‘Mama Taraba’: Is the political battle over?

“I heard that some people have said I will not continue as a politician and that I am worried. Why should I be worried? President Buhari contested three times and became the President after the fourth contest. Not because he lost the first three, but because the fourth time was God’s time.”
Those were the words of Senator Aisha Alhassan, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Taraba State in the 2015 election, following the verdict of the Supreme Court which upheld the election of her main challenger, Architect Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Apex Court had, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the election of Governor Ishaku and dismissed the petition filed by Senator Alhassan and the APC. The court in a lead judgment delivered by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour,  held that the APC and Aisha could not query the validity of the nomination of Ishaku since they were not members of the Peoples Democratic Party that sponsored him.
The decision of the Apex Court marked the climax of a fierce legal battle that had ensued in the aftermath of the April 11 governorship election in Taraba State, in which Senator Aisha was set to make history as the first democratically elected female governor in Nigeria.
On November 11, 2015 the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal had declared Senator Aisha the winner of the election after holding that Ishaku was not validly nominated. The Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, held that Darius Ishaku was not validly nominated as candidate of the PDP and therefore declared Aisha as the winner of the April 11 governorship election in the state.
Specifically, the tribunal held that the governorship primaries purportedly conducted by the PDP in the state was done in violation of section 78 (b) (1) (2) of the Electoral Act which guides parties nomination to the position of governorship candidate.
Dissatisfied with Tribunal’s verdict Governor Ishaku headed for the Court of Appeal which set aside the judgment of the tribunal. The Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Abdul Aboki which reviewed Mr. Ishaku’s appeal described as “unattainable” a petition by the APC seeking to disqualify Mr. Ishaku as the PDP candidate in the gubernatorial election of April 11.
Determined to actualize her dream of becoming the first democratically elected female governor, Senator Aisha \proceeded to the Supreme Court to test the decision of the Court of Appeal.  “Our position still remained that he (Governor Ishaku) was not validly sponsored as required by section 177 (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that we want to test again in Supreme Court”, Mahmud (SAN) Counsel to Aisha reportedly said after the Appeal Court ruling.
With the recent decision of the Supreme Court which put a final seal on the Taraba governorship tussle, many analysts have asked the question as to what becomes the next political move of the quintessential politician popularly called “Mama Taraba”.
Not many had imagined that a woman would emerge as the gubernatorial candidate of a strong political party like the All Progressives Congress in Taraba, one of the northern states highly known for women apathy in politics. This is more so that women participation in politics in Nigeria is unimpressive, when compared to their counterparts in the western world.
But “Mama Taraba” is one of the few females in the northern part of Nigeria who braced all odds and dared to make a difference in a political climate dominated by the male folks.  Had she been successful in the April 11, 2015 election, Aisha who is the first elected female Senator from Taraba state would have recorded another ‘first’ in her political history as the ever first woman to be elected governor in Nigeria.
The last time a woman was circumstantially made governor was in 2006 - 2007 when Dame Virginia Ngozi Etiaba was declared governor of Anambra State in November 2006, after the impeachment of Peter Obi by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct. She lasted for only four months on the Anambra hot seat.
A trained lawyer, Senator Aisha was the first female to be appointed Taraba State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice and also the first woman to be appointed as Secretary FCT Judicial Council. Despite her being a Muslim, she is believed to enjoy huge backing from Taraba Christians as well, earning her the nick name Mama Taraba.
During the 7th National Assembly, Senator Aisha was said to have made an unsuccessful attempt at becoming the first female President of the Senate, a position then held by Senator David Mark.
Although she has since taken charge of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha considers her unsuccessful attempt at becoming the first female governor of Taraba State as the will of God, even though she is convinced she won the election.
“I didn’t get it this time because it is not God’s time; everybody knows I won the election, even the PDP people in Taraba State. PDP people know I won the election because they know the manipulation they did in the government lodge Wukari, where they added over 50, 000 votes for Darius”, she said, adding: “They also know the manipulation they did in Donga and Kurmi Local Government Areas where they manipulated and also added about 50, 000 votes together for Darius.”
On whether she would continue with her political struggles, Aisha said: “Why wouldn’t I continue?  I am not angry with anybody, instead I thank God for giving me good health and strength to contest and win with the over 270,000 votes I got in the election - clean real votes, not manipulated like the PDP votes.”
Why has she has not congratulated her PDP opponent, Darius Ishaku? Senator Aisha reportedly said: “I don’t know why people worry about me not congratulating Darius. I did not because you only congratulate true and deserving winners. He (referring to Darius) knows that he did not win. Therefore, he did not deserve my congratulations.”
So what next for Mama Taraba? Senator Aisha said she would continue to keenly watch developments in Taraba State under the PDP, while also getting ready for the next political dispensation. “We will all watch as developments unfold in this PDP government which has little or no understanding of the plight and needs of the people of Taraba, let alone know solutions for them.
“I thank my supporters and urge them to remain steadfast and continue believing in God and start getting ready for the next round. I pray God grants us all long life and good health to fight next round,” she said.

- Daily_trust  

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