May 21, 2024

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Nigeria: Issues As Ex-Governor Shema Joins APC After Months of Political Romance

5 min read

Mr Shema became critical of the PDP, especially in his home state, in the build-up to the 2023 general election.

The decision by Ibrahim Shema, a former governor of Katsina State, to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) took long in arriving.

Mr Shema became critical of the PDP, especially in his home state, in the build-up to the 2023 general election.

Immediately after the presidential election and Bola Tinubu was declared winner, Mr Shema publicly asked Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, to accept the results and move on. But even before that, Mr Shema had only one leg in the party.

When the PDP suspended Mr Shema and some top party members for alleged anti-party conducts, he threatened to quit the party if the sanction was not reversed. The party later lifted the suspension but only well after the ultimatum given by Mr Shema.

Shema, Katsina and 2023

Mr Shema (governor from 2007 to 2015) worked against the PDP in Katsina State in the 2023 elections for several reasons.

His media team, in a statement by Olawale Oluwabusola, said Mr Shema was “relegated” to the background by the party, among other allegations.

But beyond that, three other ssues played a key role in Mr Shema’s decision.

Mr Shema’s trouble in the PDP began in 2019 when he lost grip of the party to Yakubu Lado, who defeated his anointed ally in the party’s governorship primaries.

But it was not complete darkness for Mr Shema as he managed to make another ally, Salisu Majigiri, the running mate to Mr Lado in the election they eventually lost to Aminu Masari of the APC.

In 2023, Mr Lado again clinched the party’s ticket but refused to pick any of Mr Shema’s loyalists as his running mate. Instead, he settled for Ahmed Yar’adua, a former managing director of the National Inland Waterways (NIW), who is also seen as an Abuja politician who would bring little or no value to the governorship contest.

With that decision by Mr Lado, Mr Shema and his loyalists withdrew their support and a war for the soul of the party began with Mr Lado, who is a former local government chairman, House of Representatives member and senator.

Another issue that informed Mr Shema’s decision to work against his party was the joining of the party by Mustapha Inuwa, the immediate former Secretary to the State Government who left the APC after he failed to clinch the governorship ticket.

Messrs Shema and Inuwa, who both worked under the late Umaru Yar’adua when he was governor, are sworn enemies. Throughout Mr Shema’s eight years as governor, Mr Inuwa stridently criticised his policies and programmes. Mr Inuwa later left the PDP and took an active part in the formation of the APC in the state. He served as the party’s first substantive chairperson.

When Mr Inuwa rejoined the PDP and Mr Lado found a new friend and political associate in him, Mr Shema apparently felt irritated. His aides told PREMIUM TIMES he decided to leave instead of flocking with “strange bedfellows” like Mr Inuwa who flocked into the party.

Politics at work

But Mr Shema is not a greenhorn in politics. Facing the challenge of Mr Lado’s financial muscles and Mr Inuwa’s grassroots political connections as well as the gang up against him by aggrieved party members who felt he didn’t make efforts to reach out to them, Mr Shema looked beyond the PDP and built bridges.

In APC, he found Dikko Radda, who was fighting his own long political battle. With Mr Inuwa and the other aggrieved APC politicians fighting him, Mr Radda was also looking for another political pillar to lean on.

He found solace in Mr Shema.

The former governor surrendered his political machinery to the APC candidate but he himself remained in the PDP. On social media, Mr Shema’s loyalists promoted Mr Radda and the APC and there were allegations that they voted for Mr Radda in the general election.

Before the elections, the Katsina State Government announced the withdrawal of the case of alleged misappropriation of N11 billion instituted against Mr Shema and some of his appointees. The case had been in court since 2016 but Mr Shema had consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying he was merely being politically persecuted.

One of Mr Shema’s staunchest allies, Bashir Tanimu, was appointed commissioner of finance while another ally, Ibrahim Dankaba, was appointed executive director of the Katsina State Small Town and Water Sanitation Agency (STOWASSA).

New light for Katsina PDP?

The third issue that triggered Mr Shema’s departure from the PDP was the way he was treated by the national leadership and presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, ahead of the 2023 elections.

Those familiar with the matter said he was completely ostracized and kept out of decision-making. “I can tell you that Oga (Mr Shema) was seriously and consistently disrespected,” one aide said, asking not to be named because he does not have his boss’ permission to discuss the matter in the media. “They even fixed rallies without informing or inviting him. It was unbelievable that they could do that to a former governor with a huge political followership and influence. I think they miscalculated. So why should he remain loyal to such a party?”

Mr Shema’s official departure from the PDP may bring an end to the ongoing crisis in the state chapter of the opposition party. But the party may now find it harder to return to winning ways.

The party in Katsina has been without a substantive state executive council due to the face-off between factions loyal to Messrs Shema and Lado. The state chapter has thus been run by a caretaker committee since before the elections.

With Mr Shema’s exit, the PDP can now tread on one leadership path with Messrs Inuwa and Lado as party leaders.

However, the exit of the former governor will affect the party as many influential members will follow him to his new party, the APC.

By Premium Times.

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