Sokoto PDP: Crumbling at Start-up?

Sokoto PDP: Crumbling at Start-up?

This is a story of the “Seeds of Hopelessness”. The PDP has never had it good in the political atmosphere since 1999 when political activities were rolled out. It is stories of failures all way through. The reason has never been far from internal crises that result from disunity among party members. Mode Yabo, having got the party’s ticket, failed to clinch the seat in 1999, giving vent for Bafarawa/Wamakko. In 2003, Abdallah Wali was PDP’s flag-bearer but Bafarawa/Wamakko again, floored the party at the polls. Mukhtari Shagari won the party primary to become PDP candidate. He was however overwhelmed by a more popular Aliyu Wamakko who had just defected to the party from the ANPP.

Although Bafarawa’s defection to the PDP was initially received with fanfare, it now seems that the same defection is threatening the party’s unity. Before his defection to the party, members of the PDP were relatively more united, at least, having learned some lessons from past failures. The beleaguering hiccups in the party only explains the fact that the PDP apparatuses in the state would not, after all, be in Bafarawa’s pocket as he probably thought they would.

Bafarawa had assured President Jonathan when the former was formally received into the party that he would deliver Sokoto state to the PDP. “Mr. President; just go and sleep. The PDP is going to form government in Sokoto in 2015,” Bafarawa had told Jonathan. But sooner than Jonathan’s departure to Abuja did those in the party begin to feel apprehensive that the party may not have had the desired comforter. 

Some supporters are reading divisive tendencies in some actions of Bafarawa. One of such is Alhaji Sahabi Tungar Kwangi, a former Sokoto East zonal Vice chairman of the ANPP/DPP during Bafarawa administration said that people were happy when joined the PDP but his manipulations in the party that he just joined speak volumes of divisive tendencies.  “The process that led to membership registration, primary election or selection of the state, local government and ward executive committee members, barely excluded the participation of many of us. Many of those in the “old PDP” were disenfranchised in the membership registration.” 

Bafarawa’s defection to the PDP has caused disunity among members of the party, according to Aminu Hurumi Tafidan Sifawa. “He thought the PDP is like the DPP/ACN where everything was done in the room and not in the open. Let me tell you, there will not be victory for the PDP if things go on the way the party is being led by Bafarawa.” Sifawa is of the opinion that before Bafarawa joined PDP, it had the support of over 60 percent of the people of Sokoto state while other parties had less than 40 percent. “It now has less than 20 percent.”

The deputy governor, Mukhtari Shagari’s group posit that in the beginning was foul-play in the sense that he remained in the PDP after Wamakko’s defection to the All Progressive Congress (APC) but was out-rightly denied the leadership of the party. Observers posited that if governors were leaders of their various parties in states, “the deputy governor, the highest political office holder of the PDP in the state should rightly have assumed its leadership.” That was a first pointer to the exclusion process of PDP. 

Most meetings convened at the instance of Bafarawa have always been snubbed by Yusuf Suleiman’s group. The group does not believe that the leadership of Bafarawa in the PDP would yield positive results for the party. For Alhaji Musa Marafan Goronyo, Bafarawa had gone so low to determine who becomes ward or local government party chairmen against the wish of the people of these areas. “What he is doing in the PDP now is the like of what he did in the DPP and ACN. We thought Bafarawa was only going to play the role of an elder in the PDP when he joined. We thought he would take every party member as the same. We thought he would allow all wards and local governments to play their politics freely.”

Many other PDP big-wigs like Ladan Shuni, Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal, Sen. Ila Gada and scores of others feel disturbed that the person they assumed would lead the party to electoral victory has turned antagonistic. “We feel sidelined from the scheme of things and especially in the process of selecting a ‘marketable’ candidate for the party; one that would beat any APC candidate during the 2015 governorship election.” Many supporters in these groups are nursing the feelings that Bafarawa was already identifying himself with one aspirant or the order in the choice of who becomes the party’s flag-bearer. 

He was alleged to have identified with Sen. Abubakar Gada but has now shifted his support for Amb. Abdallah Wali. Of course, the reason is not far-fetched. Observers opine that Bafarawa is not comfortable with the duo of Yusuf Suleiman and Sen. Abubakar Gada who come from the same senatorial zone with him.

Has Bafarawa the perceived popularity? 

> All the commissioners that served during the eight years (30 of them in each term) of his administration had left him, except two of them (Sanyinna and Akibu)

> All the 30 members of the House of Assembly that served during his administration; 12 members of House of Representatives and three Senators have left him, except S. Arewa.

> All the 46 local government council chairmen (23 for each of the two terms), have left him, except S. Arewa because he was a member as well as local government chairman

> All the local government party chairmen that served in Bafarawa’s first and second terms have left him except those that served in Isa and Rabah local governments

> All the party executive officers that served in Bafarawa’s administration, except Bayya, a messenger, have left him

> All those he sponsored to contest for governorship election in the state, including Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi, Muhammad Yusha’u Ahmad, Isa Bajini Galadanci and his deputy governor, Abdullahi Chiso, have left him

> The then state party chairman, Ummarun Kwabo, Tukur Alkali and scores of other people, have left him. 

“Are all these people bad? How will you describe the political status of someone who has lost virtually all people? It is either the national secretariat of the party comes to our rescue or the PDP will blow up in Sokoto state,” Tungar Kwangi warned.

According to Sifawa, when Bafarawa defected to the PDP, those in the PDP invited all the people to Kangiwa square to receive him and welcome Mr. President. But he does not think the person that PDP trusts, is truly worthy of the trust. “I have on tape where Bafarawa told the people of Illela that, ‘we should not trust the members of the PDP.’ He did not know that he was talking to PDP members. He thought they were APC members with whom he defected to the PDP. We have the cassette,” Sifawa alleged.

For the PDP primaries, Tungar Kwangi posits that there was no agreement as to consensus. He explained that during the process for party primaries, those interested in party positions bought and filled forms. “There was no agreement as to fielding consensus candidates. We all waited for the date of primary elections. On the day of ward primaries, up till six o’clock, there were no electoral officers to conduct the primaries. We learned later that primary elections for the wards were held and winners declared. We complained to the party caretaker committee chairman but nothing was done and that was why we went to court.” He feels that in Bafarawa’s political career, he does not respect electoral processes. 

However, Alhaji Rabi’u does not believe that there was any party member was denied participation in the primary election that produced the ward, local government and state officials of the PDP. He also posits that if one dissociates himself from a process, that person cannot claim to have been denied participation in it. “This is an election that some people, on their own wish, refused to participate in. Do they have any right to sue the party for anything? I don’t believe they are right.”

Tungar Kwangi further observed if Bafarawa left the APC on the grounds that there was no justice, “Why is he unjust to us now? Let me tell you, supporters in 17 of the 23 local governments are speaking with one voice on this issue. If we are not required in the party and if fresh party primaries are not held, we will leave. Bafarawa left the APC because he felt Wamakko will not be fair to him. Why then is he doing this to us that received him?”

Moved by the perceived injustice allegedly perpetrated by Bafarawa, one case has been instituted by Ibrahim Magaji Gusau and another by Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bafarawa. Both cases want the congresses annulled and fresh ones held.

The cases have raised fundamental issues to be determined by the courts, including eligibility (any person to hold political office either by election or appointment, must have secondary school certificate); membership (unless one has been registered as a member of the PDP for at least 18 months or must have obtained a waiver, one cannot aspire for any party position) and mode of election.

If the court cases are however determined in favour of Bafarawa, the likelihood of the PDP breaking up into pieces, is as strong as the rock; or so it seems.