By Hassan Zaggi and Francis Nansak
The purported suspension of the All Progressive Congress (APC) chairman of Akwanga Local Government Area by by an 18- man exco and stakeholders of the party in Ancho ward is generating controversy among members of the party in the local government.
It would be recalled that an 18-member exco and stakeholders of the APC in Ancho ward, on Thursday, slammed suspension on the Akwanga APC chairman, Mr Micah Magaji.
Ancho is the home ward of Mr Micah Magaji.
On the other hand, the embattled chairman, while responding to questions from ExpressDay, said that all the allegations put forward against him were false and crafted out of mischief.
The purported letter of suspension which was signed by 18 persons reads in part: “We, the Exco and stakeholders of Ancho ward, having weighed the character, actions and disposition of the APC chairman, Akwanga LGA, Mr. Micah Magaji, which are inimical to the growth and survival of our party that border on gross anti-party activities resulting in the failure of the party to win at his polling unit during the 2019 general elections; high level of disloyalty to the government of the day and disrespect for critical stakeholders in the management of the affairs of the party; embezzlement of funds meant for office rent for three years and diversion of office furniture (plastic chairs) and equipment for personal use.
“Consequently, for unity, strength and survival of our great party (APC) Ancho ward, we hereby resolve and endorse the immediate and outright suspension of Mr Micah Magaji, as member of the party with immediate effect to pave way for proper investigation of these crimes and misbehaviour perpetrated against the government of the day and our great party with effect from Thursday, July 16, 2020.”
Speaking with our Correspondent, Mr. Magaji disclosed that he is a victim of the cold war that is currently going on among the big shots of the party in the local government.
According to him, currently, the APC in the local government has two opposing camps and that one of the camps allegedly headed by the Special Adviser to the governor, Yakubu Kwanta, is the one fighting him.
Asked if he has offended any of the gladiators of the party in the local government, Mr. Magaji said: “I have no issue with the Deputy Speaker nor do I have any issue with the Councilor and the SA (Kwanta), but it is the cold war among the gladiators that brought all these.”
Explaining how the suspension was carried out, the embattled chairman said: “From the intelligence we have gathered, the ward executives and some stakeholders were invited to the house of the Councilor of our Ward and from there, there were two vehicles on stand by and they were conveyed directly to Lafia, the state capital, where they met with Kwanta (SA).
“It was there that they were given the paper to append their signatures that they have suspended me.
“I don’t know if that is the right way to suspend anyone.”
Responding to a question on the alleged disrespect for the government of the day and the stakeholders, he said: “It is not true. How can I not respect the state government? When the Commissioner who is the leader of the party in the local government told to me to call for a meeting, which I did. It is the Commissioner that will now tell the governor the resolutions reached in our meeting.
“The meeting that the commissioner said I should summon was for us to map out strategies to support the Governor Abdullahi Sule led- government so that our local government can benefit from the administration.
“The major issues discussed at the meeting were to ensure that there is no division and faction among our members for us to have formidable party in the local government in order to mobilise support for the governor so that he will succeed, from there, the local government will also benefit.
“Unfortunately, when we call for the meeting, the SA (Kwanta) refused to come and they also prevented other ward chairmen from coming to the meeting. From here you will see that there is an opposing group in the party in the local government.
“The principal party officers of the entire Mada land including the former Minister, Hussaini Zanuwa, the governor’s DG, Danboyi and all of them were at the meeting which was at the instance of the Commissioner.
The meeting harps on unity of the party in the local government to support the government of the day.”
On alleged embezzlement of funds meant for office rent, Mr. Magaji said: “It is not true. It was our former deputy governor (Silas Agara), that rented the office for us at the rate of N250,000 per year.
“Sometimes he pays in full, while at other times, he pays part, like N200,000 to bring the balance later.
“During his campaign for governorship, Agara could not pay all at the same time because his attention was on the election. We have an outstanding debt of two and half years for us to pay which the owner of the house insisted that we must pay before we will have access to the place. Because we were unable to pay, we have been holding our meetings in a temporary venue.
“Considering that the former deputy governor who has been paying the rent for us is no more in power, it will not be wise for us to go back to him and ask him to pay our rent. I then reported the issue to the Deputy Speaker, he equally set up a committee to mobilise resources to pay for the rent. The process is still on.
“Between me and my God, there is no money brought for rent which I diverted.”
He disclosed that he sensed some trouble coming when he was asked to call for a meeting and, “I went with the Zonal Chairman and the Secretary to the house of the Deputy Speaker so that he will advice us on the date of the meeting and the number of people to be invited.
“Unfortunately, when we got to the Deputy Speaker’s house, he was not feeling fine. We stayed there for over one hour but we could not see him.
“The next day I called to tell him that we came to seek his advice about the meeting but we could not see him, he then ask that which meeting am I intending to call for again, that the meeting had since been held.
“In short, what is happening is that there is a cold war between the big shots of the party in the local government. Unfortunately for me, being the party chairman, I am at the middle, the major gladiators see me as not being on their side.
“Whenever I am close to anyone, the other one sees me as an enemy. That is where I have found myself. Its only my God that will deliver me from this situation.”
However, a cross section of stakeholders of the APC in Akwanga interviewed by our Correspondent condemned the purported suspension of the party chairman in his ward.
They described the situation as the handy work of desperate politicians who do not have the interest of the party at heart.
A member staunch member of the APC in Akwanga who pleaded anonymity for fear of being harassed said: “The governor must intervene and halt such rascality. Some people are bent on destroying the party because of their desperation for selfish benefits.
“We know how the big men of the party in the local government are fighting themselves. The party chairman is just a victim of their dirty fight for supremacy. They should leave Mr. Magaji alone.”
On the other hand, one of the signatories to the purported suspension letter who pleaded not to be named while responding to a question on the motive behind their action said: “I can tell you that most of us were taken unawares and forced to sign the letter. Moreover, how much did they give us? It is the fight of the big men that the chairman is suffering.”