This may not be the best of times for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the West Senatorial district of Nasarawa State as the struggle over who will represent the zone at the upper chamber of the National Assembly on the party’s platform is causing rift among party members.
The Nasarawa West senatorial district which comprises Keffi, Nasarawa, Toto, Karu and Kokona council areas of the state, is home to prominent citizens of the state including the current national chairman of the ruling APC, Abdullahi Adamu.
Adamu represented the zone before his emergence as APC chairman barely four months ago. But shortly after Adamu assumed office as APC chairman, the struggle to replace him on the platform of APC took a life of its own with different politicians, including the likes of Hon Aliyu Wadada, Labaran Magaji and Shehu Tukur, leading the pack of those jostling to succeed Adamu who is also a former governor of the state.
However, due to some intrigues, Wadada dropped out of the race and eventually dumped the APC for the Social Democratic Party (SDP). This paved the way for Magaji and Tukur to contest the party primary election, which was held at the Nasarawa State University in Keffi.
Although the primary election witnessed high-wired intrigues, Shehu Tukur, an architect, defeated Labaran Magaji, a lawyer.
Tukur, seen by many as the anointed candidate of the APC national chairman, polled 179 votes to defeat Magaji who polled 114 votes.
The party’s electoral officer for the primaries, Major General Ahmed Jibrin (retired) declared Tukur the winner. Magaji, in an interview shortly after the declaration, said everybody is a winner in the contest.
He also commended the winner of the party primaries, giving the assurance that he will stand firm to ensure the victory of his opponent in the secondary election.
The winner of the contest applauded the maturity of his opponent, Magaji for his dodgedness and presevarances during and after the election.
While many thought the primary election had come and gone, a crisis emerged. Magaji alleged that the delegates list was doctored to favour Tukur.
Speaking to our correspondent, Magaji said, “I can’t fold my hands and watch this happen, I want to assure you, if the authorities can’t solve this issue, I’m not stopping here, I’m taking it beyond here. I see danger coming to APC in Nasarawa State because of selfish interest and the Zamfara treatment is not too old for us to realise,” he said.
Persons loyal to Magaji also, as if corroborating what their aspirant said, alleged that the delegates’ list used in conducting the primaries of the two federal and 10 state constituencies under the Nasarawa West senatorial district were doctored.
But even before the alarm was raised by Magaji and his supporters, the Nasarawa State APC chairman, John Maaman, raised the alarm and expressed disappointment in the national leadership of the party for changing delegates list at will.
“The party in Nasarawa State is saddened by the discovery that officials from the national secretariat of the party thwarted the authentic list of delegates sent to the national secretariat.
“We find this inexplicable, in the light of the above unfortunate development, the Nasarawa APC wish to state that we will not tolerate this unwarranted doctoring of the official delegates list sent to the national secretariat.
“We consider this as undemocratic, and that it is capable of breeding disaffection, tension and disunity in the party, therefore the party will not accept any list outside of congresses conducted in the state” he said.
The grouse of Magaji and his supporters is that the delegates list was doctored to favour the eventual winner of the race and hence, the entire exercise cannot stand because it lacks the needed credibility.
Already, there is a trending conversation supposedly involving a first class traditional ruler and a local government party chairman in the senatorial district, which was allegedly intercepted. The conversation, which our correspondent listened to, was by two people. One, obviously the initiator of the conversation, was heard saying, “good afternoon sir, just go back from the crowd so that we can talk, if you allow this delegate list to scale true, Arch Shehu Tukur will not win.”
While Magaji and his supporters insisted that the exercise was flawed deliberately to produce Tukur as the winner, a resident of Keffi who identifies himself as Masoyin Tukur, described the allegation as baseless.
“Look, they should be magnanimous enough to accept defeat and believe that is what God designed. In every contest, there must be a winner and a loser. All these talks about the doctored list is baseless.”
Attempts to speak with Tukur or his campaign coordinator were fruitless as none of them picked phone calls nor replied to text messages sent to them as of the time of going to the press.
However, another Tukur supporter, Murtakr Abdullahi, also said that the claim by the Magaji camp is not founded. “The primary election has been won and lost fair and square. I think it’s time for all true party members to rally behind the winner so that we can win the election. The zone is a strong APC political base and it won’t go into the hands of another party,” he said.
Although Magaji has not stated clearly what will be his next line of action, there are concerns that being a lawyer, he may likely explore the legal option and should that happen, the party may be the ultimate loser in the event of cancellation of its primary when the INEC window of submission closes.
The struggle to represent Nasarawa West at the upper chamber of the National Assembly has always been an interesting and exciting one. While Senators Walid Jibrin and Abubakar Sodangi who both hail from Nasarawa local government had previously represented the Senatorial district for over 12 years, Abdullahi Adamu from Keffi had also represented the Senatorial district for over 11 years running before he recently vacated the seat to assume office as the APC national chairman.
Those sympathetic to Magaji’s aspirations insist that based on fairness, equity and political balancing, since Adamu from Keffi just vacated the seat after 11 years and is presently occupying the highest office of the ruling party in the country, it ought to be the turn of Nasarawa or Toto LGAs and since Magaji hails from Toto, he stands a better chance.
Meanwhile, Hon. Ahmed Wadada, who defected to the SDP is no push off politically in the senatorial zone.
Last Monday, Wadada, alongside the immediate past member House of Representatives representing Karu/Keffi/Kokona federal constituency along with over 20, 000 supporters, commenced the rally at the Keffi Flyover Bridge in Keffi local government area of the state.
The Keffi rally caused gridlock for several hours at the ever busy Keffi/Akwanga Federal highway and on major roads in Keffi where Wadada and his teeming supporters passed through.
Hon. Jonathan Gaza, a two-term serving member of the House of Representatives representing Karu/Keffi/Kokona federal constituency also defected to SDP alongside with his teeming supporters.
Whether the stakeholders will make good their threats or not, only time will tell. But what is certain is that there is an uneasy calm in the party, especially in the Nasarawa West senatorial district where many believed that if not urgently arrested, it could cost the party victory during the much talked-about 2023 polls.