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Home Opinion OPINION: Masari and the politics of 2019 – By Muhammad Galadanchi
OPINION: Masari and the politics of 2019 – By Muhammad Galadanchi

OPINION: Masari and the politics of 2019 – By Muhammad Galadanchi

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The very fragile relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and Aminu Masari, the Governor of his home state, Katsina, is about to be further fractured. The relationship between both men has been held together more by political expediency, than any shared world vision and values. Both men are strange bedfellows, and have remained so apart, despite great efforts to mask those obvious differences, that are like day and night. While Masari has politically been associated with the defunct conservative National Republican Convention (NRC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buhari has always pitched his tent with the progressives, from the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the Congress for Progressive Change, to the All Progressives Congress (APC) where he finally realised his ambition to be president. In fact Masari rose to become Speaker of the House of Representatives on the PDP platform. So he wasn’t an ordinary member of the PDP. Masari, like many other politicians, was rudely elbowed out of the party and naturally into the arms of the opposition, where he sought and found refuge first in the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) and has since then smartly latched on to Buhari. Without Buhari, Masari who is from the southern part of the state, would never have emerged Governor of Katsina State.

But Masari, from recent events, might not have that smooth ride in 2019, like he had in 2015 elections, considering the political developments in the state, but most especially his lack of capacity to deliver the goods to the people. Aware of this and to preempt his political opponents, he recently got the state working committee of the APC to endorse him as its 2019 governorship candidate. But the snag is that the president was not part of the process that led to the decision, nor has Buhari endorsed the decision. Katsina politicians are anxiously waiting for the president to speak on the issue, which makes nonsense of the APC change slogan, and brings to disrepute his watch word of integrity and honesty. For most people of Katsina the various political actions of Masari have made the APC to look more like PDP. Like the PDP, there is no internal politics, as the imposition of candidates is the order of the day. Increasingly by every passing day, the APC is behaving more like the PDP in every respect.

Masari’s problem is that the stiff opposition to his maladministration cuts across the parties. The PDP which governed the state since 1999, until it lost the state to Buhari, has not made life easy for him, especially as he has proved himself incompetent. Ibrahim Shema, the former governor who is having a running battle with Masari, and was thought politically dead, has not only resurrected but has been challenging the governor to explain what he has done with the over N40 billion he has so far borrowed . “We never borrowed a kobo in our eight years in office, but governor Masari has borrowed N35billion in one and half years. Again, we said Katsina was not owing Paris Club debt, and Katsina State was refunded the sum of N15 billion”. The question that Shema and many other indigenes of the state are asking Masari is: what has he done with the money? There are no projects to justify the borrowing. And only last week, a faction of the APC led by Senator M.T. Liman, openly described him as a failure. The move is aimed at saving the party from imminent defeat due to mass dissatisfaction with the leadership style of Masari.

Unsure of how Buhari, who to a very large extent would most likely determine the political direction of Katsina State in the 2019 elections, would react to him, Masari in a fight for his political life, has teamed up with Dahiru Mangal, the billionaire sponsor of the PDP who later defected to the APC. Mangal has not found life easy under the Buhari administration. Mangal, like many other “investor” politicians, has been denied patronage by Buhari. So he was a natural choice for Masari to turn to. For Masari, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And this is where Masari’s opponents have had Masari cornered. While Buhari can tolerate strident allegations of Masari performing below par, Buhari would definitely never be comfortable with Masari, wining and dining with Dahiru Mangal, his sworn enemy. Mangal stands for everything Buhari is opposed to. Worse still is that Ibrahim Shema, the former governor, has started making plans to tackle President Buhari ahead of 2019 elections because of Masari’s poor performance. The PDP is suddenly emboldened and the indication is that it will give the APC a run for its money. Most APC members hold Masari responsible for the new lease of life the PDP is enjoying.

Manifestations that the deep crack in the relationship between Governor Masari and President Buhari which has always been there has widened is the failure of Masari to visit the president in London where he has been in and out of over health issues. Even when the APC nominated governors visited the sick president, Masari was loudly left out, because the party leadership is aware of the relationship between both men. This is the big cross that Masari is bearing with equanimity. Before now Masari had managed to suppress the cold war with the president, afraid of the reprisals by the poor who adore Buhari.

The questions a delegation of Katsina elders who visited the president last week soliciting support for the governor couldn’t answer from loyalists of the president was: why did Masari refuse to visit the president in London while there for medical checkup? Masari’s other crime was that when eventually the president returned he was conspicuously absent from the welcome party. In months, Masari has only seen the president when he visited the state for the Eid Kabir celebrations.

But Masari, is taking no chances. In alliance with Mangal, he has perfected the plot to snatch the party structure from the president and hand over the structure to his trusted PDP stalwarts, his ideological soul mates. Known PDP stalwarts are being lured to join APC. The political calculation is that they will team up with the new PDP members who decamped after the formation of the APC and form a formidable block within the APC. Mangal who regrets ditching the PDP is the arrow head of “operation take over the APC”. Galadanchi wrote from Katsina

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