BY CHIBUZO UKAIBE
In this report CHIBUZO UKAIBE, looks at the raging rivalry between some governors and federal lawmakers from same state
overnors and federal lawmakers, especially senators, have been locked in tussles over the affairs in their states. So far, the governors of Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Kogi and Adamawa state, have been engaged in public confrontations with their federal lawmakers, especially of the Red Chamber.
Interestingly, these tussles, varied as they are, are between members of the same political party, a situation which smacks of party implosion and doom ahead of the 2019 general election.
More worrisome is the failure of reconciliatory attempts by their parties to address the situation. While this political dispensation is experiencing its share of this drama, rivalry between governors and federal lawmakers have become common place since 1999.
Usually, at the heart of the contest for supremacy in the state is who controls the political structure of the state.
While governors see states as their exclusive political domain, federal legislators, especially senators, believe that they deserve to have a say in the affairs of the state, as major stakeholders.
Senators have always believed that they deserve more respect from governors being that they are regarded as the more mature and experienced of the two federal legislative branches. They also believe that since their constitutional responsibilities, which includes oversights and law making, has a national outlook, they ought to be accorded more attention in their states.
But the governors have always tended to be “lord and master” of their states, holding the notion that as chief executives in their states, the buck of governance begins and end on their desk.
In the PDP era, they hugely determined who got party tickets and political positions in states. However, in the APC dispensation, it remains to be seen how far federal lawmakers are ready to go in checking the domineering influence of governors unlike their predecessors.
What’s more, with the Senate is increasingly becoming the political haven for former governors, it will be fascinating to see how the relationship between both actors in the state pan out.
The tussle in Bauchi State is quite interesting, in that the governor, Mohammed Abubakar is engaged in the battle with most of the federal lawmakers from the state.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, member representing Misau/Dambam constituency in the House of Representatives, Honourable Ahmed Yerima, Senator Suleiman Nazif, representing Bauchi North, are some of the leading voices against the governor.
While the lawmakers fell out with the governor shortly after the 2015 general election, the lawmakers have since faulted the performance profile of the governor. They also accused him of mismanaging the funds for the state, like the N8.6bn bail out funds. The angry lawmakers it was gathered reported the governor to national leadership of the party.
But the governor believes that the race for 2019 ambition is behind the attacks he is receiving from the lawmakers. Accusing the lawmakers of a gang up against him, he, in a recent interview, debunked claims that he mismanaged the bailout funds, explaining that the state has seen been recognized by Nigerian Labour Congress as one of the Labour friendly states.
He also opened up on several attempts by elders, traditional rulers to reconcile him and lawmakers which according to him were rebuffed by the lawmakers.
However the APC at the national level has sent a fact-finding and reconciliation committee, chaired by Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, to resolve the crisis in the crisis.
Other members of the committee are: Gen. Lawrence Onoja, Sen. Oserheimen Osunbor, Gen. Lawal Jafar Isa and Alh. Gambo Magaji.
It is yet to be seen whether this current move at reconciling the camps will work.
The scenario in Kano has been worrisome for the APC such that the two key actors, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, his immediate predecessor, share a long political history. What’s more the state is crucial to the party’s fortunes in 2019.
Kwankwaso handed over power to Ganduje, who had served as his deputy for eight years, at different dispensations. And so when the tussle started, it rocked the very roots of the party in the state.
For watchers of the party, the feud between the estranged political allies is linked to what some analysts say was an overbearing influence of Kwankwaso in the state despite having left office.
The governor made moves to undermine Mr. Kwankwaso’s influence in the state chapter of the APC by sacking some loyalists of his predecessor from his government and also ensuring the removal of others from the state executive committee of the party.
The situation further escalated when 44 Kano state legislators reportedly removed their red caps, as a symbol of their support to the incumbent governor, Ganduje, after falling out with his predecessor, Kwankwaso. The red cap had become a symbol of the former governors political brand.
The crisis degenerated into a face off between the governor’s loyalists and supporters of Kwankwaso in the state. Chairman of the APC in Kano, Abdullahi Abbas, in a bid to intervene, set up a committee to seek peace with supporters of both leaders.
Back in 2016, the national party sought to reconcile leaders at a meeting they both attended at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja. But it remains hazy whether the reconciliation has attained much.
In Kogi State the rift is between the governor, Yakaya Bello and his estranged ally, Senator Dino Melaye.
Sen Melaye had backed the young governor through the period of his ascension to the candidacy of the party, after the death of the flag bear, Abubakar Audu.
However not long after Bello assumed office than Dino fell out with him. The federal lawmaker has since become a fierce critic of the governor over the none payment of salaries and pension despite receiving funds from federal government for that purpose.
The crisis assumed a messy dimension after the senator disclosed that he was almost assassinated in his home town, Aiyetoro-Gbede, Ijumu local government area in Kogi State. He outrightly accused the local government chairman of complicity in the assassination attempt.
However, the governor in his reaction through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Kingsley Fanwo, has said he can neither be distracted not intimidated by the senator. Noting that the senator hasn’t told him about the assassination attempt, he added “We are waiting for the reports of the investigation after which we shall be properly guided to make informed comments. Nigerians know what is happening.”
He added “We are in the news for the roads we are constructing, the agriculture we are reforming, the healthcare we are making affordable and the walls of insecurity we are pulling down. We have departed from their own ways.”
However a fact-finding committee for Kogi State chaired by senior party chieftain, Prince Tony Momoh had been setup before the recent messy situation.
Other members of the committee are: Gen. John Shagaya, Sen. Barnabas Gemade, Gen. Ahmed Aboki and Sen. Olubunmi Adetunbi.
But with the recent allegation of assassination attempt on the senator, it remains to be seen whether the factions will be ready to reconcile any time soon.
The State Governor Muhammadu Bindow, is said to enjoy cosy relationship with most federal lawmakers apart from Sen Abdulaziz Nyako, son of former governor of the state, Murtala Nyako.
It was gathered that Sen Nyako’s grouse with the governor is connected to the face-off between his father and the governor.
The governor had switched allegiance from Nyako to the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, a long time political opponent of the former governor. That action by Bindow got him into the bad books of the former governor.
However, their tussle had escalated when the governor last year threatened to sign into law the white paper of the late Justice Umaru Boboi Judicial Panel of Inquiry that investigated and indicted the administration of former governor, Murtala Nyako, between 2007 and 2014.
It was however gathered that Sen Nyako might also be nursing a governorship ambition.
For a PDP controlled state, many would think that Governor Ayo Fayose, being a domineering personality and chairman of party’s governors forum, would have little or no resistance to having the final say in the affairs of the party in the state.
But that is not to be as he has since been challenged by some Ekiti PDP members in the National Assembly. The point of departure between Fayose and the lawmakers is over the national chairman of PDP, Sen Ali Modu Sheriff.
Fayose has clearly refused to recognize Sheriff as national chairman of the party, despite having being a chief supporter of the former Borno State governor for the position before their relationship went sour.
But Sen Fatimat Raji-Rasaki, representing Ekiti Central and Hon Oni Olamide representing Ijero/Ekiti West/Efon federal constituency of Ekiti State, have since pledged allegiance to Sheriff, a direct affront on the Fayose.
In Kaduna State, the hostility between the governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and some federal lawmakers started with the senator representing the central district of the state, Shehu Sani.
The animosity between the two political gladiators in the state began shortly after the APC took over in Kaduna, a situation which has led to a division of the party as members now queue behind each of them.
It was gathered that their fight began after el-Rufai assumed office as both leaders struggle to maintain their political structures in the state.
The senator had accused the governor of neither consulting nor allowing him make inputs in the list of nominees for appointment into positions as caretaker committee chairmen of the councils within his senatorial district. For the senator, his exclusion from that process made him vulnerable politically, considering allegations that he intends to run for governorship seat in 2019.
Expectedly, the face-off assumed very intriguing dimensions as the senator faulted virtually every policy of the state government.
By the turn of 2015, the fierce criticisms by Sen Sani, however earned him an 11 month suspension from the APC in the state which was loyal to the governor.
In a bid to arrest a further escalation of crisis, the national vice chairman and zonal chairman, North West, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, stormed Kaduna to convene what he called a reconciliatory meeting between the national body and some party stakeholders in Kaduna State. He used the occasion to declare Sani’s suspension invalid.
But the hostility has yet to abate, as both camps have continued to attach each other preparatory to a major showdown in 2019.