The governor-elect of Zamfara State, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris, has opened up on his relationship with the outgoing governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari. Popularly known as Koguna Gusau, Idris, in this interview spoke on the controversies that trailed his emergence as the candidate of the APC and his relationship with the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Zamfara, Dr. Asmau Maikudi, among others. Excerpt:
Has a date been fixed for your wedding with the daughter of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in Zamfara as being speculated?
I’m already married, I have two wives and eight children. So, I understand what you are talking about.
Islam allows you to marry more than two wives and there are insinuations that you’ve perfected plans for that?
Islam allows me to marry four. In fact, I don’t even know the REC’s name until that story went viral in the social media that I want to marry her daughter. I don’t know anything about the REC, not to talk of her family. Aside on posters, I don’t think the REC has seen me before.
The opposition are alleging that arrangements have been concluded for the marriage immediately after the elections, as a way of rewarding her for manipulating the poll in your favour. What is the true situation?
How can the REC manipulate the result for me when everything is controlled and everybody is seeing what’s happening? The REC cannot give you a ballot paper, if you’re even given, what can you do with it? Results are declared at the polling units and immediately taken to the ward headquarters, where the same results are declared in the open. You go to the local government and subsequently INEC headquarters for the declaration. You can see the open process, so what can the REC do for you under this arrangement? RECs are only there to ensure compliance with the process. The issue of my marriage is just a social media story. I don’t even know if she has a daughter or not.
What are the things that you will do differently in Zamfara besides what is being done now by Governor Abdulaziz Yari?
Well, I’m part of this administration, I will make sure I continue from wherever this government stops. But most importantly is the issue of insecurity; we have to bring new techniques. You know, when you’re fighting insurgency, whatever you do to tackle the menace, they will come up with new tactics. So, we’ll try to be counteractive, we’ll try to be ahead of them instead of waiting for them to strike before we act. That’s what mostly we are doing and that’s the military approach. The military are changing their tactics but it is not good to talk about it on the pages of the newspaper. But, I’m sure in the next few weeks before this administration winds up, people will see another significant change. We have enough soldiers on ground and civilian JTF, they are doing their best.
It’s very unfortunate that guerrilla war is the most difficult war to fight, because you’re not fighting face-to-face with the enemies. You are fighting people that don’t have a particular identity, you don’t know how and when they will strike; you only know their own way of thinking. We’ll do anything that is humanly possible to make sure that we defeat them.
Your anointment by Governor Yari created uproar in the state. Why was he hell-bent on your candidature?
Like what people will always say, it was the stakeholders that anointed me. Look at those that are protesting, one after the other, they are all beneficiaries of anointments. If you take Sen. Marafa, he was anointed. The first time he became a senator the same thing happened, the second time, he never protested. If you take the deputy governor (Ibrahim Wakkala), he was anointed too. If you take Abu Magaji, when the chance for us to get a federal permanent secretary in Zamfara State came up, only a very few people were consulted and out of all his colleagues, he was anointed.
If you take them one after the other, all of them were beneficiaries of anointments. It was because they weren’t the ones that were anointed, that’s why they are protesting. Anointment is a normal thing in politics and it happens everywhere. If you go to Lagos, the candidate was anointed, if you go to Sokoto, the governorship candidates of APC and PDP were anointed. Anywhere you go, it’s anointments.
If not Yari, who’re the stakeholders that anointed you?
The party structures completely endorsed my candidature and up till this minute, none of the party members has come out to fault this fact.
We have two factions of the APC in Zamfara State. Which one of them are you talking about?
There’s no faction in Zamfara APC. The court has said it categorically that there is no faction in Zamfara APC.
In view of the litigations that trailed your party’s primaries, members of the G-8 that fought your emergence are saying that court will remove you before swearing in. How ready are you for this?
That’s their own view. The state High Court has passed judgement and the Federal High Court has endorsed it. So, what are they saying? There is no appeal anywhere that was not quashed. So, we will wait for them, if after the election they go to the tribunal, we have our documents and we have our people.
Most times anointed candidates have problems with their predecessors or god-fathers. We have cases everywhere including here in Zamfara. Are you not afraid that your relationship with Yari will go same way soon?
Everybody will fear that but there are cases that even after the anointment, they maintain the good relationship. If you look at the Kwara State case, Bukola anointed the governor and they are still together. It is possible not to have problems but it also depends on the situation. And if you look at the relationship between Yari and Yarima, the relationship is still good. Yarima anointed Yari.
But there are reports that Yari has retired Yarima. He is not returning to the Senate and his candidate, Ibrahim Wakkala couldn’t get the governorship seat?
Yarima voluntarily gave Yari the Senate seat. He has said this over and over again that he wants to step aside to give Yari the opportunity to go to the Senate.
He has done it for 12 years and he has been a governor for eight years. And he has been occupying elective seat for 20 years and he says he wants to retire for his grandchildren. We are the grandchildren and the Yaris are the children. There is an excellent relationship between Yarima and Yari. That is a good example.
It was reported that Yarima and Yari had an agreement that Yari will take over Yarima’s seat in the Senate, while he (Yarima) well produce Yari’s successor. Why did Yari throw away the pact?
That’s the Wakkala story; there’s no arrangement like that. The arrangement was that when the time comes Yari, Yarima and other stakeholders will seat down to bring the governorship candidate of our party. And that was what happened. Yarima has never come out to say that he didn’t endorse my candidature.
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