Barely five months after reclaiming the governance of Adamawa state things seem to have fallen apart within the PDP family in the state over the choice of the party candidates in the forthcoming local government election. Muazu Abari writes.
Most people expected the party to have learnt its lessons from their 2015 failure or the recent defeat of the APC in 2019 election. They thought the party would avoid needless crisis capable of affecting the chances of the party but instead concentrate on how to better the lots of the people so as to earn their trust and confidence in the next election but the reverse seems to be the case.
How the crisis started
The decision by Hon Kwamoti La’aori Kwamoti-led screening committee to disqualify some of the aspirants who purchased the party nomination forms to vie for the chairmanship and councellorship positions seems to have sparked off this crisis.
The disqualification did not go down well with some stakeholders who saw it as political witch hunting against fellow party members believed to have worked against the governor in the PDP gubernatorial primaries where he emerged as candidate and eventually won the March 9 governorship election.
The disqualification generated protest from some stakeholders and party members across the 21 local governments in the state. For instance, a group of PDP supporters backed by some senior party stakeholders under the auspices of “Concerned citizens of Numan addressed a press conference to protest the decision.
Speaking at a press conference in Yola, the spokesman of the group Mr Vidiyabo Pegiel accused the screening committee of conniving with the state government to disqualify all popular candidates seen as a threat to government interest. The group alleged they were disqualified on flimsy grounds.
“Why did they disqualify most popular candidates? In Numan, for instance, they disqualified Hon Jackson Nayinso on flimsy excuse that his resignation was not approved by the national headquarters of NULGE. Why did they clear Hon. Innocent koto whose promotion from GL 08-12 is being questioned because an accelerated promotion was given to him to pave way for his appointment as secretary of Numan local government?
“Why are some chairmanship and councellorship candidates cleared by the committee despite allegations against them that, they are still civil servants on government payroll? We are appealing to PDP NEC members, state executive council members and the executive governor to look into our grievances to avert future actions, which may lead to the downfall of the party”.
Almost all the 21 local governments in the state have witnessed one form of protest or the other with some party stakeholders also kicking against the development in the party just as the senator representing Adamawa North senatorial district Elisha Ishiaku Abbo in a statement also condemned this decision and called for its reversal.
“The 24 PDP leaders were disqualified from contesting the forthcoming local government election in Adamawa state by the screening committee chaired by Hon Kwamoti Laori a known ally of the governor.
“The disqualified aspirants, including the deputy state chairman of the party and other state and local government executives committee members, were disqualified on frivolous grounds and some on outright lies to avoid conducting a free and fair primary election for fear that their anointed candidates will lose.
“As one of the leaders of the party in Adamawa state and a major stakeholder, I want the PDP in the state to quickly reverse such devilish decision so that the party will not be plunged into a crisis of no return. Can’t we manage success for once? Must we become dictators over night eventhough we are beneficiaries of free and fair election in Adamawa state in 2019 as allowed by President Buhari?
“Why does the PDP want to blow the bridge that brought us to power? So the PDP in Adamawa state has not learnt any lesson from their 2015 dangerous primary election manipulations that sink the party into gutter?
“Leaders, especially elected ones, in positions of trust must leave beyond personal interest arising from ego, religion or ethnic interest in the overall interest of the Nigerian people. While, I believed that the appeal committee will do justice and reverse such self serving, self helping shame, I call on the party to immediately set up a committee to prove these enemies of our party and make their findings public.
“I have called the party chairman and had written the national chairman so that PDP in Adamawa state will be safe for when it happened don’t say I didn’t warn you. I will write you more and I will soon address the press”, the senator warned.
When contacted over these unfortunate development within the party the state, the party secretary, Abdullahi Prambe , said “we have already constitute an appeal committee to listen to all forms of complaints, anybody who is not satisfied with the decision can lodged a formal complaints to the committee”.
The appeal committee received 18 partitions across the 21 local governments but not much has been achieved as the committee seems to have upheld the earlier decision of the screening committee as expected by some person. This prompted Sen Abbo on behalf of other stakeholders to issue another warning expressing concern over the future of the party.
“I am personally updating my supporters and those that are genuinely concerned about the future of our party the PDP in Adamawa state. This is after consulting widely with real stakeholders of PDP home and abroad.
“I want to maintain, and mark my words, that the party under the leadership of Gov Fintiri in Adamawa state is heading for self destruction unless he reverses some of his unpopular decision and cease to be a dictator. For the records, I met the governor three times before different witnesses over the vexation arising from the LG election and he assured us that he will not interfere and will allow free and fair election process.
“That was not to be as he ordered the screening committee to disqualify candidates he felt are close to me after findings indicated that his candidates will lose even if he transfers the CBN to those LGAS.
“Gov Fintiri did that to pave way for his anointed candidates to contest the election unopposed. The appeal committee did a good work and sent its report to the party after 3 days and the party waited for the governor for 9 days to arrived at his decision before over ruling the recommendations of the committee. Can he or any of his official spoke persons deny this so that I will fully open up?”
“Let me state it clearly that I never got elected because of any god father. I don’t have any. If only for the record purposes and for posterity sake Gov Fintiri worked against me day and night, during the primary election.
“He even drove to and slept in Mubi where he held nocturnal meetings just to defeat me. I posted the result of the primary election as follows SYB and minions 17 votes 29%, Fintiri and his anointed candidate Marafa 74 votes 12.8%, Abbo and the masses 464 votes 80.3% and during the general election, I polled more votes than Fintiri even though my election and that of the president was same day and time and you think ‘am nobody in PDP because you don’t like me or don’t like my style?
“Let it be known that I will never keep quiet and watch Fintiri take my people back to Egypt. I will never allow him to take my people who voted for him to political wilderness. I know so many things that these ignorant people talking will weep if we speak out but I will save it for the appropriate time. I demand the national secretariat of PDP to quickly safe the party from total collapse in Adamawa state. We will never listen to or be part of fake reconciliation after we were cheated”.
The controversial PDP LG primaries
Amids these protests and divisions some aspirants of the party went ahead to conduct chairmanship and councillorship primaries in all the 21 local governments, and turned out to be one of the most controversial in the history of the state.
The primaries was marred by violence and alleged imposition of candidates in most local governments, which further compounded the internal squabbles within the party in the state.
One of the aspirants from Maiha local government in the Northern senatorial district Mahmud Othman said: ” In most of the local governments in the zone, the primaries were grilled with gunshots sending people to all directions similar problems were recorded in other 4 local governments of Michika, Madagali, Mubi North and Mubi South because of imposition of government favoured candidates and disqualification of people preferred ones”.
Another party member in Ganye in the southern zone of the state, Micheal Gwangwazo, said” They wanted to cheat us because the party primary was not conducted in a transparent manner. They want to impose their unpopular candidates on us “.
In almost all the 21 local governments, the story was the same the election was allegedly marred by violence, protests, and allegation and counter allegations. At the end of the exercise, the party leadership in the state failed to formally announced the winners of the primaries more than one week after the exercise was concluded giving rise to speculations that, the result was missing unlike APC who called a press conference to announce the winners of their primary across the 21 local governments, stating how they emerged through election, consensus and affirmation.
Abbo bombs Fintiri
As this protests within the party continued and having initially issue two press statements on the happenings within the party without any positive result, Sen Elisha Abbo decided to addressed a press conference where he descended hard on Gov Fintiri describing him as a dictator and a small man in a big office, who is hell bent to destroy the party in the state.
“You all know what happened to PDP in 2015 in Adamawa state, when the party mismanaged its success the opposition APC came and swept us with their brooms. We lost the presidency, we lost the gubernatorial seat, we lost 3 senators, 7 out of 8 Reps members, we became empty and regrouped and came back as a party. I, as a person, I know my sacrifices; I sold virtually everything I had to advertise the PDP in Adamawa. We won election and after the election the governor feel he is an alpha and omega, he can do and undo. He doesn’t see any party stakeholder in the state, he constituted himself into a demi- god, and this is unacceptable.
“I am not afraid, as I am a product of the people. The governor hijacked the party, running it like a gangster. They are going for local governments’ election you are not yet 3 months in office you put it as a kind of law that all local governments party chairmen would be made transition committee chairmen of local governments. You went back and look at the lists of people that did not vote for you during your primary election but in the same party with you and said they cannot be local government chairmen.
“How can a governor be so petty that is pettiness I don’t like petty leaders and you wend again to look me as threat. I am not a threat to the governor, I should be adding value to him if he is smart. He should use my energy to help him fight his enemies, not making a political enemy out of me.
“The governor is petty he should stand up and be the governor of Adamawa state. He is in an exalted office, should grow up to his office. If he sees you discussing or shaking hands with me, they will tell him you are with me, and he disqualified 24 party leaders including the state deputy party chairman from contesting local governments election.
“He must grow to his office I have always said it that if you take a small man and give him a big office, he will bring the office to his level that’s what’s happening in Adamawa state. The governor is a small man, he wants to destroyed the PDP in Adamawa state. We are watching. I said it on my post, I have more votes than him in his own senatorial district in the primary election, he did not support me and he was openly against me and everybody knew.
Fintiri fires back
Reacting to this Salvo, Gov Ahmadu Fintiri described the senator’s attacks on him and his office as unfortunate and he took exception to the attacks saying that, he is too busy with the task of moving Adamawa forward and would not want to join issues with the senator for now. But he advised him and others to channel their complaints to the appropriate party structure.
The governor’s reaction was contained in a press statement signed by his Director General on Media and Communications, Mr Solomon Kumanga, which reads in part:
“The attention of his excellency, Rt Hon Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, the executive governor of Adamawa state, has been drawn to a video circulating in the social media which distinguished Sen Ishaku Abbo representing Adamawa North senatorial district attempted to cast aspersions on the governor.
“His Excellency views the senator’s action as unfortunate and takes exception to the insults, innuendos and attacks on his person and office. However, for now the governor does not intend to join issues with the senator. Rather, His excellency is in the delicate phase of laying strong bricks for the security, growth, development and prosperity of the people and institutions of Adamawa state, and would not want to be distracted.
“His Excellency hereby calls on distinguish Senator Abbo, and indeed all loyal PDP members, to explore available intra-party channels to express their grievances in a civilised and democratic manner to engender cohesion and solidarity. His Excellency wishes Distinguish Senator Abbo, all the best in his endeavours.”
Groups, stakeholders take sides with Fintiri, Abbo
Following these development various groups and PDP stakeholders in the state continued to come out to support either the governor or the senator in their ongoing face off and divisions within the part.
The first group to fire the salvo is the PDP stakeholders from Mubi North where they senator come from who organised a press conference in Yola to condemn the senator and distance themselves from him urging him to leave the governor alone and concentrate on his responsibilities of making laws that will bring development to Nigerians and succour to his people rather than making needless attack on the governor.
They also extolled the giant strides of the administration within the shortest time in office and advised the senator to join hands with the governor.
Another group under the auspices of Adamawa Peace defends also issue a press statement and threatened to sue Sen Abbo and gave him one week ultimatum to apologize to the governor and the people of Adamawa state for what they group called “his inflammatory comments and attacks on Fintiri, which they said was capable of breaching peace in the state.
But in a dramatic turn of event, other groups in the state raise in defence of Sen Abbo saying the ongoing internal squabble within the party was capable of destroying it. But the most surprising of all was the one held by some PDP stakeholders of Mubi North who participated in the earlier press conference held by Fintiri’s group condemning Abbo actions.
After finishing from the earlier press conference condemning Abbo some of them break away and called a parallel press conference to distance themselves from the first press conference against Abbo and throw their weight behind him describing the first press conference as shameless dance of sycophancy.
“We have no reason for whatsoever to distance ourselves from our young and dynamic senator. We stand firm by our duly elected senator and proudly applaud his work and presentation so far. Therefore, we distance ourselves from this shameless dance of sycophancy”, the group said.
With these draw of battle line and divisions within the party amiss so many unresolved issues, most analysts believe that for the party to scale the hurdles of the forthcoming local government election, the crises if not resolved would spell doom for the party. It happened to it in 2015 and to the APC in 2019, which brought the PDP back to power.