Aftermath of the loss of Zamfara State by the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party through a Supreme Court judgment, the crisis in Zamfara further deepened last week with the suspension of Senator Kabiru Marafa and others, writes Adedayo Akinwale
Following the loss of all elective positions from the just concluded 2019 elections by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State to the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after a Supreme Court judgment, there are indications that all is still not well with the ruling party in the state considering the recent action by the party to address the fallout of the Zamfara debacle.
Though it was expected that the APC would react to the loss of Zamfara to the main opposition party, which is now well positioned to challenge the APC come for the presidency 2023 with sixteen States already in its kitten. These include; Bauchi, Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, Sokoto, Cross river, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Oyo, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Adamawa States.
The Supreme Court had on Friday, May 24, 2019, voided all the votes cast for the APC in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State. In a unanimous judgment by a five-member panel, the apex court noted that the party in the state failed to conduct primaries in accordance with the party rules.
Justice Paul Adamu Galinji, who read the lead judgment, held that all votes cast for the APC were “wasted votes” and declared that any political parties with the second highest votes in the elections and the required spread is elected to the various elections.
The former Governor Abdulazeez Yari faction of the APC, which emerged after the October 3, 2018 primary of the party had in the appeal by their lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), asked the apex court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto, instituted by the Kabir Marafa faction of the party, challenging the outcome of the primary.
All the candidates fielded by the Yari faction of the party for the Governorship, National and State House of Assembly elections had won.
Though the two factions of the party, led by Marafa and Yari had locked horns in a supremacy battle over who controls the soul of the party in the state. Their seemingly irreconcilable differences denied the party valid primary elections for sponsorship of candidates as required by law.
However, rather than the ruling party carrying out a proper appraisal of what went wrong in the state, as well as embarking on the review of the 2019 elections with the aim of forestalling future reoccurrence especially, with what happened in Ogun, Imo and Zamfara States, the party decided to engage in blame game, which led to the suspension of some party members, with Senator Kabiru Marafa and some of his supporters being the latest victim of the ill-treatment. The party had earlier suspended both former governors of Ogun and Imo States, Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha.
A faction of the Zamfara State chapter of the APC had last week expelled the Marafa, for alleged anti-party activities. Marafa represented Zamfara central during the 8th Assembly. The Yari faction also suspended the immediate past Deputy Governor of the state, Ibrahim Wakkala; and member representing Kauran Namoda/Birnin Magaji Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Aminu Jaji.
The party’s state Publicity Secretary, Shehu Isah, in a statement issued on behalf of the state chairman last week, said the decision to suspend the three politicians was reached at a meeting of the State Executive Committee in Gusau, the state capital.
He said, “The provision of Article 21 (A) ii and (D) v of the party’s constitution was activated against the three members for violation of the constitutional provision and engaging in acts inimical to the interest of the party.
“Consequently, a resolution was passed expelling all of them from the All Progressives Congress. We are therefore by this notice informing the general public that from the date of the said resolution, the aforementioned members cease to be members of the All Progressives Congress and consequently are disentitled from enjoying rights, privileges and benefits from the party.”
But in what could be described as a counter move, the faction of the APC in the state led by Marafa also expelled the immediate past governor of the state, Abdullaziz Yari, who is believed to be behind the other faction and the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the APC, Lawali Shuaibu, for allegedly scuttling the party’s chances in the state. The decision was contained in a statement jointly signed by the factional chairman of the party in Zamfara State, Alhaji Surajo Katako and the Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Bakyasuwa.
Nevertheless, with the suspension of Marafa by a faction of the party in state and with the ‘sidon-look’ approach of the national leadership of the party, it shows that the ruling party has not learnt any lesson on how to prevent a reoccurrence, by entrenching internal democracy and challenging the impunity of the political elite in the party.
A political analyst, Mr. Jide Ojo, was of the opinion that in a saner clime, Marafa and Senator Magnus Abe would have been the heroes of this democracy, because they decided to use the instrumentality of the court to seek redress and challenge impunity within the party.
He said rather than castigate or suspend Marafa for the misfortune the APC suffered in Zamfara state, he believed that the person that should be suspended is Yari.
Ojo said, “It is medicine after death. Just like what they did to Rochas Okorocha, and Ibikunle Amosun, after they had carried out their anti-party activities, they now decided to suspend them. Of what benefit and importance is that?
“The point is that APC has lost out in Zamfara, whether they suspend Marafa or even expel him, it doesn’t change the misfortune that has happened to the party. Marafa is supposed to be categorised as hero of this democracy, because rather than embarking on inciting their supporters to make the state ungovernable and worsen the security situation in the state, they decided to approach the court to seek redress to injustices that were meted out to them.
“Don’t forget, the man bought form, his supporters but forms, but they were not allowed to participate in the primaries. The person who actually should be suspended is Yari, who defied the national leadership of the APC.
“Marafa and senator Magnus Abe are the heroes of this democracy, because they decided to use the instrumentality of the court to seek redress, they could have mobilised their supporters to make the state ungovernable, but they decided to use the legal process,
“You can hear an Oshiomhole saying Supreme Court judge imposed strangers on Zamfara, what does he mean? The 189,000 people that voted for Matawalle, did they not express their preference for him? And I was highly disappointed in Prof. Itse Sagay. For me, he is becoming an embarrassment to the legal profession. I’m sorry to say that.
“How could you say Supreme Court should reverse itself, because you want to condone the impunity of a section of the political elite, who have decided to railroad Nigeria’s democracy to autocracy?
“I believe that whether or not the party sanctions Marafa for anti-party, the man has every right to join the party of his choice. He has lost out in his governorship ambition and all his supporters have lost out. If they push him out, are you sure that PDP will not even woo him to come and give him something that will make him relevant in the polity?”
Ojo believed that there is a need to reform the country’s party system. He stressed that Nigeria’s political elite are the major challenge in this country now.
According to him, “The political elite needs to behave themselves if this democracy is to survive. We can’t continue to have this kind of impunity by the Nigerian political elite, who would even want to subvert the due process, subvert the Electoral Act, subvert the constitution, does not have respect even for the INEC guidelines and regulations, that is why we had the 2019 general election the way it was.”
For whatever it is worth, if the national leadership of the APC refuses to intervene and allow the problem in the Zamfara State chapter of the party to snowball into a major crisis to the extent that Marafa and his supporters would be forced out of the party, it may mark the beginning of the end of the party in the state.
While it will also be a loss to the APC, it will be a huge gain for the PDP that will be ready to welcome Marafa and his supporters into its fold and further cement its authority in the state.