About two days ago the Zamfara State Peoples Democratic Party – led government released a press statement announcing the defection of eight local government councils chairmen elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP.
The official statement signed by Special Adviser on Public Enlightenement Media and Communication, Zailani Bappa, said the defected chairmen were received by the Zamfara State PDP chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha.
Those reported to have joined the PDP are the Zamfara State ALGON chairman and chairman of Birnin Magaji local government council, Alhaji Muhammadu Umar; the ALGON vice chairman and chairman of Maru local government council, Salisu Isah Dangulbi, and the ALGON Secretary and chairman of Bukkuyum local government council, Nasiru Zarumi Masamar Mudi. Others are Ahmed Balarabe (Anka), Lawali Abdullahi (Kaura Namoda), Shehu Muhammad Faru (Maradun), Abdulaziz Ahmed Nahuche (Bungudu), and Aminu Mudi Tsafe (Tsafe).
The council chairmen “announced their defection shortly after a meeting with Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle,” according to the statement. The ALGON chairman Balarabe Anka told journalists shortly after the meeting that their “decision to join the ruling PDP in the state was as a result of Governor Muhammad’s leadership style in restoring peace and tranquility in all parts of the state within short period of time.” The chairmen said they defected to the PDP alongside thousands of their supporters and assured of their readiness to rally round the administration of Governor Matawalle. On his part, Governor Matawalle said the defected chairmen would be treated like any bonafide member of PDP in the state.
It is pertinent to mention here that Governor Matawalle was enthroned as governor of Zamfara State after a controversial judgement by the Supreme Court voided the electoral victory of the APC in the state general elections. The apex court on April 24 transferred APC’s victories in Zamfara State to the PDP for alleged irregularities in the ruling party’s primaries. The verdict sacked all the 34 elected officials that comprised a governor, his deputy, senators, House of Representatives and State Assembly members.
It was a fallout of the artificially engineered crisis in the ruling APC in the state, which peaked when some elements in the party having realized that they have lost their electoral value launched a vicious campaign against the party in courts.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the PDP was rejected by the Zamfara electorate and even though the apex court has now imposed on them a government they rejected outright and which they find difficult to stomach.
With this it is clear why Governor Matawalle and his party are desperate in coercing elected APC council chairmen into the PDP by all means necessary in a blind attempt to curry acceptance from the public. The PDP government new approach was arrived at due to the gale of defection that stormed the Matawalle administration where commissioners and special advisers he appointed resigned and cross-carpeted to the APC. While the PDP government tried to indicate to the public that defection of the eight local council chairmen was voluntary, available information revealed that it was indeed not, instead, it was at a gun point.
Frustrated by the gale of defections from PDP, Matawalle’s strategists devised means of cajoling the council chairmen to join the APC or risk losing their elected positions. That was how the project was executed and out of the 17 local council chairmen threatened, eight gave in to save their positions.
The PDP government, it was learnt, promised large sums of money to the chairmen, deputy chairmen, and councillors if they agree to defect to the PDP. The governor also promised to buy official cars to the compromised chairmen and their deputies. Another part of the project was to instigate the State Assembly to audit the council chairmen and indict them for immediate removal. He also threatened to stop the salaries of chairmen, their deputies and councillors if they refuse to budge.
If all the above strategies failed, the governor said he will invoke his executive powers to remove the chairmen from office. In a nutshell, this is the story of how the eight council chairmen elected under the platform of the APC defected to PDP. Whether their defection can improve the low rating of Governor Matawalle governance is left to be seen.
Muhammad Auwal Gusau,
Gusau, Zamfara State