Crisis rages in the Sokoto State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the battle for supremacy between a former state governor, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and Senator Abubakar Gada, who represented Sokoto East to the National Assembly.
Wamakko and Gada are at loggerheads over who controls the party structure in the state. Their fight was revived during the congresses conducted in the state in the last quarter of 2021.
Observers say the battle between the two APC bigwigs has thrown the party into serious confusion as it provokes more bickering and acrimony among its members.
The APC state congress produced two parallel executives as two factions held elections in different locations.
Some senior APC brass in the state held one of the congresses at the party secretariat along Sultan Abubakar Road, while another congress was held at an undisclosed hotel at the request of Senator Gada .
Among the party bigwigs who attended the Wamakko-led congress were Police Affairs Minister Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi; leader of the party in the state, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko; Senator Ibrahim Gobir, members of the State House of Representatives except Abdullahi Salame and all state legislators who were elected on the party platform.
Others were; a former transport minister, Yusuf Suleiman; the current Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF), Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto; a National Commissioner, the National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Chiso Abdullahi and a host of others.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Aminu Achida, who is a member of the APC, and Abdullahi Salame did not attend any of the congresses because they would have been outside the country.
The Wamakko-led congress proceeded in an orderly fashion with the emergence of the State Working Committee (SWC) by consensus.
The motion to adopt the consensus option was proposed by Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC-Sokoto) and seconded by Representative Musa Adar (APC-Gada/Goronyo).
Alhaji Suleiman Abubakar, chairman of the APC congress committee, said consensus was an option recommended by the party’s national leadership.
He said: “As you all know, our mandate from the national headquarters of the APC is to ensure that the convention runs smoothly and that the tenure of our party members is fully protected throughout the exercise.
Therefore, we are fully confident that the consensus option adopted in Sokoto is and will remain a true reflection of the tenure of our APC members in the state.
He commended APC members in the state for their dedication and commitment to the party’s fight to reposition and regain power in the state in 2023.
Sokoto APC chief Sen Aliyu Wamakko described the exercise as peaceful and successful.
He instructed APC members in the state to be more committed to ensuring the success of the party in the state and in the country at large.
Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, the Minister of Police Affairs, also called on elected officials to devise strategies for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to take control of the state.
Dingyadi assured that the APC in Sokoto State will continue to involve all party members in its decision-making processes to address the challenges plaguing the party.
In response, re-elected Sokoto APC Chairman Alhaji Isa Achida praised party members in the state for giving them another term.
He pledged to work with all party members and initiate strategies that would see the party achieve victory in 2023.
But 24 hours after the congress, the faction led by Senator Gada announced the election of the new party officials in the state.
Senator Gada had been a political enemy of Senator Wamakko for years.
The feud between them escalated in 2010, when Wamakko, then the state’s governor, reportedly “denied” Gada a chance to return to the upper house over unresolved differences.
It has been alleged that Gada wanted to use his connections to frustrate Wamakko’s second term bid.
But in an interview with reporters, Wamakko said that all elected senators from the eastern area of the state came from Gada and there was a need for change for the sake of justice and fairness.
Experts say Gada was not alone in the fight. He was reportedly backed by Salame, the Sokoto State Assembly Speaker. It was also alleged that a minister from the North West was behind them.
Wamakko is said to be the soul of APC in Sokoto State as it has funded its activities since Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal defected to the PDP in 2018.
Wamakko had played key roles that led to the party’s successes in the 2015 and 2019 elections as, despite a PDP government, the party in 2019 won three senatorial seats before losing one by court verdict.
They also won nine of 11 seats in the House of Representatives and then lost two in court.
Likewise, the party won 16 of the state’s 30 House of Assembly seats before the death of one of its lawmakers, paving the way for a by-election won by the PDP.
With the emergence of two cadres in the state, many continued to wonder, especially about which of the congresses would ultimately be recognized by the national leadership of the party.
Analysts say the Gada-led faction lacks grassroots support, adding that the chances of the party regaining power in the state in 2023 would be low if the faction is eventually recognized and legitimized by the party’s national leadership.
Our correspondent reports that at present, Wamakko’s group controls the party structure in the local government areas after the last local government congresses held in the state.
When contacted, Senator Gada promised to call back our journalist on this subject, but he did not do so when this report was filed.
Subsequent calls to his phone line also went unanswered.
However, the chairman of the Gada-led faction, Mainasara Abubakar, insists they are the true executive members of the party in the state.
“We are the leaders recognized by the national headquarters of the party. Our election was conducted by the committee sent by them under the chairmanship of Senator Jibril Wawo,” he said.
On why their election was held one day after all state congresses, and in a secret location, he said the election was held at the Giginya Hotel and was covered by reporters.
For their part, the president of the group led by Wamakko, Isa Sadiq Achida declared: “As far as we are concerned, they do not exist. So we can’t associate problems with people who don’t exist at all.
“I was the president of the party and its acting president and after the last congresses, I reappeared president of the APC in the state for the second time. I was elected by all our delegates in the presence of the committee sent from our national headquarters,” he said.
“We don’t know when, where and how Gada joined APC. Gada belongs to the group we call ‘Any Government In Power’ (AGIP),” he said.
Achida said the only recognized executive members of the APC in the state were those elected under Wamakko’s leadership.
“He pays our office rent, our salary and funds all our activities,” he said.