In this report, BODE GBADEBO writes on the unending controversy trailing the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Taraba State and the implications.
As at the last count, there are at least five states where the ruling APC might find it difficult to win election owing to internal feuds and power tussle among party gladiators.
State governors of Imo and Ogun states have publicly announced their decision to work against governorship candidates of the APC in their respective states since their preferred and anointed aspirants could not get the party’s ticket while the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, made the same vow regarding Oyo state’s APC quest for re-election for the reason that he was disqualified from contenting the primaries.
In states like Taraba and Zamfara, it is a different ball game. The Zamfara chapter of the party might lose the right of fielding candidates for the 2019 elections after it missed the deadline for the primaries due to intrigues and power tussle.
In Taraba state where the APC is in the opposition, the conduct of the primaries and the eventual winner have become subjects of controversies, a development analysts warned might cost the party a golden opportunity to victory.
The post-primaries’ crisis the party is facing in the state did not start today. It has a genesis before the primary elections. In the beginning, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, the immediate past Minister of Women Affairs, was the fulcrum of the APC in Taraba, but when other governorship aspirants saw that she had all the officials of the party working for her to clinch the gubernatorial ticket, they ganged up and got the party to re-organise the party hierarchy in the state in order to give everyone a level playing field.
Aisha was later disqualified by the National Working Committee of the APC during the screening of aspirants for alleged disloyalty to the party – but curiously Senator Sani Abubakar Danladi, who had recently defected to the party from the PDP and who some party faithful believe to have so much ‘baggages’ was given a clean bill of health to contest.
Aisha later resigned from the party, and obtained the governorship ticket of a new party called UDP. Initially, she went with just a handful of her supporters, but her new party swelled with other APC members who became disenchanted with the foot-dragging of the party to replace Sani Abubakar Danladi, who eventually emerged the APC governorship candidate.
According to Umar Muhammad, who is the coordinator of a Jalingo-based Taraba Progressive Movement (TPM), the development in the Taraba APC is a cause for concern, describing it as undemocratic, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to save the day by intervening immediately.
“The unfortunate thing is that none of the party officials deemed it necessary to even talk Aisha into staying back in the APC. Yes, Buhari is a brand and he can afford to stay out of party affairs and still win elections, but he should please step up his game when the people who love him are unfortunately treated with disdain by party officials and god-fathers, who force unpopular people down their throats as candidates for elective offices.
“In 2007, President Obasanjo was able to single-handedly announce the replacement of Danladi Baidu as the PDP governorship candidate with Danbaba Suntai for having baggages even after he had won the governorship primaries,” Muhammad recalled.
For Barrister Kefas Nuhu, the process that threw up Danladi was allegedly questionable, hence there must a substitution for a more popular and acceptable candidate to fly APC’s flag at the governorship election.
“The 2018 APC governorship primaries were about to commence in Jalingo on October 1 when thugs hired by Sani Danladi came in with various weapons and went into all the polling units and chased away party faithful from voting. Those who resisted were maimed and left to bleed. Voting materials were carted away. This was pretty much what happened in all the other local government areas.
“At the end of it all, Returning Officers were bought over and votes were allocated to aspirants in a private house, with aspirants who were the greatest threat to Danladi given the least number of votes.
“Later in the evening of the same day, the already-compromised Election Committee announced Sani Abubakar Danladi as the winner. The primary elections for the seats in the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate were not even held anywhere, and results were announced in Yola, Adamawa state after money exchanged hands and ‘winners’ emerged,” Nuhu alleged.
He added Danladi himself had been expecting that he would be asked to step down for a more acceptable candidate, and that was why he is still paying courtesy calls to the President, the Vice President, Ministers and anyone he thinks has a say in the party to let him remain as the ticket holder.
As it is now, no one need a sooth-sayer to know that APC is not going to make it to the Government House in Jalingo come 2019 given the controversies trailing the governorship primaries and the apparent lack of cohesion in the state chapter.
It is also being alleged that the state’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that had gathered evidences to take Danladi to court and get him disqualified at the last-minute so that APC will have no gubernatorial candidate, is now reconsidering the option to let him run because they know he cannot win.
Danladi, who is said to be supported by the Bala Lau faction of the Izala group led by Dr. Jalo in Taraba, is allegedly not endeared to the Christians in the state.
Political watchers have however expressed worry that the APC has turned a blind eye to all the deficiencies of Danladi, believing that everything will work out fine at the end of the day.
However, the hand writing is clear on the wall that APC is factionalised and cannot as it is today, win any election. Some of their members have already gone to PDP, a large chunk has gone to Mama Taraba, the rest are being kept from leaving the party by the eight aspirants, who still have hope that the party will eventually do something and they will reap from it.
“How can the APC now with this, hope to win against the PDP, who holds all the money and power? The people of Taraba have suffered under the leadership of Governor Ishaku, and are yearning for change, but it looks like they have been abandoned by the party they are looking up to for rescue,” APC stalwart, Aliyu Abubakar queried.
He noted that there is still time to save the situation as the people of the state are ready to support an alternative APC candidate as anybody else will be better than Danladi.
Also, a school of thought believes Mama Taraba should be encouraged to return to the party having left and sworn never to support Danladi.
The school believes that the people of Taraba love Buhari, and felt that he could have done something in 2015 to help APC, and still look up to him and hope that he will do something for Taraba this time around.
“President Buhari and the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, should come to the aid of Tarabians. The National Peace Accord they just signed in Abuja is all about stopping violence, ballot snatching, vote buying, etc. In order to avoid same problem in Taraba, they should help us change the APC candidate. It has happened before and it can still happen again for peace,” Umar Muhammad further opined.
What is ironic is that the 10 Taraba APC governorship aspirants also signed an MoU to conduct the primaries without any violence, and agreed that anyone who violated it should be disqualified. They are now accusing the winner of violating the MoU and that the APC should lead by example that it abhors violence and does not tolerate it. Only time will tell who will finally fly the APC governorship flat in Taraba state.
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