2023: Amid APC’s same faith bicker, Sule battles disloyal appointees
Indications have emerged that worries over the same faith presidential ticket adopted by the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) could have its toll on some state chapters of the party, especially within the North Central geopolitical zone.
For instance, worried by the subdued grumbling and seeming disloyalty among his appointees, which could be interpreted as possible pointers to anti-party activities, Nassarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has handed down a strict warning to his political appointees.
At a meeting with all his appointees at the Government House, Monday, the visibly enraged Governor told about 200 political office holders that they have just two options before them: Quit or remain loyal!
It was gathered that ever since the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, selected a fellow Muslim, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate for the 2023 general elections, most of the political appointees expressed reservations about the feasibility of Sule’s second term bid.
Apart from the issue of the same faith presidential ticket, the Nassarawa State chapter of APC had been embroiled in a crisis of confidence among the party’s stakeholders since Senator Abdullahi Adamu emerged as the party’s national chairman.
There were small talks that the Governor’s support for Senator Tanko Al-Makura against Adamu, before the consensus favoured the incumbent national chairman, and pitched him against Senator Adamu.
Some members of the current administration suspected that a scheme against Sule’s second term was brewing when the former National Secretary of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labaran Maku, suddenly returned to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It could be recalled that Maku served as deputy governor of the state from 2003 through 2007, during Senator Adamu’s second term in office as governor. Maku’s move to PDP sparked speculations that Adamu, who served two terms as governor on the PDP platform may be plotting to make things tough for Governor Sule for throwing his weight behind Al Makura during the contestation for the office of APC national chairman.
Although Hon. David Umbugadu clinched the PDP governorship ticket of PDP, fears remained that with Maku, who contested the Nassarawa governorship on the APGA platform defecting to PDP, Governor Sule would face an uphill task defeating the combined forces in PDP.
That tenuous situation was made worse by the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket being pushed by APC, particularly given that the voting population in Nassarawa State is spread among Christians, Muslims and animists.
However, in a bold move to show that he is in charge and play up the power of incumbency, Governor Sule summoned his lieutenants to a meeting at the Government House.
Choosing his words carefully to mask the threat tone, the governor remarked that though he had no intention of firing anyone, he was using the occasion to call on the affected appointees to change their ways and be loyal to his administration or quit.
He decried the level of acrimony existing between different levels and cadre of the political appointees, pointing out that it has become necessary to convene the meeting, because “this administration will no longer tolerate a situation where appointees will be working at cross-purposes with each other.”
While noting that it has become obvious that some of the political appointees don’t see themselves as part of the administration, the governor decried the fact that some of his appointees were giving their loyalty to others outside of the government.
His words: “I don’t want to fire anybody. I believe that it’s important first to ask people out of respect, to either change their ways to be loyal to the government or quit the government.
“What a reasonable and honourable person will do, if I am not loyal to somebody, I have no business working for that person. If you don’t think your loyalty is to the government, please be a human being and resign.”
The governor also touched on the contentious issue of the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate, Senator Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, as well as the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He disclosed that some of them in the Northern Governors’ Forum stood up against earlier moves to produce a northerner as APC presidential candidate to ensure that power shifts to the South. Governor Sule said the governors took the stance after seeking the opinion of the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the Nassarawa State chief executive, President Buhari declared that he was only interested in a democratic process that will produce an acceptable candidate, adding that the governors were not carried along by those who wanted the North to produce the presidential candidate.
In an obvious allusion to the belated attempt to foist the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan on the party as its presidential candidate, Governor Sule stated: “And, we said, we were not carried along. A few of the governors got together and said it was time for us to speak up so that we will not be taken for granted.
“We said, let’s go and speak to our leader, because Mr. President is the leader of the party, he is somebody we respect. Sometimes, he will say certain things, even if we don’t like it, because he is the leader and that’s what he wants, we follow.”
Governor Sule disclosed that “these Northern governors defended their position because they wanted to save the North, as according to them, after contesting for the seat of the president three times, President Muhammadu Buhari only got elected into office after the South entered into an alliance with the North.
“We don’t want the Northern part of the country to be seen as people who don’t keep promises. We want to protect the image of the North. We want the North to be seen as a region that can make sacrifices also for the other parts of the country. And we believe in fairness. We believe this position should rotate to the South, irrespective of who emerges. Let the people in the South be democratic.”
Contrary to insinuations that some of the governors received monetary inducement, the governor denied that any of his colleagues from the North was given money to support the zoning of the presidential ticket of the APC to the South.
He stated: “Even though not everyone was in support of Tinubu’s candidature from the beginning, which saw to the plethora of other presidential aspirants, however, as soon as Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu emerged as the presidential candidate of the party, everybody is now working for Tinubu as a family.”
Then on the fallout from the recently concluded party primary elections, Sule said his administration has set in motion machinery to reconcile aggrieved members of the party. He assured that at the national level, efforts are also being put in place to appease members of the party who felt hurt by the outcome of the exercise across the country.
He, therefore, charged his political appointees to eschew rumour-mongering but rather work in harmony towards ensuring that they mobilise the voters in their various communities to take advantage of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration exercise to register massively.
“Majority of you have not even gone to your communities to ensure that this CVR is carried out. It’s left in the hands of very few people working hard to do it. Where are you going to get the voters if you are not doing CVR?” he queried.
According to the governor, a committee would be put in place to go round to produce a strategy for the approaching political campaigns before the general election. He said the strategic document would be made available to the appointees to be employed in ensuring victory for the party’s presidential candidate, Engineer Sule, as well as all other candidates of the party.
With its close neighbours, especially Adamawa, Bauchi and Benue in the PDP corner, Nassarawa State presents as one of the battleground states between APC and PDP given that the opposition PDP’s presidential standard bearer, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar hails from the north.