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How Bauchi PRP, PDP challenge might consume APC

By Leo Sobechi (Assistant Politics Editor) and Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi)
07 December 2018   |   3:53 am
It is no longer news that incumbent governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Ahmad Abubakar of All Progressives Congress (APC) is troubled on many sides as the March 2, 2019 gubernatorial election approaches.

Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar of Bauchi State

It is no longer news that incumbent governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Ahmad Abubakar of All Progressives Congress (APC) is troubled on many sides as the March 2, 2019 gubernatorial election approaches. Apart from the defection of Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other influential politicians from the Bauchi State chapter of APC, the ruling party has been facing some troublesome distractions in recent times.

But, despite its internal contestations, the ruling party has a very daunting battle to wage in the forthcoming election. Most of those that are incensed against Governor Abubakar have been announcing their loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari, assuring that they would work for his electoral triumph on February 16, 2019. In addition to APC’s internal strife, the man opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presents another big challenge to the party’s cohesion in Bauchi, especially against the background of bourgeoning northeast solidarity for the PDP presidential standard bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

While tthe inter-party competition for votes promises to be tense in the state, for Governor Abubakar things are looking very depressing based on the vociferous challenge confrontation thrown up by the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). Incidentally, PRP has asgubernatorial candidate a former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate. Pate and his party have decided to move away from the pedestrian argument about whether Governor Abubakar is an indigene or an immigrant from Kogi State, but rather formuated ten questions for the governor to respond to and convince Bauchi people that he merits another fur years in office.

Through his Mabudin Chigaba/PatefoRProgress, Pate is in addition to challenging Governor Abubakar to a one on one debate on the wa way to move Bauchi forward, challenging the governor to present answers to the ten posers as part of his electioneering.

Some of the questions include, why is Bauchi State deteriorating to become among the poorest states in Nigeria, why is poverty so dd widespread in our state during your administration and why is the state harbouring the highest number of out of school children? PRP is peeved that Governor Abubakar could not point to any one signature project in the three years, five months of his administration, while garbage litters the entire length and breadth of the state. Compared to APC, the PRP’s governorship candidate said his party has the golden key to unlock Bauchi for progress and prosperity.

Continuing his remarks at the kickoff of the campaign, Pate stated: Bauchi State is at crossroads today and will need to decide on March 2, 2019 at the ballot on its future direction.It faces a choice between two contrasting future directions, between truth and falsehood, justice versus oppression, shared prosperity versus mass poverty.” He disclosed that together with his dynamic running mate, deputy governor nominee, Ahmed Farouk Gwadabe”, with whom he said PRP, with its golden key, they hope to unlock the potentials of Bauchi State, so that all its citizens would enjoy decency, progress and prosperity. Abubakar’s many worries GOVERNOR Abubakar and APC are battling with unsettled crisis, which may result in tragic flaw and pave way for the main opposition PDP or the gangling underdog, PRP., PRP.

Prior to APC’s governorship primary, the rancour that ensued led to the departure of Speaker Dogara, just as the Senators representing Bauchi North and Central equally moved to PDP.

During the primary election in which the direct option was adopted for the September 29 date, a day before the election, three aspirants Dr. Mohammed Yakubu, a former Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ali Pate and Captain Bala Jibrin jointly addressed journalists alleging that Governor Abubakar was planning to manipulate the process in cahoots with the national leadership of the party by way of a mock election.

Even before he finally dumped APC for PRP, Dr. Pate alleged that the leadership of the state chapter has perfected arrangements to install a preferred candidate, Governor Muhammad Abubakar Abdullahi.

According to Pate, “We believe in the national leadership of our party, but we have lost our confidence in the state leadership of APC. Our supporters, who were waiting for the election, complained of plans by the state government with the support of security agencies to conduct mock election.

In the end, Pate, Lame and Jibrin, directed their supporters to boycott the exercise over “perceived irregularities during the election.” The trio also alleged diversion and shortchanging of ballot papers sent to various local councils, harassment and intimidation of their supporters by security agencies.

Dr. Lame believed that there was no governorship primary election in the state, nonetheless he stated: “For justice to be done by the committee, democratic process must be followed. I believe there was no primary elections in Bauchi.” Lame insisted that he would not leave the party for the governor, but would ensure that the national leadership of the party should do the needful by listening to the grievances of angry members who contested against the governor.

He stressed that if APC is a party that centered on justice and principles, “this must be followed to lay a good example to other generation.” But hours after he was declared winner, Abubakar appreciated loyal party members for their steadfastness to ensure victory for him.

The governor attributed his achievements in the past three years to his “acceptability,” claiming that his administration has tackled the challenge of owing salaries in the state. Poking fun at his rivals, the governor stated: “These same people went to Abuja to meet with the national leadership that they wanted direct primary. They said if indirect is used, the governor controls the delegates therefore they wanted direct. Now the direct was used, I won and they cried foul.”

Wary of the implications of the uncouth and divisive utterances of the governor, during the reconciliation meeting of the Alhaji Tanko Almakura-led committee for Bauchi and Gombe, Capt. Jibrin insisted that the party should expel and sanction governor Abubakar “for anti-party activities.”

In order to set the party on the right track after the heavy blow it received post-primary election, the governor said he has started the peace move from within, saying some members have decided to stay, while some had crossed carpet to opposition parties.

“Our two religions wholeheartedly believe that it is God who gives power, in that case I had placed direct calls to all the aggrieved (APC) members to come together like our party emblem (broom) to ensure victory in the next year’s elections,” he noted.

At the reconciliation meeting, not less than 28 aggrieved members of the party expressed dissatisfaction over the conduct of the primary, just as Governor Almakura appealed to them to withdraw the court cases against the party, while promising to be fair to their grievances.

Meanwhile, the PDP had intensified efforts to utilise the loopholes in the ruling APC by setting a committee to woo its aggrieved members. A former Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bala, popularly known as Kaura, is not taking anything for granted against Governor Abubakar.

Bala defeated two other contestants, Senators Abdul Ningi and Adamu Gumba, at a keenly contested primary election. The chairman, PDP Electoral Committee for the state, Mr. Orbih, declared that Mr. Mohammed scored 1,335 votes to defeat Mr. Ningi (802 votes) and Mr. Gumba (15 votes), noting that only 32 invalid votes were recorded during the election.

Going by the perceived free, fair, and peaceful conduct of its primary, PDP seems to be having an edge over APC. Mr. Orbih urged PDP members to remain loyal to the party and also work hard to reclaim the state. Perhaps in a bid to sustain party harmony after a rancor-free primary held inside the premises of Zaranda Hotel, Bala swiftly set a reconciliation committee to recognise those that contested against him, with a view to addressing their grievances.

The PDP standard bearer charged the committee to woo the aggrieved members of APC and other parties to join forces against the incumbent. Bauchi State PDP chairman, Alhaji Hamza Akuyam, expressed optimism that the party would trounce APC in the coming general election. He spoke at the party secretariat when the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, visited the state.

According to Bala, “we have the speaker of the House of Representatives and two serving Senators among us, we hope that many of them would still join the party in no time.” With the former FCT minister, Bala of PDP and former minister of state for health, Pate of PRP arrayed against incumbent governor MA Abubakar of APC, that is riddled with internal crisis, how far can APC go?

And for Bauchi, where some state assembly members have decamped to opposition parties, the next election does not seem to have the ruling party in strong contention. A member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Hon. Muhammad Aminu Tukur, said that his intention of leaving the APC was informed by the unruly deportment of Governor Abubakar.

“Even in an opposition party, I will support President Muhammadu Buhari in any election, but not at the state level. I was one of the people who brought Alliance for Democracy (AD) to Bauchi, the party that later formed APC”, he said. Come 2019, Bauchi promises to be one of the interesting states to watch as gladiators file out to test their acceptability on the ballot.