Perception, especially when it is erroneous, if not quickly attacked, redressed and rebutted, could become reality and people who are fed on it would relate with it in their minds as the truth. That rebuttal was what the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Northwest zone of the country did on Thursday, January 9, this year, when they mobilized themselves in their numbers and stormed Aso Rock Presidential Villa on a solidarity visit to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Following the dramatic defection by two governors in the zone, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State and Magatarkada Wamakko of Sokoto State, from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the stage was set for more defections, despite the fact that there was and is still no division in the leadership of the PDP as ruled by a Federal High Court in Abuja and admitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which monitored the congresses at which the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) emerged.
Kwankwaso and Wamakko had acted in concert with Governors Murtala Nyako of Adamawa in Northeast zone, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State in North-Central zone and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in the South-south zone to dump the PDP. The governors, who were instrumental to the nomination and election of their states’ legislators in the House of Representatives, had either directed or piled pressure on them to follow their footsteps. In all, 37 Federal Legislators moved from the PDP to the APC.
But national attention has been on northwest zone, for two reasons: it is the zone of Vice President Namadi Sambo and it accounts for the highest voters’ population figure, which hovers, around 18 million. The purport of the opposition elements’ presentation of the defections as having caused a collateral damage to the PDP was, perhaps, two-folds: to portray the vice president as having lost control of his zone, which is not correct; and secondly, for them (opposition elements) to begin to position themselves to scoop the vast majority votes, of the about 18 million voters, in the zone in the 2015 presidential election.
The APC has, therefore, understandably invested so much energy, so much hype and unconscionable propaganda into the celebration and reportage of the defections. It has successfully created the impression that all the people who mattered in the ruling party had flocked into its fold; whereas, that is wrong, as the visit to Jonathan, led by a former PDP National Chair, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, has now proved. What was particularly instructive about the visit was the caliber of leaders that were on the delegation.
All the seven states that make up northwest zone were represented by star-studded delegations. Three out of the remaining four governors that the PDP has in the aftermath of the defection were on their states’ delegations, to wit: Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Muktar Ramalan Yero (Kaduna) and Seidu Dakingari (Kebbi). Although Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal were not on the delegation, their absence did not diminish the quality of the visit.
Nevertheless, their presence would have bolstered the rating of the solidarity and cast a pall on the optimism of the opposition camp that is warming up to receive the like of Lamido, Tambuwal and Governor Babangida Muazu Aliyu of the north central state of Niger, into its fold. While ideologically, Lamido has maintained that he would remain in the PDP as he could not abandon the house he helped to build, Aliyu appears stuck in the PDP because he wants to secure his political future and install his successor in Niger State on the PDP platform.
Perhaps, Lamido would have been part of the delegation to Jonathan, but the Jigawa State Secretary of the party, Alhaji Aliyu Tukur Gantsa, was reported to have said that they were not invited for the Villa meeting and wondered why the governor who is a committed leader of the party in the zone was not invited.
For Tambuwal, his politics and manouvres even before he became speaker have tended to thrive on opposition’s support. With the support of the opposition in the House, he had clinched the speakership position against the run of PDP’s approved zoning arrangement, which ceded the position to the southwest zone. He has since then demonstrated proclivity towards the interests of the opposition elements in the House. But how his political future will crystallize from the miasma of the unfolding shenanigans and brinkmanship is for time to tell.
Back to the delegation, which Mohammed, the leader of the delegation, said was mobilized, at a very short notice, by Vice President Sambo, its assurance of solidarity and support for Jonathan’s effort at moving Nigeria forward and away from the era of dashed hopes and wastage of natural resources was quite uplifting. But what was more heartening was the presence of the deputy governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mukhtari Shagari who has declared that he would remain in the PDP.
Shagari has remained a constant figure of loyalty in the PDP. Even when he won the PDP governorship primaries in 2007 and was asked to strategically give it up for Wamakko who, as deputy governor to Attahiru Bafarawa in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), was being traumatized by Bafarawa, he (Shagari) obeyed the party and settled for the running mate ticket. Today, he remains a shining example of how to be consistently disciplined within the political party context.
Apart from him, many other PDP juggernauts were in attendance. It was a show of the strength of the men and women who have decided to remain steadfast as the party works round the clock to resolve contending issues buffeting it. These people, including former Kaduna State governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Aba, former Governor of old Sokoto State, Dr Garba Nadama, Nigeria’s Ambassador to China, Aminu Wali, Alhaji Mohammed Abacha, Special Advisers to the Vice President, Mallam Abba Dabo and Senator Isaiah Balat, former Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Alhaji Hussaini Jallo, Senator Hamisu Musa and Alhaji Dauda Dan Galan, among many others, are poised to galvanise the people of the zone massively behind Jonathan and Sambo in the 2015 presidential poll.
The shape and texture of the impeding battle for the soul of the critical 18 million votes in the northwest zone, which, according to oppositions’ permutations, is a potential game changer, are already emerging with the ruling party appearing determined to alter current permutations by performing better in the zone than it did in 2011. The Jonathan-Sambo candidatures remain the solid ticket to beat both in the PDP presidential nomination primaries and in the general elections.
Mustapha Abdullahi sent this piece via [email protected]