Despite winning the 2015 gubernatorial election in Kaduna State, the All Progressive Congress (APC) has been unable to keep its house together. SUNDAY ISUWA writes on the intricacies breeding suspicion among members.
By Sunday Isuwa
In the build up to the 2015 general elections, the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State, the capital of Northern Nigeria, was marred with suspicion.
Political pundits posited that the party’s formation was done haphazardly with the sole aim of unseating the then PDP government.
A seeming lack of party ideology, according to some political commentators, remains the reason why key party stakeholders have been unable to sit under one roof since coming into power on May 29, 2015.
Taking a cue from the national level, the APC merger in Kaduna State was perfected by the then members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC); All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and members of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), a group that left the PDP.
At the national level, the nPDP was led by the then Rivers state governor who was also the chairman of a faction of Nigeria governors’ forum. Mr Chibuike Ameachi; Sokoto state governor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko; Kawu Baraje; Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former governor of Kano state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; and governor of Kwara state, Abdulfatah Ahmed.
Others were current Senate President, Sen Bukola Saraki; former speaker of the House of Representatives and now Sokoto state governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the present Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara among several others turned their backs on the party that brought them to power and embraced the APC.
At the time, Kaduna state was under the control of a PDP-led government. Being a major decider of politics in the North at the time, former governor of Kano state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was mandated to form party structures for the APC, this was after it became clear that the party’s Interim Management Committee in the state led by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, was not recognized by some people who were interested in vying for the governorship seat.
Dr Hakeem, who was said to be interested in the formation of the party structures and a vibrant opposition that would unseat the then PDP government, voluntarily stepped aside to allow the conduct of the state congresses.
However, despite the conduct of congresses and primary elections, the APC in Kaduna state still couldn’t unite. Nevertheless, the party, riding on the wind of change mantra, championed by then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, won the governorship election almost effortlessly.
Not even the emergence of Malam Nasir el-Rufai as Kaduna State governor could heal the wound in the party. The intrigues led to the creation of some splinter groups namely: APC Akida, APC government house, APC loyal to Sen. Shehu Sani and another group loyal to Sen Suleiman Hunkuyi.
The APC Akida claimed that they are just a group amongst party members who are championing the real ideals of the party.
The Akida group is led by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Mr. Tom Mataimaki Maiyashi, a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ishaya Iko (rtd); Audi Makama; Barr Joshua Danladi Ephraim; Mr. Emma Bagaiyang; Dr Stanley Mamman; Madam Sheba Kura; Madam Rose, amongst others.
The APC Akida which has structures both at the state and at the local government level, claimed that the government house has now become exclusively for people loyal to Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, a situation which seems to be widening the friction within the party.
But, it was gathered that a group loyal to Sen Suleiman Hunkuyi has commenced mobilization towards the 2019 elections.
Hunkuyi, who was the ‘chief strategist’ for the congresses and the primary elections that produced Mr el-Rufai as the candidate of the APC, according to sources, is also not happy with what is happening in the party.
Sources said there is a mild disagreement among party officials loyal to Sen. Hunkuyi and those loyal to the state governor.
“Let me tell you, el-Rufai contested on the political structure of Sen Suleiman Hunkuyi. Now that the relationship has gone sour, Hunkuyi has started reinventing his structures across party lines in the three Senatorial Districts of the state,” said a chieftain of the APC who pleaded anonymity.
But there is more to the party’s crisis. Loyalists of Sen. Shehu Sani are already goading him to stand for the gubernatorial election in 2019. The cold relationship between the governor and the senator has refused to thaw despite series of interventions by the party at the national level.
Still, the crisis in Kaduna APC has since resulted in Sen Sani allegedly suspended by ‘government house’ APC officials for criticizing the state governor’s style of governance. His suspension was voided by the National headquarters of the APC.
Since then, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the party has been engulfed in suspicion. Katsina state governor, Aminu Bello Masari who has observed the dangers posed by such wrangling in Kaduna APC made it a point of duty to intervene.
Masari, it was learnt, is acting under the instruction of the North West National Vice Chairman of the APC, Alhaji Lawal Shuibu, who wants the crisis resolved.
It was gathered that several stakeholders in Kaduna APC have made submission on how to resolve the lingering crisis. While some party faithfuls are calling for party supremacy, others are calling for a mini-congress to fill up vacant positions, like the state Chairman who is now the Deputy Governor in Kaduna State, the office of the party Secretary, whose former occupant is now a commissioner and the PRO who is now Interim management committee chairman, among other offices.
It was also gathered that some party members are unhappy that despite their efforts that brought the present government to power, the governor has not considered them for any appointment in the state or to be recommended for appointment at the National level. Others hold the grudge that the appointments are made without their input or that of the party.
For them, the governor’s appointments go to people who did not work for the success of the party. They allege that appointees are individuals that meet the whims and caprices of the governor, not minding what part they played for the governor’s emergence or what part of the country they come from.
Some members of the APC Akida told LEADERSHIP Weekend that all the strong APC players in Kaduna state have no idea of how appointments are made both at the national and the state levels as their input are never sought.
“They run the party from the government house,” said one of the leaders of the APC Akida, Barr Joshua Dandali Ephraim who is also seeking the return of party supremacy in Kaduna state.
Ephraim, who was Kaduna state deputy gubernatorial candidate of the Buhari’s CPC in 2011, lamented that the party has no structures because the key officials are now working in Malam Nasir Elrufai’s government.
“We noticed that when the governor, His Excellency Malam Nasir Elrufai won the elections and was to establish his cabinet, the state party chairman became his deputy governor, Secretary of the party became a commissioner, and quite a number of members of the party were appointed into government either as LG administrators, commissioners, special assistants and so on. The party’s state executive committee was depleted. It took time until when party members started to agitate and the governor’s explanation was that the officers he took away have assistants that are doing the work. And that they have assumed acting positions. Yet, we all know that nothing has happen in the party since he took those officers away. And all we have been saying is, Governor Nasir Elrufai, give us back the party.”
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Weekend, the acting Secretary of the party, Hon Yahaya Baba Pate said APC in Kaduna state is one without a faction.
Pate also denied that there was a group known as APC government house. He said the leadership of the party in Kaduna state is enjoying a cordial relationship with the state governor adding that the present government always carry the party along in its decisions.
“As far as we are concerned, there is no division in Kaduna APC. The party has a very good cordial relationship with the state governor. APC, under the acting chairman, Alhaji Shuaibu Idris is one and has been carrying everyone along,” Pate said.
“I don’t know of APC government house. All the party officials were elected during congress and the government of Malam Nasir Elrufai is carrying everyone along. It is also not true that the governor did not consult the party in his appointments. Let me tell you, all the 23 interim management committee chairmen in Kaduna state are members of the APC. Some of them were even party officials before their appointments. The deputy governor of Kaduna state is a former chairman of the APC and the role of the chairman have been transferred to Alhaji Shuaibu Idris who is also carrying everyone along,” Pate added.
A member of APC Akida: “The recent appointment made for people to occupy agencies and parastatals, our governor, Elrufai contributed three names out of 13 but none of these three names are from Kaduna state.”
With the crisis escalating, the APC Akida is also routing for Hon. Isa Ashiru who contested the primaries against el-Rufai in 2014, for 2019 governorship position.
Also, Kaduna state governor, who had earlier said a first class student does not repeat a class, is now also said to be scheming for re-election, come 2019.
A party member told LEADERSHIP Weekend that el-Rufai has appointed coordinators in some strong local government areas, including Zangon Kataf, for the 2019 contest.
But LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that while there appears to be worry within his camp over certain national appointments allegedly without his consent, his closeness to the presidency remains a major factor that is working for him.
His looming influence at the national level has since positioned him as one of the major players in the affairs of the party at the national level.
With the seeming inability of the APC national leadership to resolve the crisis in Kaduna state, no one can tell if the party can navigate it’s inevitable rough route to 2019 elections, as it did in 2015.