After emerging the major opposition party in Gombe State, in the aftermath of the 2015 general elections, the All Progressive Congress (APC), has been locked in internal scuffles which may affect its chances in 2019. CHUWANG DUNGS looks at the issues as the party prepares for the forthcoming elections in the state.
With less than a year to the 2019 general elections, there is no clear evidence that the leading opposition party in Gombe State, the All Progressive Congress (APC), is ready to set aside its differences and reposition itself to take over power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Factional politics and infighting have been the crucial factors affecting the corporate existence of the opposition party in the state.
No doubt, the APC’s seeming failure to address its internal crisis would affect its readiness to man the number one seat in the state, let alone to get the majority seats at the State House of Assembly.
A political observer and analyst in Gombe, Alh. Idris Sani, said the APC started well as a good opposition party but lost the tempo as a result of internal disunity, he believed that APC being the only vibrant opposition party in the state is not doing enough politically to wrestle power from PDP in the state.
According to him, the party has failed to take measures such as organising meetings, mobilization, sensitisation or activities to prove the party is alive and to check the excesses of the government in power.
“I can’t see any serious threat coming in the year 2019 against the ruling PDP in the state. The APC is indeed at present not showing any sign of seriousness as a party ready to play a role of a credible opposition, no activities, the party is only present in the state in terms of posters and billboards of different aspirants. ” he stated.
Also PDP, the ruling party in the state, lacks formidable structure due to the continuous mass exodus of some high profiled politician to the APC. The defections which started after the 2015 elections was due to perceived laxity of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo to robustly engage the rebuilding process of the party’s structures across the state after the exit of some of his close allies to the APC.
A credible insider at the PDP secretariat in the state, confided to our reporter that
the party is really collapsing under the heavy weight of financial crunch. While accusing the governor of not helping party officials and also financing the party to execute activities, he revealed that it is becoming very dif¬ficult for some of them to even feed, talk less of visiting and maintaining their supporters.
“It is very unfortunate as a ruling party in the state for complete one year we cannot execute activities or hold meetings at various levels due to the reluctance of our state gov¬ernor to support the party financially.” He said.
But unfortunately what the opposition has failed to do is to exploit this weakness to their advantage and find ways of benefiting from it.
The movement of some key PDP players in the likes of Sen. Idris Umar, former minister of transport during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan, Habu Muazu, former PDP youth leader and Goodluck Jonathan campaign coordinator in the Northeast, Lazarus Yoriyo, former deputy governor to former Governor Danjuma Goje, Saidu Alkali, Farouk Bamusa etc to the APC shortly after the 2015 election was a great booster to the opposition.
The movement and activities of Habu Muazu popularly known as Yeriman Kashere was the biggest blow and the greatest exit that gave PDP headache in the state.
Apart from the huge finances he injected in building the party by renting offices in all the electoral wards and the 11 local government areas across the state, he was in touch with the grassroots as he traveled to all the local government areas organising meetings with political, religious, communities, associations and unions leaders with the sole aim of building APC structures in the state.
To further strengthen and reposition the party by keeping it alive, the Yeriman Kashere organized series of political rallies and he was always in the media challenging and criticising the government of Ibrahim Dankwambo, while promoting and highlighting the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration.
No doubt his well organized colourful rallies, media outburst, political outings and meetings yielded positive results for the APC and also helped in portraying the PDP as a mere ruling party without structure and followership.
But instead of consolidating and building on these efforts, findings by our correspondent showed that the opposition party is gradually loosing its popularity and now needs to unite and present a formidable challenge to PDP at the next elections, otherwise there will be a repeat of the 2015 poll outcome when the PDP easily secured victory due to disunity and betrayal amongst some of the key players within the APC.
Even though the leadership of the APC and some influential members of the party keep insisting that there is no crisis in the party, investigations revealed that the cold war existing between the leader of the party in the state, Sen. Danjuma Goje, with some party stakeholders, especially some of those aspiring for political offices, is one of the major factors affecting the unity of the party.
Another factor that is reducing the fortunes of the party in the state, was the outcome of the recent, wards, local government and state congresses. Our correspondent, gathered that majority of the gubernatorial aspirants under the platform of the party and some major stakeholders are still not satisfied with the process and conduct of the congresses but were afraid to raise alarm due to fear of Goje, who they accused of hijacking the process by imposing candidates against the wishes of the people.
But one of the leading aspirants who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday on condition of anonymity said they decided to let it go not because of fear as being speculated but because they want peace to reign.
“The party in the state was in crisis for a very long period, under the leadership of a caretaker committee, now that we are trying to resolve our differences we decided to let things go to avoid another crisis, the only problem in our party is the former governor, and we shall handle it at the right time.” He said.
Asked why he is the problem, the aspirant said, “He simply wants to remain as the political leader of the opposition in the state, so he is not interested in the unity of the party towards winning elections. He is afraid that if we eventually produce the next governor, his political powers and influence will automatically reduce.” He stated.
Another factor that may affect the APC chances in Gombe State, is the possible resignation of Goje from the party.
Goje, who controls the APC structure in the state, is among the leading nPDP members who are threatening to quit in protest over how they are being treated by the national leadership of the party and the presidency.
But the state Chairman of the APC, Mr. Amangal Nitte and the the zonal vice chairman Gombe South, Hon. Julius Ishaya, share same view on the matter. They contend that the situation in the state is now different as APC is better organized internally than the ruling PDP.
Amangel told our correspondent that he is not aware of any faction in the party, “there was nothing that indicated crisis in the party going by the peaceful conduct of congresses in the state.”
He continued “It is very clear before everybody that there is no faction of whatever sort in APC, there is nothing like the nPDP or rAPC, Senator Goje who remains the party leader in the state doesn’t belong to any faction, therefore we are not aware of any faction.”
But Julius Ishaya, noted that. “Senator Goje is actually from the nPDP extension, but I can assure you he is not aggrieved because he is fully in charge of the party in Gombe, even at the national level his nominee became the national youth leader, you can see he is fully in charge.
“You can quote me, though Senator Goje, is of the nPDP extraction, he is not aggrieved and he is not moving an inch out of the APC.” He added.
What remains worrisome is the resonating grumblings by some party members who are yet to speak up publicly. The concern, for party watchers is that such unattended muffled anger could result in actions that may affect the party when it least expects it.
But Julius Ishaya, who agreed that there are slight issues in the party, disagreed that the silence is a sign of weakness. He added that the party is reorganising and strategising, stressing that once that process is concluded, the APC would have a better prospect in 2019.
“The party is not factionalised at any level, the leadership is one at all levels. Agreed there are groups that are aggrieved, but it is normal in every political organisation, after all politics is all about crisis management due to diverse interest, and APC being the largest party in Nigeria cannot be devoid by such crisis.
“Agreed we have issues to tackle, but we are not overwhelmed, our silence for now is not a sign of weakness, we are busy re-strategising to see how we can tackle the challenges before the party primaries. In a couple of days you will begin to see the manifestation of the APC, you will begin to see party activities, you will begin to see aspirants mobilising towards victory and this time around PDP is not going to find it easy.” He said.
While the political events keep unfolding, some analysts say what is happening within the party is not unusual, and is a normal trend in many political organisations. They, nevertheless, say how APC will cope with the challenges is what will determine its strength in the 2019 elections in the state.
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