By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
As Junaid Mohammed flays President’s reliance on family
Increasing polarisation within state chapters of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in key northern states is posing a challenge to the electoral invincibility of President Muhammadu Buhari in states he had in the past taken for granted.
The APC is polarised in Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna States, which are among the six most populated states in the North that had in the past provided the bulk of the votes for Buhari.
The other two heavy voting states, where the party is not in crisis are Sokoto and Borno. While the president is sure of taking Borno on account of the unflinching loyalty of Governor Kashim Shettima to his perceived second term aspiration, the same cannot be said of Sokoto given continued pressures on Governor Aminu Tambuwal to also contest the 2019 presidential election.
Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a critic of the president, told Vanguard, yesterday, that the problems of the president are compounded by his failure to build the party and his decision to surround himself with those he claimed as friends and family, who know little or nothing about party organisation.
The problems for Buhari even start at his home, Katsina, where the APC is sharply divided into two factions, the mainstream APC loyal to Governor Aminu Masari and the APC-Akida, comprising strong dissidents, including former Senate Leader, Senator M.T. Liman, and Dr. Usman Bugaje.
The Katsina APC-Akida has grown to form structures across the state and has continued to flay policies and programmes of Governor Masari leading to a no love lost relationship between the governor and a sizeable proportion of the APC family in Katsina State.
“To bolster himself, the governor has lately been trying to poach support from PDP members,” a Katsina-based political stakeholder told Vanguard as he noted the recent defection of the immediate past Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Yau GojoGojo.
The same situation of unease is also prevailing in neighbouring Kaduna State, where another form of APC-Akida has grown around Senator Shehu Sani and other influential rivals of Governor Nasir el-Rufai such as a former chairman of the party in the state, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed. Baba-Ahmed after a face-off with El-Rufai left the party and is now the Chief of Staff to Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
The division in the state chapter arose after Senator Sani claimed that Governor el-Rufai patronised General Mohammed Saleh in the APC senatorial primaries before the 2015 election.
Saleh, a very close confidant of Buhari despite his loss of the Kaduna Central Senatorial primaries emerged to become the recipient of patronages such as appointments for his followers to the chagrin of Sani. Despite continuing to profess loyalty to Buhari, Sani’s intentions remain unclear.
Bauchi may become endangered for him
In Bauchi State, the situation is not any better. Despite recent moves towards reconciliation between Governor Mohammed Abubakar and the majority of the state’s delegation to the National Assembly, the crisis, it is believed, could fester until the election when one of the sides could decide to work against whoever was recognised. The fear is that Bauchi State, which Buhari has won in all his election outings, could for once become endangered for him.
Division between Kwankwaso, Ganduje/Buhari supporters
In Kano State, the crisis between the mainstream of the party led by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and supporters of his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso could also influence the push for votes for Buhari should he win the party ticket.
Kwankwaso’s seeming determination to contest the presidential election on the platform of the APC or the PDP is not of any comfort to Buhari’s canvassers even though they claim that the president would trounce Kwankwaso in Kano anytime.
Remarkably, a number of key party operatives and political office holders have continued to give allegiance to Kwankwaso putting the party divided between supporters of Kwankwaso and those of Ganduje/Buhari.
Junaid Mohammed flays President’s reliance on family
Noting the danger that the divisions in the four states pose to Buhari’s re-election quest, Dr. Mohammed, observed that the president had not helped matters by not helping to build the party at the national and state levels.
He said instead of building the party, the president had rather positioned his family and friends around him to shape his politics.
He said: “No successful party, if you look at history, had been able to survive a major crisis from within its ranks and this is what we are seeing in the APC today.
“APC was formed in a hurry and the structures were not put well in place. You have to spend a lot of time to build the party, but Buhari has not done so, but has been contemptuous of the party and preferred to deal with his in-laws, relations and what have you.
“If they continue to subvert themselves, they will not succeed because what you see is a party having parallel structures in some of these states and people moving between the two structures, which is not good. It’s like two women married to a man, there can never be peace.
“Unfortunately, he has been advised by the cabal of friends and family that he can win irrespective of the situation and they believe that they can win with money and more money. So, except he organises his house, he is in danger,” Dr. Mohammed, a second Republic House of Representatives member, told Vanguard.