By Tunde Omolehin
In Zamfara today, many critical observers are still wondering how Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle managed the internal crisis in the All Progressives Congress(APC) to form a new leadership in the state. However, the development has not foreclosed concerns about the party’s ability to consolidate power in the state in 2023.
On November 27, 2021, the All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State held its congresses from the ward to the state level amid accolades and loud ovations from party members and supporters.
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The erstwhile opposition party which got a lifeline following the defection of the incumbent governor, Bello Mohammed Matawalle’s to its fold surprised many people when it pulled through its congresses despite the ominous signs of litigations and internal turbulence by two gladiators within the party.
They include erstwhile Senator Kabiru Marafa, and immediate past governor, Abdullaziz Yari. The duo have been embroiled in a battle for the soul of the APC with the governor since he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in June this year to the ruling party.
Daily Sun recalls that prior to Matawalle’s defection to the APC, party’s leadership at the national secretariat had favoured the governor to direct its affairs in the state, but Yari and Marafa would have none of it.
The development however remained a triangular battle between the trio as they could not shift their positions for a common ground. Several efforts by party stakeholders to reconcile the three leaders have been unsuccessful.
Political analysts had expressed concerns about the party’s ability to organise a peaceful congress, as mandated by the party’s hierarchy in Abuja ahead of the national convention in February, 2022 as well as its smooth forthcoming governorship election where the incumbent will be seeking reelection.
However, the party pulled a surprise and staged what many described as its most successful exercise considering the ominous signs of supremacy battles among the party’s stakeholders in the state.
The Congress which was held at Trade Fair center, Gusau, was attended by the governor, Speaker, House of Assembly, serving lawmakers among other party’s bigwigs in the state.
However, former governor Yari and Senator Marafa were absent during the exercise as reports indicate a parallel congress was organised to counter the party’s ongoing exercise in the state.
The development had also triggered reports in the social media that Yari and Marafa had joined the PDP following the intervention of a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
But reacting, Marafa said: “we are senior engineers and architects in the project team that designed, built and maintained APC from inception to date.
“This is the wishful thinking of the minions parading themselves as the new owners of APC today. We are senior engineers and architects in the project team that designed, built and maintained APC from the beginning to date.”
Despite the intrigues, the congress was conducted with Alhaji Tukur Danfulani and 35 others adopted as the newly elected executive members of the party for the four years term.
Speaking shortly after the congress, Chairman of the electoral committee of the party sent by the national headquarters, Ibrahim Kabir Masari described the exercise as one of the best, peaceful and credible exercises.
Masari, who announced the new leadership by consensus, urged the new executive of the party in Zamfara to close ranks, support the party’s unity and remain law abiding. He also charged them to always pray for the successful tenure of President Buhari and governor Bello Matawalle in order to move the party ahead.
In his address of solidarity and support to the new elected party leaders, Governor Matawalle described the Congress as divine intervention for unity, peace and cohesion among APC supporters and people of Zamfara State.
He commended the efforts of the national leadership toward ensuring the setting of a solid structure of the party in the state devoid of crisis and misunderstanding.
The governor also commended the committee for the smooth conduct of a credible congress starting from wards, local government and now at state levels. Matawalle advised newly elected leaders on the important aspect of reconciliations, peace and the needs for prudence and transparency among all members of the party in discharging their assignment.
He however assured them of all the needed support and cooperation towards achieving their target goals. “We will work together with you in peace and understanding so as to move our great party into greatness; we must adhere to the rules and regulations governing the affairs of this great party in order to get much support ahead”, the governor said.
In his acceptance speech, the newly elected chairman of the party, Alhaji Tukur Danfulani promised to carry everyone along for the development and greatness of the party, and survival of democracy.
He assured that they will be loyal to the governor as the recognized leader of the party and support his zeal in providing essential service and development of the people of Zamfara State.
He prayed for peace and the end of the security challenges facing the state and region in general.
Majority of the party supporters in an interview with Daily Sun expressed joy and commended the national Secretariat of the APC for not interfering with the guidelines and arrangements for the congresses in the state.
He charged members to remain united, stressing that no meaningful development could be achieved democratically where absence of unity is the order of the day among politicians. “We shall strive to build the party for its victory come 2023 not only in Zamfara state but the country at large,” Danfulani said.
A delegate, Sani Maigadi from Galadinma ward of Talata Mafara Local Government Area of the state, commended Governor Matawalle for ensuring a transparent and rancour-free exercise. “This Congress is one of the best so far in the state. We appreciate His Excellency for ensuring a united APC. There was no imposition and the conduct was peaceful”, he said.
The Women Leader of Galadinma ward, Hajia Husseina Talata Mafara said APC has emerged a formidable party since the emergence of Governor Bello as the party’s leader in the state while the Sole Administrator, Talata Mafara local government council, Dahiru Maiyara also commended party members for a rancour free ward congress across the local government.
Dahiru however admonished the newly elected party leaders to be transparent and carry party members in running the affairs of the party. However, there are concerns on how the party would manage its post-congress issues ahead of the forthcoming general elections in the state.
Pundits however suggest an irreversible step with wide implications for the party if the internal power-play continues while others believe that Matawalle’s consolidation approach will strengthen the party in the future elections in the state.
On June 11, 2021, Governor Matawalle defected from the PDP to the APC leaving behind his Deputy-Governor in the PDP. Since then, all hell has been let loose in the PDP which has insisted that by reason of his defection, the governor should vacate his office and that the Deputy-Governor should take his place.
But speaking after his defection at a rally in Gusau, Matawalle said he had been nursing the ambition of leaving his party, PDP, for several reasons.
He declared that his main reason for dumping the PDP was to join Buhari in the fight against insurgency.
The governor explained that the president had been supporting him by deploying military operatives to the state, saying that he was not compelled by anyone to defect to the APC.
However, he did not pretend that he came as a big fish who should be in charge of the party in the state.
He said: “I am now the leader of APC in Zamfara State and I am ready to work with each and everyone wishing to contribute to the rapid development of the state.”
The APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, had immediately congratulated Matawalle for defecting to the party, saying the governor was now the leader of APC in Zamfara State.
He also immediately announced the dissolution of the state’s APC caretaker committee.
In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari had explained that the impressive performance of the APC at all levels of government was responsible for the defection of Governor Matawalle from the PDP to the ruling APC.
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