There is growing concern within the circle of the two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition PDP over the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
The two political parties have been experiencing different huddles towards the conduct of the elections.
For the ruling APC, the party is facing serious dilemma over what started like a play but has now snowballed into a calamity which has led the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disallow her to field candidates for the 2019 general elections.
The commission took the drastic action against the party following the inability of the APC to conduct primaries within the INEC’s stipulated time frame of 7th October, for parties to elect their flag bearers to contest the 2019 general elections.
The Commission’s hammer on the APC means that the ruling party will not have the privilege to participate in the elections as her name and logo will not appear in the ballot papers in 2019 general elections.
The ban has continued to generate divergent views among politicians and residents of the state. While some see it as a good step to check political recklessness, others feel the action of the INEC is targeted at giving undue opportunity to the opposition that are ready to cash in on the APC misfortune.
Alhaji Yau Mohammed Dansadau described the ban as the best option considering the lingering crisis bedevilling the APC in the state.
“The ban by INEC will make other selfish politicians to know that you cannot go against the will of the people. If Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar had not imposed candidates on the people, no member of the party would have revolted, and you see what the revolt by the aggrieved aspirants has led the party into, not having candidates in 2019 general elections”.
Ibrahim Kanoma described the ban by INEC as a joke taken too far.
“Something must be done to reverse the said ban, because if the APC does not contest the elections in 2019 that means there will be no elections in Zamfara”, he said.
The APC state chairman, Alhaji Lawal Muhammad Liman and the factional APC state chairman, Alhaji Sirajo Maikatako, however, declined comments on the impasse. The state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Asma’u Maikudi could not be reached as she was said to be on official duty outside the office.
On different occasions, the APC tried to conduct primaries particularly the governorship primary in the state but it was usually postponed due to some critical reasons.
The party’s national headquarters after directing the party in the state to shelve the indirect mode of primary which the state had earlier adopted for the governorship primary in the state, to direct mode primary shifted the primary from 30th September to 1st October but after over six hours of heated arguments among the nine governorship aspirants, the exercise was shifted by one day, to 2nd October.
Briefing journalists after the marathon meeting with the nine APC governorship aspirants, the chairman of the Zamfara state APC Primary election committee set up by the National Working Committee (NWC), Dr Abubakar Fari said the rescheduling of the primary was to allow for the distribution of the election materials to all parts of the state.
Fari said that in order to ensure transparency, the aspirants agreed that the state Police Headquarters should be used for the collation of the results.
When the governorship primary was to take place as agreed, other issues also cropped up which made the primary to be once again shifted.
On 3rd October, the elections began though very late in all parts of the state, but midway into the exercise, reports of intimidation, election violence made the chairman of the primary, Dr Fari to announce the total cancellation of the governorship primary in the state.
The APC in a statement by the then acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena upheld the cancellation of the governorship primary and fixed 6th October for the governorship and legislative primaries in the state.
Nabena said the state APC executive is dissolved and also direct the state governor or his agents to hands off the primaries.
The directive by the NWC did not however go down well with Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar who in a state-wide announcement called on APC loyalists to protest against the NWC sent primaries committee members.
The primaries could not hold on 6th as directed by the NWC as the new committee led by its chairman, Major General Abubakar Gana (rtd), also engaged on marathon meetings with the governorship and legislative aspirants on how and where to source for those to conduct the primaries in the 147 wards of the state in view of the directives by the NWC that the governor and his agents should hands off the primaries.
On 7th October which is the deadline for the conclusion of primaries, the Gana-led primaries committee still engaged in meetings with the governorship and legislative aspirants at the City King Hotel, Gusau, with no respite insight as those to conduct the primaries were no where to be found.
Same Sunday evening, with less than five hours to the 12 midnight deadline for completion of primaries by INEC, Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar ordered that APC members should begin voting in the legislative primaries to avoid the party aspirants being disqualified.
Yari gave the directive in a press briefing/announcement at the State Government House in Gusau, insisting that the move was the only way to save the APC aspirants in the state from being disqualified for not conducting primaries to elect the party flag bearers.
“Our party members have been on queues since 7:00 am and the committee sent by the NWC is yet to start distributing the election materials. I am urging our members to begin voting and when the committee brings the election materials, we will transmit the results into the result sheets to meet up with INEC’s deadline which expires midnight today”, he said.
Yari added that with that arrangement, it would be possible for the primaries to be concluded and the legislative primaries results would be announced before the deadline.
On the cancelled governorships primary, the governor said despite the announcement of the cancellation by the former committee Chairman, Dr Abubakar Fari, the election continued in all parts of the state and the results were ready and would be announced and taken to Abuja for ratification.
“Already, we have the results and waiting for the committee to bring the elections materials for us to announce and save the party from not having governorship candidate in 2019. We cannot afford not having candidates that is why we are taking the drastic measures”, he said.
As at 10:00 pm that Sunday, the primaries committee chairman, Major General Gana, was still holding meetings with the legislative aspirants at the City King Hotel, Gusau, venue of the meeting.
Yari backed by APC leadership in the state went ahead and announced the results of the primaries before Sunday midnight despite the condemnation of the exercise by other aspirants.
Senator Kabir Garba Marafa, one of the governorship aspirants against the anointment of Mukthar Shehu Idris called the exercise as an affront on the APC NWC. Marafa said Yari’s action of conducting illegal primaries and announcing such results without the approval of the National Working Committee (NWC) is not only actof gross irresponsibility but treasonable offence.
“The NWC should declare his actions as such, expel him and all the people so announced from the party. This will serve as a deterrent to others that may contemplate taking similar steps in the future”, he said.
Briefing journalists a few hours after the expiration of the INEC deadline, the primaries committee chairman, Gana said no APC primaries was held in Zamfara state and that a report will be sent to the NWC on the issue.
If INEC’s ban is sustained, the 2019 general elections will have only President Muhammadu Buhari as the APC candidate who will be voted for in Zamfara.
On the side of the PDP, the main opposition which is capitalizing on the APC crisis to get its way is enmeshed in crisis as a splinter group led by Hon. Ibrahim Shehu Bakauye dragged the party to court to challenge the nomination of the party’s flag bearer Hon. Bello Mattawalle.
This is also seen by political observers as a serious setback.
Hence, the contest may likely be among the smaller political parties.