…MOHAMMED ABACHA BATTLES THE GENERALS
Few months ago, when Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha, a gubernatorial aspirant in Kano State and son of former Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha, led his supporters on a political pilgrimage to the home of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in Kaduna State, he returned to Kano filled with excitement and hope.
That visit that fateful Friday, was to intimate General Buhari of his plans to defect to the newly-registered Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Daily Sun findings revealed that when Mohammed Abacha with his supporters met General Buhari, they lamented over their trials and tribulations in the PDP. And like a father, General Buhari assured them that they would get in CPC, what they perceived to be missing in PDP's internal democracy.
But today, that hope which was sowed and nurtured on the altar of the General's promise is forlorn. It has faded away like the early morning dew on a sunny day. It is either the General has swallowed his own words or that Mohammed Abacha has proven himself undeserving of the promise of a father figure.
Whichever way, the truth is that the cause of the present impasse in the Kano chapter of the CPC, is the anointed choice of Buhari for the party's gubernatorial ticket: the preference for General Lawal Jafaru Isa (rtd) over Alhaji Abacha, who is equally laying claim to the same ticket.
It was an open secret that all was not well with the party and its standardbearers in the state, even before the party's delegates elections. The party could not agree on simple modalities for the conduct of the exercise, neither did it agree on the process for the registration of new members into its fold. Consequently, there was a stalemate resulting in the cancellation and postponement of the polls.
But at the end of that particular scuffle, the Abacha faction won, defeating the other factions of the party, after deploying its huge financial arsenals. But that success too, threw up its own snags.
It led to chains of back stab and intrigues. The epic battle was to come days after, during the gubernatorial primary. About five aspirants were in the race: Alhaji Abacha, General Lawal Jafaru Isa, Dr. Alwalu Anwar, Alhaji Magaji Abdullahi and Senator Rufia Hanga.
The primary was conducted by a renowned professor of History from the Bayero University, Prof. Muhammad Dahiru Suleiman. But the results were never declared as the exercise was suspended.
Speaking to journalists a few days after the exercise, Prof. Sulaiman disclosed that his committee received results from the 44 local government councils of the state. He, however, disclosed that his team rejected the results of 23 councils, alleging forgery of electoral documents and non-conduct of primaries in the affected councils.
He said that of the accepted results, Alhaji Abacha scored 144, 066 votes, Gen Jafaru Isa, 78,671, Senator Rufai Hanga had 45, 618 while adding that Dr. Auwalu Anwar scored 30,410 and Alhaji Magaji Abdullahi got 5,795 votes.
He noted that in the light of the development, his committee had no option but to take the matter to the national headquarters of the party, where a decision would be taken on the party flag bearer for the governorship election.
Within days of the suspension of announcement, speculation was rife in Kano that Abacha would be denied his victory. But what started as speculation later became real.
According to Alhaji Mohammadu Sulieman Manbo, the Director-General, Mohammed Campaign Organisation, 'After so many days of waiting, the winner was surreptitiously declared through the backdoor and the name of General Isa was taken to INEC for the reasons best known to those who did it'.
But Abacha had since put up resistance as he slammed a suit on his party. He dragged INEC, General Buhari and the CPC before the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawale.
Abacha sought for an order restraining the CPC from submitting any other name other than his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
By penultimate Monday, INEC brought the matter to a temporary halt. It dramatically announced Alhaji Abacha as the gubernatorial candidate.
His supporters in the state and from the 44 Local Councils were excited, the atmosphere was tense at Abuja headquarters of the CPC.
The National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, had since faulted the action of the INEC in Kano State while restating that the party, and not INEC, has the prerogative to decide on its candidates.
Buhari also faulted INEC over the substitution of the party's candidates. Speaking last Wednesday, at a meeting with the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Mrs. Masire Nwanba, who met with stakeholders ahead the April elections, the PDP presidential candidate said the pedigree INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, rekindled hope in the ballot box upon his appointment but that some recent developments have elicited cause for concerns about the neutrality of the electoral body.
'There is the scandalous substitution of candidates submitted by our party in some states. How can the electoral agency revalidate a candidate rejected by us based on inducement of party members with money? Our team of lawyers will challenge that,' he said.
Many Nigerians viewed this allegation seriously, especially coming from the CPC presidential candidate, given his credibility and they are earnestly waiting for not just the litigations but its outcome.
But of interest too is that those who have been trying to exonerate the General from the power play in the state chapters of the party have been trying, without success to convince the people. Those who alleged that the CPC presidential candidate have more than passing interest in who gets what in the CPC recalled his role in the choice of ANPP candidates in Kano in 2003 and 2007, while he was still in the party. They also point fingers of scorn at him over the CPC congresses in Kano and Bauchi.
Alhaji Babayaro Dankwanno told Daily Sun that General Buhari has not been tactful in his approach. He reasoned that democracy is all about numbers and what the Generals ought to have done was to use his influence and ensure, through democratic means, that the delegates vote for his anointed candidates during party congress.
Dankwanno warned General Buhari: 'if care is not taken, the biggest loser in this political scuffle may not be Alhaji Abacha. Age is still on his side and he can always bounce back.
In fact, the biggest loser may be the CPC, which is still in its infancy and its leader, Buhari, who desperately needs the stability of the party in Kano State as a ladder to reach the rest of Nigerians.''