A former senator and All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Borno State, Muhammed Abba-Aji, has dumped the party to run again for the Senate under the flag of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Abba-Aji is now to contest the Borno Central senatorial seat.
A former special adviser to late President Musa Yar’adua on National Assembly, he was the first to declare his intention to contest the governorship in the ruling APC.
On Saturday, his supporters were seen replacing his screaming APC governorship campaign billboards with those of the PDP with the inscriptions indicating he is now going to contest for the Senate seat he occupied between 2003 and 2007.
Speaking with journalists, Mr. Abba-Aji said he left APC because of injustice meted on him and other governorship aspirants by the leadership of the party.
The APC has denied such allegations, insisting it has given every aspirant a level playing ground to pursue their ambitions.
The former senator who defected from PDP to the APC in 2014, may likely be clashing with the outgoing Borno governor, Kashim Shettima, who is also a senatorial aspirant of the APC for the same district.
He blamed his predicament on what he called the excessive powers that parties allow the governors, which he said makes them too powerful and sometimes even more powerful than the state party chairpersons.
He also alleged that the plot to deny him a chance to pick the state governorship ticket was hatched by Mr. Shettima, whom he said is in total control of the party structure in the state.
“There was a pronouncement which started at the APC national congress; it was unanimous that primary elections of the party will be conducted through direct primaries; all card carrying members will come together and determine who the candidate for a particular office will be,” he said.
“That would have been democracy at its best; this would have taken us to the next level.
“But then the governors started to regroup to fight against such a high powered resolution for their selfish interests. This brings us to the serious issue bedeviling our polity, which is the relatively excessive power of the governors in relations to other stake holders in the polity. The governors came together and said that over their dead bodies should they allow primaries to be conducted through direct primaries – this include our own governor here, Kashim Shettima.
“In America, when I was a student there in the 70s, the system was such that if you are a card carrying member of the Democratic Party, for example, there is no need for you to go out and vote, because you are already registered, the computer will just assign your vote to the candidate of your party. They don’t expect you to have double standard. Yes!
“But I am most surprised that governors, including our own Kashim Shettima, showed fear and distrust for people who had stuck out their necks to become members of the APC.
“In Borno State where I come from, there has never been a true situation of one party system than now; the loyalty to the party was massive almost to the point that the opposition was almost zero until now. So if this is happening, then it is a clear sign that something is terribly wrong.
“So it is expected that we come down home as critical stakeholders to discuss and agree amongst ourselves on the pattern of voting to adopt for the primaries.
Mr. Abba-Aji said he was not invited to the APC critical stakeholders meeting where the decision to stand against direct primaries was taken.
“At the meeting, not a single governorship aspirant was in attendance at the time the so-called critical stakeholders took the decision that Borno would go for indirect primaries. That was not consistent with the resolution of NEC. I am an advocate of justice and fairness; that is why I am studying law presently. I do not like injustice of any kind.
“We protested, but they did not listen to us,” he said.
“And because they got the wind of what we were doing in Abuja by insisting that stakeholders must decide on direct or indirect primaries, the governor had to encourage many people in the party to buy the forms so that the space will be saturated.
“It is not self-serving if I said that actually people wanted me to become the next governor; but the state APC has denied the people of their popular choice for the next governor of Borno State.”
He said the PDP approached him to pick its governorship ticket but he chose to go to the Senate where he now believes he would better serve the state.
“I will rather go for the Senate because I believe I will do better that the governor at the Senate. Even the governor himself will support me if he come to find out that I am going for the Senate, because he knows I have the experience and ability to do it better.
The spokesperson of APC in Borno, Makinta Zarami, said, Mr. Abba-Aji’s exit from the party the manner he did “is an indication that his coming to APC in 2014 was for nothing but for self-serving purpose.
“He is not the only one aspiring for the governorship, but at least he is the only one that has left to his former party,” he said.