Niger state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has been embroiled in crisis in the past few months over the battle for the control of the structures of the party between former Governor Babangida Aliyu and three terms former Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon Baba Shehu Agaie, on one hand and the incumbent PDP National Financial Secretary, Abdullahi Mai-Basira who is leading the other camp.

The committee recommended a meeting ground for the two groups and recommended that the two chairmanship candidates should step aside to restore normalcy in the party

Dr Babangida Aliyu and Hon Agaie became the acknowledged leaders of the Niger PDP after the death of a former Governor of Niger State, Abdulkadir Kure, who died at a German Hospital where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in January 2017. Kure served as governor of Niger State from 1999 to 2007.

The crisis recently led to the suspension of Dr Babangida Aliyu by the Chanchaga Local Government Area chapter of the party over allegations that he worked against the PDP and former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

However, the suspension was immediately quashed by the North Central Zone and national leadership of the PDP on groups of constitutional breaches by those that suspended the former governor. There were allegations that the PDP National Financial Secretary was the unseen hand behind the suspension in a bid to get the former governor out of the party.

PDP to waive nomination fees for youthsPolitical analysts and keen observers of the intra-party imbroglio in Niger are yet to decipher why Mai Basira suddenly turned against his benefactor, Dr Babangida Aliyu, who brought him into the limelight.

Those in the know said Mai Basira is the son of a popular Islamic cleric in Niger state and when he died Babangida Aliyu took over the education of Mai Basiru up to Usman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto where he graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension in 2006. After his graduation, the former governor attached him to the Director of Niger State Investment Promotion Agency as Special Assistant.

He was last appointed Senior Special Assistant to the Chief Servant, Executive Governor of Niger State Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu on Public-Private Partnerships. As part of the grooming process, Dr Aliyu was said to have assisted Mai Basira to become the Speaker of the Youth Parliament in Abuja.

Mai Basira became the PDP National Youth Leader about seven years ago following complaints that the then PDP Youth Leader, Alhaji Gimba Umar Chiza, who is also from Niger state is over 60 years old.

To ensure Niger state retains the position of National Youth Leader, the former Niger State governor mobilized and secured the support of PDP National Working Committee, NWC, members for the candidature of Mai Basira against the choice of former National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, who was rooting for Yusuf Agabi who contested for Nasarawa state governorship in 2015. Through lobbying, Agabi accepted to step down during the national convention and it was smooth sail for Mai Basira.

However, the rosy relationship between the former governor and his godson nosedive for much unexpected reasons. Nigerian Pilot gathered from very good sources that after the 2019 presidential election elder and stakeholders of the Niger State chapter of the PDP called on the State Chairman, Barrister Tanko Beji, to render account of over N900 million the state chapter received from Atiku Campaign Organisation. The demand is not unconnected to complaints from members of the party that paucity of funds was one of the reasons the party lost the election in the state. It was gathered that the state chairman was able to give account of how over N400 million was spent but could not give account for the balance. As a result of his failure to give account, major stakeholders in the party took a decision to bring in another person to manage the affairs of PDP in Niger State.

The Niger PDP Elders eventually picked a former member of the House of Representatives from Suleja, Engineer Muktar to contest for the chairmanship of the party during the state congress.

Barrister Tanko Beji was said to have ran to Mai Basira, who was the Director of Finance of the PDP 2019 campaign to bail him out as the party elders led by Babangida Aliyu appear to be unbending. For reasons that are still in the realm of speculations, Mai Basira opted to pitch his tent with the former embattled state chairman.

When it became obvious that Mai Basira has taken side with the embattled state chairman, they moved against him and some aggrieved members of the party even took a step further by going to PDP’s Legacy House, Abuja in September last year to protest against both of them. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Hon. Baba Shehu Agaie, said “On behalf of our leader, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, we are here today to see the National Working Committee and to let them know that what is happening in Niger state is democracy in action. No more, no less.

“Actually, we lost the election in 2015, we lost the election in 2019. Now we are out to restructure Niger state PDP as a party. A committee was set up, headed by Kadi and it indicted many of us.”

Reacting to questions on why they want the PDP National Financial Secretary to step aside, he said “Some of us are proving tough against the committee. Some of us are not financially prudent, some of us have no human management and if we have to restructure for winning, we must restructure.

“The leader who led us for the past five years is not financially prudent, no human relation and he has no respect for the leadership of the party. And that is why we want him to step aside and give us the opportunity to elect the people that will lead us to the success of all the election that is coming.”

The two camps eventually took their battle for the control of Niger PDP into the recent congresses in the state. Trouble started during the local government congress. Before the results of the congresses were received some members of Mai Basira camp were reported to have complained that election did not take place in some places. There were counter report from the officials that went to conduct the congress and who submitted the results to the Acting State Chairman and State Admin Secretary that eventually handed the result to the 5-man Congress Committee that appointed by the NWC.

It was also gathered that four out of the five members of the Congress Committee led by Senator Misau from Bauchi state have to vacate their hotel around 4am with the collated result and travel back to Abuja when they got intelligence report that they were to be attacked. However, one of the members of the committee called Pastor Oche Joseph, who is said to be a mate of Mai Basira in the university in Sokoto did not back with others as he reportedly did not sleep in the hotel. When Pastor Oche eventually got back to Abuja he was said to have called the other members of the committee who disclosed their location to him. When he later joined them he came along with another set of results but other committee members rejected it on the ground that they do not know the source, coupled with the fact that the Acting State chairman and State Admin officer have already given them the result before they left Minna.

Following protests by the pro-Mai Basira group the National Working Committee cancelled results from eight local government areas but the NWC decision was upturned by the PDP National Executive Committee and all the results submitted by the Congress Committee held as valid. Thus, the stage was set for the State Congress.

On the day of the Congress the venue, which is the state secretariat, was alleged to have been besieged by suspected thugs that very reportedly imported in trucks from Kano state. Report had it that it was difficult for even members of the Congress Committee led by Alhaji Imam from Borno state to gain access into the secretariat. When they eventually did they had to contact the Directorate of State Security, DSS, when fracas broke out at the vicinity of the venue. It was the DSS operatives that eventually rescued them leading to the subsequent postponement of the congress. The national leadership of the PDP had no option than to constitute a Caretaker Committee for Niger PDP led by Akilu Ndabawa, a former Adviser to former President Jonathan.

Meanwhile, in a move to resolve the Niger PDP crisis, the NWC handed over their issue to the Reconciliation and Strategy Committee led by Senator Bukola Saraki. The committee recommended a meeting ground for the two groups and recommended that the two chairmanship candidates should step aside to restore normalcy in the party. This recommendation did not go down well with the pro-Mai Basira/Tanko Beji group.

In a statement signed by its Media Officer, Yahaya Mohammed Usman the faction described the recommendations as inconceivable, unheard off and cannot stand common sense or logic.

“The decision of the Saraki-led reconciliation committee that the two contestants for the position of party chairmanship in Niger should “step down” for no reason other than satisfying wishful interest is hereby rejected and if need be, might be tested in a court of law to strengthen the party’s constitution and obedience to rule of law and democratic tenets.

“The committee which came on board one year after the two contestants; Bar Tanko Beji and Engineer Muktar Ahmed have purchased and filled nomination forms, cannot ask persons who have purchased PDP forms to contest positions to step aside for no reason,” according to the Tanko Beji media officer.

The statement further stated, “It is even worse when it was clear the target was to stop Barrister Tanko Beji by all means; if you take into account that Engr. Mukhtar Ahmed and Dr. Babangida Aliyu pre-empted correctly the outcome of all the committee’s meetings weeks before such a decision was announced and even leaked it before Senator Bukola Saraki and other members of the committee at a meeting.”

Nigerian Pilot also gathered that another factor that has entrenched the Mai Busari faction against the former governor and other leaders of the party is the 2023 zoning arrangement approved by the Chiza committee. There are three major power blocks in Niger state namely Hausa, Gbagi and Nupe.

For 2023 the committee zoned the governorship to Nupe; the Deputy Governor to the Gbagi while the Hausa block. This arrangement is said to have knocked out Mai Busari from the race for the Deputy Governor what he is rumoured to be pursuing. However, this zoning arrangement is said to be in favour of Special Assistant of the PDP National Chairman, Sani Kutigi, who is the first son of the late Justice Kutigi. It is believed in some quarters that though the open war in Niger PDP is between Babangida Aliyu and Mai Busari, the real target of the Tanko Beji group is Prince Uche Secondus aide. In spite of their reported intelligence report at their disposal about the scheming of the Tanko Beji/Mai Busari group, Kutigi and his supporters have ignored away from the crisis, keeping their gun powder dry.

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