Masari’s Silence, Governorship Primary, Put APC on Edge in Katsina

Francis Sardauna writes that a fresh crisis is rocking the Katsina State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over governorship primary in the state.

With heightened insecurity, worsening economic challenges, poverty and lack of administrative direction and developmental projects, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Katsina State will be going into the 2023 general election with what political analysts termed an overload of incumbency disadvantage.

For the past seven years it has been in power since 2015, arguably, the APC administration in the state has become synonymous with “All promises without fulfilment” as it has failed to fulfil any of its campaign promises of fixing the economy, reviving agriculture and tackling insecurity.

The APC’s failure of leadership in Katsina state is not limited to its inability to deliver on its promise of good governance and accountability alone, it actually begins from the home front, as clearly seen in the inability of the ruling party to resolve its prevailing internal crisis.

The internal crisis rocking the party has deepened over the outcome of the just concluded governorship and legislative primaries in the state and is threatening the party’s cohesion and chances of winning the 2023 governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and state Assembly polls.

Already, some stalwarts of the ruling APC in the state have started leaving the party which came into power with the “change mantra” to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) over what they described as administrative and leadership failure, irregularities and the inability of Governor Aminu Bello Masari to address the predicaments besetting the masses.

Those who jumped ship from the APC to NNP includes the incumbent member representing Bindawa/Mani federal constituency at the House of Representatives, AminuAshiru; current member representing Kurfi/Dutsin-Ma federal constituency, ArmayauKado and Babangida Ibrahim Talau of Malumfashi/Kafur federal constituency.

Others are the former member Kurfi/Dutsin-Ma federal constituency, DanlamiMuhammedKurfi; the former zonal Special Adviser to Governor Masari on political affairs and current chairman of NNPP, SaniLiti; former SA to Governor Masari on International Relations and Investment, Ibrahim Zakari and ShuiabuIliyasu, former member representing Kurfi at the state House of Assembly.

Interestingly but considered as a political tsunami by political gladiators, the current senator representing Katsina North senatorial District, (the constituency of President MuhammaduBuhari), Senator Ahmed BabbaKaita, has equally dumped the ruling party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The former member representing Kurfi at the state House of Assembly, Bashir Mamman also left the APC and joined PDP, among others.

However, the recent crisis which seems to be annihilating the party’s structures and popularity in the state, started when one of its major governorship aspirants, Dr. Mustapha MuhammedInuwa, who recently summoned his supporters for a meeting at the Conference Hall of the Katsina Motel, where he said he was betrayed not to have clinched the party’s guber ticket.

Inuwa, who was defeated by the erstwhile Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr. Umar DikkoRadda, during the May 26 governorship primary of the party, accused Governor Masari of working with other bigwigs of the party against his lifelong political ambition of becoming the governor of the historic state.

The immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG) alleged that his political godfathers in the state believed that he could not be controlled by them hence their support for their candidate (Radda) whom he described as clueless and subservient.

Miffed by the outcome of the primary, Inuwa said: “I have paid my dues as a true servant of this administration and I challenge any person just once when I failed to undertake my responsibility or cheated the administration.

“We conducted 10 by-elections in this state and the last one was the one we conducted in Bakori local government area. I swear, the governor (Masari) doesn’t know how to win elections; we would only bring the results to him.

“We did the 2019 general elections and we got the highest votes in the country and all of you know we got more votes in the second election (2019) than the first (2015). But those we supported and worked for had betrayed us because they think we can’t be controlled”.

Sadly, the former SSG who has political structures across the 34 local government areas of the state more than the gubernatorial candidate of the party, vowed to work for the success of his supporters who left the APC for the NNPP because of “injustice” during the party’s primaries.

Inuwa’s recent outbursts against Governor Masari and some state APC bigwigs have been predicted by political analysts as a graveyard for the party. Some pundits also argued that the former “engine room” of Masari-led government alongside his teeming supporters may embark on anti-party activities and open a factional secretariat for the party in the state.

A credible source within the party told THISDAY that: “Already, there is serious division within the party because Mustapha Inuwa is not happy with the outcome of the primary and I don’t think he will support DikkoRadda to win the election.

“He recently declared during a meeting with his supporters at the Motel that he will support even those that left the party and joined NNPP to win election against the APC that built his political career. The way forward is for the governor to call him and other aggrieved members to order”

However, Inuwa’skingsman and State Secretary of the party, MallamShitu S. Shitu, who was among the dignitaries that attended the post-primary election meeting, described the result of the APC governorship primary in the state as punishment for the citizenry.

Shitu, who denied speaking at the meeting in his capacity as secretary of the party, said: “The result of the governorship primary was perhaps because God wanted to punish the people of the state. That is why the delegates voted for “a lioness rather than a lion.”

His statements further triggered and worsened the party’s crisis as the camp which produced the governorship candidate of the party, has threatened to sanction members of the party, including those elected on the party’s umbrella during its primaries.

The Vice Chairman of the party, Bala Abu Musawa, who gave the warning at a function attended by Governor Masari in Malumfashi, the headquarters of Malumfashi Local Government, admonished the governor who is visibly worried about the crisis, not to intervene in the matter but allow them (supporters of Dikko) to tackle it.

But the more the governor remained adamant over the raging crisis, the more it will tarnish his political career, reputation and hamper the party’s chances of retaining the governorship seat in the state as foreseen by a political analyst, Dr. Kabir Musa Yandaki.

The Head of Political Science Department, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, warned that If the crises pervading the APC were not carefully handled and addressed by the leader (Masari) of the party, the ruling party may lose the 2023 elections to other opposition parties in the state.

In an interview, Yandaki said: “The state governor, AlhajiAminu Bello Masari, as leader of the party in the state must intervene to save the party from the doomsday. Now is not a time of crisis for the party, what it needs is unity.

“You can see how the major opposition parties have presented popular politicians as their flag-bearers.  If you look at the PDP, it has presented a popular gubernatorial candidate, NNPP has also presented a popular candidate as its flag-bearer.

“So, if the APC in Katsina fails to reconcile its members ahead of the 2023 general elections, the party will face serious challenges at the polls. In fact, it will lose the election.

“Already, the people are aggrieved, believing that the economic hardship faced in the country is a direct result of the party’s failures. With such a crisis raging within the APC, the party should not waste”.

Masari’s refusal to announce his preferred governorship candidate even before the commencement of the primary also gave room for speculations and accusations, especially among supporters of both the defeated aspirants and the winner.

With this cold war of words among APC chieftains in the state over the governorship primary and other internal problems afflicting the party, there is urgent need for Governor Aminu Bello Masari to intervene in order to save the party from total collapse.

Importantly, Radda, who recently informed a forum of Vice Chairmen in the state that his campaign will not be a hard one for them as they did not vote for “mortar” as their flag bearer, should extend the hands of friendship to aggrieved members of the party, if not, he will be the mortar that he claimed not to be.

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