Yuguda’s defection to Green Party triggers speculations

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Since the former governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda, left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) about a year ago, there had been uncertainty regarding his next line of action. Expectedly, many said he might go to the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a means to an end, akin to what he did in 2007. But surprisingly, he opted for a “strange party,” the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), leaving another room for speculations as to what he aims to achieve ahead of 2019.

Malam Isa Yuguda’s decision to pitch tent with a virtually unknown political party, the Green Party of Nigeria (GNP), ahead of the 2019 general elections, after dumping the PDP about a year ago, is a shocker to many political observers and analysts.

He once temporarily dumped the PDP and joined the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), on which platform he was elected as governor in 2007, before he surreptitiously moved back to the PDP.

Seen as a less violent politician, many analysts believe that Yuguda was pushed out of the PDP by his political friends who turned rivals, such as a former governor of the state and onetime national chairman of the party, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi and others.

Those who believe that the former governor’s decision to move to the GPN amounts to political miscalculation argue that he should have remained in the PDP and possibly vie for its presidential ticket ahead of 2019. However, some analysts did not see Yuguda’s action as unusual.

It is believed that he is only clearing the way for many of his contemporaries, precisely former governors, senators and ministers, top civil servants and ex-servicemen who went underground for various reasons and refused to align with either the APC or PDP.

One of our sources said, “The truth is that the GPN is only a temporary abode for Yuguda and others. They met and agreed to use it as a temporary base, from where they would once again shoot themselves into prominence. You have seen how he moved with many of his ex-commissioners and other politicians. Other disenchanted politicians like him from many states would do the same thing in the coming months.

“They are carefully monitoring events in the APC and PDP, as well as the APGA and some of the newly registered parties. When the coast is clear, all those in the GPN will coalesce into one group and move to any of the leading parties that has prospect. They want to join the APC or PDP, or any other party from the position of strength instead of going there individually. They want to have a say in 2019.”

Political analysts say there has not been any strong opposition to the ruling APC in Bauchi State since Yuguda left the PDP, a situation that might work for his advantage. They observed that the PDP, as the biggest opposition, has lost its ground because most of its key figures have been in disarray since it lost power in 2015.

In the state’s political circle, where the immediate past governor has large supporters, it is said that he should have spearheaded the opposition, but many were disappointed when he maintained cold feet. The disappointment became more apparent when he dumped the PDP and went on a long medical leave, which kept him away from the politics of the state.

His return to the country after a long medical leave when he dumped the PDP and kept away from the politics of Bauchi State, initially raised hopes, but his long silence and refusal to join any of the popular parties created disagreement within his camp, forcing many of his supporters to pitch tent with other political actors in the state.

It is widely believed that the GPN offered Yuguda a more favourable platform than many of the political parties that approached him after his exit from the PDP.

While Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar and Senator Wakili are in the APC, Bala Mohammed, and to a greater extent, Mu’azu, are in the PDP.

Curiously, both Yuguda and Mu’azu had attempted going to the Senate at the end of their tenures as governors, but failed. They had also shown interest, directly or indirectly, in the Presidency.

Ahead of 2019, it is believed that both political gladiators would either take a shot at the Senate or Presidency. Expectedly, Governor Abubakar would seek a second term while Senator Wakili, who defeated Yuguda in 2015, might love to go back to the National Assembly. And they would seek to achieve their political goals on a strong platform.

Speaking to journalists on the issue, Yuguda’s spokesperson and former commissioner for information in the state, Alhaji Salisu Ahmed Barau, said the former governor decided to join the GPN because it had a clear ideology on how to reduce the suffering of Nigerians.

He said the decision was taken after a series of consultations with Yuguda’s supporters in Bauchi State and other places across the country.

“The series of consultations across the spectrum of supporters, elders, youths, women and others, gave room to what transpired in Jos,’’ he said.

Barau said the committee, which was headed by a former national organising secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Umaru Dahiru, who also joined Yuguda in the GPN, consulted widely before they finally resolved to join the new party.

A former minister,ý Alhaji Habibu Aliyu, Yuguda’s former commissioners and campaign directors across Bauchi State, were among those who joined him in the GPN.

Bauchi APC debunks invitation to Yuguda

On the claim that the APC had invited Yuguda to its fold, the party’s publicity secretary in Bauchi State, Auwal Jallah, said there was no way the party would have asked the former governor to become its member.

“We have already made our stand clear – we will never accept him as a member of the APC. We know Isa Yuguda as a political jobber who lacks a clear ideology. He only pursues selfish interests,’’ he said.

Many political observers believe that despite his political clout and wide followership in Bauchi State, it will be a herculean task for the former governor to build a new party to regional and national relevance before the 2019 elections.

Recently, some of Yuguda’s supporters, who are now pitching tents with Mahmud Maijama’a, another politician who wants to contest for governorship position in 2019, said over the radio that they would not follow the former governor to the new party; they would rather find an alternative platform.

While some people believe that Yuguda and his supporters joined a relatively unknown party to further weaken the opposition in the state, especially the PDP, others say they are capable of springing a surprise in 2019.

His spokesman said the GPN was made up of many prominent individuals and politicians spread across the six geopolitical zones in the country. He, however, refused to give any name.

“What many people don’t know is that those in the GPN are people of high political stature. I know that it is not strong in Bauchi State, but it is rooted in many parts of the country,’’ he said.

On Yuguda’s alleged presidential ambition, Barau said that as a Nigerian, he is entitled to vie for any elective office except the governorship of Bauchi State since he has exhausted his two constitutional terms of eight years.

For some opposition parties in the state, Yuguda’s move to the GPN would boost their chances to wrest power from the ruling party.

Secretary of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in Bauchi State, Jibrin Jibrin, a lawyer, opined that Yuguda and other opposition figures in the state may forge a common front to face the ruling APC in the state and at the national level during the general elections.