Aboh’s about-face and Adamawa State APC’s divided house
Adamawa State falls among states that have benefitted immensely from Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation. From producing Nigeria’s fourth republic Vice President in the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to presenting a star-studded team-Iya Abubakar, Abubakar Girei/Jibril Aminu and Jonathan S. Zwingina- to the country’s Senate, Adamawa could be said to have seen it all.
But, whatever the state experienced by way of planned and purposeful political leadership began to falter in the sixth republic, due largely to the succession politics that pitted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar against his boss, then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Prior to the breakout of political hostilities between the two leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it was evident that the progressive and conservative elements found common grounds in PDP. As such, with Atiku’s forced exit from PDP to Action Congress of Nigeria (AC.N), the recalibration of Adamawa politics began. Those who followed the VP to AC.N and the remnants in PDP reassessed their political affiliation and interests, even as they began to assert themselves.
The picture of the division showed very well in the Senate: Grace Folashade Bent and Mohammed Mana replaced Iya Abubakar and Zwingina for Adamawa North and South, while Prof. Jibril Aminu, who stayed back, continued to lead the anti-Atiku onslaught in the home front.
Perhaps, on account of Atiku’s return to PDP in the build up to the 2011 General Elections, the state returned another team of Senate delegates made up entirely of PDP candidates, namely, Senator Bindow Jibrilla (North), Bello Tukur (Central) and Barata Ahmed Hassan (South). Yet, having failed to nail the PDP presidential ticket in 2011 and dim prospects in 2015, the former Vice President and other stakeholders moved enmasse to All Progressives Congress (APC).
The political Tsunamani that swept the entire north, save Gombe State, culminated in the displacement of the entire PDP delegates to the Senate. With Senator Bindow contesting the governorship on APC platform, Binta Garba took his place to represent Adamawa North Senatorial District in the 8th Senate. Senators Abdul-Aziz Nyako- son of former Governor Murtala Nyako- and Ahmad Abubakar, took oath as representatives of Adamawa Central and South Districts, respectively.
Observers noted that the political insurgency that began in 2007 had moved full circle and PDP had to count its losses. But it was obvious that the former Vice President was a great source of influence on the undulating electoral fortunes of the two major political parties. That perception seems to have played out in the 2019 general elections.
Having quit APC over the constricting political opportunities in the party, Atiku not only resumed his membership of PDP, but also clinched the party’s Presidential ticket for the 2019 election. The weight of his political clout skewed the delegate structure to the Ninth Senate, with APC returning just one candidate, Aishatu Dahiru Binani Ahmed, to the Senate for Adamawa North District.
It was to the credit of Atiku and PDP that relatively unknown quantities like Isiaku Elisha Cliff (Aboh) and Yaro Binos Dauda, became delegates to the Ninth Senate on behalf of Adamawa Central and South Senatorial Districts.
The balance of representation, which tilted in favour of PDP, was recently upturned by Senator Elisha Aboh’s defection to APC. But, a lot of political schemes are already afoot as the build up to the 2023 election cycle begins to gather motion.
Rhythm Of Instability
There are strong indications that APC leadership in the state did not learn from its bitter experience during the last governorship poll, when the then opposition PDP beat it. Prior to that 2019 poll, APC produced the governor Mr. Muhammad Bindow, three senators, all the seven House of Representatives members, even as it enjoyed clear majority in the state House of Assembly.
However, due to internal crisis, APC lost the governorship to Ahmadu Fintiri, two senators, five House of Representatives members and the entire leadership of the state Assembly to PDP. And despite Aboh’s about-face, the recent happenings within Adamawa State APC paint a gloomy picture about the party’s prospects for the 2023 poll.
Could it be that it was in the hope of building a strong competitor for PDP that Senator Aboh’s defection was orchaestrated? It is possible that mindful of the effect of its unstable politics, APC is planning to retrieve its pre-eminent position in the state.
But, some non-partisan commentators think that the recent migration by some party chieftains from PDP and other political parties to the main opposition APC comes more as political liabilities than assets for APC. There are indicators that the party may suffer a similar fate that befell PDP in 2015, when some political merchants massively joined it only to start fighting to secure elective offices for themselves.
Controversial Senator Elisha Aboh, who climbed on PDP’s back to win the senate seat, had no political clout, but upon his defection to APC, boasted that he want to contest and displace Governor Fintiri. Senator Abdullaziz Nyako, who contested for governorship on the platform of African Democratic Congress (ADC), but lost to Fintiri, has also joined APC with a clear intention to seek another opportunity to challenge the incumbent.
The circle of dreamers within APC continues to expand. For instance, former governor Bala Ngillari, who lost his Senate bid on PDP platform to Senator Binta Masi, despite being an incumbent governor, has also joined the list of decamping members with vaulting ambition.
AMBITION to be governor has become a sort of tinder for the creeping instability in Adamawa State APC. The ticking time bomb, which the clash of ambitions represent would soon explode and consume the party. That was exactly how it happened to Adamawa PDP in 2015, when Nuhu Ribadu, an APC stalwart, was chosen in Abuja and imposed on the party as its governorship candidate. Piqued by that affront, party executives and other chieftains worked against PDP during the governorship poll and Ribadu, the Abuja candidate, was humiliated by Bindow, the then APC upstart, who received support from Atiku Abubakar.
However, a more dangerous political scenario seems to be playing out in APC, as both the old and recently decamped members are desperate to secure the governorship ticket. It is in the light of that curious, but underground development, that the recent declaration by the national vice chairman (Northeast), Prof. Tahir Mammam, raises concerns. Prof. Mammam, had declared that whoever secures APC governorship ticket would be the next governor of the state. On its face value, that utterance has been heating up the internal workings of APC, because virtually all aspirants have started undercutting each other in a bid to secure the ticket.
ALREADY, names of those eyeing the big office have begun to make the rounds in the state. Checks by The Guardian reveal that those oiling their machineries to do battle for the governorship ticket include: Nihau Ribadu, Senator Abdullaziz Nyako, Mahmoud Haliru Ahmed (younger brother to President Buhari’s wife), Wafarniyi Theman, (APC Secretary); Senator Aisha Binani; former governor Muhammad Bindow.
Others, who have declared their interests, are, Senator Elisha Aboh and House of Representatives member, Abdullazaq Namdas, (Chairman, House Committee on Army).
The looming crisis reared its ugly head last week, when APC national leadership headed by the National Vice-Chairman, Prof. Tahir Mamman, visited the state to sensitize party faithful on the importance of membership registration and revalidation exercise. Nearly all the old APC chieftains with governorship ambition boycotted the event, which held at the party’s secretariat along Galadima Aminu Road.
The governorship hopefuls that boycotted the occasion included, former governor Mohammad Bindow, who, although within the state, failed to attend the event, Senator Aisha Binani, Nuhu Ribadu, Mahmoud Haliru Ahmed and Rep, Abdullazaq Namdas.
The Guardian investigation revealed that the chieftains were miffed at what some of them described as secret anointing of a candidate by the national secretariat. Some of them confided in The Guardian that the meeting was arranged without consultations with the old APC stalwarts in the state; while others claimed there was no formal invitation to them by the state leadership.
But, Senator Abdull-Aziz Nyako’s speech vividly conveyed the suspicion of some members over the conduct of the party affairs. He emphasized that “only justice, transparency and fair play “ can give APC victory during the forthcoming general elections. In the speech, which expressed doubts over the sincerity of the party members, he revealed that he “left the party to join ADC due to injustice and lack of rule law in APC” and cautioned members against repeat of such unlawful acts. Nyako said it was lack of unity and justice that made the party lose the 2019 governorship to opposition PDP, stressing that members should learn from the bitter lessons and follow justice and rule of law. “This is the only path that can give APC victory,” he stated.
Last Monday, the internal crisis in APC was thrown open, when former governor Bindow visited the party secretariat for the first time since he left office about two years ago. The party’s Secretary, Theman, who is a governorship hopeful and enjoys the backing of Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustafa, did not join the party chairman Ibrahim Bilai, to usher in Bindow into the venue.
Bindow could not hold back his anger, when the microphone was handed over to him. He spat: “I am very angry with the secretary of the party.” Seething with anger, Bindow said whether anyone like it or not, based on the constitution of the party, he as the former governor, remains the leader of APC in Adamawa.
The former governor, whose speech was riddled with threats and imprecations, said some APC chieftains that are secretly selecting names for the incoming executives are doing it at their own risk. He enjoined, those doing so to, in their own interest, drop the evil political plot that could ground the party during the 2023 general elections.
His words: “Those that are going about with list of secretly-selected names of people to form the incoming state executive should forget it. I cannot allow such crude and undemocratic practices to take place in Adamawa APC, unless they are working for other parties to win 2023.”
Bindow, who vowed to fight with the last drop of his blood to defend justice in the party, noted that only justice and fair play can give APC victory come 2023.
ADAMAWA APC has begun to show a dichotomy between old members and the decamped members. The old chieftains, who include Ribadu, Namdas, Senator Binani, Mahmoud, Bindow and Theman are strategizing on how to produce the governorship candidate. Within the same group, there is a further division along ethnic lines. The strategy is to produce a fulani candidate, this has subtly edged out Bindow, Namdas and Theman, within the calculations of the old brigades in the party.
The group of decampees, which includes Senator Nyako, Senator Aboh and former governor Bala Ngilari, are nicknamed, ‘Shopping Complex Politicians’. In this group, Senator Nyako has the potentials to push his ambition a little farther than the rest, even though majority of his ADC colleagues trooped to PDP long before his late entry into APC with only his party chairman, Senator Aboh and Ngillari, who are more of political liabilities to APC. They are visible and vocal only at APC rallies, where they become vociferous in their attack of PDP and governor Fintiri’s personality.
What could be the silver bullet that will finally shoot Adamawa APC out of contention is the introduction of ethnic politics into the calculations of the who becomes the standard bearer. The composition of APC leadership in the state, which has 90 percent Muslims at the state executive, has put the party at risk of not making any impact during the forthcoming general elections.
Former SGF, David Babachir Lawal, at a press conference in the buildup to the 2019 general elections cried out that APC has marginalized Christians in the state. He vowed never to support his party in the state, but will work only for President Buhari’s victory.
Also, the former Director- General to Mahmoud, APC governorship aspirant in 2019, Mr. Fanny Fwa, echoed Babachir’s sentiments on the lopsided selection of only one religion to dominate APC leadership in the state. Mahmoud, President Buhari’s brother-in-law, is of very modest political clout, but he is trying to use his relationship with the President to clinch the governorship ticket. However, his ambition appears more of a mission impossible, looking at the political old war horses in APC and his scant presence in rural areas, coupled with disconnect from the youths and women.
Theman will be the most accepted candidate in APC,he is not only a youth,he is mentally and academically sound,he has no religious barriers he interacts freely with the low and the high,he is the only Christian that occupy the highest office in Adamawa APC as the secretary of the party,since senator Binta Masi,left as the first chairperson of the party.
Possible area of stiff confrontation is now among Ribadu, Mahmoud and Senator Nyako in their determined efforts to clinch the party’s ticket. The composition of the incoming executive would give a clue to where the pendulum would swing. It is the State Executive Committee that would midwife the conduct of the primaries. Bindow’s cries in the ‘political wildernesses ‘ of Adamawa State comes as evidence that he has seen the political handwriting very early and decided to seek help from quarters that may not come to his aide.
State chairman, Ibrahim Bilai, has already thrown himself into the Adamawa APC burning cauldron. While ushering former governor Bindow into the State Secretariat, the much elated Bilai could not hide his support for the former governor, when he said that God should return Bindow as governor, a statement that seems to be burning his fingers, even as he struggles to save his skin.
Bilai, who is seen as Bindow’s troop at the party secretariat, assured the former governor that with him as chairman, he would not tolerate any acts that can disrupt the unity and cohesion of the party. APC’s troubles in Adamawa are being compounded by the introduction of ethnic politics, attitude towards decamped members as second-class party stalwarts, lack of unity and the continuous movement of its members into PDP. Will Adamawa APC survive the political landmines being planted on its way as it seeks to be competitive for the 2023 general elections? Time will tell.
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