As 2019 draws near, political activities in Zamfara State have heightened. Political parties, politicians and leaders are making habitual contact, consultations and networking to maintain relevance, and control with a view to leveraging on real, perceived and expectant opportunities.
Historically speaking, since 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has never won the state. But it once had the fortune of governing it.
At the beginning of 2007, the state was retained by the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the dominant party in the state since1999. Later that year, Zamfara, fell through the defection of the then governor, Alhaji Mahmuda Shinkafi to the PDP.
Ironically, Shinkafi’s, tenure, which ran from 2007 to 2011, was adjudged by many, as remarkable. He had assumed office with a passionate resolve to build infrastructure in the state, a thing that was allegedly neglected by his predecessor.
And he performed well within his first year in office so much so that his administration earned the sobriquet of “A Gani A Kasa”, meaning “project of reality, which we can see on ground.”
Going into the election in 2011 therefore, he was looking good to carry the day. But members of his party revolted against him due to imposition of candidates. One of those denied ticket at the time, and who eventually got sympathy votes from the electorate was Senator Kabiru Marafa, representing Zamfara central senatorial district.
The result was a massive rejection of the then ruling PDP. Even when the PDP was in control of the centre at the federal level, state and councils at the time in Zamfara, Zamfara central, Marafa’s senatorial district gave him(Marafa)203,0000 votes to defeat the incumbent senator that polled 93,000 votes.
Daily Sun recalls that the massive rejection of the PDP by Marafa’s senatorial district was what made Abdul Aziz Yari the governor of Zamfara State, in his first coming in 2011. That was how PDP lost the opportunity of winning the state it had the fortune of governing by default.
Ironically, the man who made the feat possible in 2011, is today in a fierce contest with the governor over the control of the structure of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state ahead of next year’s governorship contest. And unless the Adams Oshiomhole-led leadership walks its talks by looking into the matter with a view to resolving it, APC, investigations reveal, may as well bid farewell to Zamfara State in 2019.
The genesis of the crisis
Long before the APC’s congresses which culminated in its national convention on June 23, Marafa and Yari had been having a running battle over issue of governance in the state. Yari, will be completing his second term in 2019, but he wants to go to the senate. Marafa seems not have issues with that since they are not from the same senatorial district. Marafa wants to run for the governorship, but Yari seems to have issues with that.
As a matter of fact, one of Yari’s Special Advisers, Alhaji Salisu Isah at a press conference in Kaduna in February this year declared that “Yes we are going to kill him (Marafa) politically; we are going to bury his political ambition in 2019. He wants to be governor; he is not going to get it, even the senate he is not going to return.”
And the governor appears to have carried out his threat by allegedly shutting the door at Marafa and his supporters during the just concluded congresses of the state.
Daily Sun can authoritatively report that in most of the states, including Zamfara, congresses were conducted without recourse to the election guidelines as issued and released by the party’s national headquarters. This, it was further learnt was responsible for why the party had parallel congresses in more than half of the 36 states of the federation, including Zamfara.
What the guidelines say
Among other things, the APC guidelines for the Ward, Local Government and State congresses allow for consensus. But, it went further to state that where there is a dissenting voice by any stakeholder, elections must beheld to decide the fate of the contestants.
It further stated that forms must be obtained (upon the presentation of bank tellers) filled and returned at least 24hrs before the commencement of elections, and that the congress committee should have a list of ad hoc staff (3per Ward) whom shall be posted to Wards other than theirs to conduct the elections. The guidelines also stated that the names of contestants shall be displayed in each ward where elections will be held, and that the congress shall be conducted using a comprehensive list of registered party members.
Daily Sun’s investigations however reveal that none of the above party guidelines were adhered to by the committee. For instance, it was gathered that the election committee arrived Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, less than 12hrs before the commencement of the election on the 4th of May 2018.
Confirming this, Marafa said “in spite of the fact that they arrived late, we were given 1400 forms only as against 4704 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.”
Since no consensus was reached by the stakeholders of the party, Marafa and his supporters wrote a letter, a copy of which was obtained by Daily Sun, to the chairman of Ward and Local Govt congress committee, Ambassador Dauda Danladi, before the commencement of the exercise on Saturday May 5, 2018. The letter was copied the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Zamfara State, Police Commissioner and Director of State Security Service (SSS). But the governor was said to have insisted on having his way, and he eventually did, as all his candidates “who never obtained forms as at the time of election, as stipulated by the guidelines were all affirmed and returned elected,” Marafa added.
And to make assurance double sure for his group, it was gathered that on the day of the ward congress, Gusau was cordoned from 8am to 1pm, as there was no entry or exit, ostensibly on the orders of the governor, to prevent Marafa’s supporters from participating in the exercise.
Also, on May 12th, which was the day for the Local government congress, Marafa, a statutory delegate, being a serving Senator, was allegedly refused access to the venue in Tsafe council, as his personal security was allegedly disarmed and arrested by “an over- zealous Mopol commander.”
Marafa appealed to the party’s Appeal committee and provided all supporting documents to prove his group’s case, including producing audio clip as evidence that the chairman of Ward and Local Government congress committee for Zamfara State, Ambassador Dauda Danladi did invite them to come and collect their forms, but on presentation of their bank tellers, he (Danladi) confessed that they don’t have the forms.
The questions pundits are asking are where did Yari and his group get their forms from? When were the forms paid for? Was there evidence that the forms were actually paid for as envisaged by the party’s guidelines for the conduct of the congresses?
Marafa’s group position
On the day of the party’s convention in Abuja, security personnel stopped members of the Zamfara State APC loyal to Senator Marafa from gaining access into the Eagle Square, venue of the convention.
Spokesman of the group, Muhammad Bello Bakyasuwa told journalists that although they are the authentic delegates from the state, they were denied access by the security personnel.
”Our faction fulfilled all the requirements for contesting party positions, while the (Governor) Abdullaziz Yari faction didn’t fulfil the requirements. The Governor Yari faction didn’t pay for the forms for contesting elections to party positions but our own faction fulfilled all the conditions including the payment for all the nomination forms.
“As you can see we are the majority but the security operatives stopped us from entering the venue of the convention. Right now we don’t know where our chairman is. We will take appropriate action to seek redress. We are dully and legitimate elected executives of APC in Zamfara State. They stopped us because some of our supporters were wearing T-shirts with the photograph of our leader, Senator Kabir Garba Marafa,” he declared.
This is even as he said the group would explore legal means to ensure that it is recognised as the authentic leadership in the Zamfara APC.
The group among other things is demanding that the Oshiomhole-led exco “look quickly and very seriously” into the infractions in Zamfara, by calling Zamfara stakeholders to a meeting to correct the infractions because the current crisis in the party could affect the party’s chances in 2019, as “affirmation will not be done in general election in the state, as it was done during the congresses in the state.”
Zamfara APC chairman reacts
Alhaji Lawan Muhammad Liman, is the new chairman of the APC in the state. Until the morning he became the chairman of the party, he was the state’s Health commissioner. Technically, he had no opportunity of resigning his position before emerging as chairman of the party.
Regardless, he told Daily Sun in a telephone interview on Monday afternoon that he had no idea of what Marafa was ranting about.
Asked if he obtained any form before contesting the election, Liman 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 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.”
Again, when asked specifically if he thinks Marafa had a case, Liman said “as a party, there are procedures, if he thinks he has issue with the governor, he should go back and settle with the governor. We are not aware we have any issue with him (Marafa) as a party. He has gone to the Appeal committee, if he had case, the committee would have listened to him. In Zamfara, we don’t have any crisis.”
A random check in Zamfara shows Marafa is still popular as he was in 2011 and could win election on any party platform he chooses. His zone alone accounts for 48 percent of the total registered voters of the state and has never produced the governor of the state since its creation in 1996. Will APC behave like PDP did in 2011? Only time will tell.