Posted by Muhammad Galadanchi | 10 October 2017 | 4,536 times
The very fragile relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and Aminu Masari, the Governor of his home state, Katsina, is about to be further fractured. The relationship between both men has been held together more by political expediency, than any shared world vision and values. Both men are strange bed fellows, and have remained so apart, despite great efforts to mask those obvious differences, that are like day and night.
While Masari has politically been associated with the defunct conservative National Republican Convention (NRC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buhari has always pitched his tent with the progressives, from the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the Congress for Progressive Change, to the All Progressive Congress (APC), where he finally realised his ambition to be President. In fact Masari, rose to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the PDP platform. So he wasn’t an ordinary member of the PDP. Masari, like many other politicians, was rudely elbowed out of the party and naturally into the arms of the opposition, where he sought and found refugee in first the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) and has since then smartly latched on to Buhari. Without Buhari, Masari who is from the southern part of the state, would never have emerged Governor of Katsina State.
But Masari, from recent events might not have that smooth ride in 2019, like he had in 2015 elections, considering the political developments in the State, but most especially his lack of capacity to deliver the goods to the people. Aware of this and to preempt his political opponents, he recently got the State Working Committee of the APC to endorse him as its 2019 governorship candidate. But the snag is that the President was not part of the process, that led to the decision, nor has Buhari endorsed the decision. Katsina politicians are anxiously waiting for the President to speak on the issue, which makes nonsense of the APC Change slogan, and brings to disrepute his watch word of integrity and honesty. For most people of Katsina the various political actions of Masari, has made the APC, to look more like PDP. Like the PDP, there is no internal politics, like the PDP imposition of candidates is the order of the day. Increasingly by every passing day, the APC is behaving more like the PDP in every respect.
Masari’s problem is that the stiff opposition to his maladministration, cuts across the parties. The PDP which had governed the State since 1999, until it lost the state to Buhari, has not made life easy for him, especially as he is proven himself incompetent. Ibrahim Shema, the former governor, who is having a running battle with Masari, and was thought politically dead, has not only resurrected, but has been challenging the Governor to explain what he has done with the over 40 billion naira he has so far borrowed . “We never borrowed a kobo in our eight years in office, but governor Masari has borrowed N35 billion in one and half year. Again, we said Katsina was not owing Paris Club debt, and Katsina State was refunded the sum of N15 billion, being a state that previously never borrowed,” Shema said.
The question that Shema and many other indigenes of the state are asking Masari, is what he has done with the money? There no projects to justify the borrowing and the allocation from the Federation Account. And only last week a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by Senator MT Liman, openly described him as a failure. The move is aimed at saving the party from imminent defeat due to mass dissatisfaction with the leadership style of Masari.
Unsure of how Buhari, who to a very large extent would most likely determine the political direction of Katsina State, in the 2019 elections, would react to him , Masari in a fight for his political life, has teamed up with Dahiru Mangal, the billionaire sponsor of the PDP, who at the last minute defected to APC. Mangal, an alleged smuggler, has not found life easy under the Buhari administration. Mangal, like many other “investor” politicians, has been denied patronage by Buhari. And he is not finding this funny. Worse is that Hameed Ali, the President’s godson at the helms of affairs in Nigerian Customs, has equally made cross boarder business difficult for Mangal. So he was a natural choice for Masari to turn to. For Masari, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And this is where Masari’s opponents have had Masari cornered.
While Buhari can tolerate strident allegations of Masari performing below par, Buhari would definitely never be comfortable with Masari, winning and dinning with Dahiru Mangal his sworn enemy. Mangal stands for everything Buhari is opposed to, from smuggling to unfair business practices. Just as the President is reportedly unhappy about the state of finances of Katsina State. Worse still is that Ibrahim Shema, the disgraced former Governor that Masari tagged as corruption incorporated, has started making plans to tackle President Buhari ahead of the 2019 elections, because of Masari’s poor performance. PDP is suddenly emboldened and indications are that it will give the APC a run for its money. Most APC members hold Masari responsible for the new lease of life PDP is enjoying.
Manifestations that the deep crack in the relationship between Governor Masari and President Buhari, which has always been there, has widened is the failure of Masari to visit the President in London, where he has been in and out of over his health issues. Even when the APC nominated governors to visit the sick President, Masari was loudly left out, because the party leadership aware of the relationship between both men, didn’t want to incur the wrought of the President. This is the big cross that Masari is bearing with equanimity. Before now Masari, had managed to suppress the Cold War, with the President afraid of the reprisals by the poor, who adore Buhari.
The questions a delegation of Katsina Elders, who visited the President last week soliciting support for the governor couldn’t answer from loyalists of the president, was why Masari refused to visit the President in London while he was in London for medical checkup? And if Governor Masari was too busy to visit the President, who made him Governor despite stiff opposition, why didn’t the governor send a powerful delegation to visit the president? Masari’s other crime was that when eventually the president returned Masari, was conspicuously absent from the welcome party. In months, Masari has only seen the President when he visited the state for the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
But Masari is taking no chances. In alliance with Mangal, he has perfected the plot to snatch the party structure from the president and hand over the structure to his trusted PDP stalwarts, his ideological soul mates. Known PDP stalwarts are being lured to join APC. The political calculation is that they will team up with the new PDP members who decamped after the formation of the APC and form a formidable bloc, within APC. Mangal who regrets ditching the PDP, is the arrow head of “operation take over the APC”. He is funding the operation for Masari, who has “over patronised” him with contracts.
In the coming days names to watch out for are; Ya’u Umar Gojogojo from President Buhari’s home town of Daura. He was a two-term Speaker of the State House of Assembly. He is in charge of reorganising the APC structures in Daura Senatorial zone. Comrade Bilya Rimi from Katsina Senatorial zone who has been charged with reorganising APC structures in Katsina Senatorial zone and Musa Adamu Funtua a two-term Commissioner in Shema Administration who has the responsibility of reorganising APC structures in Funtua Senatorial zone. Indications are there that Katsina State would witness political violence, as thugs are being recruited. To this end some known political thugs have been released from Prison reportedly on the orders of Governor Masari. Among them is the notorious Dendos from Birchi in Kurfi local Government area of the state.
During the just-concluded APC delegates election, delegates were appointed, as Masari didn’t want to take any chance. Masari goes to bed and wakes up thinking 2019 and how to actualise it. Though Masari is not interested in returning to PDP, he has found politicians from his former party useful in the battle ahead. Only PDP members are being entrusted with sensitive assignments. Members of CPC, ANPP and CAN have been seriously marginalised. The other dimension to the political moves of Masari, are speculations that Mangal is working for Atiku Abubakar. How will this play out?
Muhammadu Buhari is used to being betrayed. The case of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who Buhari supported to emerge Governor of Kano State, is very fresh. Once in office he ditched Buhari. He was to eventually end up in the PDP. Isa Yuguda is another classic case. Like Shekarau, he was to ditch Buhari. The problem for Masari is that there is no alternative party to decamp to.
•Muhammad Galadanchi, a political commentator, lives in Katsina.
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