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Congresses: How Katsina APC Tamed Opposition Within Its Ranks

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Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Katsina State chapter has the main portion of its foundation laid on Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). CPC lost the governorship election in 2011 to the Peoples Democratic Change (CPC), largely due to internal wrangling and controversial primaries. They however cannot afford to be less circumspect in their commitment to the affairs of the party in this year’s APC congresses. ANDY ASEMOTA writes…

Since the Katsina State chapter of the defunct CPC could not resolve its impasse before the party primaries, it literally broke into two in 2011 when there were parallel congresses: Senator Yakubu Lado faction stridently claimed it was the validly recognised group just as Right Hon. Aminu Bello Masari faction laid claim to the party totem.

The development resulted in the conduct of primaries by Lado faction a day before the team sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) arrived in Katsina to supervise and monitor the primaries of Masari faction. The wave of crisis that followed did not end even after the CPC lost the 2011 governorship election as Masari faction maintained that all those elected under Lado group were imposters because the party is supreme in the matter of who emerges as its flag bearers.

Efforts by Masari group to oust the federal law makers from Lado faction and resolve the impasse led both groups up to the Supreme Court where the apex court ruled in favour of Masari faction and sacked the senators and member of the House Representatives from Lado’s group. For ill, or good, that verdict remains indelible in the minds of Katsina people, especially the political class.

Speaking on the Katsina APC recent ward, local government and state congresses adjudged by officials from the NWC of the party and other stakeholders as peaceful, free and fair, the state publicity secretary of the party, Abubakar Gambo Danmusa, described what happened as a master stroke typical of political leaders who have learned a bitter lesson. Danmusa told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the party was conscious of resolving any issue in contention ingeniously through internal mechanism.

He said, “We were conscious that this is the state of President Muhammadu Buhari, so, we must conduct the congresses with the party guidelines and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We learn from experience.”

Speaking further, he said, “The party has the state governor, all members of the state house of assembly, all Katsina members in the House of Representatives, three senators and above all, Mr. President. So the party executives emerged by consensus at ward, local government and up to the state level.”

Danmusa was upbeat about the future and chances of the party in the state and beyond. “The APC has a future and a good reputation all over the world to see it emerge like the ANC in South Africa. That realisation and experience made majority of us to ensure we organise a peaceful, free and fair congresses. We are happy that President Buhari is from this state and there was no rancour whatsoever,” he said.

He further expressed optimism that the lingering issue of ‘APC Akida’ in the party would soon be over. He advised the leaders of the group, Dr. Usman Bugaje and Alhaji Sada Ilu, to back governor Masari so that he can do more for the party, the state and the nation.

Sada Ilu, according to him, should accept the overtures made to him as a governorship hopeful in APC, who agreed and signed to assist the party to succeed. He recalled Buhari contested the presidential elections in 2003, 2007, 2011 and did not give up before he was lucky in 2015 polls.
‘Sada Ilu just came in, this politics is like an institution. I can remember that Masari contested in 2007 governorship election. And in 2011, all his candidates for senate and House of Representatives won but he didn’t win. He has spent only three years in office and everyone is aware of the recession that hit the country immediately the present administration came on board,” he posited.

Although it is not Uhuru yet for the party and the state, Danmusa is optimistic that going by the achievements so far recorded within the past three years, the peace agreement between Masari and the then governorship aspirants of the party should not be observed in the breach by true loyalists of the party.

“We inherited an empty treasury with lots of debts. Local government pension board alone owed retirees about N6.7 billion and the present administration didn’t inherit up to five billion naira. The treasury was empty and people had high expectations when the current administration inherited a state treasury that was seriously looted,” he argued.

Dismissing insinuations that Dr. Usman Bugaje and Sada Ilu may soon defect from APC although it seems that the fence mending has been wrapped up, Danmusa said, “Let them realise that it’s God that gives power and He is the one that takes it and Usman Bugaje has been contesting without winning.”

He said any fear of internal crisis in APC in the forth coming primaries in Katsina is a non-issue because both President Buhari and Governor Masari are firm believers in internal democracy.

“At least two primaries for senatorial and House of Representatives seats had been conducted before the bye-elections organised by INEC to fill the vacant positions since Governor Masari came on board and they were carried out peacefully and fairly. The losers joined hands with the party candidates to win the bye-elections because the primaries were free and fair,” he explained.

Danmusa pleaded with any APC member opposed to Masari to put behind him all controversies in the past and realise that the governor had put in motion the process of ensuring the victory of APC in the 2019 elections.
“I want to appeal to some leaders of our party belonging to ‘APC Akida’ to realise that the door is opened. It’s even opened to PDP that has been castigating us. But when they see there is sincerity of purpose, there is exodus of PDP chieftains. Some of them are Musa Adamu, former commissioner; Bature Umar Kafur, director of PDP 2015 governorship campaign; Comrade Bilyaminu Rimi, former deputy speaker; and Umar Ya’u Gojo-Gojo, who was a speaker for eight years and local government chairman for almost six years.

“Let’s join hands and build this state which is the home state of the President. This government is serious about boosting agriculture; the railway line is coming and yesterday (May 28) the Federal Government commissioned Sabke water scheme which was abandoned for about 20 years. During defunct PTF, it (Sabke) had reached almost 85 percent completion level but it was abandoned by PDP administration. By the grace of God, the project was commissioned yesterday.

“Without continuity, we cannot achieve sustainable development. Let me give you an example, President Buhari wants to make the nation less dependent on oil and more focused on agriculture. So, let’s support this administration which can be in office for only eight years,” he submitted.

Similarly, a chieftain of the party in Katsina, Mohammed Sani Musawa, was emphatic that the various executives that emerged at ward, local government and state congresses of the APC in the state were neither a rubber stamp nor Masari’s stoogies.

“The executive committees are party loyalists elected based on their own capacities. Governor Masari is not the one controlling the party machinery. First, we have major stakeholders. Before most of the decisions of the party are taken in Katsina, various stakeholders comprising former senators, members of the State House of Assembly and National Assembly are invited. So, it is not true that only Governor Masari is controlling the party machinery,” Musawa further explained.

On the chances of Governor Masari in 2019, he noted that Masari’s achievements and leadership style in the past three years were more than enough to earn him a second term in office. “All those crying wolves where there is none, what did they do in the past 16 years of PDP administration? Insecurity, financial mismanagement and inflated contracts were the order of the day before Governor Masari assumed office.

“Katsina State belongs to APC. I don’t see PDP as a threat to APC; even PRP is a more potent threat because PDP lacks credibility in the eyes of many in the society,” he declared.

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