William Attah in Gombe examines the rift between Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje, the former Governor of Gombe State, and the current Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, two political gladiators, and concludes that true reconciliation will require more than a handshake.
The sour relationship between a former Governor of the State, Muhammad Danjuma Goje (2002-2011), now a serving Senator, and the current Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, had continued to filter out of Gombe State for the majority of the year 2021.
Some consider Danjuma Goje to be Inuwa Yahaya’s political godfather because, during Goje’s two terms as Governor under the PDP, Inuwa Yahaya served as Commissioner of Finance from the start of the administration in 2003 to 2010, when he resigned to pursue his ambition of succeeding his boss as Governor in 2011.
It’s unclear whether Inuwa had Danjuma Goje’s blessing and support when he resigned because it became clear that Goje was interested in his son-in-law, Dasuki Jalo Waziri, then Chairman of Gombe Local Government Area and ALGON National President, succeeding him.
But, after assessing the political climate and concluding that Dasuki would fail, Goje chose Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, the former Accountant General of the Federation, a late entrant to the race who won the PDP ticket over Inuwa Yahaya and others who ran in the party primary election.
Goje supported the PDP candidate, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who won the election in 2011, but soon after, both Inuwa Yahaya and Danjuma Goje joined the APC, with Goje becoming the party’s leader since he is the party’s highest political office in the state as a Senator.
Even though Senator Danjuma Goje, the party’s leader, supported Farouk Bamusa during the primary election, Inuwa Yahaya contested and won the APC Governorship ticket before the 2015 general election.
After losing the 2015 general election despite the APC’s ‘hurricane,’ which brought in President Buhari and cleared more states of the federation, Inuwa never believed he had actually lost the election because he challenged the result all the way to the Supreme Court but was unsuccessful.
In the 2019 APC primary election, it was reliably reported that Goje, still the party’s leader, backed Farouk Bamusa, but Inuwa won the primary and went on to win the general election in a landslide.
With the party Congresses approaching in 2021, the battleground was once again on, with delegates becoming the target of any ambitious politician.
The delegates who will vote during the primary election, which include party officials from all wards, LG’s, and State party officials, will determine who will fly the party’s ticket during the governorship election, which is most likely where the current rift between the Governor and the Senator began.
This is, without a doubt, the source of the current schism, but it does not diminish Senator Goje’s influence in the state’s political arena. He is known to have a sizable following, and many refer to him as a ‘limamin siyasan Gombe,’ or a political decider in Gombe State.
Goje declared early in the Inuwa administration that he was done with electoral politics. He won the hearts of virtually all APC stakeholders at the time by personally empowering all party faithful, particularly officials from the ward to the state level, as a reward for their roles in the 2019 election victory.
However, after winning the hearts of party members who became officials during the APC party Congresses in 2021, virtually all elected officials were singing Inuwa’s loyalty, paving the way for Inuwa to win the APC Governorship ticket in the upcoming 2023 general election.
Trouble began to emerge shortly before the Congresses, when it became clear that Inuwa needed to assert his position as the State’s party leader.
Inuwa had always described Goje as his boss, even as a Governor, but during this party meeting aimed at uniting the party for the Congresses, Inuwa declared that a Senator could not be greater than the Governor, assuming the role of party leader.
This split the party between Goje and Inuwa supporters, and all hell broke loose when, in early November 2021, an attempt to prevent Goje from entering Gombe was met with stiff resistance, which turned bloody, and a life was lost.
Many party officials resigned in sympathy and loyalty to Senator Goje as a result of this incident. One of the most notable was in the Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area, where over 90% of the officials signed a list compiled by Goje’s aide.
This is when the rift gained national attention, and national figures, particularly from the party (APC), began to weigh in. Many opponents of Goje in the State believe that Goje is too overbearing on the party, and that as a result, he should now be playing a fatherly role in state politics after paying his dues and encouraging younger people to become active participants politically.
They accuse him of being ungrateful after Goje nominated nearly half of Inuwa’s commissioners, including his daughter and son-in-law. At the height of the schism, Hussaina Danjuma Goje resigned from the cabinet, while her son-in-law, Dasuki Jalo Waziri, remains the Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Opponents of Inuwa, on the other hand, believe he hasn’t done anything to reward them since the election in 2019. Some even accuse him of running the government as a “family and friends” business, with only his relatives being appointed to high-ranking positions and given lucrative contracts.
The Progressive Governors Forum came to Gombe to show solidarity with the Governor after the fracas on November 5th, 2021. Governors Masari of Katsina and Badaru of Jigawa both expressed the Forum’s unequivocal support.
After Goje submitted a petition to the party, a reconciliation committee led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu from the party headquarters visited the state.
The committee’s mandate, according to Abdullahi Adamu, was to resolve any perceived misunderstandings, grudges, or conflict, while also ensuring that the party’s unity remained paramount.
Senator Goje was approached, he said, and he explained why the committee would not be attending the Gombe meeting, stressing that they had carefully listened to the government and party.
He expressed his belief that APC was strong and alive in Gombe. “Any party grievances would not be ignored and would be quickly resolved.”
However, following the Abuja meeting on Wednesday, January 5, 2012, both Governor Inuwa Yahaya and Senator Danjuma Goje were given the opportunity to present their respective positions on the apparent misunderstanding and conflict in the APC in Gombe State, according to a statement sent to newsmen in Gombe by the Director General, Press Affairs, Gombe Government House, Ismaila Uba Misilli.
He stated that a robust discussion was held with the goal of determining what the issues are and how best to propose solutions and resolve the differences, as well as to cement all cracks within the party in the State ahead of the national convention and the general elections in 2023.
The enlarged meeting, which was attended by the National Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, as well as other party heavyweights such as former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Senators and former governors, was held at the residence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu, former Governor of Nasarawa State and Chairman of the APC reconciliation Committee.
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Except for the handshake between Senator Goje and Governor Inuwa after the meeting, the Abuja meeting was a resounding failure with both parties present.
However, based on the political precedent set by Goje and Inuwa, all parties appear to be hell-bent on maintaining their positions, with Goje doing everything he can to stay relevant or continue to be a godfather in Gombe State politics, and Inuwa leaving no stone unturned to achieve his second-term ambition.
After all was said and done, the Abuja meeting was expected to end with a ‘heart shake,’ not just a handshake, to dispel any doubts that Senator Goje and Governor Inuwa are truly on the same page.