The brewing feud in Bauchi State chapter of the APC is threatening the party’s ability to work smoothly ahead of the 2019 general elections. JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH writes.
While the feud in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the National level is well documented, events have shown that all is not well in some state chapters of the All Progressives Congress ( APC). Analysts point to the cracks in APC in Kaduna and Kano states where two factions of the party exist, respectively.
However, tensions have been brewing in recent weeks in the Bauchi State chapter of the APC. Lawmakers in the state led by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had reported the state governor, Mohammed Abubakar to the party secretariat and President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmakers reported the governor to party chairman, John Oyegun over the non-payment of workers’ salaries, non-utilisation of bailouts from the Federal Government, among others.
Apart from Dogara, the delegation comprised of members of the Senate and the House; the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and leaders of the APC in the state.
As a result, Bauchi APC leaders had a closed-door meeting with Oyegun at the national secretariat in Abuja, after which the member representing Bauchi-North at the Senate, Suleiman Nazif, briefed journalists.
He said, “Everything is not okay with the APC in Bauchi State. Therefore, we needed the attention of the national secretariat to come to the rescue because there is fire on the mountain.
“There are so many issues, but these are party issues and we felt that there was the need for us to come and discuss with our leaders and those issues are being handled. The national chairman has assured us that he will take a drastic measure immediately and address the problems.”
Political analysts have linked the crisis to 2019 elections and a show of strength between the Speaker and the governor angling for Bauchi’s political soul. Sources say Dogara may be eying the Government House 2019 just like Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwall who after serving as speaker went back to his state to serve as governor.
Keen observers of the polity say in most cases, the state governors don’t like leaders of the National Assembly, for instance, Senate President and Speaker to come from their states as there are always issues of divided loyalty and who controls the structure of the party in the state. The thinking is that whoever controls the structure of the party in the state holds the ace in subsequent elections and determines who get appointments at the National level from the state.
LEADERSHIP gathered that when the delegation visited the National secretariat of the APC in Abuja, they were told by the party to go back to the state to reconcile as the party structure in the state is always in the hands of the governor, and all grievances should be channelled through the the state APC chairman ,Uba Ahmed Nana,and warned that issues should always be channelled through the appropriate quarters.
The delegation also led by the Speaker visited President Buhari at the Villa to lay their complaints . While this was going on,the governor had been out of the country .
It was also gathered that prior to the Speaker visiting the party and President Buhari, governor has several times visited the speaker at his residence in Abuja in a mend fencing mission to nip the crisis in the bud.
When he returned from his trip,Governor Abubakar met with President Buhari over allegations made against him by lawmakers in his state .
Speaking to State House Correspondents after a closed door meeting with the President, the governor described the allegations as spurious and accused the speaker and lawmakers of playing Abuja politics.
He said, “It’s the usual traditional consultation with the president. Recently, if you will recall that when I was away a week ago, some members of the House of Reps and Senate led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara went to the headquarters of the party allegedly to report me.
“In the process they made some spurious allegations which I feel it’s appropriate to let the President know first hand evidence regarding all the allegations they made against me.
“Major among the allegations is that I misapplied the bailout funds and I thought that was a matter of common knowledge in Nigeria “.
According to him, the ICPC investigated the bailout and gave a report in which they said Bauchi state utilised all the funds but N165 million.
The governor said “ I wrote to them to check their facts again. I utilised all but N88 million out 8.6B and shortly before I left for China and Hong Kong the VC of my University came to me that he has a back log of salaries which I gave an approval of 70 million out of 88 million. , all in all Bauchi state has utilised N8.6 billion remaining 18m which is in a dedicated account , I have documented evidence to prove and will give it to anybody who is interested .
“The NLC both at the State and national level sent me a letter of commendation on the bailout funds, a little over a month ago, civil society groups in Abuja had a meeting with all the governors that utilised the bailout funds and it was only me that attended, I opened up my books to them that I have utilised the funds very well. Payment of salaries I am among the best, in Bauchi the state civil servants are owed just one month salary and local government two and I have not reduced my salary, I have been paying the minimum wage and above the minimum wage, I pay 18,500. This has been going on and I have documented evidence to prove it. When NLC called out a strike in support of Nasarawa, Bauchi workers did not strike.
He contended that the Speaker is against him because he opposed Dogara’s emergence as speaker as he aligned with the party’s position regarding the elections of principal officers.
“My problem with Dogara started during the elections of the leadership of the National Assembly. I stood on the side of the party, I said every Bauchi lawmaker should tow the line of the party,you know that Bauchi has a candidate but I said irrespective of that we should tow the line of the party.
“ At that 9 out of 11 did that later the candidate of Bauchi won and it’s common knowledge and the Speaker is in a position to dispense favours and all the lawmaker went to his side. The fact is politics in Bauchi state is played in Abuja and not in Bauchi, the people of the state are intact with the party”. He added.
On reconciliation with Dogara, he said “the night before I travelled to China, I had a meeting with them in Asokoro and we agreed before I travelled but in my absence they now decided to do what they did, I have not closed the door to reconciliation, some elders in Bauchi are trying to reconcile the warring factions.”
President Buhari has however, told the governor to ignore all distractions and just concentrate on the job of governing the state.
Analysts pointed out that after all is said and done, politics is usually played at the local level and whoever is on ground at the grassroots level holds all the aces in this supremacy battle.