Barely a month after his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, is at loggerheads with chieftains of his new party over the sharing formula for political offices in the state.
The governor, it was learnt, is seeking to grab 70 per cent of these positions and offering 30 per cent to the camp of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari, but Yari who was the leader of the APC in the state before Matawalle’s defection is insisting that it either 50-50 sharing as agreed or no deal.
Confirming the development, Yari accused Matawalle of attempting to breach the agreement reached before his defection in June, which stipulated a 50-50 share of the state party leadership.
The former governor told journalists in Abuja that by all rights, his camp should be allowed to produce the state party chairman, even as he noted that Zamfara is quite different from Cross River and Ebonyi states.
Yari wondered why someone who was not there when Zamfara APC started and does not know the investment that had been put into sustaining the party would come from the blues and seek to inherit the party structure.
He said the national leadership of the party took the wrong step in dissolving the Zamfara caretaker committee of the APC when Matawalle defected to the party.
He disclosed that there is a court injunction against the dissolution of the state caretaker committee by the national leadership of the party.
The former governor who is currently a serving Senator stated: “The purpose of this press briefing is to tell our teeming supporters at home and well-wishers where we are. Sometime in June we were told that APC has got another big catch in Zamfara, where the governor of the state has made up his mind to join our party, which was a plus. You know in this kind of situation there must be a negotiation and renegotiation because of the nature of Zamfara politics and how it has been with us since 1999.
“Zamfara is not like Ebonyi State or Cross River State respectively. Our own case is entirely different; we are doing other negotiations on how best we are going to strike a very excellent deal so that we can be of help to the party and to the governor.
“The governor came into the party because he believes that he wants to win election in 2023. That is our own perception about why he decided to join us and the reason is that APC, from APP, ANPP to APC, has never lost any election. The accident that happened in 2019 is not something to repeat in history. So, we have been talking since then to where we are today.
“You may recall that last week he (Zamfara State governor) paid a visit to Senator Marafa’s house at a point in the night. I joined them to discuss further and the purpose of that visit was to discuss how best we can strike a deal.
“At the initial take off, we gave the committee our proposal that we intend to have this kind of harmonised meeting on our side before he decamped but we couldn’t do this because some of the organizers said that there was not much time.
“We gave them a memorandum because we own the party, we are holding the party and so we say that we are going to relinquish 20 per cent and we are going to hold 80 per cent, and we are expecting that the governor would relinquish 20 per cent of government to us and hold the 80 per cent of his government. That is the proposal we gave to the committee. We said it is negotiable and during our discussion the governor said why not agree on 50-50 and at least we can have more people to work together and plan.
“Already we are one party; one is PDP and one is APC and we say okay. So, we agreed with the position of the government and said no problem and we now came down from our initial proposal of 80 per cent to 20 per cent to 50-50 and that we are going to hold the chairmanship to our side and the reason for that is that we believe anybody who is coming as a chairman would know he will be able to handle that because of our large number in the society, in the community and in the party. So, his own people can come and start learning what we have been doing.”
Yari said he was shocked that Governor Matawalle spoke contrary to the initial agreement of 50-50 and was now insisting that he would take 70 per cent of the party structure, which was the point where crisis started brewing in the party.
He said, “But when he visited Marafa, he spoke to me and said he wanted 70 per cent. We objected to this and we are saying that 50/50 per cent is the best for us just as we will hold the state chairman of the party.
“They are trying to create an issue which is not an issue. We have books that we registered with people. Our people are the custodians of those books. And the court ordered that status quo should remain. We expected to say, ‘chairman, go to your people, open the books, call the governor and register the people. Now we are waiting to see how many people he is going to register in that state.
“There is no how he can say this is my stand. Because as I told you, Zamfara is not Ebonyi; Zamfara is not Cross River where we are weak there. We are strong in Zamfara State and we are united. Even the president cannot deny the power of the people in Zamfara State because in his history of being in politics, he has never lost Zamfara State. I think it’s to the advantage of the governor to work with these people and see that there is no victor, no vanquish, which we are ready for.”
Yari’s Demand Unacceptable – Shinkafi
However, a close associate of Governor Bello Matawalle, Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, described the 50/50 demand by former governor Yari as unacceptable to the governor.
Shinkafi, a former national secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), who defected to the APC along with Matawalle, said the request for 50/50 sharing formula was very strange to Nigerian politics as no reasonable political leader would accept it.
According to him, Yari’s request indicates a hidden agenda in the process.
“Remember, Governor Bello Matawalle was the governor of PDP and just defected to APC. Defection is different from merger,” Sinkafi stated, adding that the equal sharing stance was uncalled for.
APC Governors Back Buni, Say There’s S’Court Judgement Validating Caretaker Committee
Meanwhile, governors elected on the platform of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday threw their weight of support behind the leadership of Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni as national chairman of the party’s caretaker committee.
For the first time, the progressive governors declared their stand since the pronouncement of the Supreme Court which questioned the legality of the Buni-led caretaker committee while validating the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
The apex court had last week Wednesday delivered a split judgement on the appeal against the judgement of Ondo gubernatorial election petition, saying the written judgement will be delivered afterwards.
The court released the written judgement on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.
Before the written judgement was released, there had been different positions analysis and interpretations had been made, with some declaring the continuous stay of Buni as chairman of the party’s Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) illegal.
The early release of the written judgement availed the public with the judgement of the court which had settled issues conclusively.
The chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, in a statement issued yesterday, acknowledged that the judgement, among others, dealt conclusively with the legality of the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, its composition and all its decisions.
“The Supreme Court upheld the finding of the Court of Appeal that the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee “was set up to act on behalf of the National Executive Committee to temporarily carry out the function of the National Working Committee (NWC) until new members were democratically elected”, he stated.
The Supreme Court, he said, upheld further the ruling of the Court of Appeal that “it is evident that the said Governor Mai Mala Buni was appointed only in an acting capacity on a temporary basis to temporarily carry out and fill in the seat of the national chairman of the party pending the elections of new members.”
The statement signed by Governor Bagudu added that the holding of the Court of Appeal was not appealed against by the appellants, i.e. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the last election in Ondo State and the Peoples Democratic Party.
“According to the Supreme Court, “by not appealing against this holding, the parties herein accept it as correct, conclusive and binding upon them.”
It further noted that the judgement had also settled the legality of the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
“The court has correctly ruled that in line with section 13.3 of the APC Constitution, the National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee was constituted by the National Executive Council of the APC to act as the National Working Committee.
“This ruling is consistent with the legal advice available to APC in creating the Committee and we commend the party’s legal team for the proper and lawful guidance”.
The forum stressed: “Governor Mai Mala Buni was appointed in acting capacity, on a temporary basis to temporarily carry out and fill in the seat of the national chairman of the party pending the election of new national chairman.
“This has settled conclusively that the APC National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and its composition is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is consistent with provisions of the Constitution of the APC”.