Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the race for who gets the APC gubernatorial ticket in Zamfara State is heat up as the option of using direct or indirect primaries tears the party apart. UMAR MOHAMMED writes.
The people of Zamfara could easily describe the current political dispensation as a different one considering the deceptive way the system is going. Unlike what happened in the preceding year to the 2015 general elections when the faithful of the two dominant political parties, then All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were busy promoting their potential governorship aspirants. Just to refresh our memories, by now in the year 2015, the situation was tense politically as contenders for governorship from both the ruling ANPP and opposition PDP, were fully charged with campaign activities. To clarify the above submission about the campaign intensity in Zamfara during the last general election in the ruling ANPP, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Gusau/Tsafe Federal constituency, Hon Ibrahim Shehu Bakauye, challenged a sitting governor, Hon Abdul-Aziz Yari, who was then seeking for second term. The situation raised serious dust in the party and almost divided the party members into two factions. The situation was also similar in the opposition, PDP as the two powerful contenders, a former governor, Alhaji Muhmuda Aliyu Shinkafi and Hon Bello Mohammed Mattawalle, of the House of Representatives, were against each other With barely two months to the party primary to elect candidates to stand for the governorship and other key elective positions, political activities are quite down. Though, there are numerous contenders and pretenders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) the politicking is nothing to write home about and it is worrisome to the political class and electorate. The speculated names in the APC include, former governor, Muhmuda Aliyu Shinkafi, incumbent deputy governor, Malam Ibrahim Wakala, Sen Kabir Garba Marafa, Dr Dauda Lawan Dare, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris, Hon Muttaka Mohammed Rini, Hon Aminu Sani Jaji, Amb Abubakar Shehu Bunu and Hon Lawal Hassan Anka.
This write up is intended to dwell on the activities of the ruling APC, more especially with the decision of the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomole to introduce the conduct of direct primary election to elect a flagbearer of the party at various levels. It is on record that APC congresses were polarised or maneuvered to some extent, a situation that brought about the formation of two factions. The two factions, each with executives from ward to state, had submitted names of the aspirants to the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for recognition as each claimed authentity. LEADERSHIP Friday’s findings revealed that, the decision of the APC to adopt option a4 in the conduct of party’s primary had brought relief to the supporters of Sen Marafa’s faction, who were not comfortable with the party’s executive in the government faction in the selection of the party’s candidate for governorship. The two factions of the APC emanated as a result of a sharp disagreement beween Sen Marafa and Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari over the security challenge that enveloped the state. Sen Marafa had accused Governor Yari of directly or indirectly supporting the banditry activities across the state. The national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole announced that henceforth, primary elections for the election of party flagbearers at various offices should be conducted through direct elections in the states controlled by APC where every card-carrying member would be involved.
This would bring about an end to the manipulation of few party delegates, as such card-carrying person must comply with the provisions of Article 9.1 of APC Constitution of ( October 2014 as amended). This new approach is contained under section 20 (v) of the APC Constitution of (October 2014 as amended). Above all, section 87 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) further strengthens the decisions of the NWC as declared by the national chairman of APC on this direct primary election. Therefore, every member of APC can vote for any aspirant during primaries in all positions from councillorship, member of State Houses of Assembly, Federal House of Representatives, senators, governors and president. But, the move of the national chairman of the party was yet to address the problem of factionalisation within the party, like what obtained in Zamfara State where two factions emerged during the congresses. Although, the general belief, no doubt is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is likely to produce the next governor, a lot of politicking have to be played as aggrieved stakeholders may act otherwise in the final election. This is mainly based on the fact that ANPP has been forming government in the state since 1999 through the political weight of Senator Ahmad Snai Yarima.
But things appear to have taken a dramatic change even though APC is believed to have the advantage of producing the next governor in 2019, but the main issue of interest is who would make the day among the three political blocs of Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari, Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima and President Muhammadu Buhari. Governor Yari, who is serving his second term, is believed to have created his own political dynasty within the APC in the state. There is no doubt that he has hijacked the APC structures at all levels. There is no other way to interpret the story other than to conclude that he has thrown Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima’s political influence into a waste paper basket. Therefore, the Senator had gone behind the scene politically as he weilds no influence at the state and national politics level of the APC, unlike before. The aspirants to various political offices are now clamouring around Governor Abdulaziz Yari, putting on their political armour and wielding their political weapons for the grand duel. Consultations upon consultations have been going on within and outside the state up to the extent of chasing the governor to Saudi Arabia. As political observers therefore beam their searchlights on Zamfara political arena and discuss some of the frontline issues that have been neglected by most analysts in the state’s political field, there are more than a dozen contenders to the state Government House from APC alone, not to mention other political parties even though some political analysts are pointing out that the tide may shift following negative factors from the ruling party. These factors include insecurity that has enveloped the state. There is also another factor pinpointing to the fact that internal crisis may tear the party apart in the state since there is a very strong indication that the governor may not hand over power to his deputy, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala, due to some reasons best known to the governor even though they have been piloting the state together since 2011. However, one cannot be blind to what is happening within the government, led by Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari. As long as APC is concerned in the state, all eyes are on the governor to produce who would replace him. Though, Zamfara people have so much respect and admiration for Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, the unexpected may happen. For Senator Garba Kabiru Marafa, he is banking on presidential influence, as he was believed to be part of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, though, it is unclear, whether, the national chairman, would intervene in favour of Sen Marafa.
But even if the presidency and national party have interest in Sen Marafa, such ought to be with caution, as the senator does not have the APC ticket, based on the fact that he is neither with Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima nor the governor but he is a lone ranger even though some political analysts are of the view that he may defect to another party to achieve his ambition like he did in 2011 when he defected from PDP to ANPP and won the Zamfara Senatorial election, defeating PDP’s candidate, Senator Hassan Mohammad Nasiha. Other governorship hopefuls are former Governor Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi, who is bidding to complete his second tenure, the state commissioner for Education, Hon Muttaka Muhammad Rini, Hon Hassan Anka representing Anka/Talata Mafara in the House of Representatives, a retired federal permanent secretary, Engr Abu Magaji and former First Bank Executive Director, Dr Dauda Lawal Dare. However, a reliable and competent source told LEADERSHIP Friday that the governor and Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, the two political gladiators in the ruling party, have agreed that the next governor would come from Zamfara Central zone that has never produced any governor since 1999, saying that, the deputy governor was the candidate of Senator Yarima, who the reliable source said Governor Abdulaziz Yari rejected out rightly. The same source hinted that any person that served with the governor might not be considered since Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima rejected the candidate of the governor, who he said was the State Commissioner of Finance, Hon Idris Shehu. Since then, the people of the state have been in the dark over who would be APC governorship candidate as things have fallen apart between the governor and senator over who becomes the party’s flag bearer for 2019 governorship election which the source said that a candidate must definitely emerge no matter what happens. However, it was gathered that, since both the senator and the governor have not agreed on a common candidate, it is being suggested that former First Bank Boss, Dr Dauda Lawal Dare, may be anointed to fly the APC flag in 2019 but no statement from both the governor and the senator has been made public regarding who would be the party’s candidate.
Although, all the contenders for the plum job have not relaxed their efforts even though it is very much clear that there are contenders and pretenders yet many of them have no business in politics but they are in politics because it is the easiest means to make money in Nigeria, that is why they are being described as pretenders. But the politics of Zamfara remains that whosoever the powers that be have anointed, he would definitely run away with victory no matter how incompetent he may be. That is the contemporary and timid politics we are seeing in the state. Most observers of Zamfara politics and analysts have pointed out that incompetence remains the negative factor that has denied the state the chances of standing alone without the federal allocation, making the economic factor and the feeling of dissatisfaction with life, the nucleus of crimes in the Sharia state. Poverty and abject poverty will continue to be a source of dissent that can be expressed in lawlessness in every society. In Zamfara State, most of the youth are unemployed and where employed, the gains are very minimal. Many youth are now venting their frustrations through crimes and violence, putting in mind basically their future. \But democracy and politics are twin sisters that must be viewed with good vision. Yet, people in the corridors of power do not understand themselves very well as well as speak with one voice to produce a credible and competent leader. They have forgotten that without this issue, insecurity, poverty would continue to reign until harmony prevails. Whatever be the case, Zamfara people have to mend the fence especially
the electorate who are always at the receiving end. The progress of any society depends largely on the ability of the people to organise themselves, evaluate and monitor who they voted for and the events that would facilitate the desired positive objectives and goals of democracy. However, Zamfara leaders of thought, especially the youth are now waking up from their slumber to shift the tide and enlighten the people on the way forward and pull them out of the long domination of the particular faction being led by Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, who has been dominating Zamfara politics since the Khaki boys relinquished the grip of power in 1999. According to the group, their mission is to address the problems of socioeconomic and political development that have enveloped the state due to what they described as irresponsiveness of the leaders who have failed to pull the state out of the scourge of poverty and insecurity.