Following the stalemate over the submission of candidates’ list to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) in Zamfara State, other political parties are cashing in on the situation. The INEC said it would not allow the APC field candidates in the 2019 general elections.
The parties are said to be either forming alliances or reaching out to the electorate to push forward their manifestoes for an alternative government in the state.
The INEC had informed the ruling APC in a leaked memo that it would not be allowed to field candidates for elective positions in Zamfara in the 2019 elections, a position it has stood by.
The commission’s acting secretary, Okechukwe Ndeche, had, in a letter to the APC, said the party was barred from fielding candidates for governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections because the ruling party failed to comply with sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act of 2010.
Parties, according to the Electoral Act, were expected to comply with the timetable and schedule of the INEC, which says that the conduct of primaries must be held between August 18 and October 7.
The commission said it received reports from its Zamfara office, indicating that no primaries were conducted in the state, notwithstanding that its officials were fully mobilised and deployed.
Although the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, later responded in a statement, saying that the party had already arrived at a consensus before the deadline, the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, insisted on their earlier position on the matter.
Oshiomhole had said that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threats of violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau to find a truce.
“After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party. This was done in strict compliance with Section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended),” he reportedly said, adding that the claim by the INEC that no primaries were conducted could only be referring to its officials’ observation that actual voting did not take place.
However, speaking at the sideline of the opening of a two-day validation workshop titled, “Study on the cost of elections in ECOWAS Region” in Abuja, Yakubu reportedly said: “We have issued a statement on Zamfara and nothing has changed. We stand by the statement we issued.
As the fate of the ruling APC in Zamfara hangs in the balance with regards to fielding candidates in the 2019 elections, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that other political parties are taking advantage of the situation to gain political strength.
Chieftains of some of the so-called ‘smaller’ political parties who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday said they had embarked on massive mobilisation of their members and the electorate in Zamfara State to consider voting their parties to occupy the coveted seats.
The national chairman of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), who is also the standard bearer for Zamfara governorship election, Senator Sa’idu Dansadau, said the party leadership had embarked on a house-to-house mobilisation exercise to the PDP and other political parties in the state to woo their support in order to win the governorship seat.
“The crisis in APC has made us to reinforce what we have been doing – reaching out to all political parties and relevant stakeholders for a common front to tackle the challenges in Zamfara State. Our primary aim is to return Zamfara to its traditional status of trade/commerce and agriculture. We want to make agriculture more lucrative than oil and gas.
“Already our leaders have embarked on a house-to-house mobilisation exercise, meeting with the PDP and other parties to achieve this purpose,” Dansadau said.
He said that apart from the house-to-house approach, the party had also initiated daily town hall meetings with trade unions, professional groups and religious leaders, which continued up to September 1, 2018.
While ruling out the possibility of ceding their governorship party to the APC, Dansadau, however, said the NRM in the state was ready to welcome aspirants from other political parties vying for other political positions.
“We have scheduled a meeting with the G-8 of the APC and would be willing to give them some tickets. But the governorship ticket is a no-go- area,” he said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State also said it was taking advantage of the situation in the APC to take over the state.
A former chairman of the party in the state, Senator Hassan Mohammed Gusau, said the party was anchoring its mobilisation on the insecurity situation that had bedeviled the state to woo the electorate to its side.
He said the ruling party had approached the PDP to offer them their governorship ticket, but they declined because “this is a no-go-area.”
He, however, said they were into negotiations with the APC and other political parties, but their agreement depends on acceptable conditions.
The governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the state, Badamasi Bello, said the uncertain situation in the APC presented them with a great opportunity to take over the governorship of the state.
Bello, who is also the state chairman of the ADC, said the party was not leaving anything to chance towards ensuring victory in the governorship election.
“We are going to the grassroots to enlighten our members so that we ensure victory. And we are not ruling out the possibility of alliance with other political parties, including the APC,” he said.
He, however, said the ADC had no plan to give out its governorship ticket to the APC or any other party because, according to him, “We are ready to take over the state.”
But the state chairman of Green Party, Yusuf Sani, said it would be a welcome development if the APC approached them for their governorship ticket.
“If they have a good candidate that would deliver democracy dividends, we may substitute, but none of them has approached us yet”, he said.
Sani said that following the disagreements that trailed the first two governorship primaries of the APC in the state, some of its members defected to the Green Party, two of which were given National Assembly tickets while one was given a State Assembly ticket.
Apart from the governorship position, some of the ‘smaller’ political parties conducted primaries for other offices, including National Assembly seats and are said to be battle-ready for elections into those positions.
The Peoples Democratic Party in Zamfara State has produced three senatorial candidates and all the seven
House of Representatives tickets through consensus. The immediate past PDP chairman, Senator Nasiha, who clinched the party’s ticket for Zamfara central senatorial zone, told Daily Trust on Sunday that all the flag-bearers were produced through peaceful consensus.
In Zamfara North, Senator Sahabi Yau Kaura got the ticket, and in Zamfara West, Alhaji Abu Makau Damri is the candidate, while in Zamfara Central senatorial zone, Senator Hassan Nasiha will fly the flag of the party.
In the House of Representatives, the flag-bearers are Bakura/ Maradun, Atiku Mohammed, Maru / Bungudu, Shehu Ahmed, Gusau/ Tsafe, Kabiru Amadu, Anka / Talata Mafara, Kabiru Yahaya, Gummi Bukkuyum, Junaidu Muhammad.
Others are Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji, Sani Umar Dan Galadima, and Shinkafi/ Zurmi, Alhaji Bello Hassan.
In the same vein, the ADC has also fielded their candidates for other elective positions. In the Senate, Alhaji Misbahu Bello Gusau is ADC’s candidate for Zamfara Central, Mukhtar Abdullah Birnin Magaji for Zamfara North and Abubakar Wakili Talata Mafara.
For the federal constituencies, the candidates are Abdurrahaman Iliyasu, Gusau/Tsafe, Hassan Abubakar, Bungudu / Maru , Rabiu Hamisu, Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji, Muhammad Bature,Zurmi Shinkafi, Shayau Musa Anka , Anka / Talata Mafara, Umar Jibo Bakura, Bakura/Maradun.
The National Rescue Movement has also fielded candidates in various positions, including Alhaji Abdullahi Lokojo Anka , Zamfara West. Dr Na Allah Isah Mayana, Zamfara Central, Alhaji Isah Ahmed Moriki, Zamfara North.
In the federal constituencies, the NRM has Bello Idris Galadi, Aminu Isah Sakajiki, Kaura Namoda /Birnin Magaji, Bashir Muhammad, Gusau / Tsafe, Hon. Bala Muhammad Dansadau, Maru/Bungudu, Murtala Umar,Gummi Bukuyyum.
How Zamfara APC gubernatorial primaries were stalemated
Daily Trust on Sunday recalls that internal wrangling between nine governorship aspirants in the state led to an unsuccessful conduct of primary elections for governorship, national and state assemblies.
The battle for the ticket was between the state government-backed commissioner for finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris and eight others known as G-8, which comprised Senator Kabiru Marafa, the state deputy governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad, the defence chief, Brigadier General Mansur Dan Ali (retd) and Alhaji Sagir Hamidu Gusau.
Others are former Governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, Alhaji Abu Magaji, a federal lawmaker representing Kaura Namoda/ BirninMagaji constituency Alhaji Sani Jaji and Alhaji Dauda Lawal Dare.
The governorship primary election in the state earlier slated for October 3 was marred by widespread violence and alleged voter intimidation, resulting to its cancellation midway by the National Working Committee of the party.
Apart from incomplete election materials, especially ballot papers that had reportedly hampered the smooth conduct of the October 3 primary election in the state, there were allegations of irregularities and imperfections that had made the Abubakar Fari-led election panel to recommend the cancellation of the exercise, which was ratified by the NWC of the party.
However, the APC in the state had rejected the cancellation and vowed to conclude the exercise and announce the results. Less than a week after the election was cancelled the party chairman in the state, Alhaji Lawali M. Liman declared Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris as winner of the governorship primary election.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari was also returned as the winner of Zamfara West senatorial zone primary election in the state with 166,610 votes.
Earlier disagreements between the committee sent by the national headquarters of the party, Governor Abdulaziz Yari and the nine other aspirants known as Group 8 on the other hand, stemmed from the party guidelines. Governor Abdulaziz Yari had accused the election panel sent to conduct the October 3 election of jettisoning the party guidelines.
On October 5, Governor Yari sounded another warning against resending the Abubakar Fari-led committee that earlier conducted the botched election, accusing them of bias and compromise.
Consequently, the national secretariat of the party rescheduled the APC governorship primary election in the state to October 7 and constituted another committee headed by Major-General Abubakar Mustapha Gana (retd).
But, despite the October 7 deadline by the INEC on resolving all disputes, the exercise could not hold, owing to another disagreement on voters register. The disagreement led to a free-for-all fight at the venue of the meeting in City King Hotel, with supporters of aspirants reportedly attacking one another.
Following the expiration of its deadline, the Independent National Electoral Commission wielded the big stick by writing a memo to the national headquarters of the APC, telling them that they could not field candidates in Zamfara in the 2019 elections.
However, the party had replied the INEC, saying that a consensus was reached between the aspirants and they would submit their names to them.
The matter assumed a legal dimension last week as a Zamfara State High Court issued an interim order restraining the APC and INEC from disqualifying the party’s candidates from the state for the 2019 elections.
This followed a suit filed by three executive members of the APC in the state – the chairman of the party in Gusau Local Government Area, Babangida Abdullahi; his counterpart in Tsafe Local Government Area, Kabiru Chafe, and Sanusi Dan-Alhaji.
Justice Mukhtar issued an order of interim injunction ordering the APC, the party’s North-West zonal chairman and INEC to “maintain the status quo as at the time the plaintiffs filed the suit on October 8, 2018”, which was not objected by their counsel.
But the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the court did not ask electoral umpire to accept the list of candidates from Zamfara State. He said the court asked all parties to “maintain the status quo,” which according to him, implied that INEC’s decision stood.
“We have seen the court order and it doesn’t change anything. The court said we should maintain the status quo; and what is the status quo? The status quo is that as far as the INEC is concerned, the deadline for the conduct of primaries elapsed and Zamfara has no list. That is the status quo.
“So, when the hearing begins, they can begin to argue why we should accept any list or not, but the status quo is that the deadline elapsed and the APC did not conduct primaries because submitting a list is different from conducting primaries.”
“You cannot generate a list without conducting primaries. The status quo is that the INEC had said there was no conduct of primaries in Zamfara State within the stipulated timeframe, so the APC cannot submit a list to the INEC. That is the status quo as long as INEC is concerned,” Rotimi reportedly said.
As the deadline for the submission of the names of the candidates for presidential and National Assembly elections lapsed on Thursday, there is still uncertainty over the status of candidates from Zamfara State.