The national headquarters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) recently sacked the officials of the party in Gombe State and appointed caretaker committee members in a move pundits believe was taken to end apparent crisis in the party.
The Gombe State chapter of the APC was enmeshed in crisis since 2015, after the party lost the gubernatorial election to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Some political observers in the state believe the crisis started during the party’s primary poll to elect the flag bearer for the 2015governorship election. The election, they say, brought into conflict the two indisputable leaders of the party in the state, a former governor, now senator, Muhammad Danjuma Goje, and Senator Usman Bayero Nafada, who was a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.
In Gombe, the two men are described as strange bed fellows. Goje, popularly referred as the state leader of the party, joined the APC from the then nPDP after he fell out with his successor, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who took over from him in 2011.
On his part, Nafada reportedly joined the APC to realise his long term ambition of calling the shots at the Government House, Gombe, four years after Goje allegedly denied him the ticket in favour of Dankwambo.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, who was Goje’s finance commissioner for eight years, equally defected to the APC from the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the party he took refuge in not long after Dankwambo won the 2011 gubernatorial election.
Trouble in the APC, however, started manifesting itself prior to the gubernatorial primary election in 2015, when Goje reportedly declared that he was not going to back any candidate for the office of the governor, saying that the primary poll was organised for aspirants to test their popularity.
However, sources said on the day of the party’s primary poll, Goje allegedly worked for Inuwa Yahaya to emerge victorious. The development, it was learnt, angered the two other contestants of the seat, Nafada and Alhaji Murtala Aliyu who lost the ticket to Yahaya.
But, at the time, the APC was able to broker peace by compensating Bayero with the Gombe North Senatorial District ticket. In fact, the senatorial primary poll for the district was said to be deliberately delayed and manipulated to favour whoever came second after the gubernatorial primary election.
Both Goje and Yahaya reportedly worked to ensure victory of Bayero during the March 28 senatorial election which took place on the same day with the presidential election. Goje also retained his seat as the senator for Gombe Central Senatorial District.
However, during the governorship election on April 11, the APC candidate was defeated by the incumbent PDP governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who is now into his second term in office. Yahaya managed to win only Gombe local government, out of five councils that made up Gombe North, the zone believed by many to be Senator Bayero Nafada’s stronghold.
Therefore, the failure of Nafada to deliver his zone to the party was viewed with suspicion in Goje’s camp.
Goje’s loyalists largely held the view that by conniving with the PDP, Nafada had denied the APC the strength it needed to wrestle power from Dankwambo.
Worried by the alleged anti-party activities of Nafada, the deputy chairman and secretary of the APC in the state, Mr Karu Ishaya and Sallau Manu Pindiga, respectively, believed to be members of the Goje faction, called a press conference and announced the suspension of Nafada from the party. Also suspended were the state chairman of the APC, Barrister Mohammed Magaji Doho, and 12 other executive members, who were all accused of working for the PDP candidate.
But few hours after the press conference, Doho called another one and expelled Goje, Yahaya and 22 executive members of the party considered loyal to Goje. However, the last blow that dealt the APC worst harm was the pronouncement by Doho, after the court of appeal affirmed Dankwambo as the winner of the April 11 election.
Without looking around, Doho accepted the verdict, saying the APC will not appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court. That pronouncement, pundits argue, had confirmed the suspicions held in Goje’s camp that Nafada and Doho, indeed, worked for Dankwambo’s victory at the poll.
Since then, peace eluded the APC with Doho and some of the party’s officials relocating to Gombe Local Government Area office of the party to operate from there, while Karu Ishaya’s faction, retained the state secretariat with each faction claiming to be the authentic body recognised by the national secretariat of the party.
Therefore, worried by the crisis rocking the party in Gombe, and the failure of the zonal officials to broker peace among the aggrieved members, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC, recently, announced the dissolution of the factions and constituted a caretaker committee, under the leadership of the Alhaji Lawan Shettima.
A statement issued by the National Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, said that the party waded into the matter to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable differences among the top hierarchy, which led to the factionalisation of the party in the state.
“The NWC of our party, in exercise of its power contained in Article 13.4 (xvi & xvii) of the party’s constitution, resolves to accept the resignation of Mr Karu Ishaya and Mr Sallau Manu Pindiga, as state deputy chairman and state secretary respectively, and relieved Barrister Muhammed Magaji Doho and Barrister Dauda Manu, as state chairman and state legal adviser respectively,” the statement said.
The statement added that the NWC approved the composition of caretaker committee under the leadership of Alhaji Lawan Shettima as state chairman, Captain Bala Jibrin, deputy chairman, Alhaji Sule Yakubu, secretary and Barrister Joseph William, legal adviser. In an interview with the Daily Trust, the erstwhile secretary of the party, Pindiga, recalled that the state chapter of the party had passed through a trying period, saying: “Since after we lost the 2015 governorship election in the state, the APC in Gombe had been in crisis as a result of anti-party activities of some members.
“We reported the situation to the headquarters in Abuja, showcasing all our allegations against the Doho’s faction. The NWC asked Doho to organise a reconciliation meeting at the state secretariat in Gombe with us, but, for over a week, he refused to convene the meeting. “We reported to Abuja again and the NWC decided that since we cannot resolve our difference, we should resign to allow the party constitute a caretaker committee to steer the affairs of the party, stabilise it and conduct election into the four positions vacated by us.” Pindiga said that they tendered their resignation letter out of respect for the party, alleging that Doho and Manu refused to do so. “That was why they were subsequently sacked by the NWC,” he said.
However, political followers of the event say that with the dissolution of the Doho-led executive committee, the Goje-led faction has dealt a defeating blow to the Nafada-led faction because the state secretariat where the caretaker committee chairman will be operating from is under the control of Goje’s faction, recognised by the national headquarters of the party.
Also, the decision to boycott the swearing-in ceremony of the caretaker committee by the members of Nafada’s faction points to the fact that the crisis is not yet over. Only Goje and his loyalists were seen at the venue.
However, an APC chieftain in the state, Kabiru Ibn Muhammad, said that the dissolution of the party executive was the last option available for the NWC to resolve the crisis that rocked state chapter of the APC. He dismissed the absence of the other faction during the swearing-in of the caretaker committee members as normal occurrence in politics, saying that he was optimistic that the Shettima-led committee will reach out to the aggrieved members and the party will be stronger.