Taraba PDP: APC no threat to Ishaku
Governor denies rumours of imminent dumping of party
The increasing number of defections from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State, as well as internal wrangling in the PDP, has given its rival the hope of having the upper hand in the state.
Recently, the former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Joel Danlami Ikenya led his supporters away from the PDP. Ikenya, who is allegedly rooted in the politics of Plateau West, which contributed most of the votes for the party in the last election, has berthed in APC.
Following his footsteps, the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2015, Chief David Sabo, who earlier dumped PDP, among others have crossed over to APC.
Besides, the governor has been criticised for the irregular payment of local government councils’ staff salaries, purported imposition of unpopular candidates ahead of the forthcoming councils election and his one-man style of governance.
The dissatisfaction is alleged fuelling an increasing army of adversaries in the PDP, some of whom have defected to APC with those staying back insisting that if the situation continued, they would work against the re-nomination of Ishaku in 2019.
Their grouse is that there is “lack of internal democracy” in the party and that PDP in the state has not learnt from its past mistakes that resulted in its defeat at last year’s presidential elections.They are particularly bitter at the way and manner the governor is piloting the affairs of the state describing it as “a one man show.”
“But if the condition persists and he goes ahead and use the state resources and security apparatus to get the ticket, nothing will prevent us from joining forces with another political party in order to floor him and the PDP at the poll,” one of the aggrieved PDP members volunteered.
These developments, observers argued have sent shivers to the PDP camp with some claiming that the state governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku may follow suit in a bid to secure his second tenure.
Commenting on the issues, the APC state chairman, Alhaji Hassan Ardo Jika said that it has been long that the rumour has been making the rounds.He said that if it turns out to be true, would gladly welcome the governor “because there is no place in our party’s constitution that says we should not welcome new members.”
Also, the immediate past governor of the state, Rev. Jolly T. Nyame, described the exit of PDP members especially Ikenya, to APC as a big blow to PDP in Taraba and the county at large.
Nyame who to date has remained the longest serving governor of the state, said it is foolhardy for anyone to say that Ikenya’s exit from PDP would not impact on the party negatively. “I am just laughing at them because I know Ikenya, he is a grassroots politicians. I have been in politics with him, so I know what he can do.”
He said instead of sitting and allowing the ongoing defections of its members, PDP should go back to the drawing board and put its house in order, if it wants to retain the state.
The rumour of Ishaku ditching PDP is amplified by the purported decision of Kente who contested the governorship on the platform of the SDP in the 2015 poll, instructing his lawyers to withdraw his case against the governor from the Supreme Court in the ‘interest’ of Taraba State.
He was challenging the PDP primary election that saw the emergence Ishaku as the standard bearer of PDP in polls, a development that forced Kente to defect to the SDP then.
The speculations are prevalent across the state that plans have reached advance stage for the number one citizen of the state, to quietly walk out on his party with the APC as destination.
“The rumour is all over. I have heard it too that he is planning to leave PDP for APC but I don’t known how true is that because he has not officially discussed it with us here,” a source in the PDP secretariat told The Guardian.
The source maintained that it would not be a surprise if the governor eventually decides to abandon PDP saying’ “From all indications, there are pressures on him to toe the paths of his counterparts in the northern parts of the country who are all members of the APC.”
For instance, he argued that all the surrounding states of Adamawa, Benue, Gombe, Plateau and Nassarawa are controlled by APC, stressing that the governor may soon be left with no other option but to follow his neighbouring governors.
“All these states are sharing boundary with Taraba and they are all being govern by APC. So I will not be surprise if I wake up tomorrow to see on the pages of newspapers that Ishaku of Taraba dumped the PDP for APC.”
The source claimed that APC in the state was far more coordinated than it was prior to the 2015 elections with more influential members of PDP decamping to it.
He said: “From what I am seeing now, APC in Taraba is more organised. PDP has lost many members to APC. Now that Ikenya and Kente have left us, what is the chance of PDP in the southern zone which has been our stronghold and in the state as a whole?”
But in an interview with The Guardian, the chairman of PDP in the state, Victor Bala Kona discredited such rumours about the governor and the PDP insisting that the party is well grounded in the state and positioned even to win the 2019 elections.
He averred that there was no such move, clandestine or otherwise by the governor to dump PDP “As far as I am concerned that information is a lie and it is a rumour. The governor is not thinking of that and I believe he will never think of that.”
Kona advised that rather than going about spreading false information that is ill motivated, the citizens of the state should continue to repose their confidence in the governor.
He urged PDP members to be calm and remain loyal to the party and the state government, adding that they should be wary of telltales whose only main objective is to destabilize and weaken the party in the state.
Also, the state Public Relation Officer (PRO) of PDP, Alhaji Inuwa Bakari, denied any form of imposition by the governor. He said: “As far as I am concerned, the governor has not at any given time imposed any candidate on us.”
Bakari who is equally a member of the screening committee for aspirants to the offices of council chairmen and ward counselors, said: “since we commenced this screening the governor did not at any time tell us that he has a particular interest on any of the candidates.
“So I think those alleging that he is imposing candidates on the people are lying and should as a matter of urgency desist and join hands with the governor and the party to move the state forward.”
He denounced claims of disunity in the party saying: “PDP is one in Taraba state, there is no factions or divisions. And I don’t see any party triumphing over us in the next elections.”
Similarly, the commissioner for Information and Orientation, Barrister Anthony Damburam, said he is not aware of any such information about disaffections within the party, and the governor defecting to another party.
According to him, the governor would not dump PDP, asserting: “As far as the people of this state are concerned, the governor has kept to his mandate thus far and is effectively executing his constitutional responsibilities.
“I don’t see him decamping because he is the leader of PDP in Taraba and whatsoever the storm may be, his chance of be re-elected as governor come 2019 is very high in PDP. So don’t mind the rumour mongers.”
Corroborating the commissioner, the senior special adviser to the governor on Public Affairs, Emmanuel Bello said that the governor is too deep-rooted in PDP for any one to be imagining such evil thoughts.