- ‘Ex-gov worked for our victory, we’ll be glad to receive him’
Like his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Sule Lamido, the former Katsina State governor, Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema, had been seen by many as a faithful and ardent member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Both were governors under the party and were religiously working to ensure its victory at all levels.
However, while the former, Lamido, has tried to maintain that disposition, the latter seemed to have taken a new stance with his apparent romance with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Shema’s recent overtures with the APC began to manifest during the build-up to the 2023 elections when his party in Katsina State got entangled in a seemingly irreconcilable internal crisis. Consequently, the party split into two factions, each with its chairman and other party executives.
Internal crisis in Katsina PDP
The crisis in the PDP in Katsina State became worse following the controversial ouster of the then-state party chairman, Alhaji Yusuf Salisu Majigiri (now a member of the House of Reps), and the resultant alleged suspension of the governorship candidate, Sen. Yakubu Lado Danmarke, from the contest.
Danmarke allegedly mobilized some local government party chairmen and other stakeholders at Kano that sat and decided that the state chairmanship of the party should not be left with Hon. Yusuf Salisu Majigiri, who was then a candidate for the House of Reps.
It was further alleged that the state party chairman, Majigiri, who was backed by former governor Shema, was working against the interest of the governorship candidate.
The Senator Lado camp, therefore, mobilized for the removal of the state chairman and picked the deputy (Daura Zone), Alhaji Lawal Danbaci Daura, as acting chairman.
In its reaction, the ousted party chairman’s camp, which claimed to have Alhaji Lawal Uli as its acting chairman, decided to suspend the gubernatorial candidate from the race. That crisis is yet to be resolved despite numerous moves taken by the National Working Committee of the party and several litigations on the matter.
APC-led gov’t drops financial misappropriation case against Shema
In a move seen by many as wooing Shema to support APC in Katsina, the Katsina State government withdrew a case of financial misappropriation to the tune of N11 billion instituted against him before a Katsina High Court.
The funds were said to be misappropriated from the coffers of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in the state while Shema was governor.
However, giving reasons for the withdrawal of the case, Abdulrahman Umar, the Director of Public Prosecution, Katsina State Ministry of Justice, said the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, exercised the powers vested on her by Section 211 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“We went with a Nolle Prosequi – as we call it in law – which is the power of any state attorney-general under Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), to either institute an action, a criminal case against any person before any court of law, or take over any criminal proceedings against any person, as well as the power to discontinue any case at any stage of the proceedings before any judgment is entered.
“The attorney-general exercised that power, we went with it under her hand and the court gladly accepted that position of the attorney-general to discontinue the case and the effect of it is that the two defendants, that is the former governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, as well as Lawal Dankaba, were discharged from all charges against them,” he said.
Shema’s faction might have worked for the APC
There were speculations that the former governor might have worked against his party (PDP) in the governorship election in the state following an internal crisis that rocked the main opposition party.
During the presidential election in Katsina State, while the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, garnered 482,283 votes, his major contender, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP recorded 489,045 votes, putting him 6,762 votes ahead of the ruling party’s candidate.
However, when it came to the governorship election, it was an entirely different story as the APC candidate polled 859,892 while the PDP scored a total of 486,620.
Here, the margin was so wide that the difference in votes received was 373,272 as against 6,762 during the presidential election.
Similarly, during the governorship election, the PDP internal wrangling came to the full glare as Lado was defeated in both Dutsin-Ma and Mashi local government areas, where former governor Shema and the former state chair of the PDP, Hon. Salisu Majigiri, hail from, respectively.
Anti-party activities: PDP suspends Shema
It could be recalled that in the aftermath of the 2023 general elections, the PDP had referred Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State to a disciplinary committee and suspended a former governor of Ekiti State, Fayose, Shema, and a former SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim, among others. The action was in response to the alleged anti-party activities by the affected bigwigs.
However, the former Katsina State governor gave the national working committee of the PDP 48 hours to rescind its suspension or consider him as having left the party.
“Rescind the National Working Committee (NWC) decision of my suspension as a member of our party within the next 48 hours. Take notice that failure to effect these two changes above within 48 hours, this letter serves as the formal and official withdrawal of my membership from the PDP effective from Saturday 25 March 2023,” Shema said in the letter he sent to the PDP NWC.
The National Working Committee eventually withdrew the suspension.
APC’s Radda visits Shema
Curiously, the then governor-elect, Dr Dikko Umar Radda’s first point of call after his announcement as the elected governor of Katsina State, was the Katsina residence of former governor Shema, where he was said to have paid a “thank you visit.”
Not a few analysts wondered why the governor elected on the platform of the APC should first thank a PDP bigwig before any other.
On his part, Governor Shema was one of those who first visited the then senator-elect, Abdulaziz Yar’adua, immediately after his declaration as the winner, even though he defeated the PDP’s flag-bearer, Surajo Makera.
Shema visits APC National Chairman, Ganduje
In what many have seen as the climax of Shema’s romance with the APC, the former Katsina governor recently visited the APC National chairman, with many speculating that he was considering becoming a card-carrying member of the ruling party.
Pundits say if the former governor eventually defects to the ruling APC, the opposition PDP in Katsina will literally become atrophied. This is because Katsina, as an elitist state, sees the Lado faction as not belonging to the elite, and as such it would have to struggle to make any impact.
Attempts to speak with the opposition PDP in Katsina failed as the party’s caretaker chairman was unavailable for comments. Other members of the caretaker committee declined to speak saying they were not in a position to do so.
Similarly, the media aide to the ex-governor, Shema, said he could only speak when he obtained the approval of his principal.
However, when contacted, the state chairman of the APC, Alhaji Sani J. B., said former governor Shema undoubtedly worked for the success of the APC in Katsina during the 2023 general elections and that a number of his political allies had joined the ranks of the party during the build-up to the elections.
He said the party’s doors are wide open to receive the former governor, owing to the large number of supporters he commands.
“It will be a great boost for the APC, not only in Katsina but in the entire nation, to receive someone like Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema.
“This is a man who not only has a large followership but has built people himself who have become leaders,” he said.