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Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State, unarguably one of the largest administrative councils in Nigeria, based on population and landmass, is in deep political crisis which could affect the chances of the All Progressives Congress in the forthcoming general election, in the area. Reports Sunday Aborisade
New Bussa Town, the administrative headquarters of Borgu Kingdom, one of the 25 local government areas of Niger State, would have engulfed in a political conflagration which could have taken months to quell but for the great display of maturity and political sagacity exhibited last Tuesday by the Senator representing Niger North Senatorial District who is also the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi.
A massive crowd of residents from various communities in the LGA made up of the Bokobaru, Busa, Hausa, Nupe, Fulani, Kambari (Acipu), Yoruba, Laru,Hun-Saare, Lopa, Igbo and other ethnic nationalities across the West African sub-region, had prepared to participate in a ‘Grand Lockdown Rally’ for the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima respectively.
Scheduled to attend the rally were President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; Tinubu and Shettima; Niger APC Governorship Candidate, Umar Mohammed Bago; his running mate, Yakubu Garba; Senator Sabi Abdullahi (the Chief Host) and the Emir of Borgu Kingdom, HRM Mohammed Sani, among other top APC chiefs across the country.
The event, according to the Chairman of the Organising Committee, Mohammed Garba Danladi, was also intended to honour the Late Emir of Borgu Kingdom, Senator Haliru Dantoro Kitoro III, who served in the Senate with Tinubu during the botched Third Republic and later, before his demise, conferred the prestigious title of the Jagaban Borgu, on the APC presidential flag bearer.
Invited guests, APC leaders, their supporters and well wishers received the greatest shock of their lives when they approched the New Bussa Township Stadium, venue of the rally, and were stopped from gaining access to the facility
which was a day, earlier inaugurated by Sabi Abdullahi, who renovated and remodelled it as part of his constituency project.
Armed security personnel from the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Service, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Federal Roads Safety Corps, other paramilitary agencies and local vigilante groups, manned the entrance of the stadium while three patrol vans of the Nigerian Army loaded with armed personnel, were also seen patrolling the stadium area.
Investigations by THISDAY revealed that the development was a fallout of the rivalry between the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, since he stopped the incumbent Senator representing his Senatorial District, Sabi Abdullahi from returning to the Senate by contesting and winning the APC ticket for Niger North Senatorial District, in controversial circumstances.
The Governor, according to the result declared by the returning officer for the Niger North, Adamu Abdulkareem, on May 29, 2022 polled 343 votes to defeat the incumbent Senator, Aliyu Abdullahi Sabi who got seven votes..
Abdulkareem then declared Bello winner at the end of the exercise in Kontagora, the headquarters of Kontagora local government area of the state, where the Governor hails from.
The cold war between Bello and Abdullahi started from that very day and manifested last week.
Further findings by THISDAY revealed that the Governor was unhappy that as the sitting governor and senatorial candidate, he was neither recognised nor given a role to play at such a prestigious rally that would attract creme de la creme of the ruling party.
However, the State Working Committee of the party in a statement in Minna had on Monday, which was a day before the event, by the Publicity Secretary, Mallam Musa Dan Sarkindaji, a copy which was made available to THISDAY, said the Chairman of the party, Hon Haliru Zakari Jikantoro, has disassociated itself from the rally.
The statement, titled “Niger APC Disassociated Herself From Lockdown Rally in Borgu” also directed all party faithful not to honour and attend such rally, claiming that the planned rally contravenes unified campaign structure as designed by the party.
Part of the statement reads, “The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State under the leadership of Hon Haliru Zakari Jikantoro has disassociated itself from lockdown rally organised in New Bussa, Borgu Local Government Area of the State.
“The party wishes to draw attention of all party faithfuls not to honour and attend such rally as it contravened with the unified campaign structure as designed by the party”.
The Party then urged its executives, stakeholders and party loyalists not to attend the grand zonal rally which had been scheduled for Wednesday 2nd of February, 2023 in Bida, headquarters of Bida Local Government.
Senator Abdullahi, who is the main organiser of the programme had through his Special Assistant (operations), Mohammed Garba Danladi in a letter dated 27/01/2023 and addressed to the state Party Chairman, Hon. Haliru Zakari Jikantoro notified the party of the planned rally.
Abdullahi in the letter, sighted by THISDAY, also stated that the State Working Committee of the party was invited to the Grand Lockdown Rally for the candidates and their running mates on the need to galvanize support and positively enhance the party at the polls.
Part of the letter read, “I am directed to invite you and your executive to the Grand Lockdown Rally in honor of Jagaban Borgu and Kashim Shettima, our party Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates, Hon. Mohammed Bago, with Comrade Yakubu Garba as Gubernatorial and Deputy Governorship Candidates for Niger state in the 2023 General Elections.
“In view of the need to galvanize support and positively enhance the chances of our party in the forthcoming elections, we wish to solicit and count on your unflinching support towards the success of the rally.”
The Police nevertheless, justified their actions through a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Niger State Command, Mr. Wasiu Abiodun, who said the action was to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Abiodun said, “The Police had to take over the venue of the planned rally, as a proactive measure due to intelligence received of likely breach of security at the venue.
“Hence, we have to do the needful to avert any possible attack or hijack by suspected miscreants to cause mayhem and breach of peace in the community.
“The Command will not fold its arms and allow act of political violence, avoidable loss of life, destruction of properties and lawlessness.”
The Host, Sabi Abdullahi, however, told journalists that he took the disruption of the rally organised by his group under the auspices of Project 774, in good fate.
The Senator disagreed with the police over their claims that the action was based on intelligence reports.
He said, “If there was going to be any security breach, I think the method we adopted today would have aided the breach if there would be any. What we saw today is love for me. I have addressed them to support all APC candidates, including in Niger North senatorial district and they all agreed.
“I have no explanation as to why force and power were unleashed on my efforts for the party but I took it in good fate and leave it to God. What we have done today has laid to rest any doubt as to whether I’m leaving the party or not. By the Grace of God, we will vote all APC candidates in the coming elections.”
Party leaders and loyalists turned the rally to a road show with massive crowd joined their carnival possession to march through major streets in New Bussa.
THISDAY learnt that Governor Bello, who is the leader of the party in the state actually instructed the party leaders and members to stay away from the planned rally.
Further investigations also revealed that the Governor was angry because his picture was not in the programme booklet despite being the Senatorial Candidate of the party in the zone.
Senator Abdullahi later in an interview with THISDAY said he had done what he needed to do as far as the rally was concerned.
According to him: “The rally is for my party and so as a party man I know the right thing to do and we have written to the State party chairman, we wrote to the zonal Party chairman, we wrote to all the local government party chairmen and the zonal party chairman was here.
“The eight local government areas under Niger North all of them were here, the aged that could not make it we already having engagements.
“The point to be made here is that to the best of my knowledge I have done what I am expected to do and by law and as a party man.
“I am not in any position to give reason as to why force and power were impeached on the effort I was trying to make for my party. I have no explanation for it but let me say this, I took it in good fate.
“Whoever has the responsibility and the duty and decide to take or do certain things that is his own cup of tea. We did the work, it is not my personal property. It is community work for the community and so if they say we should not use it we have left it for them”.