The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State is bedevilled with internal crises following the recent congress held in the state. Unless these crises are resolved early enough, the party’s chances of retaining the state in 2019 might be limited. TOPE FAYEHUN writes .
Palpable anger, intense bitterness and series of threat pervade the rank and file of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State over the way and manner the just concluded party congress were conducted in the state.
The dust raised by the congress staged to elect new leaders for the party across the 14 local government areas of the state, is yet to settle as those said to have followed party’s guild lines were allegedly shot out during the exercise.
To this end, the ruling party has been divided into two factions, with one half belonging to Governor Abdulaziz Yari, while the remaining half belongs to Senator Kabiru Marafa.
The bone of contention is not unconnected to the purported manipulation of the whole exercise allegedly by Yari, shutting out about over 70 per cent of the party members across the 14 local governments of the state.
While the Marafa’s faction was said to have called for elections, because there was no consensus in Zamfara state prior to the congress, this they did according to a source, through a letter written to the chairman of Ward and Local Government Congress, Man Dauda Danladi, before the commencement of the exercise on Saturday 5th May, 2018 and copied the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Police Commissioner and Director, State Security Service.
The state government was said to have insisted that there would be no election and went ahead to affirm candidates, with the alleged active support of INEC and security agencies, despite the petition.
While the Marafa-led faction, according to observers was said to have fulfilled the condition of the party guidelines, by paying the prescribed fees for each and every contestant, the Yari’s faction allegedly did not pay for their candidates as required by the law during the congresses.
The crisis and infighting, however, reached its crescendo on the day of the ward congress when Gusau, the state capiatal was allegedly cordoned from 8: 00 am to1:00 pm to avoid entry and exit in a bid to prevent Marafa’s supporters from participating in the exercise.
Also, on the day of the local government congress, Senator Marafa, as a statutory delegate, being a serving Senator, was said to have allegedly refused access to the venue in Tsafe Local Government. His personal security was allegedly disarmed, arrested and tear-gassed by an overzealous Mopol commander.
Citing the party guidelines, for the Ward, Local Government and State congresses which allow for consensus, Marafa’s faction said, the guidelines further stipulated that where there is no consensus, elections must be held.
According to the faction, the guidelines stipulated that forms must be obtained (upon the presentation of bank tellers) filled and returned at least 24hrs before the commencement of elections.
The Committee had no register of registered party members which the guidelines said they should use to conduct the elections
Marafa’s faction, however, insisted that no congress, either at the ward, local government or state level, was held in Zamfara state. According to the faction, anybody with a contrary opinion should produce the evidence.
They further alleged that state chairman emerged when Yerima threatened to walk out of the state congress when Governor Yari wanted to foist someone antagonistic to Yerima.
According to them,”Yerima gave the governor two options, either he walks out of the Congress or he picks someone else. Yari called two of his commissioners and asked one of them to resign and become state APC chairman. Thus, he emerged as a consensus candidate. But, he did not pay for any form to emerge as state chairman.”
They declared that their candidates being the only persons that satisfied the party guidelines should be recognised as the bona fide Excos of APC in Zamfara state.
Marafa said “In spite of the fact that they arrived late, we were given 1,400 forms only as against 4,704 forms that we duly paid for. The Committee had no register of registered party members which the guidelines say they should use to conduct the elections.
“The Committee also had no list of ad hoc staff for the purpose of supervising the Congress as envisaged by the party’s election guidelines.”
He added that all the governor’s candidates “who never obtained forms as at the time of the election, as stipulated by the guidelines were all affirmed and returned elected”.
The faction said, “It is clear from the submission Marafa made to the Congress appeal committees that were well televised, that his faction duly complied with the provisions of the party guidelines.
They, however, called on the APC stakeholders at the national and the state levels to correct the infractions because it can affect the party’s chances in 2019 as affirmation will not be done in general elections in the state.
But Alhaji Lawan Muhammad Liman who is the new chairman of the APC in the state, said “I don’t know anything about the crisis in Zamfara. You were at the convention of the party, was Zamfara listed among states where we had a crisis?
“After the inauguration, they mentioned just three states, Imo, Delta and Oyo and they were urged to go and settle. We have since moved on in Zamfara because the governor is interested in a united party ahead of the election.”
“As a party, there are procedures, if he thinks he has an issue with the governor, he should go back and settle with the governor. We are not aware we have an issue with him (Marafa) as a party. He has gone to the Appeal committee, if he had a case, the committee would have listened to him. In Zamfara, we don’t have any crisis.”
However, analysts observed that if the crisis is not quickly addressed by the leadership of the party before the 2019 general elections, history may repeat itself. It would be recalled that the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi, allegedly denied Marafa his senatorial ticket against the advice of stakeholders that people be allowed to elect the candidates of their choice during the primary elections, but he insisted on imposition of candidates, the result was a massive rejection of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), when when the PDP was in control of the Federal, State and Local Government at the time.
According to political observers in the state, the former governor thought government wins elections, forgetting that popular candidates do. The then Governor foisted candidates on the people but in the general elections, the people voted for popular candidates without recourse to the party they belonged to. That was how PDP lost in 2011.
A random check in Zamfara shows, according to observers that, Marafa is still popular, if not more, as he was in 2011 and can likely win the election in any party he might choose to decamp to.
This is more so as the zone he represents accounts for 48 percent of the total registered voters of the state and it has not produced the governor of the state since its creation in 1996.
They are of the opinion that APC should not take chances and allow this process to repeat itself in 2019.
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