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Published On: Sun, Dec 9th, 2018

2019: Crises in states threaten APC dominance

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA

The lingering crisis rocking some state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) could undermine the party’s chances in the 2019 general elections, Business Hallmark findings have revealed. The party is currently enmeshed in factional leadership battles after contentious parallel governorship and legislative primaries for party tickets across many states of the federation, with aggrieved aspirants and stakeholders engaging themselves in brutal and potentially damaging battles to get the upper hand.

Across APC controlled states, aggrieved party stakeholders and aspirants have launched brutal fight against the alleged imposition of candidates, automatic tickets as well as lack of justice and internal democracy in the just concluded primaries.

This development has created palpable fear within the party’s leadership, following gales of defections and multiple court cases that could give the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) massive advantage.

Apart from undermining the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, the party could lose several of the states it presently controls in the governorship and parliamentary elections. The party had already lost Benue, Kwara and Sokoto States to the PDP with the defection of their governors to the opposition party earlier in the year. However aggrieved lawmakers and party members are daily leaving the party to other political parties to seek either re-election or work against the ruling party.

The APC, according to projections, could lose as many as seven states to the opposition if the crisis rocking it is not harmoniously settled in time. Apart from the loss of Benue, Kwara and Sokoto, the states that are at risk of falling to the opposition are Ogun, Kano, Kogi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Imo and Plateau.

The party, it would be recalled, had won all the states in the 2015 elections to gain dominance over other parties, but now faces a litmus-test in next year’s general elections after enjoying an easy ride in 2015.

OGUN

One of the APC states that is threatened in the 2019 polls is Ogun. The party is currently enmeshed in an intractable succession dispute with all efforts to settle the rift between contending forces futile. According to political analysts, winning Ogun may be a difficult task for the party.

The analysts compared the current events in the APC to the one in the then ruling PDP which eventually led to the defeat of the PDP at the 2011 polls in the ‘Gateway State’.

It would be recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had kicked against the imposition of Nasir GboyegaIsiaka, by former state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel of the PDP. Obasanjohad instead installed his own protégée, Gen. Idowu Olurin. Angered by the decision of the national leadership of the PDP to recognize Obasanjo’s candidate, Daniel encouraged Isiaka to move to the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) to actualize his governorship ambition while he stayed back in the PDP.

The rift eventually caused the PDP the governorship seat, with the then ACN capitalizing on the rift to snatch power at the polls. The same development is reenacting itself again in the state, albeit in another party.

The incumbent governor, Senator IbikunleAmosun, is pushing to install his successor, a member of House of Representatives members Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as his successor. However, his attempt to get him recognized as the authentic APC candidate failed, as the APC national leadership instead recognized oil magnate, Dapo Abiodun, allegedly being backed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The angry Amosun rejected his party’s choice and vowed to see to the emergence of his own nominee. To actualize the script, Akinlade, with a retinue of party and state officials, moved to the Allied Peoples Movement (AMP).

To open the gate of defections was the Ogun Assembly majority leader, Idowu Olowofuja, and three lawmakers, Mr Adeyinka Mafe (Sagamu 1); the Chief Whip, Ganiyu Oyedeji (Ifo 11) and Tunde Sanusi (Obafemi Owode).

In their resignation letters, the lawmakers said that injustice by APC during its primaries was part of their reasons for defecting.They also said that their decision was influenced by supporters after due consultations with their constituents.

A week later, the Ogun APC lost 26 aspirants of the state House of Assembly to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

Meanwhile, the governoris staying behind in the APC, and is allegedly the one who masterminded the defections and bankrolling his candidates’ campaigns.

KADUNA

The former headquarters of the old Northern Region is another state the ruling APC risk losing if it does not put its house in other before the 2019 polls.

The state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has alienated various segments of the state due to his leadership style. Two of the senators representing the state in the Senate, Senators ShehuSani

and Suleiman Hunkuyi had both moved to the PRP and PDP respectively. Apart from the two, several aggrieved lawmakers and party faithful have defected to other parties.

El-Rufai’s choice of a Muslim running mate, Dr. Hadiza Abubakar Balarabe, in the 2019 governorship poll has also cast a shadow on APC’s future in the state. Balarabe, a Muslim, is the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency, from Sanga Local Government Area in the Christian dominated Southern part of Kaduna State.

Before the nomination of Balarabe, rumours of el-Rufai’s Muslim-Muslim ticket had been trending, with the state government dismissing it as mischievous and a blackmail by opposition politicians.

Christians in Kaduna State under the umbrella of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), however passed vote of no confidence on Governor Nasir el-Rufai for picking a fellow Muslim as his running mate for the 2019 election.

The Christian body also asked all their members not to vote for el-Rufai on the election day, saying the governor no longer deserve their votes.

The PFN Chairman in Kaduna State, Apostle Emmanuel Egoh Bako, said that while the governor has the right to choose who becomes his deputy, the choice of a fellow Muslim negated tenets of equity, fairness and justice.

Apostle Bako said this was because a state like Kaduna is prone to ethnic and religious crises where the governor needed to take decision with maturity and care for peaceful coexistence.

“Choosing a female from Southern Kaduna who is a Muslim, after a crisis that snowballed into religious crisis, is the height of insecurity.If it is about competence, is she the only competent person from a predominantly Christian area?

“It certainly speaks volume of the governor’s demeaning mindset towards Christians in Kaduna State.To buttress this, consider the governor’s appointment of commissioners which have 14 Muslims to three Christians”, he said.

The governor, it was also gathered, is not in the good books of Council of Imams and Ulama and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Shiites) over some of his policies. The Council of Imams and Ulama are against the governor over the cancelation of ram gifts and sponsoring of faithful on Hajj, while the IMN is fighting the governor for his anti-Shiites agendas and policies.

Watchers of events in Kaduna said that with the current strength of the PDP in Kaduna State, the APC needs to work harder to retain the governorship seat. Projections give PDP the upper hand in 12 of the 23 local government areas in the state.

According to projections, PDP may secure victory in two of the eight LGAs in Zone 1, especially Makarfi, where former governor Ahmed Makarfi hails from and Kudan, which is the domain of both the PDP governorship candidate and Senator Hunkuyi.

In Zone 2 that has seven LGAs, the PDP may win Kaduna South, Chikun and Kajuru whose representatives in the National Assembly are not from the APC.

Meanwhile, Zone 3 with eight LGAs is a predominantly PDP-dominated area as all the current representatives in the National Assembly were elected on the PDP platform.

ZAMFARA

As it stands, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party is coasting home with victory unopposed in the state owing to the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to bar the APC from fielding candidates for the governorship and national assembly elections.

Though the APC is very popular in the state, being a state with a seemingly weak opposition, the current crisis rocking the party could lead to it losing the state.

It would be recalled that INEC punished the APC for not being able to conduct governorship and legislative primaries before the October 7, 2018 deadline.

The crisis in the state APC started from the endorsement of the Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Mukthar Shehu Idris, as the governorship candidate by Governor Abubakar Yari. Idris was however rejected by eight other aspirants led by Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, the senator representing Zamfara Central.

APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) rejection of Yari’s decision to use direct primaries to elect it governorship and legislative flag bearers, led to fragmentation of the party in the state.

The decision of INECto bar APC from participating in the 2019 polls may become an added advantage for the opposition PDP in the state.

IMO

The Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) stand to gain from the crisis rocking the APC in Imo State which the state governor, Rochas Okorocha, has described as irreconcilable.

Okorocha’s quest to have his son-in-law presented as the APC candidate in Imo failed, with the confirmation of Senator Hope Uzodinma.as the party’s candidate by the national leadership of the party.

The governor’s decision to have his way at all cost could cost the APC the state in 2019. To worsen the situation for the party, Uche Nwosu, Okorocha’s son-in-law and his supporters have defected to the Action alliance (AA), a party founded by Okorcha, leaving the APC depleted..

As it is, the battle has given the PDP and APGA a good opportunity to snatch the state from the crisis ridden APC.

The future is also bleak for the APC in Kano, Kogi and Plateau States. In Kano, the defection of Senator Kwakwanso to the PDP has thrown open the contest, while the incessant attacks on locals by marauding Fulani herdsmen has made Plateau a battle ground for the APC.

On the other hand, Kogi’s governor’s alleged poor showing ng in office as well as his closeness to the president is rubbing off negatively on the party in the state.

Reacting to the crisis in some state chapters of the APC, a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students and senatorial aspirant has cautioned that the electoral chances of the party may be badly hurt if the party fails to quickly resolve the primary election crisis ravaging its state chapters.

Onjeh, who complained of being short-changed at the recent party primary election in the Benue state, advised the leadership of the APC to work hard to reconcile aggrieved members so that the chances of the party would not be affected by the spill-over of the primary election crisis.

The former student unionist said that he expects the appeal panel set up by the party to do what is right and just so as bring back members to forge a common front ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Meanwhile, the APC leadership is worried by the decision of some aggrieved members, including Governor Ibukunle Amosun of Ogun State, Governor Rochas Okorocha and some lawmakers to shun the APC governorship candidates in their states. The aggrieved members had also vowed to work against the party’s candidates.

The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had last week said the party could win the governorship elections in Imo and Ogun without the support of Okorocha and Amosun.

BH however, learnt that despite the statement of Oshiomhole, the party leaders were concerned that some aggrieved members could spoil the chances of the APC.

According to a source close to the national chairman of the party, the leadership is particularly concerned with ugly developments in Imo, Ogun and Zamfara states because of their high number of mutineers.

 

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