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Since the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the subsequent merger with the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), there have been claims and counter-claims by both parties as to who has the upper hand. Our correspondents report that while the situation is dicey in some states because of the incumbency factor, the APC is giving the PDP a tough fight in many others. They concluded that the pendulum could swing either way depending on strategies adopted by either of the two biggest parties.
Kaduna: Continued defection worries PDP
From Muhammad Ibrahim, Kaduna
The current crisis in the ruling party in Kaduna State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is accompanied by the defections of its members to the newly registered opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), continues to give PDP members sleepless nights because they do not seem to be sure of their party’s success in the 2015 elections.
The crisis in the PDP has shown that the party may not find the next election easy as it used to. This is because, the continued defection of its members on daily basis and especially that of the five governors out of the G-7 governors was a big blow to the party, one which they are still finding difficult to overcome.
In Nigeria today, the dominating headlines you read on the pages of newspapers always include PDP lawmakers defecting to APC; PDP ex-chairmen defecting to APC; PDP members defecting to APC; APC leads in the House of Representatives among others. Such headlines have become a daily event.
Almost all states in the federation that are under the PDP government are facing this threat of its members defecting to the opposition party, especially in the northern part of the country.
Kaduna State, which is under a PDP governor, Dr Muktar Ramalan Yero, from where the Vice President Namadi Sambo comes, is also losing its members en masse to the opposition. Although, the governor has not defected, however, there are indications that the recent defection of some key PDP members in the state has sent shivers into the spines of the ruling party.
Those defectors were two former chairmen of the party in the state: Alhaji Audi Yaro Makama Rigachukun and Alhaji Zubairu Sirajo. These people have great influence in the party at local and state levels, because they are adjudged truly grassroots politicians.
They led other ex-commissioners and lawmakers to APC office where they defected, promising to dislodge the state governor come 2015. With Alhaji Audi Yaro Makama’s closeness to the former state governor (now Senator) Ahmed Makarfi, many political observers believe the former governor might be aware of his defection, because Makarfi’s relationship with Vice President has gotten sour for many years.
Investigations have also revealed that there are other political gladiators in the state whose body language has shown that they are also likely to defect to the APC. The former SSG to late Governor Ibrahim Yakowa, Alhaji Samaila Abdullahi Yakawada, and Alhaji Sulaiman Hunkuyi who contested the governorship election in 2003 and 2011 under PDP have since defected to APC.
Political observers are also of the view that defection of people like Audi Makama, Sulaiman Hunkuyi, Zubairu Surajo and other PDP stakeholders disturbed the leadership of the party greatly both at state and national levels which was perceived as the reason for the unscheduled visit of Vice President Namadi Sambo to the state last week Monday.
The VP was in the state to have a consultation with his party leaders, a state which he governed for four years. This, according to observers, is because the current trend is not telling well of his political career.
In fact, while the VP was in town, some leaders of PDP from his constituency, Kaduna North Local Government and that of Kaduna South Local Government also defected to APC in their thousands.
According to the defectors, they left their former party to join the opposition because that is what their supporters wanted.
The PDP which has been ruling the state since transition to civilian rule in 1999 has lost its strength and its members to APC in the state. This development has made many people to ask who wins elections in the state come 2015 between the two parties?
“We are only waiting for 2015 to bury PDP in Kaduna State,” Interim Chairman of APC in the state, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed was quoted to have said while fielding questions from the media recently.
He also stated last week Tuesday, while receiving PDP defectors from Kaduna North Local Government that PDP is finished in Kaduna State.
“We have been placed under tremendous pressure from the first day we received the state leaders of the PDP to open our doors to receive more and more PDP people. PDP is finished in Kaduna,” he said.
However, the PDP state chapter in a statement reacted angrily by describing the defectors as political liability and that they lack political relevance in the state.
The party has however maintained that it is still the strongest and biggest party not only in the state but in the country.
The irony, however, is that even the southern part of the state which is PDP dominated in the past years seems to be angry with the PDP government as they have accused it of abandoning the area.
Which is why political watchers in the area have claimed that late Yakowa’s factor would play a greater role in the next elections, because most of the people in Southern Kaduna are angry as they believe the PDP government abandoned the projects started by the late governor who was from the area and so have resolved to support the opposition come 2015.
In Kaduna, one cannot rule out religious and ethnic sentiments during elections, so another factor that may likely pose a great challenge to Governor Yero’s re-election bid is the issue of religion, because most Christians in the state who are supporters of PDP and are based in the southern part of the state, are gradually withdrawing their support.
The northern part of the state which is Muslim-dominated where the Governor Yero hails may also not support him, because of his cordial relationship with the VP. The people in that part of the state are angry with Namadi Sambo and they believe, as long as the governor is close to his god-father, no meaningful development will be recorded in the state.
So, the fact remains that Governor Yero as a person, may not have a problem with the people, but his political god-father, the VP, has lost the people’s trust and support at the grassroots level, even among the political gladiators in the state.
Namadi may be the VP of the country but lacks popularity in his state and that will greatly affect Governor Yero and PDP’s popularity in the coming election in the state.
Therefore, the current situation in the state presently poses a threat to the position of the state governor, Dr Muktar Ramalan Yero and his chances of winning the next election in 2015 in case he decides to contest, depends on the candidate of the APC in the gubernatorial elections.
If the APC gives a strong candidate its ticket, somebody who the people like, no doubt, they will sweep the votes without any strong opposition from the ruling party.
That is why, in an attempt by leadership of the opposition to lure the Southern Kaduna people into the new party, they have visited the area few months ago and were said to have receive a warm welcome by the elders of the area.
If APC is able to break through Southern Kaduna politics, they need not campaign much in the northern part of the state, because already, they have massive supporters there.
Going by what happened in 2011 election where PDP loyalists were targeted in the northern part of the state during the post-election violence, this incident has shown that PDP has a lot to do before it could win back the heart of the people in that part of the state come 2015.
But, despite the problem in his party, Governor Yero may still have the sympathy of the people as he is also doing his best to win their support, particularly those from southern part of the state with his recent visit to religious and traditional rulers in the area during Christmas. The governor’s supporters also believe that those in northern part will not go against their own during the election because he is one of them from the area and that cannot be ruled out.
Although, Governor Yero is yet to declare his intention to re-contest his position but many are of the view that he has a lot of work to do if at all he wants to keep his position come 2015. As for now, only time will tell who occupies the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna, come 2015.
Buhari factor as game changer in Katsina
From Lawal Sa’idu Funtua, Katsina
There is no doubt that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the biggest opposition political party in Katsina State. The acceptability and popularity of the party in the state was attributed largely for being home to one of the strongest pillars of the party in the state, General Muhammadu Buhari. Although, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ruled the state for the past fourteen years, the influence of Buhari, during this period has made the opposition to have a major in-road into the politics of the state.
A close look at the politics of the state from 2003 to date will provide one with a clear understanding of the opposition politics in Katsina. In 2003, during Buhari’s first sojourn into the political arena of the country, the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), his party then, dislodged the ruling party in the National Assembly elections where it won two of the three senatorial seats in the state. It was only in 2007, due to some political intrigues in the state, that the opposition did not make any in-road. Similarly, in the 2011 elections, when Buhari contested under the now defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the party swept all the three senatorial seats in the state and 12 out of the 15 members of the House of Representatives.
It is clear from the recent political happenings that, for PDP to ignore the Buhari factor in the forthcoming 2015 election, it would be doing so at its own peril. However, despite the popularity of the opposition political parties in the state and the Buhari factor, the opposition has yet to produce a governor in the state. Why is this so? The answer is not far-fetched? From the 2003 elections to the 2011 elections, the popular opposition political parties from the times of ANPP and CPC, the opposition during these periods were dogged into political squabbles. In 2003, gubernatorial candidates defeated by Engineer Nura Khalil of the ANPP refused to surrender and work with him, this cost the party the seat. In 2007, a similar scenario played out as Engineer Nura Khalil defeated by Senator Abu Ibrahim turned his back on the party and this too cost the party the gubernatorial seat. Similarly, in the run-up to the 2011 elections the CPC was enmeshed in crisis and in the end, when the party settled for Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari as its gubernatorial candidate, the Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke group aligned with the PDP which also cost the party the seat.
To a careful observer of the state opposition politics, one would be tempted to conclude that despite their huge support the opposition has not yet learnt their lessons. The politics of scaring opponents with Buhari’s name within the opposition politics is still being played. It was only recently an APC chieftain and late President Yar’adua’s brother, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yar’adua told his supporters that ‘if politics of imposing candidates from the top will continue in Katsina State, the state would continue to elude the opposition’. Already Our Correspondent learnt that a lot of people want to join the APC in Katsina State but their fear of using the slogan of Buhari boys and others is scaring them away. It was this scenario that Our Correspondent gathered was delaying the full take-off of the party in the state. At the local governments level the infighting inherited by the party during the CPC days has crept in with the warring groups struggling to take over the chapters. It was this infighting that was inherited from the CPC days that prevented the party from having tentative representatives at the House of Representatives as the warring groups are still in court over who is the genuine representative.
With the building political storm in the APC, one can comfortably conclude that it would be a miracle if they have any head way this time around. So the PDP in Katsina State would only fold its arms and wait for the familiar in fighting in the opposition to manifest before taking advantage of it to capture the state. Yes, it is clear that if there is any election now with Buhari as the presidential candidate or a candidate anointed by him the APC would surely carry the day. But as for gubernatorial election political intrigues and divides among potential aspirants would surely be the major obstacles for the opposition.
As for the PDP in Katsina state, the political tsunami of the nPDP did not scare it much, as the leader of the nPDP in the state, Alhaji Bala Saulawa made a u-turn few days after announcing his group joining the new party. The major challenge to the party came with the formation of APC. Few days after its formation, a former deputy governor of the state under late Umaru Yar’adua, Ambassador Abdullahi Garba Aminchi and his followers defected to the APC from the PDP. Similarly, a member of the House of Representatives from Zangon Baure, Alhaji Tijjani Zangon Daura and his supporters also defected to the APC. This, by implications, shows that the member may have defected with the consent of his father, Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura, who is a strong pillar of the PDP in the state.
However, political pundits believe that the PDP may have to take solace in the fact that the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema, has done well for the state in terms of infrastructural development that include good road networks and construction of schools. They similarly pointed at the governor’s free education programme that culminated into the payment of WAEC/NECO/NABTEB for secondary school students. They have equally pointed at the youth empowerment scheme through the youth craft village and sponsoring of students to study some critical medical and para-medical courses abroad. These and some of the programmes initiated by the governor are seen by pundits that if he choses a successor, he may likely succeed.
Sokoto: The Wamakko, Bafarawa, Shagari rift as albatross
From Mahmud Muhammad, Sokoto
There was palpable panic in Sokoto State over the defection of Governor Wamakko to the opposition APC. But ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa being a stakeholder and frontline member of APC, has remained adamant that Governor Wamakko must undergo due process to register as an authentic member of the APC at his ward before being allowed to officially join the party.
To observers, it is long overdue for ex-Governor Bafarawa and the incumbent governor to re-unite them in order to bring peace to their domain.
Meanwhile, there was again a mild drama of non-forgiveness taking stage between the former governor and his successor in the arena of politic of Sokoto the seat of Caliphate. This has taken a new dimension since the advent of the All Progressives Congress (APC) few months after, leadership of the party visited Sokoto led by its Interim Chairman Bisi Akande, APC national leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari.
Every individual that witnessed the event, now popularly referred to as the “show of shame” going between ex-Governor Bafarawa and his successor Governor Aliyu Magatakarda as from 1999 to date, would believe the duo were fully out for each other’s throat. In particular, Bafarawa is said to be out, not to secure the state from what he described as misfortune, but an attempt to ridicule the incumbent governor.
There is this popular adage “there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics,” but in the case of the two gladiators, the battle between them would never come to an end, until they succeed in creating division among their supports which is likely to result into chaos.
These feelers are described as a “time bomb,” but some commentators of Sokoto politics say this is an inconsequential attempt by former Governor Bafarawa to wrest power from Governor Wamakko through any other means which, according to them, is a show of shame between the two leaders that have vowed never to forgive nor forget.
To this end, the factors reliably have also extended to followers as many co-workers, politicians have become polarized.
Already, APC has overshadowed any other political party, including the ruling PDP which the governor moved alongside with all his followers en-mass since after the defection of the G-5 governors of which he is one.
From all indications, the secret meeting that held in Sokoto alongside with leaders of the APC had achieved faster development and response from other quarters, as all the streets of Sokoto and its environs had been taken over by his posters of APC, less than a month.
However, another watcher of Sokoto politics says the recent decline of Wamakko’s deputy, Barrister Muntari Shagari to move over to the APC but remain in PDP, is a minus for the APC.
The former Minister of Water Resources during Obasanjo made his mind clear at a press conference in Sokoto few hours after the governor similarly addressed the press that the whole Exco and PDP as well as followers of the governor had decided to move from PDP to APC.
Investigations by our reporter in Sokoto revealed that the statement released by the deputy was aimed at breaking his silence in the interest of clinching the seat of his boss in 2015. To this end, he is said to have hoped that the indigenes of Sokoto would see him as brave to fight his boss, who they both served eight years in power before departing ways, while on the other hand, ex-Governor Bafarawa is said to be out to fight Wamakko so that he would use the party to fight back all his grievances against Wamakko.
Already, at present, the national leadership of the APC has announced that it would hand over the structures of the party to the incumbent governor. But Bafarawa, at a recent gathering, said, as a frontline member of the APC, he rather sees Wamakko as a mere politician like any other local politician that he must go back to his constituency ward and seek for registration for membership before he would be allowed to come in as member of the party.
In a swift reaction, former PDP Secretary, Aminu Bello ACY, told newsmen that politics is a game of numbers, adding that Governor Wamakko is a crowd puller. “We don’t believe in hearsay, our boss cannot be intimidated. But let us get set for the game and see who, among us, would pull the most crowd in 2015,” he was quoted to have boasted.
The spokesman of the Bafarawa, who is the Magayaki Garkuwan Sokoto, has equally said that the only way Wamakko can get entrance into APC is that he must go back to his ward and take due process.
It will be recalled that as from 1999 to 2007, APP ruled the state with Bafarawa as Governor, while from 2007 to date, Governor Wamakko has been governor on the platform of the PDP. Also, from all indications, the APC may likely take over Sokoto in 2015.
Kebbi State was similarly ruled by the then APP, the same time from 1999 to 2007 when Alhaji Adamu Aliero ruled the state for eight years, before the PDP took over. After that, Adamu Aliero anointed the current Governor Saidu Nasamu Dakingari, who has been governor of Kebbi from 2007 to date. Zamfara State was also under the flag of APP-elected Governor Ahmed Sani Yarima before his deputy, Muhmuda Aliyu Shinkafi, who also cross-carpeted to the PDP, lost elections as Abdulazeez Yari was elected to replace him as governor of Zamfara on the platform of the ANPP which has now become APC.
Meanwhile, going by the zoning arrangement in the state, the governorship seat in 2015 is supposed to go to the Sokoto South Senatorial district.
Already, the strong contenders are emerging from the zone which comprises of the present Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; current Commissioner of Local Governments, Hon. Farouku Malami Yabo and Deputy Governor, Barrister Muntari Shagari, who have been tipped for the plum job.Kebbi State
Kebbi State, on the other hand, is under pressure ahead of the 2015 governorship election from the Gwandu Emirate Council which has called on its concerned citizens of Kebbi to abide by the standing zoning system. According to the emirate council, it is the turn of the Gwandus to produce the next governor of the state in 2015.
Although, strong indications have emerged that Aleiro, as the political godfather of Kebbi State, is also influential and can equally decide to anoint any candidate of his choice.
Aleiro, since after he masterminded the dethronement Gen. Mustapha Jakolo as as Abdullahin Gwandu, to this end, many see him as a strong stakeholder as he is financially stronger and has influence in both Zamafara and Sokoto states.
But sources have revealed that Governor Saidu Nasamu Dakingari is, however, been calculative, so that he does not involve himself in any reckless mismanagement of funds, in order to enable the opposition to challenge his seat after his tenure end in 2015.
Others believed to be eyeing his seat are present Senator Gen. Magoro, and Hassan Kangiwa (otherwise twin brothers). Also tipped for the position of the number one citizen of Kebbi is the present Accountant-General of Kebbi State, Arzika Dan-Atto and Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim K. Aliyu.
As Zamfara Gov Yari ex-Governor Mamuda of PDP lock horns
Also, in Zamfara, people have been skeptical about the coming back of the incumbent governor, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari. This is because, his alleged attitude to his aides and his godfather, ex-Governor Ahmed Sani Yarima.
A close source revealed that Senator Yarima is currently grooming his son-in-law, who is also the present Commissioner of Works in the state.
Ahmed Sharu, joined politics as Sole Administrator of Anka Local Government Area, before he was elected under PDP. A holder of Masters Degree, he is presently undergoing his Doctorate Degree at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
The current defection of some members of the state House of Assembly from PDP to the APC has changed the political equation in the state. However, the defection of some members of over 5,000 PDP members to the APC is looked upon by many as a welcome development.
Also, a reliable source told Peoples Daily Weekend that former PDP Governor, Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, is warming up to “reclaim his seat in 2015.”
But, former PDP Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha, said they are not scared about the defection of their members to the APC. He said that they are working tirelessly to gain back their mandate “stolen by ANPP insha Allah.”
But another official revealed that the PDP at the national level his turned its back on the Exco. Due to this, if the Exco has its way, they would defect to the APC with in the current revolution going on.
Evaluating APC’s chances in Kano
From Edwin Olofu, Kano
Going by the bubbling political activities in the ancient city of Kano, one can say that the All Progressives Congress (APC), will easily sweep the polls in the 2015 general elections, apparently this conclusion may be as a result of the array of heavy political weights that has so far aligned with the progressive party recently.
The recent official decamping of the incumbent governor of the state Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso have further cement the party’s stronghold in the state, making a formidable one.
Before now, the state is perceived by many as the stronghold of the CPC presidential candidate retired General Muhammadu Buhari, which statistics has proven in the 2003 presidential, 2007 and in 2011 were the Daura born General had landslides victories in the elections.
In 2003, Buhari’s influence swept away the PDP government led by Kwankwaso then and installed Malam Ibrahim Shekarau who only ventured into politics for the first time.
In the same vein, in 2007 Buhari trounced Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua at the poll who managed to secure the constitutional requirement of 25% in Kano state.
Ironically, it was Buhari against Shekarau in 2011. The General defeated the former governor at his ward and the government house polling station and won the overall election in the state with a wide margin.
Although, the CPC then lost the governorship elections which observers attributed to the squabble within the party over the governorship ticket.
The President Jonathan led PDP which is the only strong opposition in the state; popularity is increasingly on the decline in the state, which the aftermath of Kwankwaso’s defection has made it extremely more difficult for PDP to win elections in the state.
Political pundits are of the view that in Kano both the governorship and Presidential election are for the APC to lose, apparently knocking off any opposition to the APC in the state.
Only recently, several chieftains of the defunct CPC and the ANPP have all gone to the state government house to pay allegiance and homage to the new party leader in the state Kwankwaso, promising to work with him in ensuring the success of the party at the polls.
The recent visitors to the government house were all the ANPP governorship aspirants in 2011 and serving members of the House of Representatives, they equally promised to work with the governor in the overall interest of the state and all party members in the state.
The only obstacle to the APC ahead of the poll is the seemingly underground war between Kwankwaso and Shekarau on the issue of who call the shot of the party affairs in the state.
While Shekarau is disagreeing with the position of the APC, giving the status of the leader of the party to serving state governors, Kwankwaso is working assiduously to bring all into the fold of APC.
The disquiet in Malam Shekarau’s camp could affect the party’s fortunes in the election. That is if Shekarau keep his supporters intact and move to the PDP as it is being speculated across the state.
Another factor that may affect the APC in Kano state is the person flying the party’s presidential flag in 2015. If General Buhari is not given the ticket and decided to stay aloof during the electioneering campaigns, this will surely discourage the Kano state voters that normally come out in their large numbers to cast their votes for the General.
On the other hand, if Buhari emerges the presidential candidate, the APC remains the party to beat in all elections in the state with the influence of the General and the widely held notion of Kwankwaso’s performance that has eclipsed many of his predecessors. If this happens, it is likely going to be a daunting challenge for the PDP to beat APC in Kano.