As quest for 2019 deepens Kaduna APC crisis

The Kaduna state chapter of  the All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to wallow in leadership crises, despite winning the 2015 governorship election, two senatorial seats and 11 House of Representatives seats. The battle for 2019 between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Senator Shehu Sani, threatens to tear the party apart. Recent intervention by the party’s deputy national chairman for North West zone, Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir has not brought succour as both parties remain entrenched in their trenches. ABDULRAHEEM AODU takes a cursory look at the crisis and what it portends for the party ahead of next month’s local government elections and the quest for 2019.

The crisis rocking Kaduna state chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) deepens as the state leadership of the party is insisting on its suspension placed of Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone persists.
The reconciliation and ceasefire brokered by the National Vice Chairman (North West) of APC, Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir between both Sani and  El-Rufai seemed to have broken down following the reaffirmation of the 11- month suspension placed on the lawmaker by the state chapter of the APC.
Representing the national headquarters of the party, Abdulkadir had waded into the simmering rift tearing the party apart in Kaduna state, declaring the purported suspension of  Sani as invalid, while appealing for immediate ceasefire by all parties.

Speaking after meeting with the lawmaker,  former interim state chairman of the party, Dr Abdulhakeem Baba- Ahmed, governorship aspirant of the party, Alhaji Isa Ashiru, ex-commissioner of education in the old Kaduna state, Dr. Tom Maiyashi, ex-PDP chairman in the state and APC chieftain, Alhaji Audi Yaro Makama, women leader, Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed Baba among other stakeholders, Barrister Abdulkadir said  the party intends to end the feud and mend fences.
He said the group of stakeholders contacted the national body to find solution to the issue and that was why the meeting held to reconcile the two parties and move the party forward in the state.

He said the national body would do everything possible to resolve the crisis and ensure full reconciliation among its members in the state.
“The purported suspension of Senator Shehu Sani by the ward executives is invalid and of no effect as far as the national leadership of the party is concerned.

The ward chairman has written to the APC national secretariat dissociating himself from the action of the ward executive members.”
Baba- Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of the stakeholders at the meeting,  said there was no faction in Kaduna APC, adding that what happened was the emergence of a group that urged the party leadership in the state to return back to the party’s ideology.
“There are no factions in Kaduna state APC. There is a group of 30 stakeholders, which urged the party to go back to its ideology and promises made to the electorates during the election. We are loyal to the party, we are loyal to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, but we are concerned about the state of the party, we want to see the party deliver on its campaign promises.

“We would support the party and our Governor on achieving the promises. We have met with the (zonal) chairman and we were told that the party’s national leadership has appealed to us to stop the campaign in the media,” he said.
Senator  Sani said the party has confirmed that he was wrongfully suspended. “Now that the national leadership of the party has declared it illegal, we would observe the ceasefire and hope that there would be no violation of the ceasefire, otherwise the parties would go back to the trenches.
“The image being painted is that I and the Governor are fighting but it is natural because I was only expressing my view on what I felt wrongly. I have the fundamental right to express my view and I would enjoin the Governor to criticise me objectively and to accept criticisms. The criticisms should not be stopped.”

Reacting to the national party’s position, as espoused by the national vice chairman, the state  APC dismissed this view reiterating that Sani’s  suspension  persists, while lampooning Abdukadir for acting his own plot.
But the state APC spokesman, Hon. Salisu Tanko Wusono in a  statement, a copy of which was obtained by  Blueprint,  said Abdulkadir acted without the consent of the national leadership and contrary to Section 21 of APC’s constitution in a deliberate attempt to ridicule the party for his personal interest.
“The 11- month suspension slammed on Shehu Sani by the Kaduna state APC stands. Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir does not have the power to lift the suspension and was acting on his own without any authorization by the national leadership of the party.

“What happened on Monday in Kaduna between Abdulkadir and the so-called APC chieftains was an abuse of his office in promoting the narrow agenda of people who have never been interested in the progress and success of the APC,” Wusono said, accusing  Abdulkadir of embarrassing the national leadership and loyal membership of the APC by his conduct.
“Can a Senator in Inuwa Abdulkadir’s Sokoto state abuse and denigrate party leadership without being disciplined?  The national leadership of the APC, President Buhari, his Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and other leaders of the APC are aware of Shehu Sani’s anti-party activities and his involvement in plots to undermine the APC governments at the federal and state level.

“Senator Shehu Sani stands suspended from participating in all APC activities in the state. Why is he not attending President Buhari and Vice President Osibanjo’s functions in Kaduna? Why is he not participating in our activities? Why is it that the PDP senator from Southern Kaduna attends critical state functions and not him?
“All the 11 APC lawmakers in House of Reps from the state are loyal to our leadership. All the 28 APC lawmakers in the Kaduna State House of Assembly are standing by the party and its government. Shehu Sani has chosen to be on his own, and the APC cannot abide his acute irresponsibility and his lack of party discipline,”  the spokesperson further  added.

Since winning the April 2015 presidential and gubernatorial elections in Kaduna state, the APC  has remained united only on the surface, while displaying uneasy calm beneath, as party chieftains jostle for positions and appointments.
The compression of the Kaduna state ministries and commissioners by Governor  El-Rufai coupled with the appointment of caretaker chairmen for the 23 local government areas in the state heightened the anxiety, as many chieftains felt disappointed that they were not carried along effectively despite their contributions to the merger and the party’s quest for power and battle against PDP in the state.

The election of party chairman,  Arch. Barnabas Bala Bantex as the deputy governor and the subsequent appointments of more than a quarter of the 25-man state party executives into the state cabinet and other positions, left vacuums which the aggrieved party chieftains believed should be filled.
But El-Rufai’s reluctance to fill the vacuums  has increased the simmering rift and gave birth to the belief that he has hijacked the party and is running it from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House to the detriment of other party chieftains and members.

Things came to a head during the last Sallah festival when Senator  Sani distributed cows and camels to Muslims within the seven local government areas within the Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone. Answering questions from reporters about his quest for gubernatorial seat come 2019,  Sani responded that if his people wanted him to lead them, then he would not say no because he cannot refuse the wish of his people.
This action was not taken with kid’s glove at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, as it is seen as an affront for the Senator to brazenly announce his readiness to contest the 2019 gubernatorial election few months into his four years senatorial tenure.
The continued criticism of El-Rufai’s programmes and activities such as the demolition of houses in Zaria and shops in printers’ village in Kaduna North, the banning of beggars and hawkers in the state by the lawmaker,  who believed the governor should have concentrated on provision of infrastructure, rehabilitating schools and welfare scheme for the invalids, only fuelled the crisis.

As both parties return to the trenches, there must be jitters in the spine of the APC national leadership to find a way of resolving the crises because Kaduna state, being the political hub of the North, remains vital for the APC project and the PDP would be lurking to see how they can take advantage of the weaknesses to increase their own strength ahead of 2019.
Though Senator Sani said  nobody has wooed him from the PDP and he will remain in APC for eternity, it remain to be seen if he would persist with that position despite being clearly shown the exit door and even being gradually nudged towards it.

The activism in Sani is not diminishing and might not diminish. So long as this remains, the conflict between him and the state chief executive might have just begun.
The actions and inactions of the gladiators in the next few weeks and months will determine where the battle for the soul of the party would swing and what would become of the true APC in Kaduna state. Finally, where the national headquarters of the party stands in all of this,  remain a major factor in the resolution of  this seeming endless crisis.