It is no longer news that the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kaduna State has lost members and party chieftains who helped in the emergence of the party at both the state and national levels in 2015 elections. ISAIAH BENJAMIN writes on the issues.
In the 2014 APC primaries for the governorship election in Kaduna State, five aspirants contested for the position including the present governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai who emerged victorious in the keenly contested primaries.
Two of those who participated in the primaries, Hon Isa Ashiru left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it was obvious he was not going to get the party’s governorship ticket.
He joined the APC but managed to come second in the primaries. Alhaji Haruna Sawed Kajuru who came third in the same primaries, was the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) candidate in the 2011 governorship election against the then incumbent late Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa.
Although they were not successful, they joined forces and saw APC’s victory in the election in 2015. These two chieftains of the party today have left the APC for various reasons.
While Hon Isa Ashiru a two term House of Representative member returned back to his former party and still seeking her ticket for the governorship position, Alhaji Haruna Saeed who was the former Kaduna State Accountant General has also left the APC to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to also seek the governorship ticket of the party.
Following the emergence of the Mallam el-Rufai’s leadership, most of those who contributed to the success of the party began to insinuate that they were not being carried along in the running of the state affairs.
They eventually pulled out of the party structure and formed a faction of the party in the state named APC AKIDA. Sen Shehu Sani, Isah Ashiru, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed became advisory council Members.
Other members of the advisory council then included Alhaji Kabiru Umar, Alhaji Auwalu Gote, Alhaji Yaro Coca-Cola, Alhaji Yaro Makama, Alhaji Ibrahim Yaro, A.G Haruna Sa’eed, Hajiya Rabi Saulawa, Musa YarAdua, Hauwa Baba Ahmed, Danladi Wada, Admiral I.Iko.
Others were, Dr Stanley Mamman, Daley BagayaN Joel GiwaN Mrs Charity Shekari, Gen Achi, Samuel Amai, J.D Ephraim, Col A.A Ladan, Ambassador Sule Buba.
They also had the state executive committee of the APC AKIDA with Tom Mataimaki Maiyashe as convenor and Alhaji Ibrahim Yaro as deputy convenor while Hafsat M. Baba now el-Rufai’s appointed Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development was the secretary and Sheba Kura Deputy Secretary.
Although the convener said the APC AKIDA was not a faction of APC in the state or an alternative party structure at the time, he stated however that, they existed because their party structures didnt exist or function in a manner “prescribed by our party constitution or in the interest of our members and one of our key goals is to help to re-establish party structures at all levels.”
Another aggrieved APC under the auspices of the Kaduna Restoration Group (KRG) under the leadership of Dr Ahmed Tijjani Ramalan emerged with similar reason to those of the APC AKIDA.
But the state acting APC Publicity Secretary, Salisu Wusono, in a statement then, 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.
The political situation within the party further, defiling series of reconciliatory committees under the immediate past national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
While President Muhammadu Buhari, appointed the national leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, to intervene in internal crisis rocking the party across states, little could be achieved in Kaduna.
But the agitations came to a head last Friday July 13, 2018 when both AKIDA and the KRG at a joint press conference formally announced their decision to dump the APC. They said their new political destination will be announced soon.
Maiyashi, while addressing journalists who attended the joint press conference, said “We are satisfied that the positions we have arrived at are in the best interests of our members and the on going-efforts to create options and strategies that will rid our nation of undeserved and avoidable challenges.
“Members of our two groups have decided to leave the APC because it is incapable of accommodating and responding to well-meaning dissent, criticism and demands for inclusiveness and internal democracy.
“It has not lived up to the expectations of the millions of people who laboured to put it in power,as well as Nigerians who expected that it will usher in genuine change. We are hereby advising all our teeming members to formalise their withdrawal from the APC.”
The defection tsunami had been building for a while. In January this year, Hon Adams Jagaba, representing Kachia/Kagarko constituency of Kaduna State, defected to the PDP. By March 15, this year, Alhaji Haruna Saeed, while withdrawing his APC membership and moving to the SDP said not even the Ahmed Bola Tinubu reconciliatary committee will be able to make him and his supporter change their decision to leave the party.
He picked the SDP membership card at his Kajuru ward of Kajuru local government area with a promise to seek the governorship ticket ahead of 2019.
As the news of his defection emerged, information filtered in that Hon Isah Ashiru as also dumping the APC. Hon Ashiru eventually moved to his former party, the PDP.
In a letter dated June 7 and personally signed by Hon Ashiru and addressed to the chairman of APC in his ward, Kudan ward in Kudan local government area and copied the state APC Chairman, he said, “apart from deliberately sidelining us from party affairs, we have also been snubbed and denied recognition by the goverment we laboured hard to put in place despite the attendant risk we took at that time.”
Barely two days after the announcement of Hon Ashiru’s defection, another chieftain Alhaji Lawal Adamu Usman popularly known as ‘Mr LA’ , announced that he has also left the party. He also wrote President Muhammad Buhari, Chief Bola Tinubu and the national chairman of the party Adams Oshiomhole, described the APC as a sinking ship and that his remaining in the party will mean committing political suicide.
Another impactful defection for the APC was that of the pioneer state chairman of the CPC and APC and present Chief of Staff (CoS) to Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed.
He said his resignation from the party was on grounds of gross under-performance of the party. Baba Ahmed who said he was not moving to a new party yet, said he took the decision after consult with the then AKIDA Group.
Governor el-Rufai’s zonal campaign coordinator in the 2015 general elections, Barrister Jaafaru Abbass-Ibrahim also withdrew his membership of the APC.
Abbas-Ibrahim declared his defection from the party in an open letter he personally signed and addressed to the APC Chairman of his Kwabai A ward in Zaria local government area.
Other members worthy of mention who left the APC in recent times either to the PDP, SDP, R-APC among other parties include, Alhaji Yaro Makama, Ambassador Sule Buba, Col.Dauda Gora (rtd) and el-Rufai’s appointed Commissioner for Women Affairs and social development, Hajiya Rabi Abdulsalam.
Although, Senators Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani have not formally defected, in light of the fact that they have not said so on the floor of the National Assembly (NASS), Sen Sani has repeatedly hinted at their move away from the APC, in one instance he said their luggage are at the departure lounge of the APC.
The situation has not been all gloom for the APC as it has gained members shortly after it came on board in the state. The Vice-President elect, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has received over 5000 members of the PDP in the Southern Kaduna area of Kaduna state that decamped to the APC.
Prominent among the decampees then were Maj Gen. S.B.S. Biliyock (rtd), a former member of House of Representatives, Ruth Jummai Ango, former Commissioner and Attorney General, Barrister Zakari A. Sogfa and 114 immediate past councillors from eight local government areas of the zone.
More so, if the recent local government polls were anything to go by, it showed that the party, despite its internal issues could still win appreciable number of councils. Kaduna State has remained a major base of President Muhammadu Buhari, and as such that can count as a major plus for the APC.
Meanwhile, inspite of the defections from the APC ahead of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s spokesperson, Aruwan Samuel, said his principal is more competent than all the aspirants jostling to succeed him across the political parties.
Aruwan, who recently stated this in an interactive session with journalists in Kaduna, noted that none of them can match Mallam el-Rufai in terms of vision, governance, development programmes, clout, commitment to serve and move the state forward, focus on the job.
Aruwan said, “none of the current aspirants for the position of governor of Kaduna state can beat Mallam (el-Rufai). They only want power but they don’t have clear cut vision for development, clear cut policy to move the state forward and statesmanship among others.
“Mallam el-Rufai has empowered young men and women, he has ensured emergence of young leaders, he has shown discipline in public service, development of the education sector, development of the health sector, significant reduction in maternal and child mortality.
“Since they cannot beat him in policy formulation and development, they decided to go with divisive politics, blackmail, pettiness, manipulation of religion and demonizing him as a path to be succeed him. “
He further noted that Governor el-Fufai underwent tutelage both in public and private sectors to become ready for leadership position, “he was advisor to Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998, he was the director general of the Bureau for Public Enterprise, he was FCT minister where he achieved so much and so many firsts, he went to study law and obtained masters degree in public policy management from Harvard University as an Edward A. Mason Fellow. Also study his rich and astute contributions the political development of the country” the spokesman posited.
While it is still earlier to make conclusive position on the fate of the Kaduna APC ahead of 2019 based on these defections, there is little doubt that with such movements, the party would have to get its act together.