As scheming ahead of the 2023 election mounts, intrigues within the political landscape are becoming more intense. In Gombe State, the situation is not different. The question about who leads the governing party in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC), emerged recently.
But for many watchers, the leadership question in APC reflects the subtle tussle between Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya and his predecessor, Senator Danjuma Goje, who represents Gombe Central in the red chamber. However, like in most APC-controlled states, the natural and conventional leader of the party, incumbent Governor Yahaya, is in charge of the party in Gombe.
The drama started with the defection of key figures alongside thousands of their supporters from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC in Yalmatu Deba, Kwami, Furnakaye and Nafada local government areas.
This gale of defection was followed by a meeting held on August 22 in Deba, with some APC bigwigs from Gombe Central in attendance. The meeting passed a vote of confidence on Governor Inuwa Yahaya, recognising him as the sole APC leader in the state. The Deba endorsement of Governor Yahaya came against the backdrop of the seeming cold war between the governor and Goje over who controls the APC in the state.
Pundits aver that the cold relationship between the two political heavyweights started during the buildup to the 2019 general elections. While those in the senator’s camp claim that the governor leveraged on the strength of their leader to assume office, those in the governor’s camp insisted that Goje worked against their principal during the party’s primaries in 2019.
The tussle had taken several twists and turns as supporters of both camps continued to make snide attacks at each other. While this covert battle of supremacy raged on, party watchers were of the opinion that the governor had tried not to escalate the situation. According to his supporters, the governor continued to refer to the senator as his boss, leader and mentor each time he speaks in political and non-political forums alike.
“He speaks glowingly of Goje at any prompting. As a matter of fact Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya holds Senator Danjuma Goje in the highest of all esteem despite knowing fully well that the Senator did not sufficiently support his candidature in 2019. Unperturbed with this needless affront, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya will always stop at nothing in pleasing his former boss.
“The appointment of Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje’s daughter Dr. Husseina Danjuma Goje as the Commissioner of Environment and his inlaw Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo Waziri as the Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs amongst other appointments vividly portray the Gombe State Governor as a man of peace and a social and political bridge builder,” an APC member in the state, Abubakar Salim, said.
However, Yahaya’s passive approach to the situation began to take a toll on critical stakeholders and supporters of the APC in the state. It was also learnt that opposition parties in the state equally cashed in on the development, making political wrangle out of peaceful disposition of the governor to mean cowardice.
Party watchers in the state noted that the Deba endorsement of the governor by APC stakeholders from Gombe Central, the zone which Senator Danjuma Goje represents, was instructive. The party stalwarts at the meeting presided over by Alhaji Abubakar Muazu, faulted Goje for parading himself as the APC leader in the state.
Their six point communiqué reads in part: “The Meeting acknowledged and commends with appreciation the phenomenal performance of His Excellency, Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya in the last two years for his unprecedented, diverse and equitable distribution of developmental programmes and projects both completed and ongoing not only in Gombe Central Senatorial District, but the entire state at large which places Gombe State on the trajectory of sustainable development.
“We commend the Governor’s political sagacity and magnanimity as well as his avowed commitment to the growth and consolidation of the gains of our great party in the state and country in general.
“We wish to also commend and appreciate His Excellency, the State Governor for the various appointments given to our sons and daughters into key positions from the Zone.
“We equally acknowledge the unique leadership style and approach to matters of Security which have largely led to the attainment of peace and tranquility in the State.
“The stakeholders further congratulated His Excellency, the Governor, for the successful conduct of an all-inclusive, hitch free, credible, free and fair ward congresses devoid of any rancour and acrimony in line with the provisions of our great party’s constitution and guidelines”.
The APC meeting was followed by that of traditional rulers in Gombe State to reinforce and re-echo resolutions earlier reached by the APC stakeholders in the zone.
The council of traditional rulers in Gombe Central comprising of four Emirs and over 60 District heads equally converge on Akko Local Government Area and reiterated their support and loyalty to the governor as the sole political leader of the state, commending his political sagacity towards repositioning the State and the upward review of their remuneration and welfare.
In the same vein, APC chieftains in Gombe North also threw their weight behind the leadership of Governor Yahaya. Rising from a meeting held last Sunday in the state under the chairmanship of elder statesman, Ambassadors Ibrahim Yarima Abdullahi, who doubles as the Sarkin Bai of Gombe, the party stakeholders in Gombe declared their endorsement of the state governor.
A communiqué signed Ambassador Abdullahi and other some other stakeholders to this effect noted: “We strongly appreciate the giant and unprecedented developmental strides being witnessed in Gombe State under the able leadership of His Excellency, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya in all facets of human endeavour in these challenging times and also commend his avowed commitment to the sustenance of the prevailing peace and security in our dear state.
“As leader of the party we have recognised the sincerity of His Excellency Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, to unite all members of our party, we unanimously resolved to support him by working assiduously to promote unity, stability and peace among all members of our great party and the state at large.
“We are deeply concerned by the recent antics of some elements within our party and in the opposition to cause discord and rancour amongst members of our party and we hereby appeal to all our members to ignore the shenanigans of these merchants of trouble and remain steadfast in their commitment and loyalty to the party and government.”
Just yesterday, traditional rulers in Funakaye local government area of Gombe State led by the Emir of Funakaye, Alhaji Muazu Muhammad Kwairanga, passed a vote of confidence on Governor Yahaya. The unanimous resolution was taken at the traditional leaders stakeholders meeting held at the palace of emir of Funakaye in Bajoga town.
These endorsements of the governor signal a tough battle ahead, but political pundits argue that the endorsement also coming from Goje’s zone shows the coast may just be clearer for the governor’s return to victory.
Like any other politician, Governor Yahaya, however, has to keep hoping that such endorsements will continue for the advancement of his political career in the light of the actualisation of his second term bid as governor.
Party stakeholders are not in doubt however of Goje’s political mastery and influence, especially at the national level. But how he would be able to pull it off considering the weight of endorsement the governor has garnered is another matter.
In this regard, a political analyst, Abdullahi Ibrahim, said, “Clearly, Goje is a known political titan in the state but how he engages the incumbent governor who has also emerged as one of the influential figures in the party will be interesting to watch.”