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BATTLE LINE: As govs, ‘Abuja politicians’ engage in supremacy war

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As the 2019 elections draw close, the battle for the control of the states has heightened. Who wins? Who loses? That is the question the political actors would stand face to face with until the elections. Associate Editor, TAIWO ADISA reports the unfolding drama in the states.

WAR without end. That is what it seems each time it rears its head in the polity and it is one battle that records countless casualties. The combatants are the Abuja politicians largely peopled by the National Assembly members and the ministers against the governors, who lead the camp of the home based politicians.

In this era, the battle is playing out across many states and it is following the usual pattern.  Abuja politicians tackling the home-based or is it the home- based politicians tackling the Abuja powers? It doesn’t really come in defined patterns. Sometimes, the home-based are the antagonists and at other times the Abuja people could be the villains. While the roles are reversed at will, what is constant is the battle for power and control of the electoral machines.

The battle played out recently in Kaduna State, where the governor, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai ordered the demolition of the building belonging to Senator Hunkuyi. The said property was  being used as factional headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

In Kogi, a similar drama is playing out between Governor Yahaya Bello, who was said to have ordered the setting up of a factional office of the APC in the state. The drama that played out on Thursday signposted the extent of the war at the Kogi front. Senator Dino Melaye, who was charged to an Abuja High Court came to court armed with his toothpaste, toothbrush and tissue papers in anticipation of his being remanded in prison by the court.

It was also reported that the senator was “trapped” at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama, for hours as the process of perfecting his bail bond dragged. The senator who is representing Kogi West Senatorial District, was accused of making a false assassination claim and charged by the Federal Government. It was reported that some men of the Special Anti-Robbery squad (SARS) who were heavily armed barricaded the court and apparently blocked the entry of the Level 14 officer expected to sign the senator’s bail bond.

Before long, news had spread that some allies of the Kogi governor might have engineered the blockade of the court to ensure that Melaye spends at least 24 hours in detention.

In Akwa-Ibom and states of the Niger Delta, including Rivers and Cross Rivers, the battle has been on between appointees of the President Muhammadu Buhari into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), as some governors suspect that the NDDC chiefs would constitute a hindrance to their second term ambitions.

In Ekiti, the battle has been on between Governor Ayodele Fayose and the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Biodun Olujinmi. Olujinmi was his deputy when he served as governor between 2003 and 2006.  Fayose has also been battling the immediate past spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Dayo Adeyeye, a governorship hopeful in the state’s elections due later this year.

In Kano, the former governor and an alter ego of the incumbent, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso has practically become an outcast, as his loyalists have also become orphans in the state he led into the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013.

 

How it all started

The Abuja versus home-based politicians’ war  began  in 2001 in the build-up to the 2003 elections. The Fourth Republic was going into its first major elections and the dynamics of politics were on display. When President Olusegun Obasanjo forwarded the NDDC bill to National Assembly in 2000, he had his ideas about what the commission should look like. But the National Assembly, in passing the law showed its powers and redrafted what Obasanjo submitted. The former president vetoed the bill but the lawmakers gathered their arsenal and overturned the veto. The bill became law but it also taught Obasanjo some lessons. It was to the effect that the National Assembly had its powers and uses and that a president must find ways to massage its ego.

Since the president had to relate directly with the National Assembly on bills and passage of motions almost on a daily basis, he unwittingly began to side with the lawmakers and the Ministers in the then emerging ego war in the states. From Anambra to Enugu to Abia and many other states, Abuja politicians took over the reins and divided the state Assemblies. There were factional state Assemblies in Abia, Enugu and Anambra with the state lawmakers being relocated to Abuja at some point to pass laws for states.

With the 2003 election close by, Obasanjo was made to realise the power of the governors. He discovered that the governors were in charge of the states and the delegates that would emerge at the National Convention. Armed with that knowledge, Obasanjo made a quick turn and started siding the governors. He endorsed them as leaders of the parties in the states and sought their understanding towards his emergence for second term.

That done, the Abuja politicians, who were Obasanjo’s allies lost out in Enugu, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Plateau and many other states.

The battle for supremacy between Abuja politicians and the governors has continued since then. With the governors displaying their enormous influence in the 2015 elections that saw to the ouster of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The dynamics of the Abuja versus home based politicians in this era is however diluted and multi-facetted. The two major parties have a share of the crisis in almost equal measures.

The post BATTLE LINE: As govs, ‘Abuja politicians’ engage in supremacy war appeared first on Tribune.

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