Tinubu, Danjuma fingered
The politics of Taraba State has no doubt begun to take different dimensions in the last few days following the defection of the former Senator who represented the southern geo-political zone of the state, Joel Danlami Ikenya from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ikenya who recently dumped the party that brought him to political limelight, was among top politicians from the state that wanted to contest the governorship seat in the build up to the 2015 general elections but was persuaded by General Theophilus Y. Danjuma to step down for the incumbent governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku.
While some political analysts believed that his defection was facilitated by his political godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, others are of the view that there are grand plans for the party (APC) to take over the state come 2019, hence the choice of Ikenya whom they believed is well rooted in the state politically.
The alleged romance of Danjuma with the APC, which culminated in the appointment of his in-law as a minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as his involvement in the Presidential Initiative on North East, which also led to the appointment of one of his political godsons, Col. Kefas Agbu (Rtd), analysts argued is a pointer that plans to remove PDP from the state are taking shape.
Besides Ikenya, other politicians from the southern zone that signified interest to contest the governorship post on the platform of PDP in the last election but were compelled to dumped their ambitions supposedly by Danjuma are the present Senator representing the zone, Emmanuel Bwacha; Chief David Sabo Kente; and Agbu.
The incident, which almost tore PDP apart, resulted in Kente, dumped the party to pick the governorship ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).Sources hinted that Kente has not only dumped SDP but has concluded plans to join forces with Ikenya in APC apparently to wrestle power from PDP in the 2019 general polls.
Thus, it is obvious that the recent dumping of PDP by Ikenya, former minister of Labour and Productivity, indicates the determination of not just to win the state by APC but also the strenuous efforts of Tinubu, the national leader of the party to entrench his influence in the state.
Time alone will tell the impact of this movement to APC and others that are expected to follow suit in the next few weeks.But the former senator, according to keen observers of events in the state, is a known grassroots politician that has triumphed in several elective positions in the past.
From ward counselor, he became a member of the state House of Assembly and from there, to the National Assembly where he served as a Member House of Representatives; thereafter he made to the Senate.
Analysts contend that his exit from the PDP no doubt would impact negative on the party. One of them, Baba K. Usman told The Guardian that it was an error of judgment for PDP to allow Ikenya to leave particularly to a rival party.
He said: “Ikenya as we all know is a household name in Taraba politics. He is politically in charge of the southern part of the state. And you will agree with me that the bulk of the votes for this state come from there. Now tell me, if there is going to be a free and fair election, what is going to be the fate of PDP in next election without Ikenya?”
He claimed that it would be difficult for PDP to win the state without Ikenya, insisting that but for the efforts of the former Senator and others like Bwacha, the present governor would not have made it to the Government House of Taraba.
“It is not too late,” he admonished PDP leadership at both the state and the national level to go back to the drawing board by calling to order PDP leadership in the state to “desist from chasing their supporters to opposition parties.”
Although the state chairman of APC and the spokesman of the party were not available for comments, some of the party’s leadership who spoke to The Guardian agreed that he is a great blessing to APC.
“Who does not know Ikenya here in our state and in the country politically. So his departure from PDP is not only a blessing to APC in the state but to APC in Nigeria as a whole,” they stated.
According to a chieftain of APC, their confidence has been boosted further by this development and that they are hopeful that in the next election, APC would have the upper hand especially in the southern part of the state because of Ikenya’s influence.
On the contrast, PDP maintains that the departure of Ikenya would enhance their fortunes as all along, he has been working against the interest of the party.
Speaking with The Guardian, the public relations officer (PRO) of the party, Alhaji Inuwa Bakari, said: “that Ikenya has left PDP for APC is no news because all these while he has been a member of the APC. We all know him as a member of the APC.”
He claimed that all the members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), including Ikenya that found their ways into PDP were core loyalists of APC.
Also, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Publicity, Sylvanus Y. Giwa, believed that Ikenya’s departure from PDP would not in any way affect the acceptance of the governor or the party.”
“We are in a free world and the constitution of Nigeria encourages freedom of association; the recent development would not affect the rescue mission of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku”
Giwa urged Tarabans to be calm and continue to support the PDP administration because it has been working assiduously to bring the much-needed dividends of democracy to the people.
He said that the governor is not deterred and would not be disturbed by the departure of Ikenya from PDP to APC, adding: “The governor is fully in control and the party leadership is intact; so I am assuring you that the exit of Senator Joel Danlami Ikenya, from our party has no single negative effect on the party and can never halt the governor from forging ahead with his quest to spread smiles on the faces of our people irrespective of political party affiliations.”
On his part, the commissioner for Information, Anthony Danburam, said: “Ikenya is close to Bola Tinubu. His closeness with Tinubu will not enable Ikenya’s newly found political party to win any election in Taraba because Tinubu on his own is having problem with Mr. President.”
He argued that there are external forces trying to use Ikenya against the state so that APC would gain ground, but stressed, “the performance of the incumbent governor of the state is enough factor to disarm Ikenya and APC from actualizing their dreams here in Taraba.”
He alleged that Ikenya has lost his bite, as “All his supporters and followers are now with Governor Ishaku. The Governor is on ground and he is even more accepted by the people of Wukari the home town of Ikenya than the Ikenya himself.”
Similarly another observer noted that he’s decamping to APC may not add much for the party, because his popularity has waned. He cited for instance, that the former Senator failed to clinch the number one position of the state when he contested on the platform of Action Congress that later transformed to ACN.
Speaking with The Guardian, Ikenya disclosed that he was endeared to APC by the performance of the President. Citing the restoration of peace in the North East, the fight against corrupt practices and the long lists of political appointment from the region, among others, he said that the move has become inevitable, adding that there are a lot more reasons why he and his supporters decided to leave PDP to join APC.
He enjoined persons from the North East region to put their differences aside and support the President in achieving the goal of rebuilding the region. Also. He urged Nigerians to stop pointing accusing fingers at Buhari over the present predicaments of the country stating “the hardship we are going through is not the making of this present administration.”