There appears to be no end in sight in the crisis rocking the Plateau State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the suspension of the state chairman, Hon Rufus Bature and the expulsion of the secretary to the state government, Prof Danladi Abok Atu over alleged anti-party activities.
The suspension which is coming barely few days to the February 25 presidential and March 11 governorship elections was carried out by the factional chairman of the party, Hon Ishaya Itse and his executive members.
While addressing newsmen in the state, Itse said the APC as a party is in dire need of reconciliation and pragmatic efforts to deliver its candidates across the state adding that this cannot be achieved with such individuals misdirecting and exhibiting actions capable of destroying the hard-earned fortunes of the party.
He recalled how the Jos Jawara ward of the party last year suspended the SSG, Prof Danladi Atu over anti-party activities where he was alleged to be working against the interest of the party without following due process as well as conniving and deceiving the leadership of the party in the state into doing things that have pitched members against one another.
Itse also said the APC chairman, Rufus Bature, was suspended because at the first instance he was not the party chairman but an impostor and has been going round parading himself as such.
“His recent activities alongside Prof Danladi Atu led to crisis and the dwindling fortunes of the party with the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Nantawe Yilwatda having challenges in the reconciliatory moves.”
According to Itse, the party which is committed to ensuring that it wins elections both at the state and national levels, will not allow the actions of few individuals to truncate the already achieved success by the leadership of the party and Governor Simon Lalong.
He stressed that, “the activities of the above-mentioned people to destroy the party knowing fully well that the state and national elections are a few weeks away cannot be condoned.”
Itse called on the members of the state working committee of the party, the state campaign council and members of the public to stop dealing with the suspended individuals for the growth of the ruling party in the state.
It would be recalled that before the suspension of Rufus Bature and Prof Danladi Atu by the Itse faction, the Bature-led exco had said it uncovered plans by an opposition party in league with some disgruntled characters and former members of the party to stage a protest at the APC state secretariat along Yakubu Gowon Way with the aim of installing the so-called factional chairman in the person of Ishaya Itse.
But in a swift reaction, the chairman of the party in the state, Hon Rufus Bature fired back at Itse and his allies saying as far as he is concerned, there is no faction in APC in Plateau State.
According to him, Ishaya Itse who had been parading himself as a factional chairman of the party was expelled for breaching provisions of the APC constitution, anti-party activities, impersonation of a party official and creating a parallel party organ in the state.
He also alleged that Itse was expelled for engaging in fraudulent and dishonest practices and filing an action in court without exhausting avenues for redress, amongst others.
Bature further described him as an impostor who wants to cause confusion in the state and called on the security operatives to as a matter of urgency arrest him and his co-travellers for impersonation and parading himself as the APC chairman.
“As a ruling party, Itse is an impostor. We have since called on security agencies to keep a close watch and to arrest him. He could cause a serious breach of the peace having allowed himself to be used as a cheap tool in the hands of detractors of the APC,” Bature said.
Ishaya Itse while also reacting to the threat of arrest by Rufus Bature told LEADERSHIP Weekend that Bature has no political will and capacity to arrest him.
According to him, Bature had given him and his co-travellers a three week-ultimatum to vacate the APC state secretariat, Kalwa House and if he ignored the ultimatum but continue parading himself as APC state chairman, then he would have no choice than to inform the police and DSS to arrest Bature immediately.
Similarly, not done with Itse, the Bature-led exco who is not comfortable with the way the factional chairman is taking the leadership of the party under his watch to the cleaners at any forum, withdrew all the privileges that was hitherto given to him by the leadership of the party in the state.
A statement by state publicity secretary of the party, Sylvanus Namang said the state working committee (SWC) of the All Progressives Congress in Plateau State has ratified the expulsion of Ishaya Itse from the APC.
According to him, in a unanimous decision by the 17 members of the SWC at its meeting at the party secretariat in Jos last week, the party acted on the letter expelling Ishaya Itse from his Jos Jarawa ward of Jos North dated January 12, 2023.
His expulsion was said to have been duly approved by the Jos North local government party exco on January 16 and in line with the provisions of the constitution of the APC, the state executive committee ratified his expulsion on Thursday, January 19, 2023.
The statement reads in part, “In ratifying the expulsion of Ishaya Itse, the APC state working committee sternly warns that anybody having any dealing with him does so at his or her own risk.”
The SWC further directed the immediate withdrawal of Itse’s membership of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and access to any APC office or functions in the state.
They warned those allegedly instigating him to desist forthwith from their nefarious acts or be ready to face the consequences adding that the party would be left with no option than to reveal the identity of the characters working behind the scene.
Namang further said, “the APC would not sit and watch on the sidelines these harbingers and agents of destruction and destabilisation stand on its way to victory outside the ballot box.”
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that some highly placed politicians are said to be the sponsors of Itse to destabilise the party ahead of the general elections.
Meanwhile, the executive director, Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse (YIAVHA), Pwakim Jacob Choji while speaking when asked on the danger this internal wrangling portends for the APC ahead of the general election in the state said that they are very careful to make statement around issues like this so that parties to the conflict do not think they are taking side stressing that a peaceful 2023 general election is paramount hence both parties must sheath their sword.
He argued that party issues are basically within the purview of the party but the implication is that a divided house will not project a fundamental foundation where they can speak with one voice.
Choji added that instead of discussing how to market their candidates at all levels, they are rather distracted by the wrangling whether Rufus Bature has been removed by the Itse-led faction or Itse removed by the Bature-led faction which he said is immaterial at this point in time.
The executive director added that considering the success of the party itself, the development is already impacting negatively on it. Those party members loyal to Itse are taking side with him while those loyal to Bature are also doing the same.
According to him, when you look at the political atmosphere within the state and the country in general, during the election period, issues like these will definitely come up because it is like bargaining chips where people make threatening statements at the end of the day because they want to win the election.
Choji wondered if the ruling party, the APC, would go into the general election in the state with a divided house and expect to win.