The root of the rumble so far in Katsina State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the quest of President Muhammadu Buhari’s son-in-law to wrest the gubernatorial ticket from the incumbent, Gov Aminu Bello Masari in 2019. ANDY ASEMOTA examines the chances of both gladiators and the party in the governorship race.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State and Mallam Abubakar Ismail Isa, son – in – law of President Muhammadu Buhari will, perhaps, go down in history in the country as politicians that have slugged it out for no fewer than three times in their quest for governorship seat in the present dispensation.
The battle of Masari and Isa dates back to 2011. At the primary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) that year, the duo locked horns but Masari snatched the party’s ticket. After waiting for four years, Isa renewed his governorship ambition, prompting another tussle. Again, Masari shocked him and collected the APC 2015 guber mandate.
The struggle has taken a new dimension this year as Masari is currently the state governor while Isa bestrides the Katsina political landscape with an air of the sitting President’s beloved son – in – law.
Thus, the on-going war seems a collective battle between Katsina forces and some Abuja based politicians as Isa sticks to his guns.
The young man has refused to shift ground when other potential governorship aspirants under the party threw in their towels thereby fueling the insinuations that the presidency may be behind his ambition.
But contrary to the claim, a chieftain of the APC and former Minority Leader of the Katsina State House of Assembly that represented Daura Local Government Area under the defunct ANPP between 1999 and 2007, Hon. Lawal Ado, expressed his reservations.
The former law maker submitted that the President has never taken sides on who emerges at his party governorship candidate, adding that what is happening in Katsina APC is nothing but internal democracy at play.
“The floor is opened to anybody in the party to aspire for any elective position. It’s not an issue of Governor Masari’s relationship with the presidency. The governor has performed well and I believe as a sitting governor, it will be very difficult for any aspirant to dislodge him.
“I know the President is a gentleman and he will not take sides with anybody, not even his son. He will allow people to choose the best out of the aspirants. He will never side anybody as you know it; he is a straight forward person” Ado, who is seeking to represent the President’s immediate constituency in the Katsina assembly after nearly 12 years, posited.
A source, who is abreast with the political dynamics of the state, however insisted that with Isa’s commitment to unseat Masari, when no other aspirant is showing interest in the race, it was obvious that Isa enjoys the support of some influential people in Abuja.
“That is the truth and that is my stand. Isa is not an alternative to Masari if the APC is going to elect another candidate because we know the contribution of everybody to the party,” the PAC faithful who spoke on the condition of anonymity maintained.
The battle against Masari heightened about two months ago when a forum of aspirants for the state assembly tickets in 2015 who lost at the APC primaries resolved to lend their weight to Isa to become the governor in 2019.
The crux of the matter, according to the chairman of the forum that has been formally registered as Katsina Funtua Daura Network for Justice as an NGO, Mustapha Musa Kofarbai, is the allegation that the Masari administration did not compensate them after they were prevailed upon to give their support to all APC candidates in the last general elections. The forum vowed to pull the rug off the feet of Governor Masari in the forthcoming election in support of Isa, who they said is sympathetic to their travail.
The spokesman of the APC in the state, Abubakar Gambo Danmusa, in an interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, however cast a slur on the integrity and credibility of the forum. He asserted that though it was not the responsibility of the governor but Katsina law makers to assist members of the coalition. The Masari administration had never the less assisted many of them in cash and kind despite the challenges of state governments.
What is the importance of the forum’s opposition to Masari. A keen watcher of Katsina politics, Hassan Bukar, a Katsina based businessman, said the endorsement of anybody by the forum for the APC governorship ticket is not worth losing any sleep about.
However, the present rift in the party derives from the disposition of the group and a couple of APC top shots in the state, who have shown undisguised loyalty to Isa. A few leaders of the party also maintained a frosty relationship with the governor over internal issues pertaining to the running of the party.
The core loyalists of the President’s son in law are former members of the House of Representatives turned senatorial aspirants in Katsina South and North senatorial districts respectively, Barr. Abbas Abdullahi Machika and Dr. Umar Katsayel, including Alhaji Kabir Abdullahi Murja, one time chairman of ANPP in the state, who is also a leader of the APC Akida, a group within the ruling party that is a thorn in the flesh of the governor.
A coalition of no fewer than 37 aspirants under the Katsina APC for various elective positions in 2019 led by Isa recently faulted the adoption of indirect primaries by the APC stakeholders and Central Working Committee as a model for selecting the party’s candidates for the 2019 poll.
Reacting to this statement, Danmusa said there is nothing wrong for the state APC executive committee duly recognized by INEC and the APC national leadership to carry out its responsibilities until the courts rule on the allegations of those crying wolves.
On the request of the concerned APC aspirants for direct primaries, a chieftain of the party, Hon. Lawal Ado, again explained that although an average member of the party would have preferred direct primaries, the party stakeholders and leaders opted for indirect primaries because of chances that direct primaries would lead to crisis and violence.
Governor Masari has fought many battles in his political career. He won many and lost some. Has the on-going battle for the governorship ticket of APC placed his tenure on a cliff hanger? Fillers from powerful blocs in the party indicate that this seems not to be feasible. Virtually who is who in the Katsina APC have said that Masari has passed that stage, any individual or group bent on outsmarting the governor is wasting his time and resources.
They claimed that Masari is the leader of the party in the state and his candidature would be rectified at ward, local and state levels of the party however the primaries are held.
LEADERSHIP Sunday findings revealed that the altercations over whether the party should adopt direct or indirect primaries to the control of the party structure and delegates could not be divorced from the fact that the governor largely controls of the party structure and delegates. Isa stands no chance under indirect primaries because of limited number of delegates loyal to him despite his connections and wealth.
The governor still enjoys the support of the party executive and stakeholders for a second term in office. His ardent supporters argue that the governor have worked remarkably for the development of the state.
Before the new national chairman of the APC and Buhari threw their weight behind the party primaries ahead of the forthcoming elections, the Katsina APC had declared that there would be no vacancy in the Katsina State Government House until Masari completes his second term in office. The spokesman of the party in the state, Danmusa, who confirmed this, however said anybody that believes he can pick the governorship ticket is welcome.
The APC big wig, who alluded to Isa’s ambition, added: “Do you start a building from the roof? Politics is just like a building, it is not about running from Abuja to Lagos because your father in law is the President: You enter the field because there is a process before you become a governorship candidate despite your money.”
“Masari was a speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007, he had the resources, the structure and power but it was no time for him to be a governor until 2015. So, he has nothing to fear although in politics you cannot expect everyone to be loyal to you,” Danmusa stated.
On the chances of APC candidate in 2019 governorship election in the state, a keen observer of the political terrain, Kabir Sani, opined that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was fighting a lost battle.
“I believe Masari will defeat any governorship candidate of the PDP going by his performance and the way he is handling the affairs of the state. His administration boasts of many achievements in many sectors. I believe PDP cannot defeat Masari. The President’s son in law may have big dreams for the state but the consensus of many APC faithful is that the time is unripe for him to clinch the plum job,” he submitted.
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