By Jafar Abdulra’uf.
Politics is all about amicable management of the inherent crises of competing opinions and interests to achieve desired objectives with minimum acrimony. This definition of politics is very pertinent in the peculiar circumstances manifesting in the APC, especially in the context of amicable management of competing interests which the party is evidently now at the mercy of. As with all issues related to human resources management the decisive factor is maturity and wise leadership. The focus here is on highlighting scenarios that lend credence to the crucial role of intelligent and mature leadership in influencing the outcome of political crises in the APC, with particular reference to Governors Aminu Masari of Katsina State and –who else?- Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
Anyone familiar with the history of the APC as a merger of at least three parties should not be surprised by the frequency of crises in the various organs of the party. The process of blending three distinct affiliations into one goes beyond the ceremonial signing of agreements which usually signals the fusion even if the nitty-gritty of distribution of elective and appointed positions in the government is yet to be settled. In the APC the outbreak of crisis was sporadic and widespread but the Kaduna and Katsina episodes share common causes manifested mainly after formation of governments over expressions of dissatisfaction with stake-holdings in the dispensation.
The major difference however was in the management of the unavoidable crises by the leadership of the party presided by the respective Executive Governors, in each case reflecting their political sagacity and capacity for management of human relations. As of today Katsina State APC has demonstrably shaken off the birth pangs of squabbling and closed ranks around the astute leadership of Governor Aminu Masari now warmly embraced by all, consolidating the APC’s undisputed superior “peoples power” as boldly exhibited in the recent mammoth grand reception rally for defecting chieftains of the opposition PDP in the state. The opposite is what has taken place in Kaduna State where the initial disagreement has become a festering wound in the fabric of merged interests as uncompromising dissent pitched major stakeholders against each other, factionalizing the APC into two irreconcilable cabals.
Regardless of the circumstances of the conflict of interests, the role of the state governors as principal arbiters is non-negotiable and the prospects for a timely and lasting resolution and reconciliation depend greatly on the sagacity and selflessness of the state governor. These virtues are even more crucial when the dispute cuts across party lines, involving communities in the state but in all situations the governor must see himself and be seen to be all-embracing in his management of the crisis. Once the governor can subsume the superiority complex tied to his exalted office in the typical father-of-all posture he has virtually defused all tensions and neutralized potential opposition to his conflict resolution agenda. This leadership strategy is so vital that its chances of success are high, just as failure to adopt it invariably spells doom to the process.
It is therefore beyond contention that the successful and amicable resolution of the Katsina APC crises owes a lot to the willingness and ability of Governor Aminu Masari to adopt this strategy and further to consolidate the gains of reconciliation by maintaining the father-figure in dealing with the human relations aspect of governance as well as in the distribution of the dividends of democracy, thereby giving the entire people of the state and his political constituents an enduring sense of belonging. Governor Masari made the decisive difference that effectively overcame the situation and restored harmony and common purpose where conflicts of interest once reigned supreme. He had to rein in grumbling failed politicians, some of whom desperately sought to bear the party’s gubernatorial flag and other political wound lickers. Even in his very first cabinet as a sincerely committed team player and promoter of inclusive governance, Governor Aminu Masari knowingly appointed relations and associates of some these very people into top positions. As party leader in the state, he promoted similar inclusiveness and broad representation of stakeholders in party offices and patronage.
Masari went a step further in establishing rapport and mutual understanding between himself and a broad base of political elite and leaders by hosting regular stakeholders meetings where he tapped from the constructive contributions of participants to enrich his governance acumen and acknowledge the value of consultations. By remaining consistent in this approach to all-inclusive governance, there was a steady stream of defectors from the camp of uncompromising dissenters who could not resist the accessibility and acceptance extended by the governor to all and sundry, transparently motivated by a genuine desire to get all hands on deck in moving Katsina State forward and out of the quagmire.
By contrast, Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State was the opposite of Masari as a person, the former an exuberant adult with an oversized ego and the latter, a responsible gentlemen and humble experienced leader. El-Rufai confirmed his self-indicting status as an accidental public servant who personified a rolling stone that gathers no moss as soon as he assumed office by climbing the high horse of an all-knowing winner takes all. He unapologetically isolated himself from the major stakeholders with whom he partnered to win the elections and retreated into a cabal of closet confidantes detached and alien in the grassroots-driven politics of Kaduna State.
He thereby shut out the major stakeholders of the APC and their constituents from any influence or benefit from the fruit of their labour in such a contemptuous manner that was bound to be resisted while handpicking his lackeys as aides and advisers. The power of incumbency triggered a tyrannical twitch that turned elected governor into an unaccountable emperor who found brawn more useful than brains, leading him to deploy bulldozers whenever superior rationale failed him in engaging APC conscientious objectors to his megalomaniacal mannerism. In the rubbles of his politics of demolition lie the rancor-riddled remains of Kaduna State APC, surrounded by betrayed stakeholders and dejected supporters, dislodged and disowned by none other than Nasiru ElRufai, self-confessed accidental public servant now undisputed accidental governor!
It is generally accepted that after elections, the entire population of the state becomes the constituency of a governor who must have emerged flying the flag of a political party. Though this is easier to advocate than to practice, all it takes is maturity, experience, humility, sincerity of purpose and, above all, genuine commitment to serve the electorate! Governor Aminu Masari has what it takes and it shows in flying colors of the rejuvenated Katsina State APC and indeed Katsina State in fast forward mode to peace, progress and development.
Jafar Abdulra’uf writes in from Asokoro, Abuja.