Zamfara: Why APC must wield big stick against Marafa
Senator Kabir Garba Marafa has become a loose cannon, a bull in a China shop, destroying everything in its wake. But, his eccentricity manifests only when his interests are at stake. In such instances, therefore, the spirit of collectivism in him dies.
This obsessively self-absorbed disposition cost his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Zamfara State in the last governorship election where he was an aspirant. Marafa defied all entreaties by the national secretariat of the party to work towards a consensus for the flag bearer to emerge. With over-exaggerated perceptions of his popularity, he dared the status quo and threw his hat in the race. Of course, he lost the primary, and instead of accepting defeat, he dragged the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court challenging the validity of the primary.
On May 24, the Supreme Court annulled the governorship primary and all the primaries of the APC in Zamfara and invalidated the election of all APC candidates in the 2019 general elections in the state. The apex court ruled that the votes received by the APC in the 2019 polls were void because it did not present candidates at the elections having failed to conduct the valid primary. In the end, the party became the ultimate loser due “clearly” to Marafa’s egocentric attitude because, despite APC’s Mukhtar Shehu Idris polling 67.41 per cent of the votes to defeat PDP’s Bello Mohammed Matawalle who got 23.89 per cent, the PDP came out victorious.
APC, which held sway in the state for many years suddenly became an opposition with its fortunes dwindling over time. It took the ingenuity of the party’s caretaker committee headed by Mai Mala Buni and some governors elected on its platform to convince Gov Matawalle, the key beneficiary of the Zamfara logjam, to defect to its fold. And even at that, Marafa and his co-travellers nearly bungled the effort midway by challenging the decision and giving conditions on the matter.
The altercation delayed the formal defection of Matawalle until the national leadership of APC had to assert its authority. Marafa and co questioned the right of the party’s caretaker committee to announce Matawalle as the leader of the party in the state thereby creating needless discontent within the party’s hierarchy and putting the state in the spotlight again for the wrong reason.
Despite the affronts, the national secretariat in its bid to mend fences and stop further cracks in the party was reluctant to activate the disciplinary mechanism against the senator for “disobedience” to its many directives and rules.
Emboldened by the kid gloves treatment, Marafa went amok again over issues surrounding the party congresses in his home state, disparaging the party and its national officials. So when the national secretariat decided to reschedule the ward congresses, the circumstances were well understood and appreciated. The party clarified that it had to shift the congresses based on intelligence bordering on security.
However, after evaluation of the situation and consultations with stakeholders, the party gave the nod for the congresses to take place.
But, in his characteristic manner, Marafa went to town with different tales, brandishing the party’s internal administrative correspondence, which had no bearing on the issue at hand. In any case, the congresses took place and Marafa, true to his standing, went against the party by holding a parallel exercise. In doing so he had to break away from the marriage of convenience he went into with former Governor Abdulaziz Yari who decided to opt-out of the congresses. And when the national secretariat said it would not recognise the outcome of any parallel congress, the senator went haywire; attacking not just the party leadership, but the personality of the caretaker Chairman, Buni.
Marafa questioned the legitimacy of Buni to oversee the affairs of the party while serving as the Executive Governor of Yobe State, a crusade the opposition PDP consistently mounted, but which was put to rest by a Supreme Court justice.
Sen Marafa had said, “Mai Mala Buni’s CECPC is an illegal committee. It cannot conduct anything. Whatever it does is a nullity and it cannot stand in this country. We are going to challenge him on that in court, and I don’t care what anyone will say. Buni looked for my trouble and I will give him 10 times that.”
Senator Marafa even went personal, attacking Buni’s background by querying how “some people who have never gone to school but who God has elevated to certain positions have forgotten how they got to the positions.”
He also went public on how he and Gov El-Rufai of Kaduna State “almost single-handedly, with the help of some people, made Buni the national secretary of the party some years ago.”
Party stakeholders are of the view that this is taking official party issues too far, and many Nigerians have also condemned the senator’s comments.
That Buni could rise to become the national secretary of a 21st Century ruling party, chief executive of a state and trusted with the party’s national caretaker position within a few years despite his “humble” educational background is a feat that should inspire many upcoming politicians and youths.
Come to think of it, Marafa himself, from the available records, does not boast of an inspiring antecedent politically. He was a commissioner for Water Resources before becoming a senator.
It is clear that all the desperation of Marafa is targeted at the Zamfara Government House, a similar seat Buni is occupying in Yobe. And Marafa should know that in the journey of life, everyone needs a rallying point, a helping hand, so aiding Buni up the APC secretariat ladder is normal and not quite extraordinary.
To the APC national leadership, the Marafa situation should serve as a benchmark for the discipline of erring party members for insubordination and other infractions. This is the more reason why the party should come hard on the senator for his audacity to serve as a deterrent to others.