John Adams, Minna
As the build up to 2019 general elections gather momentum, with various political parties strategising and putting their house in order, all appears not to be well with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State.
The recent developments within the party point to the fact that it is heading for a possible implosion if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the situation.
The party’s current state party can at best be described as a situation of “everybody to himself and God for us all.”
From the ward level to the state level, it is one form of crisis or the other and political observers believed that this poses a great danger to the party’s quest to remain in power beyond 2019.
Daily Sun gathered that since 2015 when the APC- led administration came on board, there has not been any a stakeholder meeting or forum with which to bring members together to appraise the performance of the administration, and the development in the party, so as to chart the way forward.
Attempt by the state executive of the party to bring together those elected on the platform of the party, political appointees and other stakeholders during the second anniversary of the party could not yield the desired results as all the National Assembly members, except one boycotted all the activities lined up for the second anniversary.
It was gathered that the decision by the National Assembly members to stay away from the second anniversary celebration of the APC administration was to register their protest for what they called “insensitivity to the yearnings of the electorate and lack of leadership by the governor”.
One of the federal lawmakers who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence said that the governor has no time for the party that brought him to power, adding that “he has reduced governance to private business, and I think this is not good for the party and even for democracy.
“Since we came on board, the governor has failed to provide leadership as expected of him, being the leader of the party in the state he has equally personalised governance and reduced it to a family affair”, he added.
The feud between the executive and some of the federal legislators blew open recently when some of the lawmakers from the state openly accused the governor, Abubakar Bello of non performance.
Adamu Chika, representing Rafi/ Shiroro/ Munya federal constituency who recently voiced out his frustration warned that the governor’s handling of the affairs of the party and the state in general would greatly work against the party in next year’s elections.
Chika who made his feelings known through a letter to the state party executives and copied the national secretariat of the party and the National Assembly members , pointed out that if things continue this way, he may take an honourable exit and would not contest the 2019 election because “the future of the party is not bright in the state”.
He drew the attention of the party to what he called “lack of cordiality between the government and the federal legislators from the state,” insisting that such development was not good for the party.
While signifying his intention not to seek a re-election in 2019 due to the battered image of the party in the state, Chika said “in line with the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that any person seeking to be appointed or elected into public office should be rejected, now that there is eroding public office trust in legislators of the National Assembly, it is not worth the trouble to seek such office unless it is for my personal and selfish interest.
“Though I have quite a number of reasons not to contest the forthcoming election, I want to draw the attention of our great party, APC in Niger State to the disconnect between the members of the National Assembly, the state House of Assembly and other key stakeholders because there is an absence of synergy”.
He maintained that the lack of unity in the party in the state calls for serious concern, stressing that “we are in pursuit of individual agenda and as such at loggerheads with the ideals of the party”.
Daily Sun’s investigations revealed that the dispute between the governor and some of the state and federal lawmakers had been on for a while now, with political observers believing that the combatants would be called to order by the APC leadership in the state under which platform they were all elected.
But this has not happened because according to a stalwart of the party who does not want his name in print, the chairman of the party, Hussaini Iman has failed to provide leadership expected of him.
“I can tell you that because of personal agenda, the chairman has completely lost the grip of the party. He does not have the capacity to bring warring members together on a round table to discuss issues and that is the greatest undoing of the party at the moment.
“We have a lot of work to do ahead of 2019 elections if we want to remain in power because the truth of the matter is that there is serious disunity within the party”.
However another federal lawmaker, Senator David Umoru, has also admitted openly that indeed, all was not well with the APC in Niger State.
In his open letter, titled “Why should I keep quiet” , he accused the governor of inflicting pains and poverty on the electorate that voted them into office. Daily Sun recalls that it is not the first time the senator is coming hard on the governor.
He had voiced out his reservations on some of the programme and policies of the governor, in the past, just he has been very critical of the governor’s appointment of people into key offices in the state which he said, does not take into consideration the diversity of the state.
In his latest letter, the former governorship candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) said “available records have shown that billions of naira accrues to the state monthly but same is squandered with reckless profligacy. The leadership has demonstrated its incapacity to use our resources to bring relief to our suffering people” Senator Umoru said adding that “ the leadership continues to exhibit serious inadequacy, lack of honesty, lack of accountability, lack of transparency and prudence in the management of the huge amounts accruing from federal allocations, and special interventions by the presidency to states in the last two years”.
He submitted further that “in essence this APC government has virtually nothing tangible to show for the billions of bailout funds, budget support funds, Paris club refunds that accrued to the state”.
Umoru also accused the Bello- led APC administration of deliberately inflicting pains on pensioners by refusing to implement the private member bill on reform of the pension act after it had been signed into law.
Apart from the federal lawmakers, there is also a serious rift between the state executive of the party and the state House of assembly members. Recently, the party executive was at loggerhead with the Assembly members when the state lawmakers rejected the request by the party to remove their majority leader.
The state Assembly, in a unanimous resolution on the floor of the House, told the party that it cannot dictate to it, and therefore threw away the request by the party.
This development further buttressed the argument in some quarters that the party does not have control over its members.
Also the signals from the council levels of the party are anything but good. The elected council chairmen are at daggers drawn with the governor over their tenure in office, leading to serious legal battle between the two.
The chairmen had in 2017, challenged the decision of the governor to reduce their tenure from three years to two years before the High Court sitting in New Bussa, Niger state.
The chairmen however won the case as the court ruled against the state government and the state Assembly.
The court presided over by Justice Mohammed Mohammed ruled that the state Assembly in particular lacked the power to amend the local government (amendment ) law 2016 of Niger State published as Niger legal notice No1 as it did, to which Governor Abubakar Bello appended his signature to make it become law.
Since the judgement was delivered two weeks ago, there has been disquiet within the government on one hand and the party on the other, as both the government and the party are yet to make any official pronouncement concerning the judgment.
Speaking on the development in the party, the party’s state secretary, Mohammed Liman said that crisis in any political party cannot be ruled out.
According to him, “crisis in a party cannot be ruled out because some party members who think that they have worked for the success of the party and have not been adequately compensated will surely grumble”.
Liman however admitted that there is serious disagreement between the governor and some members of the National Assembly from the state, and this, he disclosed is being handled by the party.
He further disclosed that the rift between the governor and the lawmakers informed the decision of the party executive to organise a reconciliation meeting in Abuja last week “and all of them except Senator Umoru whom we were told was engaged in a legislative assignment attended”.
In furtherance to the Abuja reconciliation meeting, the party has scheduled February 18, for a unity rally in Minna where members from across the state are expected to gather to brainstorm on the future of the party in the state ahead of 2019.