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Zamfara APC and the INEC endgame

INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu

If you love drama, you would love the situation with the Zamfara chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 elections. The stay-away governor of the state, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, had obviously wanted to anoint a successor to continue with his “good works” (pardon the sad irony) but the national chapter of the party, saddled with the responsibility of conducting party primaries, was not on the same page with him. With the ensuing confusion and the November 9, 2018 deadline approaching for the submission of the name of the candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the national body decided to resort to the choice of a consensus candidate as enshrined in its constitution.

Most of the aspirants decided to back Mallam Dauda Lawal, a former Executive Director of First Bank Plc, as the consensus candidate. Pronto, the APC picked him. He filled INEC forms CF001 and CF002 which were submitted to the electoral body by APC. INEC said it was not going to accept Lawal and candidates for National Assembly positions because APC did not conduct primaries, although the party insisted it followed its constitution in picking the consensus candidates. The APC headed to the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking that INEC be compelled to accept its list of candidates. Not to be outdone, Yari’s associates also headed to the High Court, predictably in Gusau, the state capital.

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While all this drama was making the headlines, some powerful interests in Zamfara allegedly decided to employ the services of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stop the nomination of Mallam Dauda Lawal. A case that many thought was settled, dead and buried since 2016 was brought back to life. Lawal was arrested and detained for a while but was not charged to court. This was after his lawyer had also been arrested and detained for failing to produce his client on demand. The last we heard was that the case had been adjourned till March. We may be allowed to speculate that the cries of political interference got to EFCC in the process.

There was yet another drama. Middle of January, the two high courts ruled at the same time. While the court in Abuja upheld the decision of INEC not to accept APC’s candidates based on the reasons the electoral umpire gave, the one in Gusau asked INEC to accept the list, but with a caveat: it must be the list prepared by Yari and his associates. Unfortunately, though, it is the National Working Committee, not the state chapter, that conducts primaries. More so, APC had already submitted Mallam Lawal’s name to INEC as its flag bearer in the governorship election. The party also submitted Lawal’s completed INEC Forms CF001 and CF002.

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Ordinarily, if any court is going to ask INEC to accept APC’s candidates, it should be the list already submitted by the party. This was as far back as November 2018.  The only impediment then was that INEC did not accept the consensus arrangement. It is the same argument INEC made in the case of Rivers state, although a Court of Appeal has now waded in and, from every indication, APC will be allowed to field candidates in the end. However, how the Gusau court arrived at its own list is still a subject of bewilderment. Maybe not. By the ruling of the state High Court, Yari would also be an APC senatorial candidate to continue his “good works”. It has all the fine attributes of drama.

Unfortunately, we talk about the drama of Zamfara when we should be discussing the tragedy of a state that was once a shining light but has now become a laughing stock among its peers. Zamfara that used to be a home of hardworking and peaceful people has now been turned into a den of bandits as a result of maladministration. When Nigerians hear the word “Zamfara” today, it is not comedy that comes to their hearts. It is tragedy. The tragedy that unfolded in the last eight years when the state was afflicted with Yari as its governor. Zamfara has become to the North-West when Borno is to the North-East. Nigeria’s seventh largest state has become a big problem to the federation in almost all indices of human and economic development.

In 2017, when Type C Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis hit the state, the governor said it was as result of fornication. Without trying to be sarcastic, one can say that fornication had been going on in Zamfara state before Yari was born. It is worthy of note that it was during his tenure that God decided to punish the people for it. If anything, it says more about Yari than the fornicators. This is to even ignore the fact that most of the victims of the meningitis who might never have known what fornication meant before they were taken away in their early years. The real fornicators were busy mismanaging public funds and buying up property all over the world. They were not affected by the “divine punishment” for fornication.

You may need to read Yari’s tragic words again: “What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the ‘type A virus’ which had been tackled through vaccinations by the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccine. People have turned away from God and He has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow,’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned. There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured. The most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right.” I honestly did not add one word to this. That is how tragic the Zamfara case has played out.

Whatever the case may turn out to be, it is not in the interest of Zamfara as a state and APC as a party for Yari and his collaborators to continue their “works”. Except the courts rule otherwise, APC should be allowed to field the candidates whose names it has already submitted to INEC. As we have seen in the Rivers case, INEC’s stand that APC will not field candidates in Zamfara may not stand. Zamfara shall be free!

Ahmed is the publicity secretary of Zamfara Redemption Movement.

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