2023: Defections rattle Nasarawa APC ahead of polls

CHEKE EMMANUEL reports on the crisis rocking the Nasarawa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the fallout of the party’s recent primary elections, which has forced some of its members to dump the party

It is not the best of time for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Nasarawa State. The reason is that the crisis that rocked the party following over its primary election in the state has deepened, forcing many of its members to defect to other political parties.

Some APC members in the state who lost the various tickets of the party in the just concluded primary elections had complained that the delegates’ lists used in conducting the shadow polls in the state was doctored. Among the aggrieved members is a serving senator, two House of Representatives members and two serving state House of Assembly members and they have since defected to other political parties, while many others have gone to court to seek redress. Top among the early decampees is a former House of Representatives member, Aliyu Wadada, who contested the governorship primary election alongside Governor Abdullahi Sule in 2019 and came second with 519 votes, while Sule polled 926 votes to clinch the ticket. Wadada has defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to contest for Nasarawa West Senatorial District seat in the 2023 general election. Other notable members of the APC, who have also defected to other political parties, include the senator representing Nasarawa North, Godiya Akwashiki, the member representing Lafia/Obi federal constituency, Abubakar Sarki Dahiru and the member representing Karu/Kokona Gitata federal constituency, Jonathan Gaza.

This is just as three serving members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly took their turn to dump the APC for other political parties. Among the state lawmakers is Danladi Abdulaziz (Keffi East constituency) who defected to Action Alliance (AA).

The crisis in Nasarawa APC worsened penultimate week when supporters of Labaran Magaji stormed the Federal High Court in Lafia during one of the court sittings in solidarity with him over a suit he filed challenging the outcome of primary election conducted by the party for Nasarawa West Senatorial District. Another aspirant, Mohammed Al-Bashur, also sued APC for refusing to declare him winner of the primary election conducted for Nasarawa/ Toto federal constituency. Also, a state lawmaker and majority leader in the Nasarawa state House of Assembly, Tanko Tunga has gone to court to challenge his loss of party ticket to a broadcast for Awe North state constituency. This is just as three other serving lawmakers who lost ticket of the party at the primary election but have issed certificates as candidate by the party including Ho. Mohammed Alkali (Lafia East), Hon. Ukpoku Mohammed Udege/Loko) and House’s deputy speaker, Nehemiah Dandaura.

At the moment, tension is high in Nasarawa state as there is high degree of confusion, bulk-passing, name calling as in-fighting amongst the party executives rages on unabatted within the entire party structure in ruling All Progressive Congress APC in Nasarawa state. Another notable member of the APC in the state, Dr. Haruna Kigbu, a one time member of the House of Representatives for Lafia/ Obi who was persuaded by Governor Sule to leave the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) for the APC also lost the ticket of the party to Senator Tanko Al-makura’s cousin.

Kigbu is said to have perfected plans to return to his former party. At the last count, 20 bigwigs of the ruling APC in the state, who are considered key and influential in determining success of election for the party, including Dr. Kigbu, Wadada, Akwashiki, Gaza and Dahiru have all dumped the party in protest and joined other political parties in the with thousands of their supporters. Analysts describe their exit as a big minus to the party and a threat to the second term bid of Governor Sule. “The exit of these influential politicians from the ruling party in the state has sent a bad signal about the second term bid of Governor Abdullahi Sule. This situation indicates that governor has lost control of the party’s structure. It also speaks volume to his many hurdles ahead of the second term bid,” a chieftain of the party in the state said.

Governor Sule, who would be running for a second term with his deputy, Emmanuel Akabe, has the candidate of the main opposition party (PDP), David Ombugadu, to contend with. Already Ombugadu has accused the governor of poor performance and lacking moral rectitude to seek second term in office, and with the exit of many power brokers in his party and the uncertainty of the genuine support of Senator Tanko Al-makura who played 90 percent role in making Sule governor in 2019, it is unclear how the governor intends to weather the storm. The governor is embroiled in a cold war with Al-makura over the former governor’s loss in his bid for the national chairmanship of the APC.

As a result the Al-makura is considered a threat to Sule’s re-election bid. Worse still, the cold war between the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Al-makura over the choice of Sule in 2019 is considered one of the major factors standing against the re-election bid of governor. Adamu reportedly swore not to support governor Sule’s re-election before his emergence as APC national chairman. Felt disturbed by developments ahead of the election, Governor Sule has set up a committee headed by a legal luminary, Hassan Liman (SAN), to reconcile aggrieved members of the party who felt short-changed in the just concluded primary elections.

However, some political watchers have described the peace move as an exercise in futility as most of the aggrieved APC members have already left the party for other parties, while other are in court to seek redress. Checks revealed that the Liman reconciliation committee has not made any headway asseveral attempts it made to meet with some of the aggrieved persons met a brick wall. Some of the concerned persons reportedly either shunned committee’s invitation or reportedly told that the committee that their matter are already in court or have already dumped the party and thereby have no business meeting the committee.

The state chairman of the APC, Dr. John Mamman, in a press statement, said the list used in conducting the primary elections of the party was doctored at the national secretariat of the party. But in a swift reaction, Governor Sule claimed that the list was not doctored, pleading with party members, especially those who lost the party’s tickets to take the outcome in good fate in an attempt to douse tension.

But in a twist of event, Governor Sule a fortnight ago called a meeting of his political appointees at the government House, Lafia and angrily told them to resign their appointments if they are no longer loyal to his government. The threat by the governor came on the heels of bulk-passing and divided loyalty among his political appointees.

The governors is said to have discovered that many of his appointees were no longer with him but paying allegiance to some individuals outside his government. Analyst said the setting up of reconciliation committee and the threat to sack disloyal appointees is a clear pointer that the governor has lost grip and control of both party structure and his political appointees. As it stands, the PDP is said to be waiting to take advantage of the crisis in the ruling party in the state to wrest power come 2023 and chairman of the PDP in the state, Hon. Francis Orogu, confirmed this in an interview with journalists recently.




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