The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, has resigned from the federal cabinet.
Her reason: To contest the 2019 governorship election in Taraba State. Alhassan, popularly referred to as Mama Taraba, vied for the 2015 governorship election in Taraba under the APC but lost to the PDP’s Darius Ishaku. She challenged the result at the tribunal which declared her winner, however the Supreme Court overturned the tribunal judgement as well as that of the Appeal Court.
President Buhari’s response: According to reports, the president has accepted Alhassan’s resignation. However, he reportedly encouraged her to run for the governorship seat under the APC platform.
What would she do?: Nobody knows. The popular sentiment is that Alhassan would defect to the PDP and join, Atiku Abubakar, the man she has described as her political godfather. Last September, she had described Atiku as “Mr. President, come 2019.” She said her support for the former vice president is unshakable even if her then boss, Pres. Buhari decides to run for reelection.
“Let me tell you today that if Baba Buhari said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve in your government as a minister but Baba just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest,” she had said.
And then she flipped. Following Atiku’s defection to the PDP in November, Alhassan remained in the federal cabinet and in the APC. Two months later when asked about her previous vow to follow Atiku wherever he goes, she said this: “Politics is all about interest, and nobody forced me to leave PDP to join APC, so no one will force me out of it. I will continue to work for APC… I know many may wish to see me leaving APC, but let me assure them I will remain in APC! So, how can I destroy the house we collectively built?”
Joining Atiku in the PDP may not be that easy: As Alhassan rightly said, politics is about interest. And right now, it is hardly in Alhassan’s interest to join the PDP. The man who defeated her in 2015 is still governor and he intends to run for a second term on the PDP platform. If she decides to join the PDP, she faces a tall order to challenge and defeat him in the party’s primary, considering that he likely controls the delegate structure in the state. For her ambition sake, her best bet at the moment may be to remain in the APC.