By BEN AGANDE, KADUNA
While unveiling the new factional secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Shuaibu Danladi Wada, who became factional acting chairman, addressed a conference at the new office of the party penultimate Thursday, where he declared that he is the authentic leader recognized by the constitution of the party to lead it in acting capacity until a new leader is elected.
He anchored his position on the fact that since he was the deputy chairman to Bala Bantex who was picked by Nasir El Rufai to be his deputy in 2015, he ought to have succeed the chairman as the acting chairman rather than bringing a new person to act as the chairman.
With bold actions, perhaps to send a message that he meant business, Alhaji Wada announced his assumption of office, almost three years after he was side-stepped, by querying El Rufai for alleged anti-party activities, while some of his aides, including his Special Adviser on Politics, UBA Sani, were suspended from the party.
He stated: “the state working committee, after due consultations with stakeholders and elders of the party, resolved to suspend Mallam Uba Sani, the commissioner for finance, Alhaji Abdu Kwari, and the acting secretary of the party, Yahaya Baba Pate, for 18 months. His Excellency, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, has been queried and we are expecting him to answer the query within 48 hours. Failure to do that, the state working committee will sit down and deliberate. We queried Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai for his anti-party activities and anti-human activities. The letters would be delivered to these personalities today(penultimate Thursday),” he said.
Operating from a factional state secretariat, the response to its query on the governor met with military-style gusto, as the Kaduna State Government, last Tuesday, demolished the secretariat situated on Number 11, Sambo Street, which had briefly served as the factional office of the party in the state. The building, owned by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, was donated to members of the party who were opposed to the mainstream APC which they believe was too loyal to the governor and had shut its doors to any members that they remotely suspected was not loyal to the state governor, Nasir El Rufai.
El Rufai, who had poo-pooed his alleged suspension, threatened “to send political traducers into retirement and will not be swayed by their drowning antics”. His response was loud and clear.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Since coming into office, the relationship between El Rufai and members of his party, especially those who see themselves as the main political gladiators in the state, has been anything but smooth. Though Senator Shehu Sani is seen as the face of the political opposition to the governor, the relationship between the governor and Senator Hunkuyi has not been less acrimonious.
According to a Kaduna based political observer, though the relationship between El Rufai and Hunkuyi was very cordial leading to the election of the former as governor, the blossoming relationship between the duo began to show signs of strain as soon as the governor was sworn in.
One of the leaders of the party who does not want to be named because of his deep involvement with the two political gladiators explained that “the relationship between El Rufai and Hunkuyi runs deep. First, Idris Othman, Hunkuyi’s elder brother, is El Rufai’s best friend and bus8ness associate – the relationship dates back to when El Rufai’s operated from the Federal Capital Territory. In addition, Hunkuyi’s younger brother is a commissioner in the El Rufai’s government. Before now, Hunkuyi was the chief political strategist that saw El Rufai to victory from primaries to the election. The governor rode on his structure. In fact, Hunkuyi was the director of the campaign. He orchestrated the congresses that saw the emergence of Bala Bantex as party chairman, even before the primaries. His cronies were also elected at ward and local government levels through alleged manipulation, to the chagrin of other gubernatorial aspirants, especially Hon. Isa Ashiru.
“Things went on smoothly between the duo until Hunkuyi allegedly took offense when his reward wasn’t forth-coming. More alarmed was what Hunkuyi perceived as the governor’s preference for other businessmen who the senator perceived as not having contributed meaningfully to the party’s success in the state. To further muddy the waters is Hunkuyi’s burning desire to become governor, which is not hidden. The question is, was there a quid pro quo that they entered into from the outset”, he asked.
With the prospects that his ambition of becoming the state governor was looking more distant, Senator Hunkuyi became more aggressive in his opposition to El Rufai. Using his local political acumen, he teamed up with those who were already frustrated with the government of the day to take the internal opposition a notch higher. With a ready facility at the centre of the city, Senator Hunkuyi sought to galvanize the disparate opposition within the party to serve as a united front to bring the governor to a negotiating table. He offered his house to serve as a factional office of the APC. It was one action that pushed El Rufai’s patience to tipping point. Using the instrumentality of the Kaduna State Geographic Information Service, KADGIS, the building housing the factional secretariat was demolished.
And justifying its action, the state government said the house was demolished because of “flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010”.
The Director General of KADGIS, Ibrahim Husseini, said the “illegal violation of use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road”.
“The Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency, KAPSUDA, is currently undertaking operations across Kaduna metropolis in compliance with its mandate. In partnership with sister agencies, KASUPDA is clearing illegal structures, tackling street hawking and restoring order across Kaduna.
“This morning a building on 11B Sambo Close was removed for flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010. This illegal violation of use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.
“The Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS) issued a revocation notice of statutory right of occupancy No. KD. 16712, that covers 11b Sambo Close in the Ungwan Rimi area. The appropriate notice of revocation was delivered at 28 Inuwa Wada Road, the registered address of the company that held the title to the property. The notice was also delivered to the building in question, and sent by post to the registered address of the previous title holder.
“The land has now been allocated to KASUPDA for the purpose of developing and maintaining a public park that will provide a green area and a serene place for recreation in that residential neighbourhood.
“KADGIS wishes to remind all title owners to be fastidious in complying with the terms of their allocation. The purpose of allocation of land cannot be wilfully altered; neither can title holders lawfully neglect to pay their ground rents.
“Since 2016, the government has been taking action on various land related matters, including revoking all undeveloped land titles in the state and directed that all abandoned buildings be developed within three months of the notice.
“The Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS), as the government agency charged with ultimate responsibility on land matters in Kaduna State, calls for the utmost cooperation by the public with all our agencies”.
Last week while featuring on a television show, Alhaji Abdu Kwari, who was speaking on behalf of the Kaduna State Government, was at pains to explain the rules governing the operations of KADGIS, the penalties for offenders and the appropriateness of employing the action of demolition as a response to breaking of rules. Severally, he was asked to explain the processes employed by KADGIS before the demolition job; the response from the offenders; and what the penalties were. Kwari, who looked like a man who had been compelled to pull a camel through the proverbial eye of a needle, kept repeating the same sentence that he did not have the details but was sure the right thing was done. Asked again what constituted the right thing, Kwari battled to no avail to make sense to his interviewers, thereby suggesting that there were many things hidden from the public regarding the demolition of the property.
Demolishing houses belonging to political opponents of the governor appears, rightly or wrongly, to be the hallmark of the administration of El Rufai. In April 2017, the residence of the Deputy Chairman, Northwest, APC, Inuwa Abdulkadir, was pulled down by KAPSUDA.
Although it claimed that the building was demolished because it had no approved building plans, Abdulkadir insisted that his building was targeted because of his political differences with Governor El Rufai.
“The demolition of my house is a personal threat by the governor. It is personal because of our differences in political views and opinions. He wants to intimidate me because of political issues but I will not be intimidated” he said.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TINUBU
Already seen as an assignment meant to make Tinubu busy, the reconciliation of aggrieved members of the APC across the country was intended by President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the slide into anarchy that daily confronts the ruling party. The former Lagos State governor has been moving round the country, meeting with political leaders in some states with a view to reconciling them and putting the interest of the party ahead of personal, petty considerations.
Unfortunately, with El Rufai’s perceived high-handed response to an increasingly frustrated opposition in the state, some members of the Tinubu committee were said to have been alarmed at the latest development in Kaduna. Whereas Sunday Vanguard was told that the consequences for flouting extant rules and regulations should not be excused because of political expediency, taking up the toga of a demolition man was an action beneath the state government, especially in the face of the reconciliation train that Tinubu currently mans.
This, at a time when Tinubu was forced to cry out loud last week that his party national chairman, John Odigie Oyegun, was making his reconciliation efforts look more like a fool’s errand.
The latest action by Governor El Rufai has further widened the gap between some members of the APC in the state and the governor. How the parties involved in these fights are able to navigate the political waters will determine to a large extent the impact these fights will have on the fortunes of the party in the state.