Taraba 2023: Contending Aspirants And Possible Chances In The Battle Royal



As politicians warm up for the 2023 general elections, the political scenario in Taraba State, particularly with regards to the governorship race, is gathering momentum as well as getting more interesting with lots of intrigues playing out.

This is just as the scene is getting tensed partly because of the prevailing zoning arrangement in which the three senatorial districts of the State have all had a share of the number one seat.

In this wise, the argument as to what should follow is not only intense, but getting the party in power to be losing sleep as the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) seems to be putting its house in order to wrestle power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has been in the helm of affairs in the state since the return to democracy in 1999.

Investigation reveals that as aspirants begin their various preparation on how to take over from Governor Darius Ishaku, who is in his last tenure in office, political gladiators within the ruling PDP and the main opposition, APC are beginning to make their intention known and their impact felt.

Our search lights in Taraba State have shown that prominent politicians such as serving Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, business magnet, Chief David Sabo Kente, Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, the Senator representing the Central Zone, Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, former PDP State Chairman, Chief Victor Bala Kona, Speaker of the State Assembly, Dr. Joseph Albasu Kunni, and former Senator, Dr. Anthony Manzo, among others are desirous of contesting the number one seat in the State. However, they are expected to cross the first hurdle which is the party nomination to emerge as flag bearer.


Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, a Distinguished Senator per excellence, has so far distinguished himself as the people’s senator and has continued to shower his constituents with loads of gifts that have earned him their love, loyalty and admiration.

The 57 year old third-term Senator representing Taraba South Senatorial District at the National Assembly, hails from Donga Local Government Area of the State. He served as Commissioner for Agriculture during the First-term of ex-governor Jolly Nyame (1999 – 2003) and later went to represent Donga/Ussa/Takum Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2011 on the platform of the PDP.

Bwacha, who is the Deputy Minority Leader of the Senate, fell out of political favour with Governor Ishaku over reasons that are still unclear to many, but may not be unconnected with his rather widespread popularity and acceptability in his zone as against the governor’s popularity that has continued to suffer remarkable setbacks.

The Senator, no doubt is a grassroot politician even as he seems to be on the crossroads as many see him as a politician without platform. While he still carries the membership card of the PDP, many believe that his soul is with the APC as his running battle with the state governor has adversely affected his standing in the party. Considering the enormous influence state governors usually have over party structures in the state, Bwacha’s chances except if the party at the headquarters wades in, look bleak and slim.


For many political pundits in Taraba State, David Kente for now seems to have an edge as some consider him as the governor of Taraba State waiting to be crowned in the political equation leading up to the 2023 general elections. A grassroot politician and leading philanthropist, Kente enjoys both the sympathy and admiration of the people across party lines, ethno-religious and zonal lines and is generally known to pool a lot of “federal might” to his advantage.

Kente comes from Wukari Local Government Area of the State and what may give him an edge over his contemporaries is his philanthropy that he has used to touch many lives through his DSK foundation which has provided succour to the less privileged members of the society across the length and breathe of the state and as a board member of the North East Development Commission, Kente is also strategic in touching lives

Understandably Kente, out of those eyeing the number one seat on the platform of the APC has consistently been in touch with the party structures across the state.


Senator Anthony George Manzo is widely regarded as an energetic, motivated and highly dynamic leader with excellent strategic leadership and management skills as well as extensive national and international experience and proven success in providing leadership and developing innovative initiatives in the private and public sectors. He served as senator on the platform of the PDP from 2007 to 2011 during which he held different positions and sponsored many bills and motions on the floor of the Senate.

The UK trained Surgeon who hails from Zing Local Government Area of the state comes from the first zone to have a shot at governorship position before it moved to Taraba Central and now Taraba South. With the circle complete, people would naturally expect the circle to begin from the North again to his advantage.


The 63years-old Mamman retired as an Assistant Director in the Taraba State Ministry of Works in 2002 and later became a full-time businessman cum politician. In August 2019, Engr. Mamman was appointed Minister of Power by President Muhammadu Buhari, a position he occupies till date.

Mamman is however considered as one of the most unpopular politicians in the state at the moment owing to how he has distanced himself from the people and party loyalists. However, the way he would be able to muzzle his way around the political lock jam to make serious headway remains to be seen.


Prior to the 2015 general elections, Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf was little known in Taraba State particularly in the political landscape. However, his victory at the court over Marafa Bashir Abba, who was initially declared winner of the Central senatorial seat took many by surprise and shot him into the political limelight.

Yususf 64, who is a trained Economist, an academician and civil servant turned politician has however proved himself to be a political weight to reckon with as he again went ahead to beat the hordes of other candidates to retain his seat in the 2019 general elections.

Senator Yusuf, who hails from Nguroje, Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State is currently the Senator representing Taraba Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly since 2015. He is currently the highest ranking elected official on the platform of the APC in the state.

As a first timer to the governorship race arena, Yusuf would have to first contend with his party members who mostly feel he is not doing enough to support the party in the state.


The 53years-old Kunini is an academician turned politician and currently serves as the Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly. He hails from Kunini, Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State. Prior to his Election as Speaker in December 2019, he was the Majority Leader of the State Assembly.


Kona is the immediate past Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the State and has proven to have the capacity to lead the party to victory consistently.

The zoning arrangement is also in his favor since he is coming from the Northern zone that is mostly favoured for the seat at this time.

However, Kona comes from one of the minority tribes in the state that has an insignificant voting population.

His massive acquisition of wealth including vast patches of lands all over the state has made most people to believe that he is a true son who would invest heavily in the state if given the chance, contrary to other leaders whose investment are everywhere else but in Taraba.

More so, despite being from a different zone, Kona is of a minority tribe that affiliates with the tribe of the current governor and his governorship may be considered by many as a continuation of the present administration by proxy. So, while he may have the support of the current governor and the financial muscle, his popularity and acceptability may suffer remarkably once the race takes off properly owing to his close association with Governor Ishaku.

From all indications, the ultimate and final contest may be between Mr. Victor Bala Kona of the PDP and Chief David Sabo Kente of the APC, if the APC wants to spring surprises in Taraba for the first time.

While most of the politicians are yet to come out openly to declare their intention for the governorship ticket, their actions, utterances, body language and the kites they fly clearly indicate their political focus and ambition ahead of 2023.

However, typical of politics in Taraba State, it would not be surprising if at the end of the day none of these end up in the race as early risers rarely make it to the end in the history of politicking in the state.

What is most certain and anticipated is the fact that the race for the number one seat in the state promises to be intriguing, interesting and unpredictable in the history of the state as the coming days will definitely unfold a series of mind bugling political intrigues worthy of political scholarship.


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