After Nyako, what next for Adamawa?
Adamawa State is gearing for a governorship by-election in October to elect the impeached Governor Murtala Nyako’s successor. The two major parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), have gone back to the drawing board. Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI highlights the factors that will shape the poll.
The exit of Murtala Nyako as governor of Adamawa State has thrust the state on a journey towards political uncertainty. Keen observers of Adamawa politics say it is difficult to predict what the political future of the state is likely to be. The recent impeachment has altered the political equation. As a result, politicians have gone back to the drawing board to restrategise for the proposed governorship by-election in about 90 days, to elect a successor to Nyako.
Adamawa is home to some founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The party has ruled the state since the return to civilian rule in 1999. Nyako, former Chief of Naval Staff, former Chief of Naval Staff and former military governor of Niger State, was elected on the platform of the PDP in 2007. He dumped the party for the APC in November, last year at the height of its leadership crisis. This perhaps, explains why the ruling party at the centre is anxious to regain control of the state.
Nyako has has indicated his intention to seek redress in court. The lacunae pointed out by Nyako include the method used to serve the notice of impeachment on him. The notice was published in newspapers after the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Ambrose Mamadi had rejected the Assembly’s request for substituted service, which he declared unconstitutional, insisting they (Nyako and Ngillari) must be served personally.
The impeached governor’s camp believes the process of impeachment was marred by illegalities. These include the contravention of court order restraining the Assembly from continuing with the impeachment. But the PDP maintains that the impeachment was carried out in strict compliance with constitutional provisions and that no illegality was committed.
In the view of keen observers, the exit of Admiral Nyako as governor is a boost for the PDP’s aspiration to regain control and a loss for the opposition. But, analysts believe this may not the final word about which party would hold sway in the state following the unceremonious exit of Nyako. A fresh rift brewing within Adamawa PDP over aspirations for the forthcoming governorship elections, they say, may be the party’s biggest undoing. The former Deputy Governor, Bala James Ngilari, has already fallen victim of this fierce battle.
The manner in which Ngilari was shoved aside has been identified as a possible threat to the PDP . The former deputy governor is fast becoming the enemy within for the ruling party. He reportedly sent a letter of resignation to the Speaker, which was read on the floor of the House, minutes before Nyako was impeached. Unless the PDP succeeds in papering the cracks, a possible litigation over how Ngilari was sidelined could be politically damaging for the party, as it prepares for the governorship poll and the 2015 general elections.
The controversy over Ngillari’s resignation started when Nyako issued a statement, through his spokesman, Ahmad Sajo, describing it as illegal because he (Ngilari) did not notify him. Nyako argues that the law requires that the deputy governor submit his letter of resignation to the governor, who will in turn transmit same to the House. Ngilari has since confirmed, through statements attributed to him in the media, that the purported resignation letter read on the floor of the House of Assembly was obtained under duress. Less than 24 hours after the impeachment, Ngilari said: “The truth is that I have not sent any letter of resignation to the governor up till now because representatives of the House only came to my house yesterday asking me to tender my resignation and address the letter to the Speaker of the House, which I did.”
Before that, the deputy governor had gone to court to clarify whether the investigative committee constituted by the chief judge to probe him and Nyako had power to summon him. The case is still pending in court and its outcome may determine whether the whole process followed an acceptable norm or not.
Apart from the threat of litigation, another development, which may turn the hands of the clock against the PDP, if not properly managed, is the politics surrounding the deputy governor’s exit. What transpired, it is said, was the triumph of the interests of some powerful governorship aspirants who do not want the former deputy governor to become the governor, after Nyako’s exit. That the deputy governor is a loyal party man was not in doubt. He was the only key party figure standing, when the entire political structure defected to the APC along with Nyako. He refused to follow his boss to the new party. Naturally, he should have been the main beneficiary of the intrigues and power play that consumed Nyako.
According to close observers, as the plot against Nyako gathered momentum, the Presidency, which is a key stakeholder in the Adamawa impeachment drama, had penciled Ngilari down as the heir to the throne. But, powerful stakeholders including some governorship aspirants, rejected the choice, fearing that the deputy could consolidate his hold and have an edge in the governorship election. So, the Presidency had no choice but to jettison the idea.
Observers say a man who took such a principled stand to remain loyal to the party is not likely to accept the betrayal without a challenge. “This miscalculation could cost the party immense loss in the coming elections, particularly since the deputy governor is believed to be popular in the zone, which also produced former governor, Senator Boni Haruna,” a source told The Nation.
Besides, the rift over the governorship race, it is said, may tear Adamawa PDP into shreds, if selfish interests of individual stakeholders are allowed to prevail. Indications are that powerful godfathers have already started fixing things for their candidates at Wadata Plaza and in the Presidency. Many aspirants have indicated interest in the job and some of these contenders have powerful backers. Campaign posters, according to reports, now litter the streets of the capital and other major cities. The aspirants are also competing for attention at the grassroots, engaging in consultations with relevant stakeholders.
Some of the aspirants include Dr. Umar Ardo, an academician; Aliyu Idi Hong, a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and a protégé of Professor Jibril Aminu; Awwal Tukur, son of former national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and a former member of the House of Representatives; General Buba Marwa (retired), former military administrator of Lagos State; Marcus Gundiri, a popular politician in the state and Senator Abubakar Gurei.
These aspirants have been eyeing the governorship for a long time. So, it is likely to be a fierce battle. For instance, Senator Girei has been in the contest since 2003 when he insisted in participating in the primaries against the wish of the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar after other aspirants stepped down for Boni Haruna. He also aspired in 2007 alongside Nyako.
Dr. Ardo contested in the last primaries with Nyako and challenged the result at the Supreme Court. He has been an active member of the PDP Stakeholders and Elders Forum and he was a key player in the fight to remove Nyako. Marwa and Gundiri are not new to the Adamawa governorship race, having aspired to govern the state under different political platforms.
Observers however, believe that the battle for the party’s ticket is likely to be a straight fight between Tukur and Marwa. Marwa was a former member of the PDP; he had pitched tent with the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) because he was denied the governorship ticket in 2007. He contested the 2011 governorship election in the state under the CPC platform and returned to the PDP in April 2014 when he realized that he might not get a fair deal in the contest for the party’s ticket under Nyako’s leadership of the APC in the state.
The ambition of Tukur, on the other hand, has been controversial because of the role of his father. This was a factor when he was removed as the PDP chairman. This factor was also instrumental to the recent impeachment of Nyako. While the older Tukur was rooting for his son, Nyako was rooting for his own heir, Abdul-Aziz, Tukur, using his power as the national chairman, dissolved the party executive led by Nyako’s ally, Minjiyawa Kugama. This crisis generated in the wake of the dissolution compelled Nyako to defect to the APC with other anti-Tukur forces.
Nyako’s exit has plunged the APC into uncertain political future. Some insiders believe that the fortunes of the APC declined as a result of Nyako’s larger-than-life influence. The decision to handover the leadership of the APC to the former governor, following his defection from the PDP, did not go down well with original members of the party like Marwa, Gundiri and others. Indeed, most of the APC leaders who received Nyako when he was declaring for the APC at the height of the PDP crisis have jumped boat for the sake of their political survival.
It was the former governor’s bid to actualise the governorship ambition of his son that put him on a collision course with major stakeholders. This led to the exodus of such members to the PDP; even members of the state House of Assembly, who had earlier indicated interest to follow him to the new party, had to jettison the idea at the last minute when it was obvious that their interest was at stake.
With his unceremonious exit, the leadership of the APC has naturally transferred to Atiku, whose influence is not in doubt. A divided PDP will surely enhance the APC’s fortune. Already, the Atiku Support Group, a political group formed to actualise the aspiration of the former vice president, has begun grassroots mobilisation across all the local government areas. The APC under the leadership of Atiku has already started talking to some PDP members who had defected from the APC as a result of alleged marginalisation by Nyako and his henchmen, to prepare ground for their return to the fold, should they find their ambition unrealizable in the PDP. How far Atiku would go in his effort to rebuild the party remains to be seen.
Aside from Atiku’s effort to rally members of the party for the by-election, the influence of former Head of State and National Leader of the APC, General Mohammadu Buhari, would also count in shoring up the fortunes of the party, ahead of the decisive governorship election. Nyako took his supporters to join the APC secure in the knowledge that the opposition party is going to be the party to beat in 2015 general elections because of the influence of General Buhari, who has a big following in the state. Nevertheless, his influence on Adamawa politics in the next couple of months would depend on who gets the party’s presidential ticket. This is in spite of the fact that Buhari has pledged to abide by the party’s choice, if he fails to get it.