Unease in Taraba PDP over governorship

The nullification of Governor Darius Ishaku’s election as Taraba State Governor by the Election Petition Tribunal appears to have unearthed the subdued crisis within the party, reports Assistant Editor, Remi Adelowo

The Taraba State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in disarray, no thanks to the nullification of Governor Darius Ishaku’s election by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, coupled with the mutual distrust among leaders of the party in the state.

In a judgment that apparently caught PDP leaders both at the state and national levels napping, the tribunal had declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aisha Alhassan, as the winner of the April 28 election, citing the flawed primaries, which produced Ishaku as the PDP candidate as basis for its decision.

The governor has since appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal, but his aides and PDP leaders are however apprehensive of the likely outcome of the case.

Garba Umar spurns reconciliation

From all indications, the governorship primary that produced Ishaku, which held at the PDP national headquarters in Abuja in deviance to the provision of the Electoral Act, has since become the albatross of the governor in the battle to retain his seat.

Against this backdrop, sources disclosed that PDP leaders recently reached out to the former acting governor of the state, Alhaji Garba Umar, who was schemed out of the governorship primaries by some powerful forces in the party in order to pave way for the emergence of Ishaku.

Umar, it was gathered, was allegedly prevailed upon to admit that a “proper governorship primary” was held in order to save Ishaku’s job in the overall interest of the party.

But Umar reportedly declined, telling the party emissaries that doing so would amount to a betrayal of his supporters who stood by him through thick and thin, but were shabbily maltreated by the party eggheads.

A source close to Umar said: “The man was messed up by the party simply because some forces wanted Ishaku at all cost. The party leaders illegally shifted the governorship primary from Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, to the Wadata Plaza (PDP national headquarters). And worse still, Umar’s supporters were denied access to participating in the voting exercise, which held in the dead of the night.

“At the end of it all, no one deemed it fit to address Umar’s supporters, some of whom were robbed on their way back to Taraba. As it is, the former acting governor has told whoever cared to listen that he would continue to insist that no credible primary held to produce the PDP candidate.”

His stance, The Nation learnt, is giving Ishaku and his supporters’ sleepless nights, with many of them allegedly resigning to fate on the likely outcome of the case at the Court of Appeal.

Bwacha, Ikenya aggrieved

Just at a time the governor is still hanging precariously on his job, comes another unconfirmed report that some prominent PDP leaders in the state, including Senators Emmanuel Bwacha and Joel Ikenya, are currently at daggers drawn with him over their alleged sidelining in the running of the state.

Both Bwacha and Ikenya played major roles in the emergence of the governor, but were allegedly not consulted before the inauguration of the state executive council some weeks ago.

A source in the know of the feud said, “The Taraba PDP is in disarray. While many supporters of Garba Umar have since defected to the APC, Bwacha and Ikenya are also not happy with the governor for sidelining them in the appointment of his commissioners and special advisers. To get even with the governor, they have been staying aloof from the affairs of the party in the last few months.”

Both men have accused the governor and the state chairman of PDP, Victor Bala, of allegedly hijacking the party and government machinery to the disadvantage of other stakeholders that worked for Ishaku’s victory in the last election.

“If the governor loses his appeal as it is being feared in many quarters, the Taraba PDP may plunge into an unimaginable crisis that may defy any reconciliation,” warned a party source.

Ikenya mulls defection to APC?

The unresolved festering crisis in the party has continued to fuel speculations that some of its leaders are planning to defect to the APC, it was learnt.

One of such leaders is Joel Ikenya, a former senator representing Taraba South who was elected in 2003 and won another term in 2007. He also served briefly as Minister of Labour and Productivity earlier this year under the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Ikenya, a former governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2011 general elections, is allegedly banking on his closeness to some national leaders of the APC to facilitate his defection to the party.

Would the Taraba PDP survive its present challenges or get consumed? Only time can tell.

--The Nation 

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