It remains to be seen whether the Abubakar Baraje nPDP ‘Movement of the People’ would be the proverbial last straw that would break the oPDP camel’s back, or perhaps the latter still has the capacity to mend its shattered umbrella for the umpteenth time.
Baraje, surrounded by enthusiastic governors and their exuberant supporters, at the recent press event at Kano Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, announced the ‘merger’ of the nPDP with the APC. Merger indeed; even though nPDP had no registration from the Independent National Electoral Commissions (INEC) to legally practice in the country’s political arena.
Five governors apparently joined Baraje on this momentous journey. Two –
Jigawa’s Sule Lamido and Niger’s Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu – quickly retorted that they were still in the ‘PDP’. As there is no longer an nPDP, it may be assumed that, unless they say the contrary, they are back in the oPDP from which they ‘rebelled’, according to Chairman Bamanga Tukur school of thought, or fought on principle, according to theirs. Only time will tell whether Lamido and Aliyu are cowards or heroes, fearful or careful, or they are just biding their own time.
The other five governors all have their motives for this movement into APC. Essentially, it is thought that when the ‘Federal Might’ (in the form of EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct, etc.,) come charging in, it would be useful to be friends with a region (South West) that has most of the nation’s lawyers – and deepest pockets.
For those who remember, when then Borno governor Muhammadu Goni left Waziri Ibrahim’s Great Nigeria Peoples’ Party (GNPP) and joined Obafemi Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) back in 1983, it was expected that Goni would resign as governor to re-contest on his new platform, as Kano governor Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi did when he left Aminu Kano’s Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) for Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NPP). As it turned out, Goni refused. When he was challenged in court, Goni’s new political boss Awo was said to have transferred most of the senior South West lawyers, including then-scarce SANs, to Maiduguri to stand for Goni. And the icing on the cake was that the Lagos-Ibadan media took up the fray. All of a sudden, Borno was the news.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju, who is now the de facto Awo as South West political leader, is expected to array such legal arsenal as is necessary for any of the nPDP types that may (and will) need protection from the Federal Might. Then, also, the Lagos media, many of them effectively in the hands of Tinubu or sympathetic to his cause, will be very useful when confronting a government with such a Public Relations deficit. Tinubu is also reputed to have deep pockets, which is very useful in African politics.
But let’s see examine the individual nPDP ‘decampees’.
Adamawa – Here, though ‘Baba Mai Mangoro’ Murtala Nyako has dispelled rumours he is grooming his son to take over, the gossip refuses to die. Sharing a party with people such as Atiku Abubakar, Bamanga Tukur, Jibril Aminu, Wakilin Adamawa, etc., it is wiser to jump over to the less-formidable Muhammadu Buba Marwa stables. The retired Admiral, who could have been head of state like his friends on the hills of Minna and Otta, apparently did Adamawa a favour by descending so low to be governor, a position he had held a generation earlier. For him, Mangoro is surely sweeter than politics.
Kano – Here, governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso suffers no fools; he craves 100% loyalty to his personality cult. Until this merger, he had no party to call his own; the Bamanga oPDP (and with it Ambassador Aminu Wali, former House Speaker Ghali Na’Abba and former Minister Shamsuddin Usman), are in control of the PDP in Kano State, having waited until the end of the tenure of the Kwankwaso-installed state PDP. Then, also, there is the Shekarau Factor. Kwankwaso has never forgiven Ibrahim Shekarau, the permanent-secretary-turn-school-teacher (demotion courtesy Kwankwaso) that came round to defeat his former boss in the 2003 governorship election. Kwankwaso has for long been sucking up to General Muhammadu Buhari to spite Shekarau; therefore the opportunity to join APC is seized with alacrity in order to upstage Shekarau, one of APC’s midwives.
Kwara – Here, you have a new political godfather, former governor Bukola Saraki. Having ‘defeated’ his own father’s choice for governor in 2011, the auto-anointed new leader of Kwara politics is taking over the legacy of the Oloye. It may be remembered that the late Senator Abubakar Olusola Saraki was only a seasonal PDP member; he had actually been with the All Peoples’ Party (APP, precursor of the ANPP) and had almost become its presidential candidate in 1999. Now that Senator Bukola is being hounded by Federal Might, his own anointed, governor AbdulFattah Ahmed, would surely do his boss’ bidding. Ahmed may not have forgotten the fates of formers governors late Mohammed Lawal and Adamu Atta in the hands of the elder Saraki. So, wherever Bukola goes, there goes Ahmed.
Sokoto – Here, the governor, Aliyu Wamakko, was never a PDP man. He had stood for election as ANPP candidate. Sensing that former governor Attahiru Bafarawa’s then new Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) may wreak some havoc in the Sokoto gubernatorial elections, the PDP thought it wiser to swallow its pride and give Wamakko the party and the candidacy. Its own candidate was relegated. So the two parties – PDP and ANPP – managed to scrape through a victory, which perhaps only stood because it never reached retired Court of Appeal President Isa Ayo Salami on appeal. Then in Sokoto (as in Kano’s Shekarau Factor) there is the Bafarawa Factor. Wamakko would indeed want to upstage Bafarawa as owner and custodian of the APC, even though Bafarawa is a major midwife of this new baby APC.
Rivers – Here, Rotimi Amaechi knows their type of politics in the South-South. If you are not lucky, you get killed; like they did Harry Marshall, who was Buhari’s points-man in 2003, or the ruling party’s own Aminasoari Dokubo. If you are luckier, like Timi Sylva, you lose the governorship and get arrested even if you are hiding in the ceiling. You get persecuted and prosecuted, but you generally end up alive. There, politics is quite unchristian as there is no ‘other cheek’. Amaechi is hoping for the protection of the South West media and, if push comes to shove, Tinubu’s legal arsenal.
Jigawa – Here, governor Sule Lamido feels, justifiably so, that as a co-founder of the PDP, he cannot allow himself to be hounded out of the party by newcomers who are there only by accident of history – and the support of the likes of them (Lamido at 2011 primaries). The recent arrest of his sons for money laundering (actually the second time, as another son had been held at Aminu Kano Airport months back), are seen as intimidation tactics to force him to relent. Mostly likely the oPDP has not been briefed about the stubbornness – taurin kai – of this Deputy Limamin Canji. They have tried ‘he has no certificate’ gimmick, which may still be in court. They will continue trying.
Niger – Here, governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu aptly fits the Hausa description of sakaina mai iya ruwa (literally, the piece of calabash that will always float). With a PhD and decidedly an opinion on every subject, he should be leading ASUU in some university, not in the civil service, as he was, or in Government House, as he is. Intellectualism may not be = politics; if so Professor Jerry Gana would since have become president. Perhaps Aliyu’s basic problem with the APC may be that almost each one of its leaders can also speak well. Like PhDs.