Saturday, December 28, 2013

APC Crisis: Kwankwaso, Nyako, Saraki, others face stiff opposition

The five Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, have initiated moves to check the resistance from some prominent and mainstream members of the opposition party to their defection.

Aides of the governors who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said they were aware of the pockets of resistance, but that their principals have assured the mainstreams members of the party that nobody would be ignored.

The governors who defected to APC on November 26 are Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers).

The decampees were members of the defunct ‘New PDP’, alongside their two colleagues, Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger), who remained in Nigeria’s ruling PDP.

The ‘New PDP’, a splinter group of the ruling party, then led by Abubakar Baraje, announced a merger with the APC.

In a statement read by the leader of the New PDP, Abubakar Baraje, after a three hour meeting with the APC leaders at the Kano State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, the group said it resolved to merge with the opposition party in order to rescue the nation and its democracy.

However, except in Rivers State where the original members of the APC appear not bothered about the entry of the governor, the remaining four governors are experiencing pockets of resistance to their membership of the party, with older members fearing that the governors would snatch the party structures from them.

State by State opposition
In Kano State, a leader of the APC and former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau, reportedly said he would not work with Mr. Kwankwaso because the governor has a rich history of violence.

Mr. Shekarau, who spoke through his media aide, Yau Sule Yau, said the governor failed to live in peace with the party that brought him to power, saying “how then can we be looking up to that personality to cross over to our party?”

In Sokoto State, former governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, who is a leader of the APC, said though he was not afraid of Mr. Wamakko joining the party, the governor must follow due process.

Mr. Bafarawa, a presidential aspirant of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, had faulted the visit of APC leaders to Mr. Wamakko (before the defection) and had to be apologised to by the party leadership.

In Kwara, Dele Belgore, the governorship candidate of the defunct ACN, vowed not to allow the PDP defectors hijack the APC structure in the state from the original members of the party.

Stating that the national leadership of the APC was not considerate enough before admitting the defectors, Mr. Belgore went a step further to constitute a committee to study the implications of the political development in greater details.

The situation is also the same in Adamawa State where some APC members led by a former governorship candidate of the ACN, Markus Gundiri, denounced the admission of Mr. Nyako, adding that they would resist attempts by the governor to hijack the party’s structure from them in the state.

Governors react

But the media aide to the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmed Sajoh, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that the mainstream members of the APC did not share Mr. Gundiri’s view.

“I think the Gundiri is saying so because of what the APC leadership said that new governors joining the party will be treated like existing governors, which means they will be the leaders of the party,” he said.

“Gundiri contested with the governor and maybe he is not comfortable with the arrangement. But I tell you the mainstream members of APC do not feel that way.”

Stating that Mr. Nyako would not dominate the APC as being speculated, Mr. Sajoh said the governor adopted a measure in which he asked his own aides who were not interested in moving with him to the party to remain in the PDP.

The Special Adviser to the Kwara State Governor on Media, Muideen Akorede, said there was no resistance to the defectors in Kwara State but that some members of the APC merely expressed anxiety over the development.

He, however, said Mr. Ahmed and his predecessor, Bukola Saraki, were already assuring the APC members that their coming to the party would create any upset but would change the fortunes of the party.

“They have assured everybody in the state that it would be an all-inclusive party and all will be well,” Mr. Akorede said.

Haliru Dantiye, media aide to the Kano State Governor said both Messrs Kwankwaso and Shekarau were already working together.

“No problem, everybody is working together,” Mr. Dantiye told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview.

The governor’s spokesperson said Mr. Shekarau may have expressed the initial anger because the APC national leadership did not inform him of their planned visit to Mr. Kwankwaso and not necessarily because he could not work with the governor.

According to him, Mr. Shekarau recently said on a local radio programme that he had no problem with his successor’s membership of the APC.

Mr. Dantiye assured that the coming of his principal to the APC would certainly turn around the fortunes of the party in the state adding that more chieftains of the party had pledged to work with the governor.

Sani Umar, the media adviser to the Sokoto State governor declined comment on Mr. Bafarawa’s position on the governor’s defection, when contacted. Instead, he asked PREMIUM TIMES to visit state to feel the pulse of the party members.

New PDP says all’s well
The spokesperson of the defunct New PDP, Chukwuemeka Eze, expressed surprise at the opposition to the defection of its members in some states, saying they were not in the APC to usurp anybody’s position.

“We are not joining APC to usurp anybody’s power or position but to re-brand the party to take over power at the centre” Mr. Eze said.

On why there is calm in Rivers State chapter of the APC, Mr. Eze said APC had a harmonised team steering its affairs in the state.

“It will interest you to note that the Rivers State APC as currently constituted under the chairmanship of Dr Ibiamu Davies Ikanya is a harmonised team comprising most of the key actors of the defunct ACN, ANPP, DPP, and the New PDP,” Mr. Eze said.

“In other words, the team is working in harmony with Gov Amaechi who is the undisputed leader of the party in the state to provide the dividends of democracy to the people of Rivers State and most importantly assist Amaechi to salvage the little left as democracy in Nigeria.

“Governor Amaechi has turned the fortunes of APC around since he joined the party and hopes to make Rivers State the number one APC state in Nigeria.”

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