How did you receive the last Supreme court judgment on the Zamfara concerning the 2019 general election? Let’s be precise.
It is clear and it is known by every Nigerian and even beyond; that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a party that is fully entrenched in Zamfara State. Since 1999, with the advent of the Fourth Republic, the party is the most dominant in the state. No other party has ever won an election.
Except by default?
Yes, except by default. When a former governor defected from ANPP to PDP, and for the second time when Bello Matawalle had taken the opportunity, because of the judgment at the Supreme Court. Abdulazeez Yari who took over the mantle of leadership in 2011 has been at the forefront of the formation of the APC in this country, because the final coming together of the different parties to make the APC was finally decided in Gusau, Zamfara State capital. So, I’m happy today to stand here and share experiences with you on what has happened in Zamfara State, especially, the Supreme Court judgment. The judgement took all of us by surprise but, we have left things to God. I’m happy to say that, what is happening in Zamfara today especially by the current leadership of the state, is unfortunate. This is not what is expected of the current governor of the state, particularly when it comes to the issue of arresting people here and there.
I want to go back to the Supreme Court judgment
Members of APC in Zamfara are law abiding, when that judgment was passed, there was no reaction whatsoever in terms of demonstration or lawlessness from any member of the party. Members of APC in the state even though we won our election 100 percent; the governorship the three senatorial seats, the same with House of Representatives, the 24 members of the House of Assembly, we won our election hands down, even though, we were only allowed to participate in the election just a day before the election, because we were held back by court.
That we were not participating in elections, now to demonstrate that Abdulazeez Yari’s leadership has paid off, we won the election 100 percent when the court allowed us to participate just on the eve of the election, but, the Supreme Court quashed all the elections.
Including some of you that contested unopposed?
Yes, including myself that was unopposed, but that is a non-issue. The issue I want to open up here is to tell the world how the APC and its supporters in the state have been so law abiding. I was talking to somebody from the South-west and he told me that, when he heard the Supreme Court judgement, he had expected that thousands of APC supporters in Zamfara will come out and demonstrate on the streets to reject the decisions of the Supreme Court. I told him that the people of Zamfara State are law abiding. And that was how we took it and we are looking forward to another opportunity to prove and test our capacity to win elections.
What exactly did you the leaders do to ensure that there was no crisis?
Immediately the verdict was passed, the former Governor, Abdulazeez Yari, invited all of us on the same day to his house and he told us to rush back to Zamfara and hold a very important stakeholders meeting to appeal to members across the state to take the judgment as wish of God. So that was how people took it and that was why there was no reaction from anyone whatsoever.
Let us look at the former Governor Yari’s government…
Governor Yari served eight years and there is no doubt about it that he has done excellently well in terms of serving his people. Nobody, not even the current governor will denounce what Abdulazeez did in Zamfara State in terms of putting structures in place. I thought what Matawalle would have done is to look at those good things that Yari did in the last eight years and build on those good things to enhance continuity which is critical in leadership.
Can you give a summary of the good things Yari did; because there are reports that he never stayed in Zamfara, that he was always in Abuja or outside Nigeria.
Yeah, the issue of he has not been staying in Zamfara State is something different. That is the view of those people who say that, that he didn’t stay as Governor of Zamfara State. But I want to say that, the leadership of the state calls for moving from one place to the other depending on what that leader is pursuing. I know a governor in this country who left his state, and stayed outside this country for over four months, not because he went on medical treatment but he went out for other things. The issue is, at the end of Yari’s administration, has he performed?
So what are the indices?
To me and honest observers of Zamfara contemporary politics, you know that Abdulazeez did excellently well. Let me start, when I was talking on the floor of the Senate about some of the performances of Governor Abdulazeez Yari somebody asked me, they say that he has constructed so many roads, why is he constructing only roads? I asked him what is wrong in constructing roads? I added that if Abdulazeez chooses to construct roads and he did it for the entire state, and left no part of the state untarred, when another governor comes let him pick education. Let another governor concentrate on health. By the time we have 10 governors, the state would have been fully developed. But there is something I have to mention here.
I commend Yari for his ability during his tenure as governor and I say it publicly that he has been able to demonstrate fiscal discipline. He has been able to manage effectively the little resources available to the state and to attest to that, you cannot come out to say that, Abdulazeez Yari has stolen money from the coffers of the state.
Can you explain?
The little resources available to him, he was able to manage it and come up with what we have today as his own legacies in terms of physical structures.
Without peace there can be no development and I know how much Zamfara State has grappled with insecurity even in the last eight years under Abdulazeez Yari. Now we hear that he is behind the security breach in Zamfara State, of stacking guns, can you react to this?
When people say that Abdulazeez Yari is stacking guns, I just laugh and I always say that people should fear God in whatever allegations they level against each other. I’m sure if today you give Abdulazeez Yari a gun and ask him to shoot, he will never know how to shoot a gun because he has been a man of peace. How will somebody who knows God and someone who reads the Holy Quran and knows what the Holy Quran says take gun and shoot somebody? When people stand up either in the media or somewhere to say that former Governor Abdulazeez Yari is responsible for the banditry in Zamfara, I weep, because, there’s no leader that will want to foment trouble in his domain. If people accuse Abdulazeez Yari of being unable to bring a total stop to banditry in Zamfara State, where has banditry been brought to complete stop in the whole country? Is it not happening in other states? It is happening in other states time without number. The ex-governor has spoken, he has shown what the state did under his leadership, what the state government did under his leadership and, for anybody to come and say that Abdulazeez Yari is responsible, I just weep, but I know that God is there and God will make final judgment either in this world or hereafter and we know that time will come, definitely it will come very soon.
Secondly, it is unfair to say that anytime that former Governor Yari come to Zamfara, there will be banditry. Governor Matawalle even went ahead to say that he (Yari) had a meeting with bandits. I think if Abdulazeez Yari had meetings with bandits anywhere to influence them or to provoke them to come back again, there should be a very clear mission of those bandits and where he met with them.
What about the recent revelation of the N10 million payment to former governors and of course its repeal by the Zamfara State House of Assembly.
Now coming back to the issue of letter writing, the letter the former governor wrote to the current governor about his pension, let me just first of all say that, within the premise of law, the letter is never wrong because, there are several former governors. There are not less than 500 former governors in Nigeria, and there is no single former Governor in any state of the federation that is not receiving that upkeep allowances, not even that, even former Heads of State, will refurbish their cars, when we assume that they are old. It is there in the guidelines, federal government does so to former Heads of State. Now, for it to be blown out of proportion between a serving governor and a former governor is unfortunate. Every serving governor will be a former governor. And whatever form of politics anybody takes to amplify his stewardship by whatever means, if it is not within the conviction of his religion, he knows it very well. A time will come when the entire population will see it glaringly clear. I will admit that the letter written by the former governor, was written at a very wrong time. At a very, very wrong time, in fact, he wouldn’t have even written the letter in the first instance, he won’t have even written the letter, even if Governor Matawalle refuses to pay Yari his upkeep money, that would have been ok. I’m sure Yari will have been able to survive even without that because of what he did for his people. He (Yari) enjoy the support of APC people in the state till tomorrow. If you ask Yari to go and contest another election tomorrow, Yari and his people will still win election by the grace of God. So, I think let us not politicize issues in this magnitude. What is critical, the intent of the people who struggled for the creation of the state, is for the state to grow rapidly and there will never be rapid growth until and unless there is cohesion, there is understanding between outgoing and incoming public officials. Every incoming is also outgoing sooner or later
What is your take on the recent arrest of members of the opposition APC? Did a similar thing happen when PDP was in the opposition in Zamfara State since 1999?
I got worried when I heard the Governor saying he invited Abdulazeez Yari to attend a committee, a reconciliation committee but he didn’t go and his boys didn’t also attend, I think that is all. I can remember vividly that a very popular supporter of Abdulazeez Yari in the person of former Commissioner of Local Government, Muttaka Rini went and gave him blessing, former chairman of a local government, went and gave him blessing, and a number of people, went and gave him blessing. I was invited to come and give advise to the committee on how to go forward, but believe me, the letter came to me by 8:00 o’clock in the morning and they wanted me to come by 12:00 midday, the same day, and that was a Friday. The letter is there. And that was a day my Nephew was wedding, I was preparing to go for wedding Fatiha of my own Nephew on Sunday. So I had to call Senator Dansadau to tell him that, this invitation to me is so close, I will not be able to attend but I wished him well. Nobody sought for my contribution since that day, but I know that a number of people gave evidence. The former Deputy Governor, Ibrahim Wakala who is now a strong supporter of Governor Matawalle has chaired so many committees of the reconciliation under Yari’s administration,
I think he is one of those key people that could have given a lot of information on what happened during the administration of Abdulazeez Yari.
Has it raised tension
It doesn’t help the state at all, it is just creating unnecessary and undue tension in the state and I want to strongly advise the governor to suspend the arrests. For instance, I didn’t even watch, former Commissioner for information Danmaliki…because he was accused of defamation of character. I didn’t watch the clip and so I don’t know what he said and wouldn’t want to comment on that but I know he was arrested.
What do you think can be done to douse the tension?
I want to call on the state governor, who took the mantle of leadership of the state by providence of the Almighty God to remember Allah and the need to calm down, to listen to advise, yes, a lot of people that are very knowledgeable let them speak to him and let him take their advise. Nobody will bring trouble to his own people, nobody will bring case to his own people, nobody will do that. So, let him find out what is exactly the problem, there is a report of a committee, he should look at the report of the committee.