Alleged suspension of former governorship aspirant in the last state election, Alhaji Abubakar Idris, from the party by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party in Icheke ward of Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State has worsened the crisis in the party’s state chapter, reports ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor
INTERNAL crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State has worsened as the National Working Committee (NWC) is being accused of allowing the crisis to fester by keeping quiet on the alleged suspension of former governorship aspirant in the last state election, Alhaji Abubakar Idris from the party by the leadership of the opposition party in Icheke ward in Omala Local Government Area of the state. Party leader during the week reportedly accused the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, of tacitly backing the plot to sack Idris and his father, former Governor Ibrahim Idris, from the party.
The Icheke ward chapter of the PDP early this month, announced the suspension of Idris, accusing him of anti-party activities. Expectedly, supporters of the Idris political family have rejected the move, accusing the party’s governorship candidate in the last gubernatorial election, Musa Wada, of being behind the plot. The Nation gathered that the rivalry between the two camps started during the build up to the 2019 gubernatorial primary election of the party and is far from abating. “This phantom suspension is nothing but a move ahead of the 2023 guber election. They are afraid of Abubakar Idris,” a source claimed.
Party chieftains have since been divided by the move. While many stakeholders have been calling on the state leadership of the party to promptly ratify the suspension and set up a committee to investigate the allegations against Idris, some others have urged the national leadership of the party, especially Secondus, to, in line with its ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts, nip the crisis in the bud by nullifying the alleged suspension and cautioning the parties involved to refrain from further acts capable of creating problem within the party.
But almost three weeks after the announcement by Icheke PDP, neither the state leadership of the party, nor NWC, have taken any action to forestall further chaos. This is just as supporters of both parties are spoiling for war. Party sources said the fresh crisis is caused by subtle moves by contending camps to take over the leadership of the party in the state ahead of the next gubernatorial election. “It is only the NWC that can resolve this issue, some people are scared that the Idris family enjoys the support of many party members across the state and will soon take over the party if not checkmated,” a source claimed.
In the suspension letter signed by the Icheke ward chairman, Sunday Idakwoji, the party said after considering the weight of the allegations against Idris, it decided to suspend him for one month “to ensure fairness, equity and justice to be served in the matter.” A disciplinary committee was also set up to investigate the allegations, according to the letter. But supporters of the embattled PDP chieftain insist the allegations are trumped-up and meant to provide a reason for the Wada camp to get rid of those they perceived as political opponents within the party.
It would be recalled that Abubakar Idris headed to court after he lost the governorship primary election to his in-law, Musa Wada. Party sources claimed that in spite of several efforts by the national leadership of the party to appease him, he insisted on legal actions to stop the candidature of Wada in the 2019 election. “His action it was, that brought about the verdict from the court which ruled PDP out of the election. He did not display loyalty to the party at the time it was expected from him the most. This is the major reason he is facing the heat today,” a reliable party source told The Nation.
Ruling in the pre-election matter filed by Idris, challenging the candidature of Wada, a younger brother of another former governor of the state, Capt. Idris Wada, as the PDP flagbearer in the 2019 governorship election, Justice John Olorunfemi of Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja, had ruled that the PDP had no candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state. He declared that the party primary conducted on the 3rd September 2019, which produced Engr. Musa Wada as the PDP flag-bearer was fraught with irregularities, such that an hour-long downpour and sporadic gunshots, which led to the delegates scampering for safety, cannot be said to be fair enough to produce a candidate.
“Neither the claimant, Alhaji Abubakar Idris nor the defendant, Engr. Musa Wada can lay claim to being the authentic flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party since the primary was inconclusive,” the Judge held. He pointed out that the claimant who averred that he would have won the primary conducted by the 1st defendant if the missing votes which belonged to him were added to his votes, could not convince the court to deliver judgement in his favour. Similarly, Justice Olorunfemi further submitted that the second defendant could not convince the court that he actually won the party primary, which was marred with rancour and acrimony, arising from pandemonium, due to sporadic gunshots, that compelled the participants to scamper for safety.”
Many party chieftains and members are of the opinion that Idris’ legal actions were distractions that adversely affected the fortunes of the party and allowed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to run away with victory. But some others wonder what is wrong in a dissatisfied aspirant seeking judicial help. “They have no basis for alleging anti-party activities. They are just looking for a way to push us out of the party and I tell you, they will fail. The election is almost a year old and they are just coming up with allegations now,” Ibrahim Wada, a former PDP youth leader in Lokoja, said.
But sources at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja told The Nation that help may be far from coming for Idris if he relies on Secondus. It was gathered that the national chairman may not find it easy convincing many of his associates in the NWC to stop the persecution of Idris. “This is because the aspirant refused all appeals to him to save the party from disqualification last year. He chose to work against the party at a time we were so determined to win Kogi. And we were really looking good. His litigations were serious setbacks for us,” he said.
The Nation also gathered that the leadership of the party in the state may soon ratify the suspension of Idris. This is just as subtle moves are said to be on to also get his father, former Governor Ibrahim Idris, suspended from the party to prevent him from hijacking the leadership of the party through his numerous allies and followers currently mobilizing support for the embattled family. “The two camps are playing political games and the leadership of the party in the state appears to have taken sides,” our source added.
Undeterred by his alleged suspension, Idris said he has good reasons for his decision to pursue his claimant suit to the Supreme Court. Speaking through his media office, he said he remains loyal to the party, hence his desire to strengthen internal democracy within her through a diligent and lawful search for justice. “It is disheartening to see Mohammed and his wayfarers crying ‘blue murder’ over Abubakar’s decision to tow the path of justice. His resolve to approach the highest Temple of justice in the country is born out of patriotism and the need to strengthen internal democracy in our great party.
“Abubakar has not deviated from the spirit of his commitment to the fact finding committee. He did not at any time undertake to discontinue his search for justice as erroneously slanted by the Deputy Publicity Secretary. The Supreme Court is the peak of a single process that commenced few months ago at the High Court. Abubakar shall not be cowed or intimidated by the threat of suspension or any threat for that matter, so far the interest of justice is served at the end by his inquest. The failed effort to accuse Abubakar of ‘act of impunity’ is ridiculous.
But his accusers will have none of his excuses. Instead, they want the party to do away with him for his perceived act of disloyalty which, according to them, cost the PDP the governorship seat in Kogi state last year. “It is time for Kogi PDP to be firm if it really wants to return to power in the state. Some people see themselves as bigger than the party. We cannot continue to endure their excesses. The Idris family must be told in clear terms that Kogi PDP is not an empire. It belongs to all of us,” Hajia Hadiza Awoniyi, a chieftain of the party in Moro, told the Nation.
As the battle rages in Kogi PDP, with none of the gladiators willing to go down without a fierce fight, it is left to be seen what the Prince Secondus-led NWC will do. Will the national leadership allow the Idris family to be dealt with by their opponents within the party all the way, or will the PDP tamper justice with mercy and save father and son from political humiliation? Only time will tell.