El-Rufai’s Survival Battle

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    John Shiklam writes on how the defection of some political gladiators from the Kaduna APC to the PDP may affect the chances of the ruling party in 2019

    Kaduna State is one of the states, where aggrieved stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) have defected to the opposition PDP and other political parties.

    Leading the pack are Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, representing Kaduna North Senatorial district, Hon. Isah Ashiru, who lost the governorship ticket to El-Rufai in 2014 with a narrow margin, Dr. Datti Baba Ahmed, Yaro Makama Rigachiku, a former Kaduna state chairman of the PDP, who joined the APC in the “wind of change” that swept the PDP in 2015.

    Several of those, who played a key role in the election of El-Rufai, have dumped the APC over allegations that they were not carried along, after working to ensure victory for the party. Hunkuyi headed the APC campaign organisation at the time.

    Also, members of the two factions of the APC in the state have left the party either for the PDP or are waiting to join other political parties.

    Other politicians, who played important roles in the campaign council especially people like Ahmed Tijani Ramalan, Anthony Ali Wakili, Mikhail Takwak, Isah Abdullahi Shika, Nuhu Audu, among several others have equally left the APC.

    However, the problem in the state chapter of the party does not seem to be over yet with the recent suspension of Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, which has pitted the national secretariat of the party against the state chapter.

    This, according to observers, is not good for the party, coming at a time when elections are approaching. With this scenario, the APC seems to be facing threats of likely defeat in 2019.

    El-Rufai, it is believed, would need to work very hard to face the impossible gang-up against him by the opposition as well as tackle other dynamics that are likely to be played against him during the election.

    But in the opinion of the state assistant publicity secretary of the APC, Salisu Tanko Wusono, there is no threat to El-Rufai’s second term bid.

    Giving his perspective on the political scene in the state, Wusono said the APC is not threatened by the defection of Hunkuyi and others to the PDP.

    According to him, the ordinary masses are fully in support of the APC, because of the performance of El-Rufai and President Muhammadu Buhari.

    “Our concern is the people, that is, the ordinary people, who voted for the APC, not those big men with big cars,” he said in an interview with THISDAY.

    He noted that the PDP could not win elections in Kaduna State, no matter their gang-up because the people have long rejected them.

    Wusono, who classified politicians into three groups, said the elite, don’t vote and have no role in determining who wins elections.

    “In politics, you have to classify them into three groups. You have the first class, the second class and the third class. The first class is the masses that have votes. The second class is those intermediate big men. The third class is the big men, who have money – those who can contest for elections.

    “We thank God the people of Kaduna State chased the PDP in the state based on certain reasons. Those reasons are: PDP failed to provide schools, they failed to provide health facilities, roads and so on”.

    According to him, the APC government in Kaduna State has performed well by fulfilling its electoral promises.
    “We promised responsible public service with zero tolerance for corruption. We promised the expansion of our decaying infrastructure. We have fulfilled many of these promises. The APC government has built a lot of roads, schools, hospitals. The good people of Kaduna State are appreciative of the good works of the APC government, so, we don’t have fears.”

    Wusono maintained that “all those defecting from APC are used to defecting, not their first time. Some of them had defected several times until they had nowhere to go again.

    “The people are watching them because they are defecting for their personal interest not the interest of the people. It is only those who have amnesia that will be thinking of PDP coming back into power.

    “In the process of fulfilling some of our campaign promises we had to take some decisions. If you want to have zero tolerance for corruption, you have to identify who and who is doing the right thing.

    “The state government sacked 22,000 unqualified teachers. The reason is to establish a good foundation for education. We must uphold the education of our children because that is their future.

    “The good people are aware of all these things the Kaduna state government is doing. The people of Kaduna State are the ones, who will determine who wins in the election, not the elite. PDP is not a threat to APC in Kaduna State. In no circumstance will PDP defeat APC in Kaduna State. The people can still recall what happened under 16 years of PDP,” he explained.

    But Murtala Abubakar, a former spokesman of a faction of the APC that has defected, insisted that with the present political situation in the state, El-Rufai will not return in 2019.

    “The election is not going to favour the APC, the reason being that many of the major gladiators who supported governor Nasir El-Rufai in 2015 to win the election are no longer with him, because he has fought with them and they had left the party,” Abubakar said in an interview with THISDAY.

    He noted that most of the notable politicians are no longer in the governor’s camp, besides the fact that several groups and individuals across the state have an axe to grind with the governor as a result of some of his alleged hurtful policies and actions.

    Listing the obstacles that might hinder the APC from winning in Kaduna, Abubakar said the traditional institution in the state which plays important role in elections in the state had fallen apart with the governor and they are not likely to support him during the elections.

    According to Abubakar, “the traditional institutions in the state are key players in who determines who becomes the governor of Kaduna, today the governor is at loggerheads with them.

    “He sacked many of them for no justifiable reasons. Another important segment that he has fought or he is fighting with is the civil servants. Many of them were sacked and the governor made them useless and today, have lost their value. Many civil servants and teachers were sacked in the name of reforms, these civil servants and their relations may not vote for El-Rufai,” he added.

    Abubakar also pointed out that the APC would find it difficult to make an inroad in the southern part of Kaduna, the traditional home of the PDP, where votes come en bloc.

    “The governor also has issues with the southern Kaduna people and it is not likely that they will support his second bid. They are accusing him of marginalisation. The growing insecurity in the state, occasioned by killings and kidnapping will not favour his re-election. Out of all these, the government has not performed anything apart from making promises.

    “The Shiite are also mobilising their members to register and vote in the 2019 elections, they will not vote for El-Rufai because of the massacre of their members in Zaria and the continued detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.

    “When you analyse these things, you don’t need to be told that APC will not come back to power in Kaduna State in 2016,” Abubakar said.

    Besides all the permutations, the PDP also faces challenges that might deny it too of victory in the state in 2019.
    One of such challenges would be the party’s ability to manage the defectors that have joined the party, especially those who have declared an interest in contesting the governorship election without rancour.
    Two of the defectors, Suleiman Hunkuyi and Isah, who left the APC are among those aspiring to contest the governorship on the platform of the PDP.

    There are also members of the party like former Governor Mukhtar Yero, former Justice Commissioner, Jonathan Adamu Kish, a former Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammad Sani Sidi, and a businessman Alhaji Shuaibu Mikati, among other PDP members, who are jostling for the party’s ticket.

    Unless the party is able to handle the contending political interests of all, the talks about defeating the APC in 2019 might be tougher than they seem. But, generally, the political situation is expected to change as politicians re-align forces and strategise for 2019.