When insecurity becomes strong factor in Zamfara politics
With the approach of 2019 governorship elections in Zamfara, security of lives and property is gradually becoming a major factor in deciding where the pendulum of victory will swing among political parties and contenders, some of who are already showing their intentions.The importance of the security factor to the next election is getting more pronounced by the day as major stakeholders are focusing on ability of aspirants to tackle the persistent threats to security in the state as a measure of individual preparedness to govern.
Although the troubled Northeastern zone is regarded as the most volatile part of Nigeria because of the activities of Boko Haram insurgency that has continued to defy all solutions, Zamfara has acquired the status of the most unsecured state in the Northwest.Surrounded mostly by impregnable and ungoverned forests from where violent bandits carry out raids on outlying villages, Zamfara has a large portion of its landmass uncovered by adequate security thereby making the state dreaded by tourists and potential foreign investors. The state is also on the list of those that the United States government warned its citizens not to visit in Nigeria.
Despite this anti-investment setting, Zamfara in 2000, at the commencement of the current democratic dispensation, became the first state in the northern part of Nigeria to introduce the Sharia Islamic law under which social and religious segregation were instituted.Being in the extreme northern part and without the Islamic intellectualism of Sokoto, from where it was excised in 1966, the bustling population of Kano and the metropolitan nature of Kaduna, its neigbours in the Northwest, Zamfara became a religious enclave where politicians take advantage of the population to milk the commonwealth dry.
It was recently reported that there were only 24 hospitals and 23 orthodox medical doctors among the state’s human population of 3.8 million while the number of out-of-school children is in an alarming proportion making the state one of the most backward in the country.
A state with such low development indices should be under the supervision of committed and focused administrators especially when, in line with the nation’s fiscal structure, statutory allocations were pouring in on monthly basis from a pool of contributions from the rest of the country.Incidentally however, instead of these allocations to be channeled to create a path to growth through physical and human development, there are allegations from many of the stakeholders that the fund were ending up in the private pockets of corrupt politicians while poverty, deprivation, ignorance and disease continue to walk the streets on four legs.
At the outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis disease which killed thousands of residents recently, the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, blamed the scourge on the sins of the people and called on the population to seek repentance from God.While the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) accused the governor of not being proactive in checking the epidemic early enough, hundreds of clerics embarked on cleansing prayers to rid the state and the citizen of sin. Of course the state government sponsored the prayers.
Last month an attack carried out by armed bandits left about 150 persons dead in the sacked villages of Shinkafi, Zurmi, Maradun and Maru local councils while 40 others were kidnapped who were later released after the intervention of the government.During a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari after troops have been drafted to the troubled areas to restore peace, Yari told reporters that the situation had been brought under control.He said, “I believe the troops and other security agencies are doing their best and we will continue as government to give them the support needed to make the operation successful.
“I am rushing back there so that the GOC and myself will visit the troops that are on ground in order to boost their morale. We will be with them throughout the week. In this kind of situation, you have to be with the people in order to show them that you are concerned as a leader.”But one of the critics of the governor, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who represents Zamfara Central District, alleged that rather that stay in the state and take charge of security situation, Yari was always outside doing things that had no bearing with his mandate of governing the people.
Marafa who belongs to the same All Progressives Congress (APC) with Yari, accused the governor of abandoning his duty post while the state was becoming easy targets for armed bandits who kill, maim and abduct. Prior to the Senator’s allegation, the State House of Assembly had accused the governor of “absenteeism” and had actually commenced impeachment proceedings against him.
Members of the all-APC legislature, who said the governor had abandoned governance and refused to see them whenever they wanted to discuss the affairs of state, were however rounded up by operatives of the Department of State Securities (DSS) who arrested the Speaker, Sanusi Rikiji, his Deputy and all the principal officers on allegations of attempting to impeach Yari.
The governor however denied the lawmakers’ allegations saying their grievances against him were only personal, selfish and against public interest.According to him, “There has never been any bill brought to me by the House of Assembly that l did not assent to nor have l ever spent money without their approval,” adding that the lawmakers’ claim that he had refused to see them to discuss matters of public interest was untrue as they refused to follow “the right channel.”
He said, “This failure of the legislators to follow the right channel led to the people of the state to suspect that the lawmakers were planning evil. As members of the same political party, we have always discussed the problems and prospects of our party and proffered solutions.
“At the moment, the only challenge we have is that of security, which we are now adequately addressing with help from the Federal Government.” However as the 2019 elections approach, the political space is being dominated by the rivalry between Yari, who is completing a second term and would want to play a major role in the determination of his successor and Marafa, who many believe is preparing to throw his hat into the ring.
Marafa who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector, has emerged as the most vocal critic of the governor whom he had publicly described as a non-indigene.
The Senator has also accused Yari of spending more time as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) than being the governor of Zamfara State, a development that he said is costing the state so much in socio-economic development.
Although many observers would see it as overkill, Marafa also accused the governor and his Deputy of being the brains behind the incessant attacks of bandits on the state population through the actions of some gangs of armed hoodlums whom he said were on the payroll of Yari and that the people of Zamfara should hold the governor responsible if anything happened to him since his life was being threatened.
In his response however, the governor said Marafa was only playing politics with security of lives of Zamfara people without contributing anything to end the challenges, stressing that he was seeking unnecessary relevance ahead of 2019 elections.
Speaking through a Special Adviser, Alhaji Salisu Isah at a press conference in Kaduna, the governor responded to the alarm raised by the Senator saying, “Yes we are going to kill him politically, we are going to bury his political ambition in 2019. He wants to be governor; he is not going to get it and even the Senate, he is not going to return.
“The Senator displayed his fraudulent character and l made it a duty to respond to these reckless allegations with the view to, among other reasons, let the world know the character of Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa and why he cannot be taken seriously.
”It is irresponsible and cheap blackmail for Senator Marafa to state that Governor Yari and his deputy were responsible for the insecurity in Zamfara State.”Few months to the election, which hopefully would bring the state’s security to the front burner, the electorate is waiting for how the process will increase their quality of lives.
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