Things are not looking good for Katsina State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the erstwhile strong party of Katsina politics is now a shadow of itself having suffered a deluge of defection of its stalwarts and followers. In this report, ANDY ASEMOTA examines how some politicians and stakeholders reflect on the recent fate of the party in the state
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has made heavy incursion into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as staggering number of the opposition party leaders have jumped ship into the ruling APC. The political game in Katsina State changed in 2015 when the PDP was swept out of the governance of the state after 16 years.
Various reasons have been advanced for the revolt and defection of PDP stalwarts and followers. Two time former speaker of the Katsina State House Assembly and the candidate of PDP in Katsina North senatorial zone in the last general election, Ya'u Umar Gojo-Gojo, said in an interview that the party was no longer wanted by his people, while shedding light on their defection.
Gojo-Gojo, who is highly respected as a strong pillar in the constituency of President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed hope that their political move would boost the aspiration of his people while paying glowing tributes to Buhari and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of the state.
Noting that their defection was very important for the socio-economic development of his teeming followers, the erstwhile PDP bigwigs declared their avowed determination to work for the victory of Buhari and Masari next year.
He said: "For us in Katsina State, we have seen the efforts of the governor towards the development of our dear state. And the federal level, we have also witnessed the determination of the President towards the development of the country. There is no doubt that if the country is rid of corruption, the wind of change will usher in rapid development and that is why we agreed to join hands with the APC administration for the development of our people.
"Whereever our people are going to be happy, we are ever ready to lend our support. Whereever our people are going to encounter hardship, we will new chart a roadmap for them. That is why we are here to support the APC government."
Abdulaziz Danyari, former general manager of the state-owned television turned chairman of Malumfashi Local Government Council under PDP's watch, explained further that there were several reasons for his action. One of such reasons, he noted, is the advice of elders in the party. He said he consulted widely and had the blessing of the elders and his people and wondered why he would not defect with them.
So, what is in the offing for the people? Danyari said "we are in politics to better the lots of our people at the grassroots. We are going to do our possible best to ensure the success of APC."
Speaking about the wind of change, former member of the Katsina assembly and ex-commissioner in different ministries during former Governor Ibrahim Shema's administration, Musa Adamu Funtua, popularly known as GLO, informed that the achievements of Masari had reached a point where all well meaning people of the state should support him, adding that he has concrete reasons leaving PDP.
"For us in Katsina, we share a common belief which envisages giving full support to our leaders, praying for them and at the same time advising them. Whatever I do, I must have concrete reason for it and we all have our destiny. Whatever you do is between you and your God and you are free to make choices in life. I am a true believer that what I have witnessed in the present dispensation is true leadership.
"After that, I am appealing to all the people of Katsina State wherever they find themselves to know that opposition is one of the pillars of democracy and people must criticize objectively. It's only God that is perfect," he added.
Corroborating the opinion of other former PDP leaders, Comrade Bilyaminu Rimi, one time deputy speaker under Gojo-Gojo, confirmed that Masari had initiated better ways for developing the people of the state.
Hear him: "In fact, today, I am short of words to express my feelings about what I have seen. I acknowledge that our defection was motivated by seeing all the good efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Aminu Bello Masari at the centre and state levels. We pray God to give them all the opportunity to start what they are yet to embark on and to complete what they have started."
Without mincing words, Gambo Abdulkadir Rimi, former chairman of Rimi Local Government cum ex-chief executive of the state transport authority and poverty alleviation programme respectively, maintained that they were excited to endorse the good policies and programmes of Masari and to support the governor for a second term towards rapid development across the state.
To the National Vice Chairman, APC North West, Inuwa Abdulkadir, the party is intensely inspired by the upsurge of support, goodwill, prayers and followership that has continued to pour into the APC in the state.
His words: "We know the role they (ex-PDP leaders) played in the political development of Katsina State. In fact, they are not new to us and not new to human development in the state. We thank God for having them in our party for the betterment of the APC and the public at large. God increases the efforts of people who start laudable programmes like what Masari administration has been doing in the past two and a half years that is what really motivated them to join our party today.
"They have already known that Governor Masari is a gentle man that is why the decided to join him in moving the society ahead. We thank God, APC leaders at all levels in the state for all their efforts in this trying time. Furthermore, we wish and pray for the progress of APC and appreciate the effort of Mr. President despite the deplorable situation he inherited in the country."
March 10, 2018, has come and gone but it will remain indelible in the minds of Katsina people and others as the day eminent stakeholders in PDP and other political parties jumped ship into APC in unprecedented manner leaving PDP with staggering losses.
The roll call of eminent Katsina ex-PDP politicians who jumped into the bandwagon of the ruling party included the PDP's former governorship aspirants: Senator Ibrahim Idah and Abdulaziz Musa Yar'adua.
Besides those interviewed already in this piece, others are the former All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Engineer Nura Khalil; the ex-chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Katsina State chapter, Dr. Yusha'u Armaya'u; the erstwhile Director General of the Katsina PDP 2015 gubernatorial campaign, Bature Umar Masari; the former chairman of Katsina APGA, Ibrahim Abubakar Tsauri and countless state and local government councils' political office holders.
Giving an insight to their defection, Senator Ibrahim Idah, regarded as one of the moving forces of the PDP until he defected to APC, said in an interview that the former PDP stalwarts believed that Buhari and Masari needed to be supported and encouraged in their quest to bring back the state and the nation from dark days.
"As you can see, today is very important because we have seen the truth in APC. We are here to help and see the success of the party in all the forthcoming elections from councillorship to the presidential polls without losing any vote. At the same time, we hope that those we are joining in APC will sincerely welcome us for the overall victory of the party," he added.
The ex-PDP top shots and their followers switching allegiance to APC would be influential in 2019 elections. They are vibrant and determined to contribute their quota as defining forces in APC quest to be more successful in Katsina.
These are ghastly times for thoughtful PDP faithful. They increasingly fear that PDP is heading for defeat of epic dimension as more and more of their big wigs and supporters switch to the ruling party.
The resolve of the defecting moving forces of PDP to contribute greatly towards the success of APC was amplified by director general of the Katsina PDP 2015 gubernatorial campaign, Bature Umar Buhari Masar, who hinted that were joining APC with commitment to provide the needed support to ensure victory of APC in the state and nation in 2019. Hear him, "whatever we can do to achieve this, we will do no less"
Barely three years since the PDP was defeated at the last general elections in the county, countless former leaders and members of the party now flood the ruling party in Katsina. Though, for about three months, the Katsina PDP has been hit by the untold defection and uncomfortable losses of supporters, the inconvertible evidence that it had undergone total reversal of fortune was showcased on Saturday, March 10, 2018 in Katsina.
For hours, APC led by its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, formally welcomed the erstwhile PDP faithful said to be in hundreds of thousands into the APC. Exuding confidence and excitement, Oyegun said the APC is set for a clean sweep of all votes across the state in the next general elections.
Raising the tempo of his speech several notch high, Oyegun said with the deluge of defection of PDP bigwigs and supporters, the party is dead and buried in Katsina.
The APC National Chariman, rewarded with intermittent rounds of applause throughout his speech, further used the event to draw the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari's Kinsmen towards the President.
Oyegun who hailed the defection to APC in the state as second to none in recent times, added that it showed that the party is ready to maintain the mandate given to it in 2015.
Corroborating Oyegun's assertions on the achievements of President Buhari, Gov Aminu Bello Masari said the only way to repay Buhari is to ensure that the President's re-election.
He spoke glowingly of the Buhari administration and assured that no stone would be left unturned in mobilizing Katsina people to give Buhari 90% of their votes.
As it were, the Katsina PDP Chairman, Salisu Yusuf Maigari, condemned Oyegun's description of the party as "dead and buried in Katsina"
Maigari, who bared his mind immediately after the APC rally, added, for good measure, that Katsina people could count on PDP to regain the control of the state next year, which in his view, will be in the interest of moving the state forward.
Accordingly, the PDP chieftain insisted that the said annihilation of the party in the state was ridiculous, baseless and laughable in its entirely.
No doubt, PDP is not in comatose in Katsina but is not too early in the day for stakeholders to see where the pendulum will swing. There are lots of challenges before the party. One of the most pressing is the deluge of defection belittling the party.
Currently, the party is at the lowest ebb ever in the state. The reason for such huge fall is not a mystery to many political pundits. The truth of the matter is that APC's Tsunami has left Katsina PDP in serious condition long ago despite the efforts of few politicians.
Mukhtar Abba, a school teacher and keen political watcher in Katsina told his reporter, "APC has dealt a great blow to PDP. Maigari and other loyalists of former Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema can't stop PDP's sinking ship in the state."
And to corroborate Oyegun's take on Katsina PDP, Abba said it is also laughable that PDP feels the staggering loss of the former movers and stakeholders of the party cannot affect its fortunes.
While a number of analysts are very passionate about PDP regaining its lost glory and are unhappy with the status of the party in the state, they are however of the opinion that the weight of the people that have left the PDP could only be ignored by the party at its detriment.
Lawal Aliyu, a business man cited example of Gojo-Gojo in Daura senatorial zone, Ibrahim Idah in Katsina Central and the combined weight of Musa Adamu and Bature Umar Masari, Abdulaziz Dan Yari and a host of others in Funtua zone among a horde of PDP former leaders who thronged the APC rally to demonstrate their unflinching solidarity towards Buhari and Masari's re-election.
Meanwhile, Sule Abubakar, an auto - electrician and political observer, who dismissed the impression that the game is over for PDP in the state, said the party could still regain the control of the state. "PDP leaders just need to work on their campaign model and strategize to take advantage of APC's areas of weakness and move ahead.
"Whether the APC can consolidate the 2015 victory it snatched from PDP after 16 years, or an upset is in the offing as some analysts have argued, only time will tell", he added.