The ruling party in Adamawa state is heading for the rocks unless its internal disputes are tackled promptly
By Matthew Onah in Yola
A recent statement by the Adamawa State acting Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Ibrahim Bilal, that the party has endorsed incumbent Governor, Sen. Mohammed Umar Jibrilla Bindow, as the candidate for the 2019 governorship election, has raised tension in Adamawa’s slippery political terrain.
Bilal who announced the endorsement while on a courtesy call to Governor Bindow, during the democracy day celebrations, is believed to have drawn the ire of the deeply entrenched cleavages that make up APC in the state.
The Adamawa state chapter of the APC has been a seething cauldron of factionalisation, with the fissures along three major divides.
There is the Abuja Group, with links in the presidency, coordinated by the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation [SGF], Mr. David Babachir Lawal, the wife to President Mohammed Buhari, Aisha, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello and most of the local government council chairmen of the party.
The Abuja Group recently brought into its fold the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Engineer Markus Gundiri, in what observers believe is a strategic move to position well for 2019 general elections.
Another faction of the party is led by the immediate past governor of the state, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako. Members of the Retired Admiral’s group include Senators Abdullaziz Murtala Nyako, Binta Garba Masi and some members of the National Assembly. The Nyako faction is largely credited for the emergence of Governor Bindow at Yola Government House, before the Governor broke away after squabbles with the Group over sharing of the spoils of office.
The faction remains most effective at the grassroots and boasts of links with some powerful political forces at the national level. Admiral Nyako’s legendary links with the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo is believed to be the magic wand with which the Group can always fall back on in the run-up to the 2019 battle.
To underscore the strength of this group, in 2007, Governor Nyako emerged as the PDP governorship candidate against the run of the play, in Obasanjo’s political chess game with his estranged deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Former President Obasanjo remains a veritable political force in the country.
The home front comprising Governor Bindow, is led by the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa.
According to Bilal, the endorsement of Bindow was expedient to ensure the continuation of the outstanding good works of the Governor in the development of the state, stressing that the state’s chief executive has lived up to expectation in uniting the highly factionalised party as well as bringing about the required development.
On the footstep of the Bilal endorsement, came the commendation of former Vice President and a chieftain of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was recently made the Wazirin Adamawa, one of the most influential traditional titles in the Adamawa Emirate Council. The former Vice President did not mince words as he lauded the state governor, Senator Bindow, for the prudent management of finances of the state in his first two years in office.
Atiku specifically commended Governor Bindow for the administration’s remarkable achievement in road construction and other infrastructural developments in the face of dwindling resources.
If the Endorsement and the Commendation by the two party chieftains, was supposed to silence contenders for the top job, it instead heightened tension in the state.
As a result, the Democracy Day celebration was hurriedly shifted from the Ribadu Square, where such ceremonies usually hold to the highly secured Banquet Hall of the Government house complex, on the advice of the security agencies, citing some intelligence report that some youths had planned to disrupt the ceremony at the square.
Former Senator Jonathan Zwingina, a prominent politician in the state and one of those who established a broad-based coalition of political interest groups that ensured the Governor’s victory in 2015, is apprehensive of the negative impact of the growing instability in the state, blaming intra-party disputes for the trend.
According, to the Senator, who was one of the prominent candidates in the 2007 governorship tussle, such internal squabbles have checkmated the development of the state in the past.
He lamented that between 2007 and 2015, a span of just eight years, about seven administrations, were inaugurated in this politically volatile state. This, he stressed does not augur well for the development of the state.
Paradoxically, the incumbent Governor Bindow, was not even given much chance of making any difference in the administration of the state, especially when he assumed office about two years ago.
But two years down the lane, Bindow has made tremendous progress in the socio-economic development of the state.
Yola, the Adamawa state capital, Mubi town, the commercial hub of the state, Numan, the industrial and social town, and a host of towns in the state have been transformed through the provision of infrastructure.
Ibrahim Sali, a youth leader based in Mubi, lauded the Bindow Administration for the construction of roads in Mubi town saying ‘’we have never had it so good.
Today, the state’s capital, Yola wears a new look, with roads, and streets well tarred with pavements and street lights.
Alhaji Abdulrahaman Abba Jimeta, Chief of Staff, to Governor Bindow, told DAILY ASSET that the Bindow administration deliberately chose to prioritise its development goals in order to achieve maximum results.
“By the time we enter the fourth and final year of his tenure, Adamawa people would find it difficult not to choose Bindow for a second time. We have finished road construction, and we are going to shift our focus to health and school facilities, he stated.”
Alhaji Lawan Ahmed, the Adamawa state Organizing Secretary of the APC, said the stellar performance of Bindow, has confounded some politicians in the state. “They did not expected such performance; they thought that Bindow would not perform so that they can capitalize on that to snatch the mantle of leadership from him.
His impressive performance not withstanding, Governor Bindow, appears to be walking a tight rope to secure a return ticket of the APC in 2019 governorship election.
He faces some challenges from some national leaders of the party for his close association with the Wazirin Adamawa and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar who is widely known to have his eyes on President Buhari’s job.
Some Analysts were of the view that the local government elections conducted last year in the state were engineered by some persons in the presidency to whittle down the power base of the governor, as they ensured his candidates lost in the primaries.
Although with the recent suspension of Lawal Babachir who was the arrowhead of the Abuja group, Bindow might have some respite even though the group might present a candidate to challenge the governor.
Bindow’s second headache is his feud with former Governor Nyako. Mohammed Kugama, told DAILY ASSET that the Nyako political group felt betrayed by the actions of the Governor after the 2015 general elections. ‘’ We deployed our resources twice to ensure his victory at the primaries conducted by the party and at the general elections, only for him to betray us and align with our adversaries’’ he regretted. This group is believed to backing Senator Abdulaziz Nyako to challenge Bindow in 2019.
A source close to the APC state secretariat revealed that contrary to claims by Nyako’s group, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar single handedly sponsored the 2015 general elections and that explains the warm relationship between the two political leaders.
As the various groups jostle for control of the party in Adamawa, the party is likely to remain divided. If not checked, the APC might as well be its Achilles’ heel in the next general elections in Adamawa state.