BY OUR REPORTERS
Next Saturday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State. and the entire country, will hold its primarily elections to elect flag bearers for its States Houses of Assembly ahead the 2019 general elections.
A total of 159 aspirants, according to PDP sources in the state, have all collected Nomination forms and sundry documents. Each aspirants officially coughed out a total of N700,000 to qualify them stand for the primary elections.
While the PDP is smiling all the way to the Bank, the aspirants still have more worries – The delegates. For reporters covering politics in Kaduna state, one of their own, Luka Binniyat has also been a source of considerable interest and solidarity since he declared for partisan politics this year.
Binniyat, the immediate past Vanguard correspondent for Kaduna State and former Chairman of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), Kaduna State Chapter has passed through many ordeals in the hands of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. He was twice detained in prison custody, in which he spent a total of 94 days in 2017. The government of Nasir el-Rufai has dismissed him as a “political journalist’ after he broke the news in which el-Rufai told his critics to climb Kufena mountain, jump, fall ‘and die’. He was also the reporter that broke the news in 2016 citing el-Rufai defiantly saying he had traced killer herdsmen to some African countries and paid them so that they don’t return to Southern Kaduna and shed more blood.
The state government has alleged that Binniyat wrote a false story on the mass murder of Southern Kaduna natives by armed herdsmen. Binniyat has since denied the allegation after being charged to court in 2016.
Considered a hero by Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), which youth wing conferred the “Voice of The Voiceless” merit award, he is aspiring to get the ticket of the PDP in Zango Constituency of Zango Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) for the Kaduna House of Assembly (KDHA) come 2019 contest.
The Zamandabo born journalist who has a Master Degree in Peace and Conflicts Studies from Kaduna State University (KASU), is slugging it out with the incumbent, retired Wing Commander Danladi Kwasau Angulu and Barr. Timothy Kambai former Chairman of Zango Kataf LGA. The two are from Unguwan Gaya ward.
The others are Barr. Habilla Haruna (Ikulu ward), and Mr. Samson Sheyin (Zonzon ward) – a former Chairman of the PDP in Zangon Kataf LGA.
Binniyat who also won the NUJ “Torchbearer of Press Freedom in Nigeria” award 2017, is said to have the least financial weight among his other contenders, but is well favoured by electorates from his zone.
According to watchers of Zango local politics , while Binniyat is being cheered by not only local Zango Kataf folks in the race, but is favoured by entire the Southern Kaduna community who appear to be his main source of support.
But it would look like a branch of Atyap PDP elite nurse sympathy for the incumbent, Angulu, a development that is already causing resentment in the area, knowing the deep financial profiles of the elites, our investigation has revealed.
This may likely become an issue among the general populace and even among the delegates as the days to the delegates’ conference that will elect the flag bearer approaches, our findings have shown.
“They said he lost his son; his house got burnt and his colleagues suspended him from the House in his third year so he should be pitied to continue,” said a sacked primary school teachers from Kibori village who asked for anonymity. “We are saying we are sad with the tragedy that has happened to him.. We are saying we don’t support the way he was suspended,” he went on. “But he was suspended not because he was standing in defence of his constituency. He was suspended because Angulu and Yakubu Bityong (Kaura Constituency) wanted to change the leadership of the PDP in the House of Assembly,” he went said.
“Bityong wanted to replace Jerry Kantiok (Zonkwa constituency) as the Minority Leader, while Angulu’s ambition was to be Minority Whip of the House. But Kantiok was more grounded in the House more than them. So it was a ‘coup’ that would have benefited them that failed,” he maintained.
Another PDP member from the area resident in Kaduna, Esther Yashim, said, “if what I hear is true that our big men in the PDP are taking side with Angulu, then it is a pity. They should use their money well, not cause confusion.
“We did not hear his voice when el-Rufai was treating us like people he captured during war. He did not say anything when we were suffering when el-Rufai forced us in a 24-hour curfew for weeks because 3 of our boys were shot dead in Samaru Kataf in 2016 by Fulani. We did not hear his voice against the mass sacking of our people from work. All of them, not only him. In fact, we don’t know what bill he has sponsored or what motion he has raised or which project he has brought to us concerning the things worrying us in Zango.
“Many people in Zango only hear his name but they have never seen him. I swear some don’t even know his name. It is now during politics that they are hearing it. Why should our big men confuse our delegates? Let them allow delegate to choose the best for us and not use their money to return him,” she said.
However a supporter of Angulu, who also pleaded that his name not be mentioned to avoid controversy said, “anybody that has sympathy and compassion cannot disallow Angulu a second chance. The man went there and suffered very much. The things that happened to him did not allow him to organise himself to give his best. Now he has gotten over it and if given a second chance will show his best. All those against him are just playing politics, because as a military man he fears no one. Even the governor is afraid of him, that is why they gang up to suspend him.
“It is also the chance of his ward to go for a second term. So, we have been appealing to the delegates to see reasons and allow him a second chance. He is a good man,” he said.
Kambai, and two others who come from the same ward with the incumbent had early this year expressed interest to contest against him. it was revealed. It was gathered that two had stepped down under pressure. But Barrister Kambai, said to have built a lot of infrastructure when he was Zangon Kataf Council Chairman (2009 – 2011) was said to be offended when he was told to step down for Angulu when no meaningful reason for doing that was given. He has gone ahead to pick the Nomination form.
Apart from Habila who is a Bakulu man, the other four are all Atyap.
Bomba Dauda, Associate Editor of Kaduna Frontier said, “I am certain that the delegates will settle for Binniyat, but it will be a tough battle,” said Bomba who is also Atyap from Jankassa.
“ They are aware of his awesome ability to defend their interest, being someone who has taken Southern Kaduna Community issues as a life commitment. They should know that if there is any face that el-Rufai will do anything not to see in Kaduna House of Assembly in 2019, it is that of Luka Binniyat. And our people don’t like the governor.
“I don’t know the other contestants closely, but I am proud that Zango constituency is parading mostly educated and professional persons from who to pick to represent the PDP in 2019. I think the era where charlatans and layabout can stray into elective political positions is gone forever in Zango Constituency,” he added.
The contest between Binniyat and the rest is surely one that Kaduna State government, the APC , those who hate his guts including his supporters will be observing with bated breath. But his colleagues in the media will zero on it as the most newsworthy among the lot.