From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The intriguing circumstances around the purported suspension of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, which took an intriguing dimension last week, clearly underscored the strategic importance and delicate nature of the office he occupies.

The heightened political temperature will not understandably come to many pundits as a surprise, going by the hindsight of historical experiences and antecedents of how such incidents previously cost his predecessors their positions.

The apprehension over the purported ward suspension was not a novel occurrence either and certainly may not be unconnected with the potency of a similar fate that previously befell heavyweights like Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and by extension, his counterpart in the PDP, Iyorcha Ayu.

Little wonder therefore that from the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to the ancient city of Kano State, North West, and the length and breadth of the entire country, what finally becomes of Ganduje’s future raised the tension and literally ignited fire on the mountain of politics in the country.

The magnitude of the political coup staged against Ganduje was so immeasurable that it even eclipsed the tension-soaked renewed battle for the soul of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between the camps of Nyesom Wike and Atiku Abubakar during its mini elective convention last week.

The anxiety in the APC was apparently palpable. The pro and anti-protesters that took time to ground activities at the party’s national secretariat to press home their demands, and the stakeholders that embarked on endless solidarity visits to identify with the embattled party’s chairman turned the APC headquarters into a battleground as well as a pilgrimage of sort.

Clearly, the incident came with resentments, scheming, bitterness, secret and wild jubilations, manipulations, and even intercessory prayers that apparently underscored the gravity of the unfolding political drama and dynamics.

The pronouncement of the purported suspension by the executive council of Ganduje Ward in the Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area (LGA) of Kano State, on grounds of alleged bribery, involving $413,000 and N1.38bn, against Umar Ganduje, his wife, Hafsat, and son, Umar as the reason for their action, rattled many politically cautious individuals.

It was a continuation of the operation-crush-your-enemy political battle plotted and executed in Kano as part of the unending political hostilities and brickbat between the APC boss and his detractors and traducers, comprising majorly his estranged godfather, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, his successor, Governor Abba Yusuf and their supporters.

It was clearly a spillover of the protracted conflict between the gladiators after the 2023 general election, the long-drawn legal fireworks between the APC and NNPP over the litigated state governorship election, and the dreaded rift among them.

It came to the head last week when perceived opponents from Kano undoubtedly struck Ganduje with not only plotting his suspension but also obtaining an ex-parte motion to authenticate the move in a presumably clinical operation that lasted for just 48 hours.

And in its determination not to be caught in the web of the stormy crossfire, the ruling party did not leave anything to chance. The party’s leadership not only fought back to dismiss both the purported suspension and what it tagged a fraudulent Court order but also obtained another court order quashing the earlier one.

To take absolute control of the driving seat, the national leadership relocated the major stakeholders in the state chapter of the party, including those allegedly behind the pronouncement, to Abuja, perhaps to distance them far away from the reach of the unseen plotters in the state responsible for orchestrating and perpetrating the conspiracy, to renew their loyalties to the man on the hot seat.

Perhaps rattled by the intended consequences Ganduje’s possible removal might bear on the relative peace in the party, its National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, in a statement described; “the purported suspension as the devious act of a group of impersonators of Ward officials out to cause mischief and create confusion in the otherwise peaceful Ganduje Ward chapter of our party.

“The perpetrators of this criminal act are not card-carrying members of APC in the Ward but are individuals affiliated with senior officials and representatives of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). This act procured by officials of the ruling NNPP in Kano is part of the despicable programme of political persecution launched by the administration of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf against Ganduje, former Governor of Kano State.

“The purported suspension is downright criminal, and of no effect whatsoever. The legitimate Executive Committee of the Ganduje Ward has since denounced the action and reaffirmed Ganduje as a bonafide member of the party in the Ward, and in good standing,” the party’s leadership emphasised.

Disclosing its action plans, the ruling party noted that; “we have filed a petition with the Inspector General of Police requesting an expedited investigation of this matter and that the perpetrators and their sponsors be brought to justice.

“We urge our party faithful and the general public to disregard reports of the suspension of the National Chairman who is, and remains, the National Chairman of our great party,” the leadership of the party noted.

As part of the battle lined up to rescue the ruling party boss from what looked like a coordinated plot to perfect his imminent eclipse in Kano State through the political raging storm, stakeholders from the ward, LGA, Kano State chapter of the party had quickly petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria/Chairman, National Judicial Council, over what it tagged judicial rascality and misconduct of Justice Usman Na’Abba in granting an ex-parte order suspending Ganduje.

The petition they submitted, read: “We, the Executive Committee members of Ganduje Ward, Dawakin-Tofa LGA of Kano State, write to formally bring to your attention and seek intervention concerning the actions of Justice Usman Matiam Na‘abba, presiding over Court 4 of the High Court of Kano State, in a ruling involving our party, the APC.”

Explaining the basis of their action, the petitioners further noted: “The core of this petition revolves around the principle that the judiciary should not intervene in the internal affairs of a political party without clear evidence that the party’s internal mechanisms, as outlined in its constitution, have been exhausted.

“The APC’s constitution provides specific procedures for handling disputes and disciplinary actions within the party. Article 24.1(i) clearly provides for the right to fair hearing in relation to discipline of members of the party. The complaint was never served on Ganduje and no invitation was issued to him to attend the purported disciplinary proceedings against him. The judicial intervention by Justice Na’abba, pre-empts these internal processes and mechanisms, potentially overstepping judicial boundaries,” they complained.

Before the petition which Ganduje Ward sent to the NJC, the party’s leadership had equally declared emphatically that it will not dissipate any energy honouring the fraudulent Court order upholding the suspension.

Commenting on the issue at a press conference, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana, boastfully declared that the position of their boss is not under any form of threat, stating categorically that the party will not obey any court order obtained through fraudulent means.

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Kana said: “We all got information that certain persons suspended the Chairman. We immediately filed a complaint to the police and served the IGP, urging them to investigate the individuals behind it, especially as all the major stakeholders have all showed up to disassociate themselves from the action.

“They did not only distance themselves from the action but also disowned it. We don’t know where all these things are coming from. Our preliminary investigation showed that it was a fraud and a typical 419 situation. Unfortunately, they went too far in raising fraudulent documents and circulating it.

“We also heard; we are yet to see any court order that they have also used the same fraudulent document to obtain an order of the court. Whatever kind of order that might emanate from such document will also be an order obtained by fraud.

“We know that whatever order obtained by fraud is an unlawful order and we are not going to recognise, respect or obey it. The individuals behind it are not from the APC. We don’t know them and that remains our position,” Kana stated.

However, despite the posture of the party’s national leadership, the measures it has so far taken, the anxiety is that they were familiar trajectory known to many political watchers that did not rescue Ganduje’s predecessors from biting the dust.

Recall that Oshiomhole despite fighting gallantly, including obtaining similar court orders to restrain his traducers from executing his sack and even banking on the intervention of then President, Muhammadu Buhari, could not escape the dangling hammer, which finally fell on him.

However, the events that have played out since the incident started show that thunder may not strike twice in the same spot. Ganduje, armed with a rich resume of fighting and winning political battles, seems to have taken the driving seat in redirecting the surging storm against his hard-earned political reputation.

In his first official reactions, he had declared boldly that his position was unshakeable because he had the absolute backing and confidence of President Bola Tinubu to continue.

He told officials of the party’s chapter in the state: “I met with the president, and I explained to him and he said he is also thankful for what you did. What was done (suspension) is shambolic. He said you should be patient enough. This seat they are looking up to still stands unshakeable. Tell the Kano State government that on the seat of the national chairman of APC in Nigeria is Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. We are here unshakable,” he boasted.

Speaking further, Ganduje told his visitors: “You complained that you have disassociated yourselves from that false claim (suspension) and in addition, you have appealed that we take appropriate legal action according to the rule of law. This is very vital.

“When we first heard the news, we knew it was not true. But we had to exercise patience to affirm those behind it. After a formal investigation, it was found that those who met with officials of Kano State government were not executive members either at the ward, state, or even members of our party.

“These lies are peddled by the NNPP and the governor of Kano State to destroy our party because they are so concerned that during their first year in office, the people have seen the destruction of the economy of Kano down to the increase in political violence and also the destruction of political morality.”

However, despite his assurances amidst the calming storm, his detractors, both within the national leadership and outside the ruling party seem to be unrelenting in ensuring that they sabotage and force him to go down.

Ganduje, no doubt has been able to stabilise the party so much so that we are hearing less of the usual leadership crisis in the party, taking into consideration what transpired when Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Mai Mala-Buni, and Abdullahi Adamu were in charge of the party.

No doubt that the party has benefitted from his political and administrative sagacity since he assumed office last year but the former Kano governor, a man known for picking his battles, seems to be fighting on many fronts, considering the speculated relationship brewing between him and some members of the NWC on one hand and the supremacy battle escalating among his detractors in his home state, Kano.

Weighing in on the situation, a chieftain of APC who does not want his identity revealed told Daily Sun that it might take divine intervention for him to serve out his tenure, considering the volume of internal sabotage and external hostilities outside his party building up to consume him.

“There is no doubt that the presence of Ganduje as chairman has brought stability to the ruling party. For some time now, since his assumption of office, little or nothing has been heard about the usual incessant crisis constantly rocking the party previously, especially the usual rift between past Chairmen and their NWC members.

“There is no doubt too that the APC needs a stabiliser and a man with high political experience and clout like the former Kano State governor to rally round the North West to be on the same page with the present government and more importantly to whittle down the powers of the opposition parties ahead of the 2027 general elections.

“However, truth be told, the forces against him seem to be building up daily. He is also fighting battles on many fronts. Both from his home state, Kano with the present state government and his erstwhile political godfather, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, which may be his greatest undoing.

“I also heard that minor skirmishes are brewing between him and some of his NWC members over sundry unsubstantiated issues bordering on delivery of certain dividends of democracy.

“Don’t also forget that the North Central stakeholders of our party have not forgiven him for usurping the position they felt clearly belongs to the geographical zone. There were also claims by the fifth columnists that the presidency is feeling that Kwankwaso and his political structure might be more useful to President Tinubu in 2027 than that of Ganduje.

“But, beyond all these permutations and shenanigans, what may be incontrovertible is that Ganduje is not a political pushover by any standard. As I said initially, he has been able to arrest, to a large extent, the usual leadership misunderstanding which has always been a teething problem in our party to the barest minimum.

“Give it to him; he has been able to weather the storm constantly raging among the national leadership of the ruling party in the past. More importantly, he was also instrumental to the votes President Tinubu got in Kano State and by extension the North West.

“There is no doubt that he is still a force to reckon with. But it is also debatable whether the presidency will stand solidly behind him to crush his enemies. He is really fighting the toughest battle of his political career and clearly sitting on the driving seat. However, only posterity can confirm whether he will be able to wriggle out of this new political battle,” the party’s chieftain quipped.