Yari, Marafa’s truce and Zamfara APC’s insurgent politics
When the chairman of All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Governor Mai Mala Buni, announced with glee that the crisis in the party’s Zamfara State chapter has been resolved, it came as a huge relief.
The battle for control of the Zamfara APC structure between former governor Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa devastated, the party and ultimately led to its loss of the state to the erstwhile opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While Yari preferred his former Commissioner for Finance, Mukhtar Shehu Idris, to succeed him, Senator Marafa, who had been nursing the same ambition, fought against what he described as ill-advised imposition.
At the height of the cat and mouse relationship between the former governor and Marafa, the Senator had drawn the attention of Nigerians to the growing insecurity in the state, even as he accused Yari of encouraging bandits to hold court as alternative government.
The push and pull continued through to the party’s governorship primary and Yari deployed the full force of the power of incumbency to ensure that his former commissioner, Idris, emerged as APC’s standard bearer for the 2019 election.
However, Senator Marafa and his group had queried the rationale of using the indirect selection method instead of direct primary based on the existence of factions. The court case lingered till few hours to May 29, 2019, when Idris, who had attended the APC retreat for newly elected officials at the Presidency, was stoped by the Supreme Court ruling that APC did not field candidates for the General Election.
That judgment came as a triumph for the Marafa group, because apart from annulling Idris’ anticipated inauguration, Yari’s Senatorial hope was also dashed.
So, having thrown away the broom and blue flag of APC, the apex court ruling foisted the umbrella for Governor Matawalle to set up government as the second PDP state in the entire Northwest geopolitical zone in addition to Sokoto.
AS things turned out, both the Yari and Marafa camps found themselves together in unexpected opposition. And, having found themselves in the losers’ assembly, both camps became sober, even as the Yari group continued to blame the displaced former APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for the big political misfortune that befell them.
It was against that backdrop that the Buni committee decided to intervene, believing that having been sobered by their political circumstances, the two warring factions could see reason to give peace a chance.
The CECPC waded in at a time speculations were rife that the incumbent governor, who is a big beneficiary from the Zamfara APC crisis, was planning to rejoin APC and douse the factional fight similar to what Governor Dave Umahi did in Ebonyi State.
But, perhaps, as one of the insiders that shaped APC, Governor Buni set his mind to rebuilding the broken walls of the Zamfara chapter, by reaching out to the two contending parties, Yari and Marafa.
That efforts paid off a fortnight ago. At the reconciliation meeting at the party’s national secretariat, which the former governor and Senator attended, stakeholders reminded the gladiators that their differences energised the loss of all the elective positions in the state.
Basking in the pain of that unwarranted loss of their base, Yari and Marafa saw need to close ranks and work for a political future for the state.
Buni, who was elated by the new development, told journalists gleefully that “today, we are able to achieve reconciliation of our stakeholders in Zamfara State.”
While remarking that the reconciliation of Yari and Marafa extends to the entire Zamfara APC, the caretaker chairman, who was the immediate past national secretary of the party, described the reconciliation as a milestone for the Caretaker Committee.
Yari, in his remarks, said his coming together with Marafa was paramount to the future success of APC in the state. His words: “We have built this party from zero level to where we are and Zamfara has ever remained ANPP – APC state. What led to that success was our coming together. So, that togetherness is what we’re working to achieve in the future and this is the starting point.”
On his part, Marafa noted that reconciliation was an integral part of every human endeavour. Without identifying Yari by name, Marafa added: “We are all human and we make mistakes and when mistakes happen, it is left to you to use it, either as a source of strength or weakness.
“I hope our own mistake will serve as a source of strength for all of us and for APC itself especially and the country in general.”
Fervent Or Fractured Resolution
WAS the reconciliation symbolic or genuine and realistic gesture for a united march forward? Although Yari insisted that the reconciliation is real, his assertion that the most important thing was to reunite and avoid repetition waved the flag of cautious optimism.
There are indicators that many hurdles pave the way against the Yari and Marafa’s resolve “to come together to achieve a target and go and bring back our party to limelight in the state and also to maintain the centre.”
It is therefore possible that the subsequent meeting by the rival leaders in Kaduna State was convened to iron out whatever differences that linger. At the meeting, which held at the Stonehedge Hotel, Kaduna, supporters of Yari and Marafa attended in their numbers, including APC stakeholders from Zamfara, particularly former governor Mamuda Aliyu Shinkaffi.
A six months’ monitoring period was handed out to evaluate the reconciliation. Other resolutions reached at the Kaduna meeting, include the call on Marafa faction to withdraw all pending cases in court, which the Senator conceded to and unanimous agreement for Yari to lead the party until a proposed meeting, where only both leaders are expected to attend.
The real test of the reconciliation lies through the balance of aspirations by the two men. Sources hint that while Yari nurses the ambition to become the national chairman of APC, Marafa and his group do not feel comfortable with that.
Moreover, it appears that Senator Marafa would shelve his governorship aspiration. The cross ambition might provide a new opening for fresh frictions. That is ostensibly because of apprehensions in the Marafa camp that even if Yari accepts to trade off Idris in the 2023 governorship for his chairmanship chase, a replay of Oshiomhole versus Godwin Obaseki could become Marafa’s undoing in Zamfara
But, given that the APC convention would come before the 2023 election, the Marafa camp is said to be banking on the hope that the chairmanship would be zoned to the North Central, so that Yari would not have the upper hand during calculations for who gets what in the build up to 2023.
SPECULATIONS that incumbent governor Matawalle Bello of Zamfara State might defect to APC gained currency following two developments in the polity. First, at the point where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) elected to buy gold from the state, some South/South governors on the same platform as the governor cried foul. The governors rued the seeming double standard by the CBN, arguing that while petroleum proceeds from their region go into the national coffers, Zamfara’s gold is counted as the state’s wealth.
Not long after that beef from his brother PDP governors, chairman of Southeast Governors’ Forum, Engineer Dave Umahi, crossed over to APC citing unfair treatment of his zone by PDP. Matawalle’s decision to congratulate Umahi, as well as the tone of his congratulatory message, strengthened the impression that it was only a question of time before the Zamfara governor toes a similar path.
In the midst of speculations about a possible Matawalle’s defection, some APC stakeholders in the state indicated their readiness to receive the governor, noting that he was one of them until impunity reared its head in the party.
It was gathered that that positive disposition of some APC faithful in the state spurred both camps of Yari and Marafa to sink their differences out of fear that Matawalle’s entry could bury their political future.
As part of their apprehension, Yari opened up a window of attack against the governor, warning him against politicizing issues of security in the state. While Yari hurled his criticism on Matawalle’s governance style, the governor’s aides descended on the former governor recalling how he prodded the state lawmakers to hand him a humongous monetary and logistic gifts as pension from the state’s treasury.
Other APC governors, including Governor Ahmad El Rufai of Kaduna State, in apparent show of solidarity for Yari, mounted vitriolic attacks on Matawalle’s leadership, especially his amnesty and mediation in banditry menace in Northwest.
With time, the issue of insecurity in the zone became a political tool, not minding that Marafa actually accused Yari of empowering the bandits and holing himself in Abuja. Yet, the APC stakeholders felt that Matawalle’s closeness to the bandits could make things rough for the party during subsequent elections.
Matawalle’s dialogue and carrot approach to dousing the activities of bandits became a major target from the APC, even as Governors El Rufai and Abubakar Bello of Niger State, decried the idea of negotiating with bandits, especially ransom payments.
The APC governors were inflamed the more when Matawalle played some roles in the release of abducted Kankara students. They saw the Zamfara governor’s intervention as a subtle way of being a governor general of Northwest.
It was in the midst of the recriminations that Jangebe School abduction happened, which gave the impression that Matawalle’s gestures to the bandits is not efficacious.
If there was any hope that Matawalle would join APC, that window closed permanently after the Jangebe Schoolgirls’ abduction. Peeved by the development, President Muhammadu Buhari, handed out the shoot at sight order to the security agencies in addition to designating Zamfara as a no-fly zone.
Although the twin measures were aimed at arresting the creeping anarchy in the state caused by the cycle of abductions and attacks, Matawalle and PDP felt that it was meant as a prelude to declaring a state of emergency in the state.
Matawalle saw through the intervention and blamed partisan politics on the attempts by some politicians to make the state ungovernable for him and his party.
The governor was to astound Nigerians when shortly after the release of the Jangebe Schoolgirls; he alleged that some politicians actually propelled the abduction of the students.
No comments yet