The crisis of interests presently rocking the Kaduna State chapter of the All Progressives Congress holds grave consequences for the future of the party in the state. John Shiklam writes
In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interest. This, perhaps, explains the crisis tearing the Kaduna State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) apart. Political observers are aghast that even Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (representing Kaduna North Senatorial Zone), believed to be a very close ally of Governor Nasir El-Rufai had long parted ways with him.
Hunkuyi, a notable grassroots politician, played a key role during the governorship campaigns that saw to the victory of the APC in 2015. He is however rumoured to be nursing ambition to be governor in 2019, having contested and lost in 2003, when he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the defunct All Peoples Party (APP).
The crisis within the party started in December 2015. About seven months after El-Rufai assumed office, a group which called itself “APC Akida” (True APC) had accused the governor of alleged “anti-people polices and sidelining party stakeholders in the running of the government they worked to bring to power.
Members of these groups include Senator Shehu Sani (representing Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone), Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Mr. Tom Matamaki Maiyashi, Hon. Isa Ashiru (who lost the governorship ticket to El-Rufai during the primaries) and Ambassador Sule Buba, amongst others.
The group, in a statement dated December 5, 2015 and signed by its spokesman, Murtala Abubakar, accused the governor of highhandedness and creating the impression that an APC administration in the state had turned its back against the people, is a matter of huge concern to us”.
According to him, “As responsible people, who successfully worked hard to remove the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is with tremendous reluctance that we make public, issues and grievances that should have otherwise been raised and settled in engagements with those, who have the responsibility to address them.
“Let me say here that it is with regret that we have decided to speak out because other avenues are no longer available and we will fail the millions of people, who expect our party to operate with requisite standard of responsibility and accommodation, if we continue to maintain silence,” the group said.
The group decried alleged absence of functional and autonomous party structures in the state, noting that it had created a long distance between the state government and the teeming party members.
“This reality is clearly in line with the desire of the State Governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufa, to rule without any opposition or counsel from any quarter,” the group noted, urging the national leadership of the party to set up a credible machinery to conduct elections into vacant party offices in the state.”
After the 2015 elections, several party positions became vacant following the appointments of some officials, including the position of the state chairman, which was occupied by the deputy governor, Mr. Bala Bantex.
But rising in stout defense of the governor, the state leadership of the party dismissed the Akida group, declaring a vote of confidence in the governor and his policies.
The state acting Publicity Secretary, Salisu Wusono, in a statement dated December 12, 2015, maintained that all El-rufai’s policies were in line with the APC manifestos and agenda and advised the group not to allow themselves to be used by the opposition PDP to distract the good work of the governor.
“We have only one APC in Kaduna State. The party has leadership and structures; we are running the affairs of the party according to the manifestos, constitution and its ideology. It is laughable if somebody in Kaduna State said APC is not functioning. Any party member that is questioning the policies and leadership of the governor is either ignorant or doing it deliberately,” Wusono said.
But the political acrimony in the state took a turn for the worse last Sunday, when armed thugs invaded the secretariat of the Kaduna State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and unleashed mayhem on journalists and the politicians during a press conference by Hunkuyi, Sani, some members of the House of Representatives and other members of the two groups opposed to the governor.
They were aggrieved over alleged non conduct of election for delegates to the forthcoming non-elective National Convention of the APC.
Murtala Abubakar, spokesman of the APC Akida faction, told THISDAY that his group had earlier received information that the Political Adviser to the governor, Mallam Uba Sani, had allegedly mobilised thugs to stop and disrupt the press conference.
“Before we even started the meeting, we got information that Uba Sani had sent thugs to disrupt the press conference. But we believed that the Press Centre will be immune from this rascality. We thought that the government is sensible enough not to incur the wrath of journalists, so we thought that we will have immunity under press men,” he said.
The mob however overpowered the police and forced the gate open and had the people chased out of the premises with teargas. But the arrival of the Gabasawa Divisional Police Officer (DPO), one Abdullahi, paved the way for the mob as he led about ten of them to where the press conference was going on. Hell was eventually let loose as they pounced on journalists with sticks and knives and sticks. There was pandemonium as everybody ran for safety.
A cameraman from a local television station – Liberty television, owned by Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan, was seriously wounded as the hoodlums pounced on him and destroyed the camera. Smartphones and voice recorders were destroyed while the DPO watched as if he was assigned to supervise the attacked.
The governor’s political adviser, who was accused of sponsoring the hoodlums later denied the allegations, saying he was not even in town and did not know what happened.
“I don’t know anything about that. You have to do your investigations. Probably they are the ones who did it. So, if I were you, I will do my investigations properly. I suspect probably they are the ones that organised it to embarrass the government, when somebody alleged something, he should produce evidence. So, if I were you, I would ask them to produce evidence,” he said.
The attack was condemned by Governor El-Rufai in a statement by Samuel Aruwan, his spokesman, declaring that “nobody will be allowed to stifle freedom of expression”. The governor expressed sympathy with the NUJ and those that were harassed by the hoodlums and directed security agencies to investigate and take necessary action against the hoodlums.
“Politics should not be a desperate game. And desperation should not be visited on journalists or any citizen,” the governor said.
The state’s police commissioner, Abah Agyole, who later visited the Press Centre, assured the journalists that investigation would be conducted into the matter.
Hunkuyi, who addressed the conference, alleged that no election was conducted for the delegates, alleging that names of those who emerged as delegates were written by an official of the state government.
“The list of the delegates was not known to us. The list was fake. So, we wrote two petitions to the national secretariat and zonal office to buttress our grievances. We hope the national body would look into our complaints and fix another date for the election of delegates,” he said.
Hunkuyi and Sani, who addressed a news conference in Abuja the following day after submitting their petition to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in Abuja, declared that the APC in the state was gradually collapsing and urged the national leadership to intervene urgently else the party might die.
“Unfortunately, elections did not hold in Kaduna. This culminated in the manufacturing of results that were presented to the election committee chosen to conduct the exercise. Rather than conduct the elections, a list was manufactured by the team led by the state governor’s political adviser and presented.
“We have made it very clear that APC in Kaduna State is undergoing very serious hemorrhage and there is the need to quickly move in with expert medical attention to arrest that hemorrhage to avert the inadvertent, untimely and selfish death of our very beloved party,” he said.
But the state chapter of the party at its press conference on Sunday at the party secretariat dismissed the allegations, saying the delegate election was free, credible and fair.
Wusono, who addressed the press conference, noted that certain persons who have since 2014 been engaged in various schemes to destabilise the APC were unrelenting in their dark designs. He said a team from the National secretariat of the party and INEC officials monitored the conduct of the election, which, according to him was conducted with the state executives, local government party chairmen and other stakeholders.
Wusono therefore called on the national headquarters of the party to expedite action towards enabling them to fill party offices that are currently occupied by officials in acting capacity as provided for in the APC constitution.
“It has come to the notice of the Kaduna State APC that some disgruntled elements want to tarnish the reputation of the party. In fact, these persons have been unrelenting in their effort to destroy the party and sap the spirit of its members. They have failed over three years, but they continue trying. They abuse the party process, and accuse the party of every ill, but their real goal is to hijack it.
“As leaders of the APC charged with the duty of managing the party in Kaduna State, it is obvious that we are obliged to reject and dismiss any attempt to hijack what is entrusted in our care. If these disaffected persons have any legitimate grievances, they are advised to follow proper channels. The APC will not tolerate anti-party activities. Politicians must learn that a party will not die just because they did not win internal elections or secure places for their preferred cohorts. Let it be known that we the executives and stakeholders of the APC in Kaduna State remain loyal to the government that our party has produced in Kaduna State,” Wusono maintained.
Also reacting to accusations that he wrote the list of the delegates, Sani, said there was no truth in the allegations, adding that the leadership of the party in the state had spoken on the issue and that the position of the party was supreme.
“Nobody is above the party, not even the President. The position of the party is supreme. Go to the state party chairman in Kaduna, whatever he tells you is the true position on the issue,” Sani said in a telephone chat.
But again, the recent emergence of Kaduna Restoration Group, a coalition of some stakeholders led by Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan seems to be swelling the ranks of those rising against the governor. Last Sunday’s press briefing at the secretariat of the NUJ was jointly addressed by stakeholders in the Restoration and the Akida groups, an indication that they have joined forces against the governor.
Like the APC Akida, the Kaduna Restoration Group has also accused the governor of being autocratic and running a government by consultants.
In an open letter to the governor on June 29, 2017, the group claimed that Kaduna under El-Rufai “was fast sliding into the abyss, a deep and seemingly bottomless pit, which portends grave danger to the socio- economic fabric of the State due to some autocratic actions being blatantly exhibited your government”.
The letter signed by Tijjani and the secretary of the group, Prof. Yusuf Dankofa, accused the administration of alleged endless anti-people policies, including the allegation that the governor was appointing non-indigenes into government at the detriment of the indigenes.
“Our observations, sir, our group has painfully observed that despite your government’s saintly and pious declarations, especially in your midterm report read in your Democracy Day speech of having delivered in terms of your party’s manifesto especially in the area of welfare delivery for the poor, the reality on ground is that the so called achievements are nonexistent, rather your administration largely exists for itself and a few band of core loyalists with mercantilist tendencies imported into the state. Your so called positive and high credit ratings are therefore trivial, feeble and delusional.
“Under your watch, sir, as an A-listed professional project manager, capital projects initiated are mostly never completed, and those projects like roads that were completed despite huge expenditure have been washed away by the rains,” the group further alleged.
The state government in its reaction dismissed all the allegations point by point. Aruwan, in a statement, described the letter as “an epistle of elite frustration, lengthy on lame lamentations but short on substance and facts.
“It is like a union of the disaffected, the discontented and the disappointed, telling a government that all it needs do to be good, is to settle them or go back to the old days of sharing state resources to the few professional politicians too lazy to work for a living like other hardworking citizens,” Aruwan said.
He said further that the doors of the government have never been shut to anyone, adding that the government believed that constructive criticisms and frank exchanges that were rooted in facts were helpful to improving public policy and governance.
The statement declared that the government was proud of the governance reforms it has implemented in the past two years, noting that with the Treasury Single Account, zero-based budgeting and a panoply of new laws covering taxation, investments, a digital land registry and public procurement, government has remade the priorities of governance and anchored it on pro-people development. Raising primary school enrolment from 1.1million to 2.1million in less than two years is testament to the results that come from focusing on what matters to the common men and women that elected us.
“The so-called Kaduna Restoration Group is fixated on where people come from. It has decided to cast government officials, who are not originally from Kaduna State as the ‘problem’ because they see such persons occupying positions they feel is their entitlement. They even cite Section 14 (4) of the Constitution in defence of their parochial stance. That section of the 1999 Constitution offers no such justification for bigotry. The Kaduna State Government has always, and will continue to have in its employment, persons from all sections of the country. It is unfortunate that in the 21st Century, a media mogul and a person claiming to be a professor of law will remain so wedded to narrow notions,” the statement said. Efforts to resolve the crisis have not yielded any positive result. It was learnt that one of such efforts was a committee headed by the governor of Katsina State, Hon. Aminu Masari, but the committee could not bring about the desired peace with the party.
Now, the crisis has taken a new dimension and unless the issues are resolved and the party puts its house in order, its chances in 2019 might be greatly affected. The opposition PDP, which is just recovering from its share of a prolong crisis, is watching the unfolding drama with excitement, waiting to take its pounds of flesh come 2019 general election.
Quote: Now, the crisis has taken a new dimension and unless the issues are resolved and the party puts its house in order, its chances in 2019 might be greatly affected. The opposition PDP, which is just recovering from its share of a prolong crisis, is watching the unfolding drama with excitement, waiting to take its pounds of flesh come 2019 general election