Fear of Binani leaves Adamawa APC in suspended animation
• Why Aisha Buhari’s peace plan hit brick wall
Gender, not agenda, is currently at the root of the crisis threatening the All Progressives Congress’s (APC) preparation for Adamawa State gubernatorial poll. The search is on how to address the seeming oddity that was thrown up by the surprise emergence of Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani at the party’s gubernatorial straw poll.
In a bid to overcome that challenge, wife of Nigeria’s President, Aisha Buhari, is urging party stakeholders to consider swapping the positions of first runner up with that of the winner of the governorship primary.
But, that quick fix does not seem to be winning the support of major party faithful in the state. The Guardian learned from multiple sources that the President’s wife was prompted by a purported consensus among stakeholders that the former chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who emerged the first runner-up, should be supported for the guber ticket.
Although some of those who spoke about the secret pact claimed that they were compelled to enter into that understanding, others maintained that it was just an attempt to pre-empt the outcome of the Court of Appeal on the matter.
But, while the first lady, Aisha, pushed forward the idea of Senator Binani becoming Ribadu’s running mate, Binani’s supporters expressed reservations at the plan, arguing that that would amount to nullifying the governorship primary.
“Perhaps, the first lady does not remember that the Electoral Act 2022 would not permit such an out of court resolution,” one of the Senator’s supporters, who craved anonymity, stated.
The Guardian checks revealed that the document, which the state APC stakeholders were compelled to sign endorsing Ribadu as the preferred governorship candidate had Ambassador Patricia as his tentative running mate. The stakeholders were anticipating the Appeal Court ruling would favour a repeat primary by upholding Senator Binani’s sacking by the lower court.
However, while the Court of Appeal restored the female Senator’s candidacy as the APC gubernatorial standard bearer for Adamawa State, the grumbling has continued, with some party faithful wondering how to break the ice and ensure that the powerful forces arrayed against her do not end up working against her ultimate electoral triumph in the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial poll.
A close ally of the immediate past governor, Jibrilla Bindow, told The Guardian that it was basically out of the realisation that a similar plot that denied the former governor a second term in 2019 that made Bindow to join Governor Ahmadu Fintri (AUF) in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The source disclosed that Senator Binani’s supporters have urged her not to respect any resolution reached at the meeting with the first lady at the Presidential Villa, pointing out that the Senator and her followers were not even invited to the Villa meeting.
“There is no way they could force Ribadu on the party, because Aisha Binani is not prepared to throw away her victory at the primary and the court. They were exploring ways to get a court order that would call for another primary, but you can see, with barely two months to the election, which court would override the Appeal Court judgment?” he stated.
It could be recalled that in the lead up to the 2019 general elections, the first lady reportedly tongue-lashed Adamawa APC leaders, accusing them of being swayed by pecuniary considerations instead of working together to win the governorship election in the state.
During the APC primary, the then incumbent governor, Bindow, beat the first lady’s brother, Mahmoud Ahmed, to the gubernatorial ticket. Despite her brother’s loss, Mrs. Aisha Buhari congratulated the two women that won the party’s senatorial tickets, including, Binani (Adamawa Central) and Binta Masi-Garba (Adamawa North).
In the statement by her media assistant, Suleiman Haruna, the first lady had noted that the two women’s success would encourage other women to join the political arena and contest for elective offices.
Four years after showing solidarity for female participation in the electoral process, many stakeholders expresse surprise at the first lady’s attempt to show preference for male supremacy after a fellow woman emerged triumphant from the party’s straw poll.
As in the build-up to the 2019 election, when Aishatu Binani trounced the former Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Umar Umarana, the incumbent Senator representing Adamawa Central also defeated the former chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ribadu and four others, including former governor Bindow, to clinch the APC governorship ticket.
But, dissatisfied with the outcome of the primary, Ribadu, who was the first runner-up approached the Federal High Court, Yola, alleging among other infractions that the exercise was replete with vote-buying, delegates inducement and over-voting.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the court on October 14, nullified the APC primary without an order as to a repeat primary. The court ruling ignited speculations that APC may not after all field a governorship candidate for Adamawa State as happened in Rivers State in 2019.
But, Senator Binani, whose appointment as coordinator of the party’s presidential campaigns in the state threw up fresh concerns, yielded her position and went ahead to appeal against the Federal High Court’s ruling.
In her letter of resignation, Binani cited the then court ruling that invalidated her nomination as the party’s gubernatorial candidate and thanked the APC presidential contender, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for reposing confidence on her.
However, a new lease of life for her governorship aspiration was received when the Court of Appeal at its sitting on November 14, reserved judgment in Senator Binani’s appeal against the lower court’s ruling.
The Appeal Court judgment was awaited by Binani and Ribadu’s camps with suspense and trepidation, even as the Ribadu camp used the interregnum to strategise for a worse case scenario, namely a repeat primary.
As part of their tactical design, Ribadu and his group paid a courtesy call on the first lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, which brought her into the centre stage of the APC brouhaha.
Riding on the euphoria of the recognition conferred on her by that courtesy call, the wife of President Buhari, who hails from Adamawa tweeted about the November 18 meeting, remarking that she aligns herself with the concerns of the Adamawa APC leaders.
While expressing her optimism for the triumph of “reason and common sense” in he crisis, the first lady suggested that the stakeholders should borrow a leaf from their Southwest counterparts by supporting women as deputy governors.
Northern leaders, she stated, “should learn from the exemplary practice of their Southwest counterparts in appointing women as deputies in a gradual approach to obtaining gender inclusion in our polity.”
“I would again like to repeat my appeal to respected leaders in the North to learn from the exemplary practice of their Southwest counterparts in enthroning women as deputy governors in states as a gradual approach to obtaining gender inclusion in our polity.”
“This is a most realistic step in our efforts at attaining gender justice instead of supporting the pursuit of the misplaced ambition of an individual do-or-die politician,” she explained.
But, although the meeting at the Villa was said to be at the instance of Adamawa APC stakeholders, no sooner had the first lady’s remarks were made public than the Ribadu camp went to town with the claims that Aisha Buhari insists on his candidacy.
They further disclosed that the first lady was in support of a consensus approach during the expected repeat governorship primary. That was however not to be, because the judgment of the Appeal Court 10 days later, precisely on November 24, put the matter beyond the former EFCC chairman, Ribadu, and upheld Binani’s nomination as the authentic governorship standard bearer of APC in Adamawa State.
The Appeal Court’s decision on the matter emboldened Binani’s loyalists to insist on overriding the first lady’s Instagram recommendations, stressing that there was no way the party could produce its governorship candidate except through a valid primary that threw up the incumbent female Senator.
As the party remains polarised along the Binani/Ribadu camps, some party faithful fear that both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (PDP could take advantage of this rift come 2023 elections.
This is just as members of APC structure in the state are bemoaning what they call the jinx against the party after Bindow lost re-election, which is now being fuelled by fear of Binani.