The rivalry between contending forces in the APC in four of the five states where PDPgovernors have defected has not made it easy for PDP to diminish the chances of the new party. Our correspondent examines why.
Even with the glaring problems in some of the states where governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PD) have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP seems not to be making any headway in converting the problems to political capital.
Strategists in the ruling party had reasoned that the cracks expected in the bid to align the old forces in the APC in the respective states with the new ones could provide a window of opportunity to exploit in order to frustrate a harmonious marriage such that the APC threat would be whittled.
The APC in four of the five states where the governors have defected to join its fold is having problems arising from how to accommodate the interest of the new members with that of the older ones who claim to have laid the foundations for building the party in their respective states.
The APC had wanted the defecting governors to retain their positions as party leaders, but this has not gone well with older party members in the states creating serious problems for the party.
In Kano, the former governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is having problems with GovernorRabiu Musa Kwankwaso over who should be the leader of the party in the state, while in Adamawa, the old rivalry between erstwhile gubernatorial candidates of different parties, who have now found themselves in the APC has reared its head, and in Sokoto, reconciling formergovernor of the state, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and the incumbent, Magatakarda Wamakko is proving to be a tough one and in Kwara, the Adamawa scenario where two old rivals have found themselves in the same party is being replicated with Dele Belgore and Senator Bukola Saraki now in the APC.
But so far, the PDP has not been able to woo the aggrieved members to its fold even with the clear cases of rancour in the states.
This, according to findings, is not due to lack of trial, but due to the discovery that some of the chances hitherto seen as opportunities are also laden with certain booby traps that havemade the PDP to tread with caution.
Adamawa: No room for new entrants
The PDP had thought that with the problem between Governor Murtala Nyako and the leaders of the party that formed the APC like Mohammed Buba Marwa of the defunctCongress for Progressives change (CPC) and Markus Gundiri of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) it was going to be an easy ride convincing the aggrieved persons to align with it to fight the APC.
Both Marwa and Gundiri had contested the 2011 gubernatorial seat with Nyako and had alleged irregularities in the process that led to the declaration of Nyako as winner of the election.
Gundiri even went to court and appealed the judgment even after the lower court gave the judgment to Nyako hence there had been sustained rivalry between him and the governor.
Since Nyako moved to the APC, the two prominent APC, leaders have refused to cooperate with the governor saying he cannot be imposed as leader of the party in the state.
Much as the PDP would want to cash in on the situation given the electoral value of the two politicians, investigations show that they cannot as the two have grievances with the ruling party.
Marwa had been a member of the PDP before leaving for the CPC, while Gundiri has not been keen on joining the PDP due to its manner of electing candidates.
But the two according to sources, know that the PDP in Adamawa even with the exit of Nyako has not been emptied of political heavyweights that would make their entry to the party resounding. The PDP in Adamawa even after Nyako, is said to be bubbling with high caliber politicians that spell the fact that no vacancy exists to accommodate either or both persons as well as their ambitions to govern the state.
Sources say the duo even stand better chances in the APC since Nyako would not be contesting as governor as he is serving his second term.
All those opposed to Nyako, some of whom, are eyeing the party’s governorship ticket like Dr. Idi Hong, Dr. Umar Ardo, Senator Abubakar Girei, Awal Tukur are still within the PDP and a move by either Gundiri or Marwa to join the party would not be greeted with much enthusiasm.
The two it is said have preferred to stay in the APC where they have established their bases than move to the PDP where they are likely to encounter fresh problems.
Kano: Shekarau’s ambition stands in the way
The rivalry between Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and his predecessor is well known. The PDP is believed to have made moves to woo Shekarau to the party, with PDP strongman, Aminu Wali at the height of rivalry between the two even going ahead to announce that Shekarau would be joining the PDP.
But the former governor later came out to deny having such intentions saying he would not be moving to the PDP. His aide Sule Yau Sule said in a statement that “There was no time that his Excellency met anyone to defect from APC let alone making such declaration. He is not known for such kind of frivolity. He is a democrat and would not dump or destroy the APC house he worked hard to build. There is no truth in those kinds of reports that Mallam Sheakaru is defecting. Those reports should be ignored.”
But while the courtesy being extended to Shekarau by the PDP may seem tempting as he stands to be the leader of the party in the state given the anxiety of the PDP to frustrate the APC alliance, the former governor’s ambition stands in his way since it is not one that could be accommodated in the PDP as he is eyeing the presidency.
Given the belief that Jonathan would soon declare for another term, Shekarau’s ambition has served to dampen the enthusiasm of the PDP towards wooing him.
Sokoto: One step forward
So far this is the only state where the PDP seems to have made a head way as it has succeeded in getting the deputy governor, Mukhtari Shagari not to defect to the APC but to remain in the PDP.
But even with the rivalry between Governor Magartakarda Wamakko and his former boss Attahiru Bafarawa, who had been chieftain of the APC before the latter joined the party, the PDP has not been able to make a capital out of the rift.
While Bafarawa would prefer that Wamakko submits to him as party leader, since he met him in the APC and had been governor before him where Wamakko served as his deputy, Wamakko in agreement with the national leaders of the party would want to retain the status he enjoyed as party leader when he was in the PDP.
The APC had promised the decamping governors that they could retain the leadership of the party in order not to deprive them of the privileges they had enjoyed in their former parties.
But Bafarawa has never shown keenness in joining the PDP as it was the very instrument that was used against him in 2007 to give the governorship seat to his then deputy, Wamakko.Bafarawa too just like Shekarau is in interested in the presidency. He had in 2007 contested as the flag bearer of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) which he formed with his associates to vie for the position.
The PDP as a result kept some distance from him, well aware that the conditions he might give might not be easily accommodated.
Kwara: Rivalry being managed
In Kwara, the rivalry between Dele Belgore the former ACN gubernatorial candidate in the state and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has lingered. While in the PDP, Ahmed has conceded the leadership of the party to Senator Bukola Saraki. With their defection to
APC Saraki seems bent on continuing as APC leader in the state which Belgore is opposed to.
But Belgore is also not considering the PDP option as with the presence of people like Ibrahim Bio, Gbemisola Saraki and Prof. Oba Adulraheem who are eyeing the seat, there are clear threats to his ambition of becoming governor in the party.
The bid to exploit the division in the Saraki dynasty is still at the trial stages, but not much seem to be working in that direction.
The plans initially was to make Gbemisola Saraki who had shown interest in becoming governor a minister so as to strengthen her to fortify the forces trying to dislodge her brother.But as the minister currently representing Kwara is still close to the President, it is not clear if the PDP is considering that line of action.