A high powered delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be led by General Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would meet the governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in Port Harcourt tomorrow, as part of efforts to woo the G-7 governors into its fold.
When LEADERSHIP Sunday contacted the spokesman of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, he confirmed the scheduled visit of the party chieftains. He said, “It is true, Insha Allah, we are going to Port Harcourt on Monday.”
“Those who would be on the tour include Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and some state governors.”
Also, as part of its nationwide membership drive, the opposition APC has concluded plans to bring together all hitherto antagonistic forces across the nation.
Barring any last-minute change, the APC leaders would storm Port Harcourt tomorrow to try and convince Amaechi to collapse his structure into the party.
APC To Unite Rivals In G-7 Govs’ States
On the reconciliation move, LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that the main target, for now, are the states controlled by the governors of Adamawa, Kano, Kwara, Sokoto, Jigawa, Niger and Rivers. This, according to sources, is to be done in order of importance to the APC.
For now, it was learnt, the party’s priority states are Kano, Kwara, Sokoto and Adamawa where there are pockets of rivalry amongst leaders of the APC and the governors of the G-7 states who are inching towards the APC.
The development is coming amidst heightened lobby and overtures to the G-7 governors — Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Abdulfattah Ahmed, Aliyu Wamakko, Murtala Nyako, Sule Lamido, Babangida Muazu Aliyu and Rotimi Amaechi.
The APC leadership had met Kwankwaso and Nyako while the meeting with Amaechi is billed for next week, barring the unforeseen.
But as the lobby team continues next week, the APC has secretly mapped out a strategy to stem further rivalry amongst possible adversaries in the target states starting with Kano where the former governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, and Kwankwaso are not friendly, a development that has heightened speculations that he governor’s expected move to the APC might be frustrated.
APC leaders, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered, are anxious to end the rivalry between the duo in the next three weeks even as both groups in Kano are circumspect in their comments.
Spokesperson for the former Kano governor, Sule Yau Sule, has said that they would watch things as they unfold.
He cautioned that whoever claimed to speak on behalf of Malam Shekarau on the issue was on his own, saying that they will make their position known as they deem fit.
Meanwhile, the media aide to Kano APC guber aspirant Abdurrahman Kawu Sumaila, Yakubu Musa Fagge, has stated that it would be a welcome development for Governor Kwankwaso to join APC as they would find ways of moving together.
According to him, it’s astonishing that what his boss has been preaching — that PDP has failed in every sense — is manifesting as people like the Kano governor have realized that and are probably joining the APC.
He cautioned that what would make them work together and sheathe the sword of opposition is when Governor Kwankwaso joins them as a new person without the mindset of his former party.
According to the campaign director of the Kano ACN gubernatorial candidate in the 2011 election Alhaji Tijjani M. Gwarzo, Baffa Babba Danagundi, “If Kwankwaso joins APC he will be a stabilizing factor for the merger in the state and the country at large.”
Also, many people interviewed in Yola have expressed hope that with the present drive of the national leadership of the APC to woe the seven aggrieved governors into its fold, the party stands a high chance of wresting power from the ruling party come 2015.
A political analyst in Yola, Mallam Saminu Shehu, averred that the victory of the party in the state, especially if the G7 governors finally agree to shift their tent into it, is assured as the party will consist of strong political gladiators who can spring surprises.
Shehu said it is worthy to note that the party in the state will consist of notable names which include former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, incumbent governor of Adamawa State Murtala Nyako, gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) General Muhammadu Buba Marwa, gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Action Congress o Nigeria (ACN) Engineer Markus Nathina Gundiri, Senator Ahmed Barata, Senator Bindowo Jibrilla and many notable politicians who could help APC wrest power from PDP in the state.
The recent deliberate move by the leadership of the APC to woo Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, into the party may likely sediment the seemingly rough relationship that existed between the two political figures in the Seat of the Caliphate, LEADERSHIP Sunday investigation revealed.
Wamakko, who was Bafarawa’s deputy, was said to have parted ways with his boss when Bafarawa learnt people were calling on Wamakko to succeed him.
The eventual contest and victory of Wamakko in 2007 as the successor of his boss, contrary to the boss’ calculation, of ensuring that his anointed candidate wins was said to be the genesis of their crisis.
In Kwara State, the planned alliance between the APC and the G-7 governors in the fold of the PDP will bring together the following political rivals: Senator Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and Alhaji Kawu Baraje of the PDP, and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Dele Belgore (SAN) and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of the APC.
The state’s chapter of APC has expressed its readiness to accept and receive the Baraje faction of the PDP to its fold.
A chieftain of the party and former chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state, Alhaji Taiye Eleja Banu, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the APC’s doors are wide open to the PDP members in the fold of the G-7 governors.
“Once the G-7 governors and their supporters are accepted at the national secretariat of our party, we shall accept them at the state level. “What is important is to make sure that our party supporters are not left out in the scheme of things when the agreement is finally sealed,” Banu stated.
He added, “Those of us in the defunct ANPP, CPC and Lai Mohammed’s faction of ACN have been meeting on how to receive members of the nPDP into APC in the state.
For his part, the state chairman of PDP, Hon. Ishola Balogun-Fulani, said “Those of us in the PDP are waiting for the directive of our leader, Dr Bukola Saraki.”
He added,” You know in Kwara State, we don’t do party politics. Saraki is our party. We go to wherever he directs us to go. One thing that is sacrosanct is that whatever party that Saraki decides to join will always emerge victorious in any election in the state,” the PDP boss stated.
The opposition party tends to benefit more from the merger arrangement if it works out.
The opposition elements will now have the opportunity to participate in the running of the state.
Since 2003, the state has been largely a one-party state firmly under the control of the PDP at all levels.
Confirming the move to bring together all political foes, spokesman of APC Lai Mohammed allayed fear being expressed in some quarters over the imminent arrival of the new PDP governors into the party. According to him, there are guidelines and constitution of the party to be followed which take care of foreseeable crisis.
“The seemed misunderstanding that arose is simply due to lack of communication, and the immediacy of the matter that did not allow adequate talk and committees have been set up in the affected states like Kano, Sokoto and Adamawa to look into the matter with a view to addressing it and restoring normalcy. We would continue to treat our members with dignity and respect.
“If you look at the guideline of harmonisation, at various levels, those PDP governors can easily be accommodated, the guideline simply reflects the same thing that is now in operations where we controlled; it does not even give to violence. The more the merrier.”
Mohammed appealed to those who feel threatened with the coming of some PDP chieftains to cooperate with relevant committees set up primarily to address the issue and was optimistic that the feud was normal and would soon be over.
Nonetheless, there is greater optimism in Niger State for the prospective new members of APC. A key member of the party who was also CPC chairman in Niger State, Alhaji Umar Shuaibu, however, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that his party is ready to welcome the members of the G7 in its fold, but with a caveat, saying that the prospective entrants must register at the ward. “As far as we are concerned, APC is open to all, but no matter how highly placed, you must enter the party through the grass roots; that is your ward”.
“We believe democracy is a game of numbers; the more we are, the more chances of winning, but the G7, no matter their antecedents, must be ready to follow the principles behind the setting up of political parties. The issues are that there will be no special preference for anybody no matter how highly placed, we are on for membership drive,” he added.
But a source in the APC in the state declared that if APC could convince the state governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, that could mark the end of opposition in the state.
“The import is that some of the key leaders of APC in the state like David Umaru, Shetima Bagudu Bako, and Bawa Bwari who contested against Aliyu in 2011 would have no choice than to accept the governor in their fold,” said the source.
In Jigawa State, there is the general contention that an eventual movement of Governor Lamido to the APC would bring major stakeholders that were hitherto antagonists together in one fold.
“If All Progressives Congress chieftains succeed in winning Governor Lamido along with his political associates in the state to join their party, this would bring together some people who have been political rivals for over a decade,” said a source.
The source further explained that politicians like former minority leader in the House of Representatives and an APC stalwart, Hon Faruk Adamu Aliyu, who has been an unrepentant critic of Governor Lamido’s administration and PDP leadership at all levels would be brought together with the governor under one political umbrella.