•Party leaders woo Kwankwaso, Lamido
Muhammad Bello, Onwuka Nzeshi and Ibrahim Shuaibu
There is no letting up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in wooing the aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to its fold, as the leaders of the opposition stormed Kano and Jigawa States Thursday to convince their respective governors – Rabiu Kwankwaso and Sule Lamido – to jump ship.
The APC leaders were also in Sokoto on Tuesday to meet with the state’s governor Aliyu Wamakko after the inauguration of the Sokoto State University.
The interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, who spoke during the visit at the Government House, Kano, said: “Leaders of the APC decided to come and show solidarity with you because some of you have been persecuted in your party.”
Akande, who spoke after a closed-door meeting with Kano State governor, alongside other leaders of the APC, added that they “were proud to showcase their own party APC as a like-minded party for people like you”.
The APC chairman was accompanied on the visit by former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari; APC leader Bola Tinubu; Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola; Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi; Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha; former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu; former Edo State Governor John Odigie-Oyegun; former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau; Senator George Akume, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif and the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Bello Masari, among others.
Speaking on behalf of his party, Akande informed his host that they were there to plead with him and were inviting him to look favourably at their request by joining the APC.
He said: “A lot of developments have been taking place in Kano metropolis. These are the kind of things we want the governor of an APC-controlled state to be able to do. And as you have known the same is what is happening in Edo, Ekiti, Lagos and other APC states.”
Speaking also, Buhari informed Kwankwaso: “We are here to convince you that we don’t feel comfortable without Kano in our fold. We are a people-oriented party. Our concern is the development of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Buhari further said they hoped that their party would succeed, and assured the people of Kano that APC would surprise the ruling PDP since most Nigerians were solidly behind any movement to salvage the nation from decay and bad governance.
“I am very grateful to the governor for his courage, alertness and for his fortune. We want the governor to join us because Kwankwaso is a lucky person,” he said.
In his remarks, Okorocha, who spoke on behalf of the governors that were present, said APC was a movement with the goal of re-shaping Nigeria, stating that their generation was a chosen generation in terms of re-directing the nation.
Okorocha added confidently: “The victory of APC in 2015 is signed, sealed and delivered. We started this with Kano because we know what Kwankwaso represents in Nigeria’s development.
“We are therefore calling on all people of Kano State to know how influential Kwankwaso is in Nigerian politics.”
In response, Kwankwaso expressed satisfaction with the calibre of people who had come to woo him to join APC.
Kwankwaso promised that he would sit down with other stakeholders in his Kwankwasiyya team before taking a final decision, maintaining that Kwankwasiyya is a disciplined political movement.
“We are determined to sit down and take decision at any time from now. We are in politics not to hate people. We are much stronger than we were in 2011. Since Kwankwasiyya was powerful enough to win the election in 2011, with the grace of God we are going to make difference in 2015,” he said.
A source privy to the closed-door session with the Kano governor told THISDAY that the meeting focused on how APC would accept Kwankwaso alongside other G7 governors.
“The process, as you are aware, started in Sokoto on Tuesday. And today (yesterday), the entire party apparatus moved to Kano to consolidate on the gains recorded,” the source said.
At the time of filing this report, the group had also converged on Dutse Government House in Jigawa where they held a similar meeting with Lamido.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting with Lamido and Kwankwaso, the interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, informed THISDAY that the discussions were fruitful.
He said the APC chieftains were well received by the governors and that Kwankwaso and Lamido had promised to give APC feedback after they have held consultations with their supporters and other stakeholders in their states.
However, the move by APC has not gone down well with the old members of the party in Kano State who see Kwankwaso’s possible membership as a prelude to the imposition of leadership in the party.
THISDAY learnt that the concern among existing APC members in Kano stemmed from the fact that Kwankwaso’s entry might alter the choice of candidates in future elections.
Deputy Minority Leader in the House of Representatives and a gubernatorial aspirant under APC in Kano State, Hon. Suleiman Abdurahman Kawu Sumaila, said yesterday that all Nigerians are welcome into the party so long as they respect the tenets of democracy, rule of law and justice.
In a statement released from his office in Abuja last night, Kawu said while it was good to have high profile persons join the APC, the party must be careful not to undermine those who have laboured for the oposition for several years.
“As democrats, we welcome all progressive-minded persons into the APC but as a matter of necessity, they must honour and respect democratic tenets and norms which are the cardinal principles that characterise the APC ideology.
“While I commend our national leaders for the ongoing drive to expand the tentacles of the party, I also urge them to ensure that they reach out to all stakeholders in the party especially those that played a key role in the formation of the APC so that everyone is carried along,” he said.