Jibrin’s counsel, apology and APC’s hammer
There seems no end to the troubles confronting the embattled suspended erstwhile chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumuni Jibrin.
Jibrin who represents Kiru Bebeji federal constituency in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, is currently serving a 181 legislative sitting days suspension over crisis of alleged padding and corruption that shrouded the 2016 Budget.
The controversy trailing his comments on the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari may have triggered fresh political woes for him as the Kano state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) take up arms against him over what they termed treacherous act.
Jibrin who has more or less been out of the public scene for some time controversially resurfaced with a bang when he called on Buhari to resign so as to have enough time to address his illness.
The lawmaker resorted to the social media through his Twitter handle to give the advice. Piqued by this action that they regarded as irreverence and inciting, members of APC in the state staged a peaceful protest in Kano to register their grievances.
The party members drawn mainly from Jibrin’s constituency stormed the APC secretariat located on Maiduguri road with a protest letter demanding disciplinary actions against their representative in the National Assembly.
Not longer after, Jibrin through his social media tendered an apology for what he described as misconstruction of his statement stressing: “I have to love PMB ever more and have nothing against him.” But the angry party loyalists were not pacified and requested that he be punished for supposedly discrediting Mr. President.
A former director of Abdulmumini Jibrin Campaign Organization, Musa Salihu Bebeji who led the protest described Jibrin’s comment reckless and irresponsible.
According to him, “Hon. Jibril is our representative and we are solidly behind him but our support for him will not stop us from going against him whenever he’s going wrongly. President Muhammadu Buhari is the leader of our party and President of the country. We are loyal to him and we shall continue to be. Jibrin’s comment is reckless and irresponsible.
“We are all human beings and we can fall sick any time. Just because the President is sick, just like every other person falls sick, doesn’t request the personality of Jibrin to react the way he did.”
Receiving the party members the factional chairman of APC in Kano Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas urged the angry members to remain calm and law abiding but assured them that necessary action would be taken.
Realizing the gravity and political implications of his ‘honest advice,’ particularly when the comment is seen as promoting Senator Musa Kwankwaso’s ambition contrary to that of Mr. President supported in the state by the governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
Consequently, Jibril, at the weekend, offered a second apology, this time around before a crowd of party supporters who gathered at his village, Kofa in solidarity.
While addressing the crowd of supporters shortly after leading a special Jumat prayers to pray for the President Jibrin alleged that those protesting against him at APC state secretariat were few party members from his constituency who were ‘abducted’ by some disgruntled political enemies to bring him down politically.
According to him, “ With my experience as chairman of two strategic committees of the House of Representatives for more than five years and my background as a player in the business community and academia for over a decade, there is no harm, as a citizen, to constructively give candid propositions for the nation to move forward.
“While I offered the advice and proffered the solutions in good faith, some political detractors availed themselves of the opportunity to deliberately misconstrue and misjudge my remarks in order to put me on collision course with my party and the President.
“The whole drama was taken to a disgraceful limit when two people from my village were abducted by some relevance-seeking party leaders in Kano and forced them on camera to denounce me. In order to forestall imminent break down of law and order and calm the frayed nerves of my irate constituents who were angry at some fair-weather, credibility-deficient party leaders at the state level, I had to rush down from Europe straight to my constituency.
“The attempts to discredit me however backfired as youths in their thousands came out to voice their anger against such action. It is sad that these youths all of APC were harassed and dispersed using teargas. The party agents abducted to discredit me had since narrated their ordeal and apologized to my constituents and my good self.
Furthermore, he claim: “Unknown to the attention-seeking politicians, I have long time ago launched the Muhammadu Buhari Special Empowerment Scheme for artisans and local cottage industries as well as prayer session for the President in my constituency. And incidentally, this was started in 2015. I have never boasted about these modest efforts to support the APC and Mr. President.
“As a supporter of President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, who sacrificed his coveted position, suffered threats to life, went on brief exile and lost comfort in order to support Mr. President’s anti-corruption drive from the legislative front, nobody bore the brunt of supporting the President’s policy than I do”.
However, some observers contend that the political fire works targeted at Jibrin maybe a backlash of the tussle between Ganduje and Kwankwaso, for supremacy over who controls Kano politics ahead of 2019 elections.
The standoff between the two is over the presidency with the governor rooting for Buhari against Kwankwaso’s presidential ambition. Jibrin, a staunch ally of Kwankwaso who reportedly offered to mediate between the two gladiators to end the raging crisis, is caught in a cross fire and probably left with the option of either denouncing his political godfather (Kwankwaso) and switch loyalty to the governor or be prepared to face the consequences.
Nonetheless the controversial lawmaker’s regret seems not to have pacified the party, as the resolve to take disciplinary measures subsists. Already party machineries have been set in motion to institute appropriate sanction against the legislature from his Kiru/Bebeji constituency.
The state secretary of APC Alhaji Abbas Sani Abbas asserted in an interview with The Guardian that Jibrin’s apology will not halt the party’s decision to commence disciplinary measures as stipulated by the party’s constitution.
Although Jibin accused some APC leaders in Kano of taking advantage of his comments to maliciously tarnish his good rapport and support for President Buhari and the anti-corruption war, the APC secretary insisted that the party would not act or rely on Jibrin’s apologies through the media.
His words: “The party leadership just last week received some members of the party from Jibrin’s constituency; remember these people are his people. They came and submitted a letter duly signed to register their dissatisfaction over Jibrin’s comment and we just have to listen to them.
“The people asked the party to suspend him and now the leadership of the party has already taken all necessary move to investigate the development; action will be taken to that effect very soon. Of course like every other person we had the apology on the media but you know the party will not rely on media and I am not sure Jibrin will want to attempt to address the leadership of the party through the media.”
But Jibrin’s special assistant, Sagir Umar Kofa argued that the agitation was not only politically motivated but also devoid the true feelings of the people of the constituency.
In particular, he maintained that the present challenges of the federal lawmaker are not unconnected with the present squabbles between Ganduje and his predecessor in office.
According to Sagir, “Those calling for Jibrin’s suspension are not sincere on their mission; this is a person who has contributed so much to the social development of our constituency. Let me say this clearly the people you see at the party secretariat were paid to carry out that action, that is why we said it was politically motivated.
“We are aware some party leaders are not happy with Jibrin because he has remained with Kwankwaso. As far as we are concern, we remain solidly behind our member and we shall continue to do so until he is tired.”
Although Kwankwaso’s quest to fly APC presidential ticket in 2015 was truncated at the party’s presidential primary in Lagos, the body language of the Senator whose political patronage APC leveraged to clinch all elective positions in that year’s general polls in Kano, indicates he is still interested in the presidency.
Political observers contend that permutations ahead of 2019 might be divided along various special interest within the ruling APC, Buhari’s influence would be a major determinant, if the President declare interest to run for a second term.