetta did not stop at the state level. She was also said to be clandestinely fighting with the loyalists of the first lady, Aisha Buhari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha. Perhaps that explains why Mrs. Buhari’s brother, Mahmood Halilu, was seen alongside Governor Fintiri at the residence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during a press conference calling for the declaration of the election results after several delays. Even most recently, there are speculations that Binani is behind the suspension of the SGF.
Regardless of the outcome of the yet-to-be-scheduled supplementary election, Binani has succeeded in creating the impression that she is an authoritarian who will give no room for the opposition if, by the rarest coincidence, she becomes Nigeria’s first democratically elected female governor.
On the other hand, her philanthropic initiatives, massive support of women voters, ethnoreligious sentiment, and the fact that she hails from the central zone, which has the highest concentration of voters in the state, contributed in large measures to her impressive performance at the March 18, 2023 polls. Winning the cooperation and support of her party stalwarts would have closed the insignificant margin and propelled her to a landslide victory. As it stands now, Binani would need a miracle to win over 35,000 votes from the mere 37,000 available to defeat Governor Fintiri and become Nigeria’s first elected female governor.
Mohammed Kabir Ibrahim wrote from Kaduna and can be reached via email@example.com.
I do agree with you at some points.
Nuhu Ribadu would never support her because he didn’t agree with the primary election result
Aisha Buhari would never support Binani and by the grace of Almighty her relative would never be governor of Adamawa
Comes 2027 if we are among the living she would be our Governor in sha Allah