By Muhammad Isah Habu
I happened to be among the entourage of Dauda Lawal when his convoy was delayed for over three hours in Tsafe LGA last Sunday, on our way back to Abuja after the rerun of the PDP governorship primaries In Zamfara State. It wasn’t a campaign rally or a planned political outing, just a convoy moving – ‘the people can leave whatever they are doing to hail Dauda,’ I was told.
I observed the joyful faces of teeming youths, petty traders, women, and the elderly, putting aside their routine activities to wave hands and chant ‘Sai Dauda, ’ meaning no (one is eligible) except Dauda (alone). What I witnessed was beyond mere political optics; it was a movement sweeping every nook and cranny of Zamfara State; of course, the Dauda Lawal phenomena.
Alexander the Great opined that ‘an army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.’ This adaptation implies that a lot depends on the person at the front, the leader. Zamfara state has been deplorable due to bad leadership. We all know the sorry situation of the state. It has been on the brink. The entire 14 Local Government Areas, including Gusau, the state capital, were not safe.
The good people of Zamfara State were fed up with the status quo and leadership style of the incumbent, who accidentally clinched power through a court ruling, no thanks to the immediate past governor of the state, whose melancholic ego led to a transition out of the frying pan into the fire.
What I witnessed during the just concluded Zamfara PDP governorship rerun is an open expression of love and trust from the people. They want a messiah who would restore sanity to Zamfara. A leader who would toil day and night to restore the dignity of a state overwhelmed by banditry and destitution.
On Friday, the day of the guber rerun, aside from party members in the PDP headquarters, the area was occupied by supporters and well-wishers chanting ‘Sai Dauda.’ Every other thing had to pause for a while; all you saw were people paying glowing tribute to the Gamji of Gusau.
The few people I interviewed described Dauda as a dogged fighter who, despite attempts by political hawks’ propagandists to shade and disdain his victory, has remained bloody bold and resolute. No time to bicker over a court judgment, Dauda settled for a rerun knowing that he would undoubtedly win if PDP were to conduct the state Gubernatorial primary elections a thousand times.
As a charismatic and exemplary leader of the first serious opposition in Zamfara, Dauda Lawal leaves imprints for others to learn from in their pursuit to confront an arrogant and clueless leader. To better understand these imprints, one must gather firsthand information from the people across the state. I have seen and heard from the horse’s mouth; It is a game over for Matawalle.
The aggrieved aspirants that filed a lawsuit that nullified the Zamfara governorship primary have clearly understood the truism in the assertion that power belongs to Allah, He gives it to whomever He pleases. It implies that despite politicking, horse trading, political permutating, and maneuvering, God ultimately decides where the pendulum swings. Instead of creating a setback to Dauda’s blooming popularity and fan base, the negative court judgment has become a blessing in disguise.
The seamless guber rerun conducted by the PDP in Zamfara has raised the hope of the people of Zamfara state. Dauda has, by that transparent and credible process, affirmed that he is a true democrat and an indefatigable politician who would never abandon his troops while fighting injustice.
Lawal’s triumph as the PDP governorship candidate in the rerun has closed an epic story of what is possible when a man lives a life of dedicated service to humanity. Pundits, especially the ruling APC, had underestimated Lawal’s political clout and pedigree until the rerun was concluded.
Perhaps, the best attribute of Dauda that would change the status quo is his negotiating skills. He is a deal cutter and a diplomat. Dauda typifies a real man that smiles when he is beset with troubles. Where others lament, he looks out for solutions. He gathers strength by distress and bravery by reflection.
Not just for the 422 votes he got from the governorship rerun, Lawal is PDP’s bestseller in Zamfara. With his candidature, campaigning has become very easy and evidence-based. All that is needed is for all members of the PDP in the state to rally support for him ahead of the 2023 election. Above all, in his speech immediately after the rerun, he implored all party members, especially fellow contenders, to join hands and ensure that PDP wins the 2023 election to rescue and rebuild Zamfara state.
Habu a media strategist writes from Abuja