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2019: Katsina APC’s simmering crisis



Rather than abate, the crisis generated within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Katsina State over the mode of primaries adopted in electing its candidates for the 2019 General Election, is simmering. In this report by Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, observers say the party needs to address the grievances of some of its leading chieftains in the state before the next general election.
Efforts to nip the crisis generated within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Katsina State by the outcome of the primaries held across the state to elect the party’s candidates for the 2019 General Election, may have failed, thereby throwing up fresh troubles in the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari. Expectedly, this is generating serious concern as observers call on the leadership of the ruling party to do more to unite APC in the state.
Political tension in the northwest state took a new dimension on Friday, as some aggrieved chieftains and members of the party, under the auspices of Katsina Forum, announced that they will not work for candidates of the ruling party at the general election unless their grievances are addressed urgently. The angry APC members said the national leadership of the party is not taking them serious.
Speaking after the group’s leadership meeting in Dutsinma, Alhaji Samaila Tsiga, its chairman, said members of the forum are leading chieftains of the ruling party who are miffed by what he described as the imposition of candidates on the state by a few people contrary to the directive of President Buhari that members of the party should be allowed to choose the candidates they want.
“We had rejected the adoption of indirect primaries by some people in the state and we are still rejecting it and its outcome. We stand with our father, President Buhari, in his determination to return the party to the people who are the real owners of the party and government. Those who are afraid of facing the people at the primary should not be allowed to get away with stolen mandates.
“We remain loyal and committed members of the party in the state but we are pleading that our concerns should be looked into by those concerned. We will never stop our agitation against the outcome of the Kangaroo primary election held by Governor Aminu Masari and his cohorts. While we remain loyal to the party and President Buhari, we want this injustice done to party members to be redressed,” he said.
Tsiga said the failure of the leadership of the party to address pertinent questions being raised by genuine party members led to the numerous court cases that are daily springing up against the candidacy of Masari and others. “We told them people are angry, they say they have submitted some names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against the wishes of the people. Now people are taking our party to court every day,” he lamented.
Confirming the simmering crisis in the state chapter of the APC, one of the party’s gubernatorial aspirants, Malam Abubakar Isma’ila Isa, said, “It is pertinent to note that at present, there are not less than seven suits pending before the various high courts challenging the illegality of the present set of executives at the wards, LGA’s and state level of the party in Katsina.
“These suits are challenging the constitutional legitimacy of the present executive council members who constitute the delegates for indirect election at the primaries.  These suits are still pending before High Courts, Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal. “We are, by this, drawing your attention to these breaches of the guidelines and the APC constitution and urging you to take immediate steps to rectify them before it is too late.”
Speaking on the development, the state coordinator of Voters Right Agenda (VRA), Comrade Abu Maude, said though Buhari’s popularity in the state remains on the rise, it is important for the ruling party to mend its fences before the general election. According to him, “the current crisis in the APC here in Katsina is definitely and unnecessary distraction that the party and the President can do without.”
The cases, the issues
Two aggrieved members of the party also approached the Federal High Court in Abuja for an injunction restraining INEC from accepting any candidate nominated by the APC for the forthcoming 2019 General Elections in the state. The plaintiffs, Alhaji Garba Dankani, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC and Muhammad Mainasara, an aspirant for the Katsina Senatorial District seat, claimed the party failed to hold ward congresses in the state.
According to them, the failure of the APC to conduct ward congresses in the 34 local government areas of Katsina State implied that APC could not make valid nomination of candidates to INEC for the 2019 General Elections in the state without first conducting valid congresses in the state. Consequently, they are seeking to stop Governor Masari, who is the governorship candidate of the APC in the state, and other candidates of the party for various elective offices, from being accepted by INEC ahead of the 2019 polls.
The presiding judge, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, fixed November 8 for the hearing of the suit which was filed on September 21, 2018.  The APC and INEC are joined in the suit as the first and second defendants, respectively in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1035/18. They said aspirants for various positions on the platform of the party subsequently met “and in a resolution reiterated the fact that congresses did not hold in all the wards in all the local government areas of Katsina State.”
The plaintiffs prayed the court to declare the local government and state congresses of the APC, which held in Katsina State on May 12 and May 19, 2018, as null and void. While the plaintiffs were represented by their lawyer, Olanipekun, INEC was represented by Umar Bukar. Justice Giwa-Ogunbajo, who acknowledged the need to hear and determine the case expeditiously, fixed the hearing of the suit for November 8.
Similarly, Malam Abubakar Isma’ila Isa, said to be the son-in-law of President Buhari’s and a governorship aspirant in the state, is threatening to seek legal redress if the leadership of the party fails to address his complaints. He has publicly rejected the outcome of the APC party primaries that saw Governor Masari clinching the governorship ticket of the ruling party in the state.
“As stakeholders in the election, we ought to be consulted in whatever decision that may be arrived at, but we were neither consulted nor informed on the decision to go for indirect primaries. Consequently, no notice to that effect was served on us. Therefore our delegates and agents could not trace the venue for accreditation and election. The electoral committee arrived in Katsina in the night of 29/09/2018 on a chartered flight allegedly provided for by the state governor.
“They went straight into the Government House, met with the governor, who is one of the aspirants and members of his government. They did not invite us to the usual stakeholders and did not meet with us until 30/09/2018 by 12.30pm. At the meeting, they informed us that they have finished screening of delegates and we’re to start voting. All these facts cast serious doubts on the partiality of the committee.
“For us, we wholeheartedly align ourselves with the position of President Muhammadu Buhari in deepening and entrenching internal democracy in our party by openly supporting direct primaries as a mode of electing those who should carry the party’s flag in the forthcoming General Elections. However, we are sad to report that the national secretariat of our party closed its eyes to the inherent dangers in conducting indirect primaries in Katsina State.
“This trend, if not checked, will throw the party into chaos and may further factionalize the party and affect its fortunes in the forthcoming General Elections in 2019. We are solidly behind the President in supporting direct primaries in choosing candidates who will carry the party’s flag in the 2019 elections more so as direct primaries remain the most transparent and credible process of selecting popular and acceptable candidates for the party,” he argued.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the ruling party, as well as the government of the state, are insisting that most of the allegations being raised by the angry party chieftains are unfounded. When contacted by The Nation, party leaders and senior government officials say the APC in the state will go on to win the next general election convincingly in spite of the ongoing crisis.
Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Aminu Masari, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, while reacting to the development and the various claims of the aggrieved party members, said the emergence of the governor as gubernatorial candidate did not contravene party rules and the Nigerian constitution. According to the media aide, “the constitution of the APC provided for three options direct, indirect and consensus primaries method.
“A state can adopt any of the three. And Katsina adopted indirect, the party did not query or say anything was wrong with that. “By adopting the indirect primaries, the Katsina APC did not contravene any law, either electoral or Nigerian constitution or the party’s constitution.” Contacted, APC Public Relations Officer, Abubakar Gambo Danmusa, said the adoption of indirect primaries was the prerogative of the party, executives and stakeholders in the state.
Meanwhile, reliable party sources told our correspondent that party leaders, within and outside the state, are worried about the development and are working round the clock to put an end to litigations and media wars currently ripping the APC apart in the state. “Not a few party chieftains are again calling for another round of reconciliatory moves ahead of the next general election,’ a source told The Nation.
It was also gathered that the President may have, following the growing list of court cases instituted against the party by angry members, instructed Governor Masari to do everything possible to pacify warring factions within the party. “The governor is extending the olive branch more than he has been doing before now. More party leaders are also getting involved in the effort to make peace,” another source added.
A party leader from the northwest, who does not want his name in print, while speaking with our correspondent from his base in Abuja, said Katsina State is one of the states that INEC recently called the attention of the APC leadership to. According to him, the electoral body warned the ruling party to mitigate against the growing number of court cases within the party in the state.
“Our party has been urged to do something about growing court cases in some states and Katsina is one of such. We all can see the confusion going on over Zamfara APC list of candidates now. We have to do some something drastic in Katsina to prevent a similar situation. Our house is not in order and it is very important we put it in order as soon as possible if we are to avert some unpleasant development.
“We all know how technical these legal tangos can suddenly become. This is a crucial time when all parties are working hard to tidy up their candidates for the general election. We cannot afford any uncertainty and or unforeseen development, especially in a state like Katsina. This is why we are now working harder to resolve the differences. We are talking and I can assure you everybody concerned is listening,” he said.
The Nation also learnt that the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, has also waded into the matter with a view to appeasing the aggrieved party chieftains to withdraw the court cases and allow for peaceful resolution of the matters at hand. “He has the support of both the President and the governor in this crucial assignment and he is working hard to proffer much needed solutions to the crisis,” a party source told The Nation on Friday.

…..Read directly from source

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