By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Controversy is brewing in Zamfara State over the role of the first civilian governor of the state, Alhaji Sani Yerima in the barring of the All Progressives Congress, APC from fielding candidates for all elective positions in the state.
Alhaji Sani Yerima
The controversy is coming in the wake of details of how serving and former political office holders at the federal and state level from the state combined to outwit the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, and the outgoing governor of the state, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari from producing his successor.
The forces which combined under the auspices of the Group of Eight governorship aspirants G8 were able to overwhelm the governor and frustrate him from presenting a successor on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The operations of the group were almost akin to the operation of the Allied Forces, a similar group of governorship aspirants who joined hands to fight the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
The group included the minister of defence, Brig. Gen. Dan Ali (rtd.) the immediate past governor of the state, Mahmood Shinkafi, the outgoing deputy governor, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala Mohammad Liman and Senator Karibu Marafa, APC Zamfara Central.
The alliance also included a retired permanent secretary in the ministry of interior, Alhaji Abu Magaji, a former deputy managing director (north) of First Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Dauda Lawal Dare and a serving member of the House of Representatives, Aminu Sani-Jaji.
All eight aspirants had teamed together to form the G8, a platform through which they checked the governor’s bid to foist his commissioner of finance, Alhaji Mukthar Shehu Idris as his successor.
The party, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC was unable to hold primaries to pick National Assembly and state level candidates for the 2019 General Election before last Sunday’s deadline prescribed by the commission. It was on that basis that the commission barred the party from presenting candidates for the elections.
Controversy is, however, brewing over the failure of elders in the state to intervene in the face of the repeated clashes between the G8 and the governor.
Foremost of the elders in the state is Yerima, the first civilian governor of the state. Yerima almost single-handedly planted Yari as governor after his remarkable experience in being the only one among the 1999 to 2007 set of governors who handed over to his deputy. Mahmood Shinkafi after succeeding Yerima, however, fell out with his former principal, a development that led the new governor to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
Yerima, however, saw to it that Shinkafi did not win re-election as he led the campaign that brought his political disciple, Yari to the Government House from the House of Representatives in 2011.
Though Yerima was seen as the political leader of the state, he has, however, in the last few years progressively laid low. A source said yesterday that the fate that befell the state APC was largely because of lack of elders to guide the party. Yerima who should have played such a role was said to have detached himself, and where not, was seen as having sided with Governor Yari.
“Yerima is also closer to the deputy governor and if given the opportunity would have preferred him to become the next governor of the state, but Governor Yari was determined to foist his commissioner for finance, so he Yerima really could not do anything,” one source privy to the developments disclosed.
“The fact is that what happened in Zamfara could not have happened but for the lack of counsel. There was no one ready to play the role of an elder,” the source added.
With the APC out of the contest, the PDP which had played the role of opposition since the advent of the Fourth Republic is basking at the prospect of for once taking power in the state.