In Gombe State, there is anxiety in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as leaders seek fresh ways to resolve disagreements amongst the leaders in the state, reports Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan
The rivalry between former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, and some prominent chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has polarized the party in the northeastern state. Observers of the politics of the state are of the opinion that the festering crisis, which once led to the dissolution of the executive committee of the party in the state and the constitution of a caretaker committee in its place, if not checked in good time, is capable of hampering the growth of the party in the state.
But a new twist was introduced into the crisis recently when Goje again fell out with the chairman of the caretaker committee, Captain Bala Jibrin. Amidst allegations and counter-allegations between the two, the party in the state is once again divided into two camps with chieftains lining up behind the two gladiators while confusion reigns supreme among members.
While Goje is widely acclaimed as one of the pillars of the party in the state, several allegations of how his activities are causing problems within the party also abound. But close aides of the ex-governor have debunked allegations against him, saying instead that some chieftains of the party, who are scared of Goje’s political relevance, are working to undermine his interest within the party.
The Nation learnt that recent efforts to unite the warring groups within the party in the state yielded no fruit as the gladiators continued with their internal wrangling and scheming. And to further complicate the situation, a new group, made up of ex-members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), in the state, emerged within the troubled APC.
It was gathered that the national leadership of the ruling party is unhappy with the development and may take drastic steps to stem the tide of crisis soon. Sources within the party in the state told The Nation that some of the major gladiators in the crisis, including Goje and Jibrin, have been summoned by the national leadership of the party, in a renewed effort to address the festering crisis.
The Nation also learnt that members of the party are saddened that the crisis affected the party’s preparation for the February 25 council election in the state. According to Habu Muazu, a former PDP chieftain who is now with the APC, the party’s preparation for the council poll was severely curtailed by the refusal of the various groups to work together.
“We as party chieftains are unhappy about this crisis. It is not good for the growth of our party. We want to take over the government of Gombe State in 2019. The people of the state are ready for us. Gombe State is tired of PDP. But this crisis is setting us back. The local government is a good example of how the party is affected. The campaign for the council election suffered seriously due to the refusal of our leaders to unite.
“Those fighting themselves are not doing the party any good. The national leadership of the party must once again intervene in the case of Gombe APC. All we are out for, as leaders of this great party, is the progress of the party. We are out to make sure we unseat PDP in the next election and so, we cannot afford to be divided,” he said.
Meanwhile, some party sources have fingered plans by incumbent Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of the PDP, to decamp to the opposition APC ahead of the 2019 general election, as one of the major causes of the crisis rocking the party. There are unconfirmed reports that Dankwambo may be joining the APC anytime soon.
A chieftain of the APC, who was a state executive member of the defunct CPC in the state before now, said the camp of Senator Goje is apprehensive over reports that the governor is planning to join the APC through one of the other groups within the party. He alleged that the former governor is determined to stop Dankwambo and his people from joining the party.
“Politics is a game of numbers and the more, the merrier. But that is not so with some of our leaders here in APC Gomber State. Some of them are bent on keeping the party to themselves only. They don’t want other eminent people to come into the party, forgetting that they also defected from one party to join us in the APC.
“The governor wants to join APC. Not only the governor, many other eminent politicians in Gombe State, especially those in the PDP, are desirous of crossing over to the APC to be part of the exemplary performance of President Muhammadu Buhari. But they are worried about the activities of one of our leaders in the APC.
“And sadly too, we have people who are determined to stop Dankwambo and his people from joining the party. But some others want him and as many others who may be interested in joining our party, to come in and further strengthen us. The more people we have in our midst, especially the more heavyweight politicians we have, the easier our desire to take over the government of the state in 2019.
A tough one
Speaking on the crisis in the party in Gombe State, the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, said the crisis in the state is not pleasing to the APC. He said the party is determined to solve all the problems. It is for this reason, he explained, that a new caretaker committee was inaugurated recently.
The newly constituted caretaker committee, The Nation gathered, has as its members, the following party chieftains from outside Gombe State: Idi Barde Gubana as the Chairman, Sani Haruna as the Deputy Chairman, Bello Kasimu Maigari as the Secretary and A.B. Lusa, who will function as the Legal Adviser of the committee.
“We have had a lot of challenges running the party in Gombe State; challenges, which I narrated when we inaugurated the first caretaker committee. We got to a stage where a consensus was reached as to how we can move the party in Gombe State forward. Arising from that, we constituted a caretaker committee. The caretaker committee did a wonderful job; but along the line, we observed some irreconcilable differences among the members.
“Observing that there was no way they could reconcile themselves, their personal differences, for that reason, and only that reason we decided to ask them to step aside, and we are today inaugurating a newly reconstituted caretaker committee. The caretaker committee basically is not there to do any other thing, except what the national headquarter has asked them to do on the basis of resolutions reached with the stakeholders of Gombe during its meeting with the National Working Committee (NWC).
“Any other thing should be left for the NWC to handle. We can handle every challenge; if we have the cooperation of the stakeholders. The newly constituted caretaker committee has a mission, a mandate, and they are only expected to discharge their mandate, not any other thing,” Shuaibu said Hon Khamisu Mailantarki, who represented Gombe/Kwame/Funakaya Federal Constituency of the state before he was removed as a federal lawmaker by the courts. The APC chieftain, like many others in the state, is worried about the turn of events and he would want the party hierarchy to promptly address the problems. According to him, Senator Goje is not helping matters within the party.
“It really is unfortunate that our major problem is that one of our elders, right from when he joined the APC, has given us one headache after another. We did raise the alarm when he joined the party, but no one gave ear. Since Senator Danjuma Goje joined the APC, we have had issues relating to selfishness, imposition of candidates and impunity, because Goje and his group formed the executive committee when the merger occurred in the state.
There were a lot of issues and the national secretariat had to send some persons to investigate and settle the rift, but Goje went ahead to impose candidates on the people. The one which I think is the worst of all he has done is sending his thugs to go beat up an acting chairman of the APC in the state, Captain Bala Jibrin and, because of his recklessness; there is a new caretaker committee for the party in the state, chaired by a person who is not a native of Gombe, but was sent by the national secretariat to settle the issues within the party.
Before now, everyone knows that the chairman was doing a good job and he made sure that everyone got a fair playing ground. Goje did not like that arrangement and some of the changes taking place within the party; so, he started harassing the chairman. It is embarrassing that Goje, a former governor, cannot allow peace to reign in the party in the state,” he lamented.
But Goje, while delivering a vote of thanks at the inauguration of the new caretaker committee, debunked all the allegations leveled against him. The senator blamed the crisis in the party on what he called “fake reports” that he was planning to impose a governor in the state, come 2019.
According to him, it is actually the people spreading false stories about him and the party that are the problems of the party in Gombe State. He expressed readiness to work and support the newly inaugurated caretaker committee, saying his primary desire is for the APC to displace the ruling PDP from the Government House in 2019.
“Danjuma Goje has no governorship candidate he wants to install in Gombe. The ultimate aim is to have an APC governor in Gombe State, come 2019. My primary desire is for the APC to displace the ruling PDP from the Government House in 2019. I am ready to work with the Honourable Idi Barde Gubana-led caretaker committee towards making APC a formidable platform ahead of 2019,“ Goje said.