Friday, 31 January 2014

Sokoto and Kano APC In Battle Of Wits

Across the country except in a few states, the All Progressives Congress seems to have caught the bug that reduced the Peoples Democratic Party to a shadow of its former self. In this report, Ibrahim Shuaibu and Mohammed Aminu give the situation reports in Kano and Sokoto APC respectively
The crisis that eventually humbled the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would be a child’s play by the time the situation in the All Progressives Congress (APC) comes to full blown across the states of the federation.

Indeed, the crisis which ultimately is not unconnected to the battle for control of the soul of the party is not peculiar to any state; what differs from state-to-state is the ability of the leadership to manage or at the very least subdue the engaging tendencies in the new opposition party.
While the cases of Kano and Sokoto come handy as a causal model of what obtains in other parts of the country with a view to putting definition to the APC crisis, no one state is truly exempted from the simmering crisis, which if not contained early enough especially that the elections are here, could endanger the chances of the party.
The controversy that surrounded the political atmosphere in Kano State shortly after the defection of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to the APC looks like one that has found a home in the party. The atmosphere which assumed a new dimension recently with the arrest of Speaker, Kano State House of Assembly along with 10 principal officers of the assembly over the issue of budget, was further compounded by the rumoured defection of former governor Ibrahim Shekarau to the PDP.
But a few days ago, the former governor had denied any such move and dismissed it outright. “As you are aware, people are free to speculate that we are planning to leave APC because of the failure of the national leadership to address our grievances and we cannot stop our followers from agitating for several options when they have lost confidence in the leadership.
“But the truth of the matter is that we have not reached a stage where we are considering an alternative option. So, we will continue to consult with leaders of APC in the affected states in order to put hands together to find a way out of the quagmire,” he said.
He noted that the legacy parties that merged to form APC in Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa and Kwara States have similar predicaments and as such, the leaders deemed it necessary to consult at his residence of Bafarawa in order to deliberate on the problems affecting them, adding that he had written a petition to the national leadership of the APC along with Bafarawa, Buba Marwa and Dele Belgore for over one month without any response.
"We have written a petition to lodge our complaints to the national leadership of our party. In fact, Bafarawa, Marwa and Belgore also did the same but for over 50 days now, the APC national leadership is yet to respond to our plight. So, we will keep on pacifying our followers to be patient. There must be a moment of decision and for now, we have not exhausted all avenues," he said.
On the insinuation that they were PDP moles, Shekarau said he had passed the stage of being used as a stooge for anybody and described the allegations as “silly”.
"We are not bothered by accusations that we are PDP moles.
If you challenge a leadership especially when they are doing wrong, they come up with allegations. So, people are entitled to their opinion," he concluded.
But Kwankwaso who would rather face the opposition as well as expose their antics was of the view that his government had come under heat by those calling the shots in Abuja. This was because his sudden change of platform may have forced the PDP led-government to assume that his exit may have created a huge vacuum in the party’s bid to cling onto power.
His intransigence, ironically, was believed to have sent a message to the opposition that Kwankwaso was a firebrand politician and already, he had taken the battle to his enemies’ camps as they both seek to know which is smarter in the raging battle of wits and supremacy.
It is against this backdrop that Kwankwaso saw the arrest of the speaker and others as an opportunity to serve some salvos to the opposition. He condemned in the strongest of terms, the situation.
“I have noted with utter disappointment, the arrest by the EFCC of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honourable Gambo Sallau, principal officers and Clerk of the House and it is Chrystal clear that the above mentioned public officials were arrested by the EFCC on the orders from the above because of the legislators’ defection to APC, in support of my humble self.
“This action is obviously to intimidate and cow them to submission for choosing to move to the progressive fold. This action is not only despicable and absurd but also capable of igniting crisis in the polity, thereby breaching the relative peace that is being enjoyed in Kano State,” he said.
The governor observed that the Speaker and his colleagues were only exercising their constitutional responsibilities of ensuring that budgets are properly articulated, to ensure probity and accountability in public expenditure, so that in the end, the citizens enjoy dividends of democracy.
"It is regrettable that the EFCC is allowing itself to be a tool of witch-hunt in the hands of powers that be."
The standing of the governor was further boosted when he received a delegation of former Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from the state, led by Brigadier General (Rtd) Lawal Jafaru Isa, who paid him a solidarity visit at the Government House, Kano.
They told the governor that the visit was to show solidarity and loyalty to him as leader of the APC and urged him to carry everybody along in the quest to ensure that the PDP is dislodged at all levels in the country.
“APC has its problems which can be resolved amicably. We urge you be patient and continue to provide leadership to the people. All members of the party are equal so I wish to appeal to you to call our members that have grudges to come forth so that things can be sorted out. Our doors are open and as progressives, we must be willing to embrace all,” he said.
Isa was accompanied by a former deputy governor of the state, Magaji Abudullahi, Alhaji Aliyu Danmaraya, Alhaji Haruna Ungoggo, Alhaji Sabo Nanono and Alhaji Hamisu Buhari among others.
Addressing the delegation, Kwankwaso enjoined Nigerians to work together to kick PDP out of power in 2015, hinting that more governors will soon leave the PDP as it has lost credibility and potency to take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
He said Nigerians are yearning for change in every facet of life and that the time for the cvhange has come.
“The issue is not that of tribalism. Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from have being existing as friends and brothers for long but when somebody from the South-south took over the mantle of leadership of the country, things started drifting. That is why we must come together to save this country. Every rational person knows that we need change. The PDP used to be an umbrella for everybody but it is now a hat for one man. Some people are holding the country hostage so we must come together to rescue it.”
He said in every democratic system, citizens have a right to voice out their feelings regarding how they are governed, explaining that the APC is a collection of progressives that are not only determined to cry out against injustice but also determined to ensure that Nigerians get the right caliber of people to lead them.
Subsequently, Kwankwaso hoisted the APC flag amidst former PDP supporters from the 44 local government areas of the state popularly called Yanbiyar. He promised to carry all long, adding that discipline is the bedrock of any society and implored people to always be respectful and law abiding, assuring them that his administration would continue with its purposeful leadership in the state.
It is however believed that this year holds a lot in terms of politicking and what to expect in next election in the APC. Indeed, many have alluded to the challenges that would confront the leadership whenever the time comes for allocation of positions among the various groups that coalesced into the APC.
Kwankwaso can pretend for as long as time permits that all is well with the APC since it appears he has been handed the leadership of the party, but if the alleged move by Shekarau to defect to the PDP is true, it would not only cause a major setback for the party in the state, it might have a spiraling effect on other parts of the federation where there are similar problems. But as it is, only time would tell what eventually becomes of the APC in the state.
However, as the acrimony currently dogging the Kano APC festers, the situation in Sokoto State has also assumed a worrisome dimension, not just with the formation of two parallel state interim committees in the state, but more because of the alleged defection of former governor Attahiru Bafarawa to the PDP. But the crisis took a turn for the worse when the duo of Governor Aliyu Wamakko and Bafarawa formed parallel state interim committees.
The battle for supremacy between the two political titans had polarised the party and created confusion within the ranks and file of the party. It is no longer at ease in the APC which was initially heralded as a party for the masses. APC came into Sokoto with a lot of goodwill and people saw it as a party for progressives that would ensure fairness and equity to all members.
Truth of the matter is that the Sokoto APC came into being following the consummation of the merger by four legacy parties in the state, which included the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, Congress for Progressive Change, Democratic Peoples Party and Action Congress of Nigeria. The four legacy parties came together under the umbrella of APC and chose Alhaji Abubakar Sanyinna as the Chairman of the state interim executive committee, pending the conduct of the registration exercise and congress.
But the defection of Wamakko to APC shattered the arrangement existing in the party and polarised the supporters into two factions. In fact, no sooner had Wamakko defected to the party, than the faction loyal to Bafarawa disowned him, stressing that he was not recognised as the leader of the party.
The struggle for the leadership of the party however reared its ugly head recently following a letter from the national headquarters which approved the establishment of state interim committee to steer the affairs of the party in the state. The letter stated that the Interim National Executive Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) had approved the constitution of a nine-man Sokoto State Interim Executive Committee.
In the statement signed by the Deputy National Treasurer of the APC, Alhaji Usman Danmadamin Isa, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY, APC said the approval of the constitution of the State Interim Executive Committee, was sequel to a letter dated January 7, 2013 with reference number APC/NHDQ/GEN/24/013/82.
The statement stated that the Committee would be under the chairmanship of former Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, believed to be a loyalist of Governor Aliyu Wamakko.
As sooner as the letter circulated in the state, came attacks from the Bafarawa faction, which described it as fake. The Bafarawa faction swiftly organised a meeting of stakeholders and presented a five-man interim committee under the chairmanship of Abubakar Sanyinna.
Addressing a mammoth gathering at the faction's secretariat, a leader of the APC in the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma, said there was no iota of truth that the national leadership had approved the constitution of a nine-man interim committee in the state, saying that the purported letter was being circulated in the state in order to hoodwink the people and cause confusion within the ranks and file of the party.
Milgoma therefore charged their supporters to disregard the “fake letter” being circulated in the state, as it did not emanate from the National Interim Executive Committee.
"We woke up today only to hear of a constitution of a fake nine- man state interim committee. As you are aware, these disgruntled politicians who left PDP recently, have been moving around with a forged letter claiming that the National Interim Executive Committee had given them an approval to constitute an interim committee in Sokoto.
"I want to let you know that the letter is fake and there is no iota of truth in the matter because the National Interim Committee did not give them the approval. In fact, those circulating the misleading information are bent on creating confusion in our party.
“So, you should disregard the misleading information being circulated by these disgruntled politicians that have lost favour with the people," Milgoma said, describing Wamakko's faction as fake and urged them to go back to the PDP as they were not recognised as APC members in the state.
In a swift reaction, the chairman of the nine-man Sokoto State Interim Executive Committee, Abdulkadir, said it was the Interim National Executive Committee that mandated governors in APC states to constitute a state interim committee.
Speaking to journalists in the state, Abdulkadir maintained that "The nine-man State Interim Committee was mandated by the national leadership to ensure consolidation among stakeholders and steer the affairs of APC in Sokoto until registration and congress are concluded. APC is not about Wamakko or Bafarawa but a party for the people determined to salvage the country," he said.
Abdulkadir however said the nine-man committee would not be distracted in its quest to attain the set objectives of achieving reconciliation with various groups in the state, pointing out that representatives of the Committee were drawn from the legacy parties and as such would not be distracted by the antics of the Bafarawa faction.
"If somebody or a group feels that what we are doing is not proper, then they are entitled to their opinion but that will not distract us from our assignment. We are only carrying the mandate of Sokoto people and cannot join issues with any individual," he noted.
But despite the crisis, the national leadership went ahead and inaugurated the Abdulkadir committee, whose members are said to be loyal to Wamakko and urged them to work assiduously in mobilising the people to ensure the party’s victory in next year elections.
The APC Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, who spoke through the interim Zonal Vice Chairman, North-west, Alhaji Salisu Fagge, told the committee members to redouble efforts in enlightening the people on the ideals of the party.
“If you do your work very well, APC will be everywhere in all the nooks and crannies of the state. So, I urge you to redouble efforts in massive mobilisation of people at the grassroots".
Akande congratulated them on their appointments and said they should regard their positions as an opportunity to serve and urged the committee members to work as a team and carry all members along in order to achieve the set objectives.
In his remark, Wamakko said his decision to join the APC was not because of position but due to his quest for justice and fairness. He added that he left the PDP because the federal government did not execute any concrete project in the state.
“As you are aware, politics is all about development and the PDP-led federal government did not provide any concrete project in Sokoto. So, my defection to APC is not because of position but due to quest for justice and fairness for all Nigerians,” he stated.
On the parallel committee formed by Bafarawa, he explained that the interim National Executive Committee of the party had affirmed his group’s secretariat as the authentic APC headquarters in the state, pointing out that the nine-man state interim committee comprised members from the three legacy parties that formed APC.
Also speaking, APC Deputy National Treasurer, Isa, said APC governors are leaders of the party in their various states, hence the mandate given to them by the national leadership of the party to inaugurate the State Interim Committee.
Prior to Wamakko's defection to APC, Bafarawa was the focal point and leader of the legacy parties that merged to form APC in the state. But many observers had earlier predicted that with Wamakko's move to the party, his (Bafarawa) leadership of the party could be short lived, as the structures of the party would no longer be under his control.
Although under the terms of agreement reached with the five defected PDP governors, they are to control the structures in their states, old APC leaders, especially former governors in Kano, Sokoto and Adamawa states have kicked against the deal. Irked by the antics of the national leadership, Bafarawa moved swiftly to scuttle the agreement by setting up a parallel five -man executive committee led by Sanyinna in a bid to have an edge over Wamakko.
But with the confirmation of the leadership of APC on Wamakko by the national leadership following the inauguration of the nine-man state interim committee loyal to the governor recently, it had become clear that Wamakko's faction now has the edge over Bafarawa
Sadly however, it seems the people are fast losing hope in the APC that was initially perceived as the party for the masses, especially regarding the way and manner the affairs of the party are being handled by its leadership which had created disaffection in the minds of some of its supporters in the state.
It is believed that the recognition of the Wamakko faction by the national leadership depicted the APC as a party which failed to keep to its mantra of ensuring equity and fairness to all. They wondered why a group would toil hard for several months to build a house only for them to wake up and see their efforts end up in vain.
This is why many hold the view that the national leadership of the APC should endeavour to do justice to all the members of the legacy parties by not allowing selfishness to override fair play in the party, arguing that many people had sacrificed their time and resources in order to build a party of discipline and cohesion among Nigerians.
They wonder why the national leadership would treat Bafarawa with disdain, despite his efforts in making APC what it is in the state today. They noted that as a founding member of the APC and a member of the drafting committee of the party's constitution, he deserved to be accorded the due respect.
It is believed in some quarters that the recognition of Wamakko's group by the national leadership, was borne out of the political calculation that the governor is a grassroots politician and has formidable structures in all the 23 local government councils and as such would be in a better position to deliver Sokoto to APC when the chips are down
But it seems the war of attrition between Wamakko and Bafarawa which had lingered for the past eight years may not likely abate. Observers argued that the hope for reconciliation between the two political titans in the state may likely be a mirage, particularly with the raging altercation between the two factions. Therefore, it is being insinuated in some quarters that the current scenario may likely force the aggrieved members (Bafarawa faction),who laboured to build the party last year, to look elsewhere for a safe haven, as they would not be willing to watch as spectators or play a second fiddle in the party. This, indeed, may have confirmed Bafarawa’s defection to the PDP.
Nevertheless, as the mutual suspicion and squabble remain unabated between the two factions in the state, it is believed that the chance for reconciliation between Wamakko and Bafarawa was slim and only time would tell whether or not they can work together for the benefit of their people.

Source:This Day
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