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Zamfara: Yari, Matawalle rift deepens

The frosty relationship between former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his successor, Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has continued to deepen.

The two politicians have been trading words and making uncomplimentary remarks, thus, heightening political tension in the state.

Former Governor Yari since he left office has been holding series of political meetings in his residence in Talata Mafara area of the state.

Political pundits said such frequent meetings were part of his strategies and preparations ahead of the 2023 election.

“You know Governor Bello Matawalle is usually irked by such meetings and has been rebuking his predecessor by linking the meetings with bandits’ attacks in the state. Matawalle has been alleging that banditry resurfaces whenever Yari visits the state and holds meetings in his home town,” a political pundit said.

Matawalle has threatened to stop ex governor Yari from coming to the state.

But such threats have not gone down well with Yari and his camp.

At a recent press conference held by former commissioners who served under Governor Yari, they came hard on Matawalle’s administration in Zamfara.

Few days after the press conference, one of the arrow heads, Alhaji Ibrahim Dan Maliki Gidan Goga was arrested and charged to court over alleged public incitements.

In the same vein, another commissioner under Yari, Alhaji Bello Dankande Gamji was also arrested and jailed on charges bordering on conspiracy, aiding and abetting cattle theft.

Ex governor Yari’s loyalists have described the arrests and detention of their members as politically motivated, undemocratic and an attempt to muzzle opposition in the state.

The state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Lawali Liman, lamented that its members who were arrested were being denied bail despite efforts made by their lawyers.

One of our members, Ukashatu Abubakar Gusau was arrested at his business premises and taken to a Sharia court in Samaru, on allegation that he shared a story link and commented on it on his Facebook account.

“This is a democracy; every good citizens of the country is free to express his opinions. Former Governor Abdulaziz Yari had never arrested or jailed any one because of a dissenting political opinion.  He tolerated opposition to the admiration of every one,” Liman said.

He said the rule of law should be respected and called on the federal government, security agencies, especially the police, the media, civil society organizations and other democratic institutions to take note of the illegal actions of the Zamfara State PDP-led government.

One issue that brought the sour relationship between ex-Governor Yari and Governor Matawalle to limelight was when the former wrote a letter to the latter demanding for his pension that accrued for months to be paid.

The letter was leaked and went viral and soon, the state assembly repealed the law allowing for the ‘jumbo pay’ for ex political office holders including governor, deputy governor, speaker and deputy speaker.

After repealing the law, the Speaker of the state assembly, Alhaji Nasiru Magarya brought it to Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle and he assented to it immediately.

The assent sealed the fate of former Governor Yari from receiving Jumbo pension packages.

Then, came politics of defections. While former Governor Yari has been trying hard to retain his loyalists largely through holding regular meetings to keep their hopes alive, Governor Bello Matawalle on the other hand has been making frantic efforts to woo such politicians to his side.

“Of course, Governor Bello Matawalle has succeeded in wooing some politicians from Yari’s camp to his side. Some of them included former deputy governor Mukhtar Ahmad Anka; former Governor Yari’s commissioner, Alhaji Abdullahi Gurbin Bore and former Speaker Bature Sambo,” a political observer said.

The latest gale of defection that hit Yari’s camp was that of local government chairmen; about eight council chairmen out of 14 elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under Yari have decamped to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to join forces with Matawalle.

The local government council chairmen who joined the ruling PDP in Zamfara State include;  the ALGON Chairman in the state who is the Birnin Magaji Local Government council chairman, Alh Muhammadu Umar; Maru Local Government Council chairman, Alh Salisu Isah Dangulbi; Bukkuyum Local Government Council Chairman, Alh Nasiru Zarumi Masamar Mudi; Anka Local Government Council Chairman, Alh Ahmed Balarabe Anka.

Others are Kaura Namoda Local Government Council Chairman, Alh Lawali Abdullahi; Maradun Local Government Council Chairman, Alhaji Shehu Muhammad Faru;  Bungudu Local Government Council Chairman, Alhaji Abdulaziz Ahmed Nahuche and Tsafe Local Government Council Chairman,  Alh Aminu Mudi Tsafe.

The council chairmen announced their defection shortly after a meeting with Governor Matawallen in Sokoto State recently.

The Executive Chairman of Anka Local Government Council, Alh Ahmed Balarabe Anka, said their decision to join the ruling PDP in the state was as a result of Governor Matawalle’s leadership style in restoring peace and tranquility in all parts of the state within a short period of time.

He said the political stability, unity and peaceful coexistence witnessed during the first 100 days of Matawalle in office was an indication of his sterling leadership qualities.

According to him, they defected to the PDP alongside thousands of their supporters and assured of their readiness to rally round the administration of Matawalle so as to take the state to an enviable position.

However, an APC chieftain in the state told Daily Trust on Sunday that the council chairmen, their deputies and councillors decided to leave the APC after ‘heavy monetary inducements’ were allegedly offered them by the governor.

The rift between Yari and Matawalle took another dimension as the state Urban and Regional Planning Board (ZUREPB) demolished a building the APC said was their party headquarters in Maradun local government, which is the hometown of Governor Matawalle.

However, the chairman of the ZUREPB  Alhaji Samaila Umaru Sambo dismissed the allegation, saying that they did not demolish any party’s office but an illegally erected structure belonging to one individual.

“For quite a long time, there have been complaints even from residents that the structure was illegally built and we served him with notice to come to our office to rectify the matter but he did not. So, as far as we are concerned, the structure is not a party office, he said.

As the faceoff lingers, Governor Matawalle last Wednesday tackled Yari, describing him as “clown and a pathetic loser” in the political arena of the state and the country in general.

Matawalle was responding to what he called “uncomplimentary remarks against him and series of blackmail allegedly engineered by  former Governor Yari against his administration.

The governor spoke when about 55,000 party men led by Alhaji Abdullahi Mai Yar kwama from Gummi local government and Alhaji Dambo from Bakura local government area were received into the PDP.

He warned his predecessor to keep his distance from his administration or face his political wrath. “You have been busy going round high  places, blackmailing my administration because you are still not sensible enough to accept the will of Allah,” the governor said.

Matawalle described the defection of the nine local government chairmen in the state from the APC to PDP as their personal choice, adding that  if he had wanted to force the chairmen to join his own party, he would have done that long ago.

“I have worked amicably with these chairmen for nine months now and still, there are others who are yet to join my party. I call on any chairman to announce to the world if I forced him to join my party,” he said.

However, the Vice chairman of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Alhaji Sani Gwamna Mayanchi claimed that  Matawalle didn’t win election in Zamfara State but came by providence,unlike his predecessor, Yari who he said  won governorship elections two times and ruled the state for eight years.

“Governor Matawalle must accept this painful fact that ex-governor Yari remains his boss in politics because, when Matawalle was appointed commissioner, Yari was the party chairman. Who is the boss between an appointee and a party chairman? This is not to say that he should not be respected; being the executive governor of the state, he is the leader of all people in the state now,” he said.

As it stands, watchers of the political terrain in the state are of the opinions that political muscles would continue to be flexed in battles of supremacy between Yari and Matawalle, and would most likely reach its peak in 2023.

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