Ahead of the 2023 general election in Gombe State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is steeped in crisis over the next political move of Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor and current representative of Gombe Cnetral senatorial district in the national assembly, reports ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor.
Gombe State is currently in a political frenzy following alleged disagreement among leaders and members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on the political future of former governor of the State and incumbent Senator representing Gombe Central senatorial district, Alhaji Danjuma Goje. While supporters of the former governor are urging him to seek a fourth term in the senate come 2023, his opponents within and outside the ruling party, are poised to stop his return to the red chamber.
Observers of the politics of the state have been tracing the crisis to the 2019 announcement by Goje that he will not be seeking election into any political office in the future as he plans to retire from active politics soon and the alleged desire of his erstwhile godson, Hon Usman Kumo, to seek the Gombe Central senatorial ticket of the APC in 2023. “Therefore, having contested and won all seven elections in addition to being a Minister for the country, I strongly believe that Allah (SWT) has been extremely kind to me.
“I believe not many Nigerians are so lucky and blessed. It is in this light foregoing and having reached an advanced age, I wish to formally inform you that I have decided not to contest any election again. For the avoidance of doubt, I will not contest any election at all levels,” the former governor had said in 2019, sparking the ongoing debate over his political plan for 2023 among his supporters and detractors alike.
The Nation also gathered that there may be a silent political battle between the political camp of the Senator and some notable supporters of Governor Inuwa Yahaya across the state. According to reliable party sources, although both the governor and Senator Goje have constantly denied the existence of any rift between them, the truth is that some allies of the governor are bent on ending what they termed Goje’s overbearing political relevance in Gombe state by stopping his re-election in 2023.
Expectedly, supporters of the former two-term governor are not about to be beaten in the game. The Nation gathered that the APC in the state may soon be polarized if nothing is done to checkmate the gladiators in the ongoing battle for the control of the party, especially in Gombe Central senatorial district. “The current situation is that some people, who are dropping the name of Governor Yahaya, are bent on stopping the re-election of Senator Goje following his endorsement by his people to return to the senate in 2023 and represent them,’ a source claimed.
Endorsement and rejection
Key stakeholders in the state including lawmakers, traditional rulers, religious leaders and top politicians have gathered in Kumo, Akko L.G.A last June to kick against alleged plan by Senator Danjuma Goje to quit partisan politics in 2023. It had been widely reported before then that the three-term senator plans not to contest for elective position in 2023 when his current term at the upper chamber of the national assembly will expire. Goje had in December 2019 hinted at the possibility of his quitting politics soon.
In a motion moved and seconded by the stakeholders at the gathering, the people insisted that Goje must again contest in 2023. Taking turns to speak, some of the stakeholders even threatened to institute legal actions if Goje refuses to heed to their calls. A former Deputy Governor of the State, Senator Joshua Lidani, said Senator Goje’s interventions cut across the entire North East geopolitical zone, saying he played critical roles in the establishment of the North East Development Commission. He urged Senator Goje to heed the calls of the people.
Chairman of Akko LGA of Gombe State, Alhaji Abubakar Barambu, said “Our people in the grassroots have mandated me to announce their endorsement of Senator Goje to continue to represent them in Gombe Central in 2023. If he is tired, we are not tired of his representation.” Aishatu Jibril Dukku, member, House of Representatives, said Goje has contributed immensely to the development of Gombe State, North-East and the country at large. She begged Goje not to quit active politics come 2023.
However, hardly had the Kumo gathering dispersed before a group of concerned political stakeholders in Gombe State promptly dissociated themselves from the purported endorsement of Senator Goje to contest the Gombe central senatorial seat in 2023. The group, in a widely reported press release, claimed those who endorsed the senator are not speaking for the people of Gombe Central. According to them, the people of Gombe Central are yearning for a new representative to continue from where Goje will stop in 2023.
The Nation gathered that the decision by the latter group to announce their rejection of Goje was fueled by widespread insinuations that the earlier meeting that threatened Goje with litigation were he to refuse seeking the red chamber in 2023, was convened in Kumo to embarrass some people, specifically, the member representing the local government in the National Assembly, Alhaji Usman Bello Kumo, a former godson of the Senator and a chieftain of the ruling party, who is said to be seeking to replace Goje at the senate come 2023.
“All these ‘stakeholders’ are the one creating the tension you talk about. And they are not helping the party because APC in Gombe will only remain in power if we remain united. If the party is divided, the PDP is waiting to punish us at the general election in 2023. Goje I am sure is not fighting Kumo. For Kumo, it is not wrong for him to show interest in the senatorial seat since Goje said he will not be re-contesting. Goje is yet to say he will run and people are fighting needless wars on his behalf and even dragging the governor into the melee.
“The due are doing well at the national assembly and bringing dividends of democracy to us. Now that people are causing this face-off in 2021 when 2023 is still far away, I wonder how they will concentrate on the task swe elected them to do for us. I want to urge Goje and Kumo to ignore these people and face their works as lawmakers. They are both experienced politicians who know what they want and how to get it at the appropriate time,” our source, a former member of the national assembly from the state, said.
To further compound the confusion rocking the Gombe state chapter of the APC, some youths of the party under the auspice of APC Youths Vanguard, during the week, issued a 7-day ultimatum to a former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, daring him to make do an alleged plan to quit the party and join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The group said Goje is “flying kites in order to draw public attention to his plight on his now threatened ambition to seek another term at the senate.”
The group, in a petition to the Chairman Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CCECPC), Governor Mai Mala Buni, signed by Alhaji Abubakar Bello and Sani Saidu Tumfure, said the senator’s latest move was a futile effort intended to sabotage the impactful leadership works of Governor Yahaya in the state. “Left to us, we consider his continuous stay in the APC as a liability. Infact, Senator Goje cannot muster the ability to dump APC. Needless to say, what is keeping Senator Goje in the APC is the fear of EFCC. We hereby issue him with a one week ultimatum to quit, if he can.
“Furthermore, even within our great party, he has been acting against the wish of the majority, particularly with the way and manner that he campaigned against our incumbent Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya during the 2019 party primaries. Equally too, Senator Goje has made efforts to quash the aspirations of current Senator Saidu Alkali of Gombe North, Hon. Usman Bello Kumo now representing Akko Federal Constituency and Hon. Abdullahi Abubakar Tumu representing Akko West at the Gombe State House of Assembly.
“Senator Danjuma Goje’s penchant to misuse power and fight everybody is widely known. This is the same person that had cause to wage war against the then sitting Vice President Atiku Abubakar while on a visit to Gombe State, not to talk of his aborted desire to outsmart the current Senate President Ahmad Lawan and his scheming to become APC’s National Chairman. At the home front, the Senator is sparing no effort to sabotage our hardworking Governor Inuwa Yahaya. Infact, it is like he wanted to outshine our able Governor. No wonder that as of today, none of his renown hitherto close political associates and personal staff are with him, e.g his former Chief of Staff, Lamido Umar Chikaire, Senator Idris A. Umar, Alh. Habu Mu’azu, Alh Tanko Isiyaku Gwamna, etc.,” the group stated.
Reacting to the allegations against the Senator, Barambu said the people of Gombe Central are not deceived by the antics of people who are desperate to grab political power at all cost. According to him, the reason for their unending support for Senator Goje is deep-rooted in their appreciation of his efforts to better the lives of the people of the state since he entered into politics. He warned that those casting aspersion on the former governor will have to do better than they are doing to turn the people against Goje in Gombe state.
“Our people in the grassroots are immensely grateful to Senator Goje for his efforts over the years in touching their lives. That is why they announced their endorsement for him to continue to represent them in Gombe Central in 2023. We are not tired of his representation, so those wishing to step into his shoes can wait much longer than 2023. Senator Goje’s importance is beyond Gombe state. He cuts the entire North East geopolitical zone,” he said.
Battle for control
Immediately after the conduct of the ward congresses in the state, protests trailed the exercise as some party chieftains and members decried the manner in which the congresses were held and winners announced across the state. Some aggrieved members from Shongom Local Government Area converged at the main gate of the Government House, seeking a reversal of lists submitted as ward executives from the LGA. Similarly, in Akko L.G.A, some party members condemned the lists submitted from the wards claiming they are not the people’s choices.
The protesters described the lists as full of ‘injustice’. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Ibrahim Kachalla said that the protest was because they were not satisfied with the outcome of the ward congress. He alleged that the names of new executives submitted to the committee were fabricated without proper consultation with other members of the party at the affected wards. Kachalla explained that the new party executives from six out of ten wards of the LGA were imposed on them and had their names sent to the committee without proper consultation.
Many of the aggrieved APC members alleged that those that had worked and supported the party right from inception were dropped and replaced with a new set of people that just decamped to the party. “Some people want to hijack our party and they are using the name of the governor to push aside loyal party people. They are planning for 2023 and killing APC in Gombe state,’ another said. A member from the Gundali, Ibrahim Ishaq, alleged that the lists submitted to the APC’s congress committee were not the the ones agreed by members during the congress.
Meanwhile, Governor, Yahaya, while speaking on the congresses, praised the successful conduct, saying it was done in compliance with what the Stakeholders in the State adopted earlier, following the advice and guidelines from the national body of the party. The governor allayed fears that some ‘newcomers’ want to hijack the party when he said the APC was open to everyone who wished to join, because the party was being transformed in preparation to the 2023 election. He urged party members to continue to work for the growth of the party.
“In Gombe State, we believe we’re in control and by God’s grace, we shall continue to dominate the political landscape in Gombe State and the country at large,” he stated. The Chairman of the APC State Ward Congresses Committee in the state, Dr. Danjuma Dabo, also said the adoption of consensus led to the successful conduct of the congresses in all the 114 wards in the state. According to him, “it was not an election that is time bound. It was an affirmation because there was consensus.”
But some members of the APC in Gombe State have called on the national leadership of the party to cancel last Saturday’s ward congresses in the state. The Nation gathered that a group of aggrieved party members is determined to halt what they perceived as a plot to hijack the machineries of the ruling party by people they described as ‘newcomers into the party who want to control the party at all cost.” Many of these APC chieftains and members, sources claim, are supporters of Senator Danjuma Goje.
Hon. Simon Dauda Yahaya, spokesperson the group, while speaking to newsmen in Gombe during the week, said the group, made up of prominent APC leaders and stakeholders across the state, met and reviewed the manner in which the ward congresses were conducted. He said that his group had resolved to urge the national body of the party to cancel the congress and ordered for a fresh one because the exercise was not free and fair. “We have approached the appeal committee for the same purpose,” he said.
The group claimed the congresses were not held in accordance with the provisions of the party’s constitution and urged the party to order fresh ward congress that would be conducted in line with the party’s guidelines. They warned that there was no point going ahead to conduct the Local Government Congresses across the 11 local governments when issues surrounding the ward congresses had not been addressed. “It is when free and fair ward congresses have been held and accepted that we can talk about the next stage. That hasn’t been done,” Yahaya said.
As the gladiators await the final pronouncement of the national leadership of the party on the complaints and petitions, party leaders and other stakeholders are urging calm. On his part, the governor, while cautioning against violence, has vowed not to spare anybody in dealing with trouble makers across the state. “I am not in support of any politics to kill and destroy property, I am for development and I stand for peace.
“No politician’s ambition is worth the life of anyone. I will not allow some people to take laws into their hands and kill people because those people will not send their relatives to be killed,’ the governor warned.