The former lecturer at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, and also former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s Senior Special Assistant on Research and Strategy, Alhaji Umar Ardo, popularly called ‘Commander without soldiers’ in Adamawa, has returned to his game of fighting political battles in the Adamawa chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Since 2007, Ardo has instituted over 11 court cases challenging his party leadership, former President Goodluck Jonathan, primary elections, as well as individuals in the party. And he lost all the cases.
To political observers, Ardo has become a malleable tool in the hands of political gladiators, who are bent on achieving their political ambitions in the state. Since Ardo started contesting for the state’s governorship election, he has never scored more than five votes at PDP primary elections. During the last governorship primary in 2018, Ardo got only one vote, meaning only he voted for himself.
Recently, Ardo again declared a political war, this time over the legitimacy of the current PDP leadership under Barrister Abubakar Tahir Shehu, the state party chairman. He told journalists in Yola that he broke away from the current PDP leadership, due to injustice in the party.
Ardo said: “We stopped recognising Adamawa State PDP leadership under AT Shehu for being unfair, unjust and for its unconstitutional activities. We have henceforth initiated a movement within PDP to reform the party’s current unhealthy state.
“The reform initiative has a 12-member interim executive— seven members from the local governments and five members from the wards. These interim committees will be headed by Hammanjoda Jauro Gire, a reputable veteran party politician.”
Ardo said the party EXCO in the state was illegally composed, and that a large number of officials at both the state and local government levels have either left the party or vacated office. He wondered why the leadership continues to run the party in that manner, knowing that it is against the party’s Constitution.
He said: “PDP in the state has been turned into an unjust political party, with deceit, lack of compassion and insincerity of purpose. Its actions have become intrinsically self-serving and deceitful. Having done everything possible to convince the party to reverse this ugly trend to no avail, it is obvious that PDP in the state has become incurably crooked…
“Some of the unconstitutional actions being perpetrated by PDP include dissolution of the lawfully elected Abdulrahman-led Exco by the Ahmed Makarfi-led national caretaker committee, in the face of a pending suit before the Federal High Court, Yola…”
Ardo, who appeared to be rehearsing an old script, formed a new party, called Reformed People’s Democratic Party (RPDP) without registering it with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and appointed state executive officials in his private residence.
Ardo’s new party exists only in Adamawa State, prompting political observers to believe he has been hired to cause confusion in the state to pave way for alleged sponsors to score a political point against the former Vice President (Atiku), who is a major threat to the All Progressive Congress (APC) come 2023.
Expectedly, Ardo’s action has raised questions about his loyalty to the party. And though he claimed he worked for its success, facts on ground have shown otherwise.
On June 9, 2017, in a newspaper interview, Ardo said, “I laid the foundation for Buhari’s victory against President Goodluck Jonathan.” The same month, he granted another interview, saying, “I turned around Buhari’s political fortunes.” Before then in 2014, Ardo took the then President Jonathan to court to stop him from contesting. He, however, lost the case.
While responding to Ardo’s allegations, Barrister Tahir Shehu dismissed the accusations, saying Ardo is a floating politician with no political value.
Shehu said: “All what you see Ardo doing now, he has been ‘paid’ as usual to cause confusion in Atiku’s hometown. Unfortunately, his sponsors did not care to find out Ardo’s political worth in Adamawa State. The truth is that those canvassing support for APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, are afraid whether Atiku will contest in 2023 or not. So, it is the presidential fever that pushes them to employ Ardo to start his usual activities of attacking Atiku’s ambition.”
This observation may not be unfounded, as on December 2, 2017, Ardo predicted Atiku’s defeat in the 2019 presidential election in a newspaper interview.
Part of the interview read: “In the first place, it is highly unlikely for Atiku to get the party ticket. If the party decides to adopt the famous Option A4 nomination process, I can guarantee you that Atiku will not scale through his ward. And if he manages to do so, he will be dead on arrival at the local government level.
“Don’t forget we are from the same local government, and I have always defeated them at the local government, from the days of Odili till date. And I assure you the situation will remain like that for a very long time to come. As for defeating Buhari in the North, in the unlikely event that he is fielded in by PDP, I’ll say the possibilities do not exist. The Northern caliphate has never supported him, even though he took their titles and married their daughter…”
Shehu told The Guardian that Ardo is on a sponsored mission to thwart Atiku’s ambition in 2023. He revealed that they have proof. He warned the sponsors to desist from wasting resources and look for profitable ventures to invest in.
Shehu said Adamawa PDP would not be shaken by the cries of people he described as political vultures, who survive only on dead animals. He pointed out that Ardo has no political relevance to win even councillorship poll in his ward.
Shehu, who said Ardo has been expelled from the party by his Yelli Ward in Jada Local Government since March 2019, wondered the platform he is still claiming to be a party member.
“If Ardo is actually a true Adamawa PDP member,” he said. “I challenge him to publish the names of the offices he is saying are vacant. He was expelled for anti-party activities, following his open endorsement and support for the candidature of Muhammadu Buhari. His constituency officially wrote a complaint to the party about his actions, and proper official channel was followed to dismiss him from the party. And after supporting Buhari, he also came out openly to castigate the President for his failure to give him ministerial appointment…”
Explaining why it barricaded the venue of the group’s meeting at Lelewa Hotel, police public relations officer (PPRO) Adamawa State Police Command, Suleiman Nguroje said: “The group called Reformed Peoples Democratic Party wrote us, requesting for security for an event. We did our job and confirmed from INEC that the group was not a registered political party. So, we cannot allow an unknown organisation to hold meeting, when you don’t know their motives.”
The chairman of Yelli Ward, Mr. Damboram Wakili told The Guardian there was no name in his PDP register called Umar Ardo, pointing out that the only Ardo they had in the past was expelled in March 2019, as a result of his anti-party activities.
While calling on Adamawa PDP members to remain focused and to support the government they voted and the National Assembly, a member of the House of Representatives, Michika/Madagali federal constituency (PDP) Hon. Zakaria Dauda, said all the five PDP Reps members are solidly behind the party leadership in the state.
“We are all behind Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and the PDP leadership under Tahir Shehu, because they are moving the state to the fast lane. They are restoring the state’s lost glory,” he said.
The Guardian investigation revealed that those that gathered at Ardo’s private residence were not PDP card-carrying members. Rather, they were members of political parties that were de-registered by INEC.
And now that Ardo has formed another party, albeit without any law backing it, will he again intrude in PDP’s affairs, since he is no longer a member?
Those currently courting Ardo should contact President Buhari, who was Ardo’s favoured bride before 2015 and what happened between the two, even before their honeymoon expired, he added.