The emergence of an insubordinate successor or beneficiary is perhaps the most harrowing experience for any political influencer or benefactor, and throughout history, many a political empire has been wrecked by the resulting clash of interests or egos. The ongoing war between Gombe State Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, and the state’s political patriarch, Senator Danjuma Goje, highlights this nightmare scenario, and the disappointing performance of the APC in Gombe State in the last general elections is the ultimate cost of this war. It seems, however, that this price has yet to be fully paid, Dailytrust report.

In November 2021, the most defining instance of aggression between the estranged parties occurred. To the public, it appeared to be the final nail in the coffin of the relationship between the two politicians. While en route to the state capital, Senator Goje’s convoy was attacked by thugs, resulting in the deaths of five persons, and the cloud of suspicion and distrust over the state intensified. Goje’s camp accused Governor Yahaya of masterminding the attack, leading to a game of accusations and blame. 

Senator Goje’s aide, Lilian Nworie, reacted swiftly, as did his family and supporters. She shared that the police officers stationed at the perimeter of the attack refused to intervene. “They burnt tyres on the main road as he was about to enter the state capital from the airport around the International Conference Centre, along the Bauchi-Gombe Road,” she wrote. “The police watched helplessly while the boys continued destroying things.” This was interpreted as tacit proof that they were adhering to an order from above. It was a wild allegation, capable of triggering the electoral consequences the APC suffered in the last general elections. 

The state government spoke through the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Julius Lepes, and accused the senator of masterminding the violence, stating that it was intended to make the state ungovernable. They claimed that Goje sought allegiance that couldn’t be granted and that this was the origin of the fallout, leading to a clash in which the worst victim is neither of the two politicians but the party. 

Learning about an attack on her father, Senator Goje’s daughter, Hussaina, who was the State’s Commissioner for Environment and Forest Resources, tendered her resignation to the man accused of targeting her father. This outcome could have left her orphaned, and things began to go downhill for the APC from that point. 

The ward executive members of the APC from Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State also took turns to pledge their allegiance to the former governor, protesting the attack as politics taken too far. Speaking for the resigning partisans, the immediate past chairman of the APC in Yamaltu/Deba LGA, Alhaji Sulaiman Ibrahim, said their reason for resigning was to express their displeasure over the disrespect and attack on Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje’s convoy. 

The infighting persisted until the wake of 2022 when Governor Mai Mala Buni, as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Caretaker Committee, initiated a move to reconcile the warring camps by inviting Governor Yahaya and Senator Goje to a table to sort out their differences. Unfortunately, the intervention became futile ahead of the general elections, with the hostilities between the two camps obvious. Additionally, Governor Yahaya’s ally, Alhaji Abubakar Mu’azu Hassan, declared interest in the Gombe Central Senatorial District seat, which Senator Goje had occupied since leaving office as Governor in 2011. 

Whatever the reason for the unsuccessful reconciliation, the 2023 general elections have made their frosty relationship a cautionary tale on political infighting. The first shocker was the result of the presidential elections, with Governor Yahaya losing his polling to the PDP, as Atiku Abubakar polled 317,123 votes against Tinubu’s 146,977 votes to win Gombe State. The day came with even more shocking news as the APC lost all senatorial seats, except Goje’s. The PDP also took five of the state’s six House of Representatives seats, and the APC’s future in the state has never been more uncertain. 

The solution that APC seeks to reverse its misfortune in Gombe State has started on a faulty note. Rushing to expel their principal political pillar and strongest representative in Abuja, along with his supporters, is a miscalculated response. This rush to weaken an already disadvantaged party may backfire, and only an impartial mediator can save them from themselves at this point.  

Indeed, Senator Goje isn’t the first to be at war with a politician who rode on a principal’s coattail to power, and neither is Governor Yahaya the first to rebel against a political benefactor or godfather. What they can do differently is choose their luck and direct the end of their animosity. The consequences of their actions may either erase one of them politically or sabotage the party they helped build, and there are many tales to study in doing so. 

In Kano, where Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje waged a war against his principal, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, even the state’s ancient emirate was consumed by an individual’s quest to neutralise his principal. However, Kwankwaso had the last laugh about seven years later. In Lagos, where Senator Bola Tinubu holds sway, the most courageous rebelling mentee ended up in what seems like permanent political oblivion, especially now that the principal is bound for the Office of the President. On the other hand, Borno State’s Senator Kashim Shettima has been successful in maintaining a healthy distance from his protégés while still being involved in the state’s politics.  

APC’s dilemma in Gombe State is untying this Gordian Knot without destroying the party. Senator Goje, like Senator Aliyu Wamakko in Sokoto State, seems to have diehard loyalists around whom the state’s politics revolves, as demonstrated by the last elections. This outcome made him suspect of allegations of anti-party activities. Politics isn’t just a game of numbers, it’s an art of forming strategic alliances, and the best approach for the APC is to rebuild the house and acknowledge their post-election scheming as a regrettable mistake. 

There’s a reason PDP has been unable to expel Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike despite his fierce de-marketing of the party’s presidential flag-bearer ahead of the 2023 elections. He occupies a strategic space that can’t be disrupted without hurting the party’s strength. It’s the realization of the primacy of alliances that preserves a party, not the rush to de-oxygenate a party grasping for oxygen — and the next general election is less than four years away. 


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