By Ikra Aliyu Bilbis
The unfortunate situation the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Zamfara State has found itself requires the intervention of critical stakeholders and leaders of the APC, otherwise all the years of toil and sacrifice made to build the chapter to be one of the most formidable in the country would be lost.
I say this with all sense of responsibility, given my deep knowledge of how the party birthed at the national level and became accepted by the people of Zamfara and sufficiently aware of those whose contributions have strengthened and fortified the party to the level that it does not lose a single seat in all elections in the state!
But events in the recent past have called for a review of how the affairs of the party is being conducted in Zamfara State, leading to strife, disorder and formation of factions, which culminated in a purported ward congress of the APC in the state.
It is however instructive that after the purported ward congress, one of the leading members of the party, Senator Kabiru Marafa, has come out to challenge the legality of the exercise, describing it as ‘dead on arrival.’
Senator Marafa drew his conclusions based on the fact that the rules guiding the conduct of congresses were not adhere to.
As he pointed out, the APC, by holding the ward congress in Zamfara, is in material breach of key provisions of the Constitution of of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the APC Constitution.
This is because Section 85 of the Electoral Act made it mandatory that INEC must be given a notice of 21 days before holding a congress, a process which was not adhered to by the APC in the case of Zamfara State.
The flouting of the laws portends grave danger for the APC as any process emanating from that can be challenged in court and the APC will be the loser again if that should happen.
Even more frightening is the legality of holding a congress in defiance to a court order suspending all activities of the party at levels in the state.
It is well known that some members of the APC in Zamfara State are in court, challenging the dissolution of the executive committee of the party in the state and the court, while hearing the case, has suspended all activities of the party at all levels in the state, pending the determination of the case.
But without waiting for the determination of the case, the APC called for a congress, which processes started last Saturday, with only the faction led by Governor Bello Matawalle and a few others participating.
The faction led by the former Governor AbdulAziz Yari, has refused to take part in the exercise in deference to the court order restraining the party from holding any activity in the state pending the determination of the case before it.
Though the Marafa-led faction participated in the congress, it is also not in agreement with the conduct and has called for a halt to the processes and is even threatening to challenge it in court if the process continues.
But the Matawalle faction, enabled by the chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Committee of the party, Mai Mala Buni, is carrying on with impunity.
This, however is most unfortunate, as the national leadership of the party should be seen to be on the side of law and order, rather than on a divisive and chaotic cause that will not augur well for the party.
It is clear that some forces are ganging up to use the instrument of the party to pursue their selfish aims and to go at certain leaders of the party in Zamfara, whom they perceive as threats to their ambitions.
In Abuja, there are those who want to get at former Governor Yari, simply because of the overwhelming clamour by well meaning leaders and members of the APC nationwide for him to contest the national chairmanship of the APC, while in Zamfara, there are those who realising they are not popular with the people, want to create chaos in the state so that they can use the resultant mayhem to perpetrate electoral fraud that will return them to office.
It is these two combined forces that are responsible for the seeming commotion in the Zamfara State chapter of the APC.
But unlike those who joined the APC only recently, former Governor Yari has been a foundational leader and the major force for the growth of the APC, both at the national level and in Zamfara State.
As the then chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Yari’s leadership inspired the confidence of many of his colleagues to see hope in the formation of the party.
As governor, he was able to win the hearts of the people of Zamfara with his populist programmes and resolve to transform the state for the better.
His grassroots reach and passion for human capital development has remained unassailable in the history of Zamfara, and that is why the people of the state love him and have absolute confidence in his leadership and do not hesitate to align with his political choice.
He is unlike some of the current political leaders in Zamfara and other states, who hardly stay in their respective states, but are either in Abuja pursuing their political interests ahead of 2023, or globetrotting in search of elusive investors.
Like their colleague in Zamfara, some of the governors behind the APC crisis in Zamfara have left the affairs of their states unattended to and are not doing enough to better the lot of the people in their states.
Clearly, Governor Matawalle has not been acting in ways that suggest he has the interest of the APC at heart, that some of us are even suspecting he was brought to the party to destroy it.
It was in order to pave the way for him that the duly elected exco of the party in the state was dissolved, which has brought further litigation and division to the party.
The governor hardly calls nor attend to party functions while he is always travelling out of the country in the guise of looking for investors.
These have led to the suspicion that the governor is deliberately inflicting pains on the people as a way of getting back at them for rejecting him at the polls, when he contested for governor in 2019 on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Leaders of the APC must therefore listen to what Senator Marafa is saying and call Buni to order before he uses Matawalle to completely destroy the APC in Zamfara State.
The party can do this by constituting a board of trustees which can run the affairs of the party, since Buni is showing that he is incapable of being just and objective to all members.
Or it can allow the other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party take charge till a substantive national chairman is elected.
Yobe State Governor Buni needs to be excused from the acting national chairman position so he can go and look after Yobe State, which is his constitutionally assigned responsibility, since the task of combining governance and running the APC appears too much for him.
While his other colleague governors, who are behind the crisis in the Zamfara APC, must be reminded in clear terms, that their constitutional responsibilities is to their respective states and their people; hence they should go back and serve their people, instead of meddling in the affairs of the party at the national level, which is out of their basic functions as governors.
•Bilbis, a former Minister of State for Information and Communication, writes from Zamfara.