Deputy Editor of DAILY NIGERIAN, Abbas Yunusa, writes that the intractable internal squabbles, unresolved political differences, disloyalty and simmering disagreements among major political actors across some states currently controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, are factors that may likely see the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, taking over such states in 2019.
For the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, it is a case of unending political squabbles, especially across states where the party currently wields considerable power and influence, especially in the north.
The crises, in the estimation of political watchers, if left unchecked could affect the party’s chances of retaining the very states where it has firm roots.
Seven states that are worst hit by the intra-party rumble are Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Bauchi, Katsina, Benue and Jigawa.
The main opposition party, PDP, which was almost declared dead and non-existent in some of these states appears to be resurrecting, following last month’s Supreme Court’s judgment which ended its protracted leadership tussle.
The Kaduna state chapter of APC can be easily said to the most troubled state chapter in the whole of the North-West. There seems to be no end in sight to the face-off between Governor Nasir el-Rufai and a senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani. The second APC senator, Suleiman Hunkiyi, has also joined the fray against the governor, just as PDP’s Danjuma Laah leads the war from the Southern Kaduna front.
While the crisis among the trio of Messrs El-Rufai, Sani, Hunkuyi and party elders tears the party apart, the Southern Kaduna crisis and dethronement of thousands of district heads are greatly threatening the governor’s chance of re-election.
“Although el-Rufai has good policies with far-reaching effects, the electorate prefer instant rewards. A governor of a state like Kaduna has to be gratuitous to remain in peace because political stability in Kaduna is merchandise. If you don’t buy it you won’t get it,” said a source familiar with Kaduna politics.
Only recently, thugs suspected to be loyal to Mr el-Rufai stormed the venue of a press conference organised by Messrs Sani and Hunkuyi and attacked party men, including journalists.
Already, the PDP structure in the state is cashing in on the crisis rocking the APC to get defectors and put its house in order before 2019.
DAILY NIGERIAN observes that while other governors tarry until in their second term to fight their godfathers, Mr Ganduje didn’t wait too long to fire the salvo.
Although the crisis had simmered for a while, it became public knowledge when a faction led by Mr Ganduje attempted to take disciplinary action against Mr Kwankwaso, for allegedly “destabilizing the peace of the state” during a condolence visit to the governor over his mother’s death in March last year.
Pundits say the second grave mistake Mr Ganduje made was his failure to appoint most of Mr Kwankwaso’s men into his cabinet.
“Those who campaigned selflessly for Ganduje were not considered for appointment because of their closeness to Kwankwaso.
“His first agenda after election was to edge them out from the political equation and, unfortunately, appointed people who either did not suffer for party or were Kwankwaso’s archenemies.
“Instead of him to carry them along and even integrate them into his camp, he kept them at arm’s length. Had he drawn the key politicians in Kwankwaso’s camp closer many of them would have been in his camp.
“So automatically, they regrouped into Kwankwasiyya camp and started fighting him.
“While Governor Ganduje struggles to govern amidst the political crisis, the Kwankwasiyya foot soldiers are busy strategizing, forming structures and keeping in touch with the grassroots. And while he was busy erasing Kwankwasiyya inscription on projects, removing red seats at Coronation Hall, his opponent is gaining popularity,” said a source familiar with Kano politics.
Although Mr Ganduje has no issues with payment of salaries, he is however in for a showdown with the electorate over the introduction of 5 percent consumption tax, daily levy on tricycles, abolishment of school feeding and uniform programme, partial powering of street lights, among others.
With the latest development where the national leadership of the party openly denounced a congress conducted by the Ganduje-led faction and endorse the Kwankwaso-backed leadership, it would be a tough political battle for the governor to scale the primaries.
Political analysts say the political crisis rocking the Kogi APC has not only affected governance in the state, but also made the party prone to frequent attacks by members of the opposition, especially the PDP.
The major characters in the feud include the state governor, Yahaya Bello, leadership of the party in the state led by its chairman, Haddy Ametuo, a senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye as well as notable chieftains of the party like Senators Alex Kadiri, Ohiare, Nicholas Ugbane, amongst others.
Mr Ametuo-led executive has refused to identify with governor, whom they have serially accused of not acting in accordance with the party’s manifestoes and favouring members of the opposition in the state. For instance, the party accused Mr Bello of handing out juicy appointments to individuals who worked against the party in the December 2015 election in the state.
Messrs Bello and Melaye once had it all rosy until recently when they went separate ways. Mr Dino was one of the major supporters of Mr Bello when supporters of late Abubakar Audu and James Faleke were up in arms against him. Reports say the relationship went awry, following disagreements over appointments.
Also, the State House of Assembly isn’t immune to the political crisis rocking the state. Just recently, former Speaker, Umar Imam escaped death by the whiskers when thugs invaded the State Assembly complex.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the former Speaker’s ‘offence’ was daring to summon the state commissioner of Finance and other top government functionaries to offer explanations on how the last tranche of the Paris Club loan refund was spent. Report says the governor felt slighted by the action, hence, the need to change the leadership of the House.
Taking the governor’s war with both APC and PDP politicians in the state, salary issues, ASUU crisis in the state university as well as the governor’s haughtiness into account, analysts believe that if elections are to be conducted today in Kogi State, the APC is bound to lose – especially when Igala candidate is fielded by either the APC or PDP.
In Bauchi state, political disagreement among major leaders within the APC has degenerated from the realm of a cold war to full-fledged war. The war majorly is between the state governor, Mohammed Abubakar and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. Both politicians who were once political allies have since severed whatever relationship that ever existed between them.
Mr Abubakar is without doubt not willing to bulge as seen in a few of his recent political moves.
Pundits however argue that the governor was not the architect of the crisis but his appointees. “The major problem is that his appointees are those who foment trouble for him because most of them contested elections and lost. The governor’s only problem is that he is not level-headed.
“The Yusuf Tuggar factor is another issue. Tuggar is still very popular, but the governor failed to recognize that in order to form a politically-inclusive government,” said a source.
Other factors that may haunt the governor’s re-election bid are the deposition of about 150 district heads and suspending payment of salaries and pensions for three months during the verification exercise.
“Bauchi is a civil service state,” said a Bauchi politician, Lamara Abubakar. “Although the verification was done in good faith, starving civil servants of salaries for three months was the worst decision Governor M.A. has ever made.”
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that out of 12 members of the House of Reps, only five are in the governor’s camp, while Senator Isa Misau of Bauchi Central Senatorial District is the only senator with the governor.
Unless the governor eats the humble pie and reconcile with the forces against him, political observers in the state said it is unlikely for him to win re-election.
Mr Masari, being the first governor from Karaduwa zone, did not do much to invigorate his political base to other senatorial districts. Feelers in the state say that even Funtua, which is the zonal headquarters of Karaduwa, does not have a commissioner.
Sacking of civil servants appointed by immediate-past governor, Ibrahim Shema and unlawful removal of all the 34 elected local government chairmen of the state had greatly dealt a blow on the governor’s popularity.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that local governments in Katsina, for more than two years, are being run by directors of personnel management.
The top politicians in the state are also at war with Mr Masari’s powerful SSG, Mustapha Inuwa, for his commandeering influence within the government and the party.
Apart from Kanti Bello and Sada Ilu, whose sons were made commissioners, the rest of the APC aspirants who contested with him such as Usman Bugaje, Abubakar Ismaila Isa, Abdullahi Garba Aminchi, Abdulaziz Yar’adua are currently not with the governor.
While the APC boils in the state, Mr Masari’s immediate-past predecessor, Ibrahim Shema, is gaining the support of the youths over alleged persecution by the governor.
On May 23, while commissioning projects in Rivers State, former Senate President David Mark took a swipe at Mr Ortom for distributing wheelbarrows to youths as part of his empowerment programme.
“Whilst people are here commissioning roads, commissioning projects and all other development projects brought to Rivers state, in my home state (Benue), they are giving out wheelbarrows to empower people,” Mr Mark said.
The rising popularity of the opposition PDP, failure to settle backlog of salaries, resentment over local government election, and general underperformance may be the cog in Mr Ortom’s re-election bid.
Governor Badaru Abubakar appears to have lost touch with the grassroots because of his alleged underperformance and the monumental support the former governor, Sule Lamido, enjoys.
While Mr Abubakar is allegedly ‘starving’ his commissioners and the APC politicians, Mr Lamido’s camp is blossoming with defectors.
“The truth of the matter is that Badaru has not performed well. And even if he performed, it will be a tough battle – given the waning popularity of the APC – to beat Lamido in Jigawa,” said a political analyst in the state, Yakubu Taura.