By Musa Dangusau
The Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been embroiled in a lingering crisis since Governor Bello Matawalle defected to the party in June. But the crisis has worsened following last Saturday’s conduct of ward congresses in the state despite a court injunction suspending all activities of the party in Zamfara. But as expected, not only did the congress fail to unite leaders and members of the party in the state but has succeeded in widening the gaps between them by reopening old wounds and creating new factions.
As at the time the ward congress was said to have been concluded on Saturday, three factions have emerged from the party but only the faction belonging to the state Governor Matawalle has accepted the outcome while the other factions supported by former governor, AbdulAziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa have disagreed with the conduct of the exercise. The Yari faction even boycotted the congress based on a court order stopping APC activities in the state pending the determination of a suit challenging the dissolution of the state exco by the National Caretaker Committee of the party.
The Marafa camp which has gone its separate ways by participating in the congress is also contesting the legality of the exercise saying whatever the outcome is cannot stand since the APC flouted basic rules guiding such exercises to hold the congress. Marafa is threatening to institute legal action against the chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Mai Mala Buni over the violation of the party’s constitution in the conduct of its affairs.
He said Section 17 (4) of the Constitution of the APC says ‘no officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently, adding that Section 13.3(iv) which was relied upon to create the CECPC talked about the power of NEC to create committees. “APC is a political party not a committee, committees are created to serve a specific functions not to usurp the powers of the entire legal entity. The function of the Mai Mala committee is to plan a convention just as its name implies, Mai Mala is the chairman of the APC convention planning committee and not APC itself,” Marafa said. The caretaker committee through its secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudodehe, had on Monday, warned Marafa to submit to party supremacy or be sanctioned but Marafa who reacted to the threat, said he cannot be silenced by the threat of the caretaker committee. Indeed threatening Marafa cannot be the solution as his position on the matter is backed by both the Constitution of Nigeria and that of the APC. The APC will do well to consider the points raised by Marafa as failure to do so portends grave danger for the APC in Zamfara State. Both the Yari and Marafa factions have been working together following the intervention from Abuja until Matawalle defected to the APC in June and introduced fresh issues now threatening the unity of the party.
The scenario that played out in the ward congress of last week was the very unwholesome situation stakeholders in the party were trying to avoid when they agreed that the congresses in Zamfara be delayed until a truce is reached among the party leaders. But with the insistence by Matawalle to be allowed to take 70 percent of the positions in the state exco, many who know the foundation on which the APC in Zamfara stands, realise that this position is not only untenable but is a recipe for chaos and tried to see how this can be avoided.
As concerned stakeholders were making progress in calling Matawalle to order however, the conduct of the ward congresses took the state chapter of the part back to square one as the congress must have been due to the pressure mounted by Governor Matawalle on the Caretaker National Chairman to suit his interest. But in bowing to the Governor’s pressure, the APC had forgotten a key element in party politics which is that it is people that make up a party and not the other way round.
If the outcome of the Matawalle-induced Saturday congress is upheld and the process is allowed to continue, it will amount to letting the Governor have his way at the detriment of the other leaders which renders the initial postponement of the congresses useless. Moreover, it will mean shutting the door to the real people behind the success of the party in Zamfara. The APC will do well to remember that in 2019 when the governorship election held in the state, that those it is now choosing to take over the reins of the party could not win even a single seat in the state House of Assembly and lost the seat of the governor woefully until the court acting on technicalities, reversed the wins for the APC. What this means is that the real mass mobilisers who worked for the success of the party are the ones being sidelined now. Anyone with even an average knowledge of Zamfara knows that the APC in Zamfara owes its success and popularity to both former Governor Yari and Senator Marafa that any political calculation that leaves them out could be fraught with danger.
Despite defecting to the APC, Matawalle is yet to grasp the rudiments of party politics that have served as the secret of the success of the APC in Zamfara and this has to do with team work.
He has imported the winner-takes-all mentality of the opposition party to the APC and is misinterpreting the true meaning of being a leader of the party in the state to mean that he can do as he pleases with the party. At this stage, he needs some education before he causes further havoc to the party.
Being the leader of the party in the state has to do more with coordination of party leaders, members and activities to give it an edge over the other competing parties and does not mean that he owns the party and can do whatever he wants to do with it. He should learn from President Muhammadu Buhari who though is the leader of the party at the national level allows for democracy to play in the choice of party leaders and does not insists he determines 70 percent of the party positions. The Mai Mala Buni committee should address this drift in time before it deteriorates. It should not allow one man whose only interest in the party is based on his ambition to return as governor, destroy the party. A stitch in time saves nine.
Dangusau writes from Gusau