Sabotage of APC congresses targeted at Buhari — Marafa


Senator Kabiru Marafa
An All Progressives Congress member, representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Kabiru Marafa, discusses the political and security crises rocking the party in the state in this interview with LEKE BAIYEWU


Is the security crisis in Zamfara State caused by armed herdsmen or militia?

I have said this on the floor of the Senate before. As long as Nigerians fail to unite and give those people the name they deserve, we will continue to have problems. If we continue to refer to them as herdsmen, we would only be causing more confusion because Nigeria is multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-tribal. So, when you say Hausa men or Igbo men or Yoruba men or Ijaw men or Nupe men, they will feel it is an insult to them. So, calling them herdsmen is only compounding the issue and it will be convenient for them to continue to operate that way because we will start fighting each other. When you tell me that it is your brother that is killing my people, I will tell you that it is a lie, and soon, we will fight over it. Why not call them by their name? Whenever those criminals are arrested, go there and you will see your own sons and daughters among them who are not Fulani. So, it is not about Fulani, it is about criminals. Whichever religion or tribe they belong to, let us call them their names for who they really are.

President Muhammadu Buhari has visited Zamfara and the military has been deployed in the area. Has the situation changed?

Every action taken by the government is shrouded in hypocrisy. When you zoom in on the pictures of the criminals, you will see that they are carrying about locally-produced weapons which I complained about a long time ago. I have said it that my fear about what is happening in Zamfara is that our young people are being militarised and radicalised. Self-defence is a natural instinct in human beings; it is natural. There is just no way somebody will come and assault you, and you will fold your arms and look at the person. If you do it, the next person will not do it. The chances are that out of 10 people, only one person may fold his or her arms while being assaulted or killed. So, people are devising means and ways of protecting themselves because what I saw last Saturday revealed the real problem confronting the people.

For instance, all the security personnel in the state were drafted to Gusau to cordon off the entire capital city just because a political party is holding congresses. Everywhere was blocked. Before I left that day, I saw about 20 Hilux pick-up vans loaded with different security men just because Senator (Kabiru) Marafa was there and must be stopped from casting his vote or allow his people to have their way.

All the guns you see that the state government assembled to say that they have recovered weapons were the locally-produced ones. The bandits have the sophisticated weapons. When you look at these weapons, the criminals have armed themselves, carrying out their dastardly act in broad daylight now. On the 8th of this month (May) after the ward and local government congresses, a village was attacked which is not more than 40 kilometres away from Gusau. Not even a traffic warden, up till today, was drafted there. Even yesterday, I spoke to the head of the village. However, more than 200 policemen, including the mobile force commander, was around in Gusau to tear gas me and arrest the security man attached to me and to stop me from carrying out my political activities at the local government area headquarters. The event that took place on that day was by my party and I am an APC person but look at the massive deployment of security forces. The military personnel moved round blaring siren in the town as if there was a declaration of war.

How much impact does President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Zamfara have on the security situation in the state?

It has an impact. I always give the example of Benue State. Look at what Benue is doing, they keep talking. When the President went there, they told him what the problem was. The President asked the Inspector-General of Police to go there. That is how to lead. After that, they were talking about what is going on and the Federal Government kept responding. In our own case, there is a massive cover-up by the government. They don’t want anybody to hear about it because in his own native intelligence, he (the governor, Abdulaziz Yari) feels he is already a national figure and that if these things are brought to the limelight, it will be like a failure on this part.

Why do you think the governor would think like that?

The governor believes that as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, people will wonder why he cannot administer a small state like Zamfara forgetting that security issues goes beyond that.

What is your assessment of the APC congresses held in Zamfara?

After looking at the whole congresses, the way it started, what the party did and everything, to me, there is a massive conspiracy against the party and against the leader of the party – I mean the President of the country. A party is organising a congress, if you look at the first scenario, some people just came up with the idea of one-year tenure extension for members of the National Working Committee. The President was advised that the extension was illegal and that it would portend a serious problem to the success of the party. The President stood his ground and said we should go for elective congresses or consensus where possible. The party came up with guidelines on how these congresses should be conducted, but the same party that produced these guidelines was the first to break the rules. In one of the clauses in the guidelines, they said forms should be filled and returned within 24 hours, but the NWC did not even meet with the congress committees until Thursday evening. The committees started going to their stations (states) on Friday. The party said if you are desirous of contesting any position, pay your monies into these accounts. They gave out seven accounts with an instruction that certain amount should be paid in order to collect forms which should be returned latest 12 hours before the election (congress). Now, they did two things: they did not give the committees the forms to go to the states with and there was no clear 24 hours to collect the form, fill it and return it. The whole thing was like a kind of sabotage, so that this thing will become rancorous and there will be parallel congresses but a set of executive will be established for each state. The whole thing comes to just one thing: sabotage.

Was that why you held parallel congresses in Zamfara too?

We have to hold parallel congresses. We now have two sets of executives, one by the state government and one by me.

Which one is legitimate?

I followed due process from the beginning up till where we are now but the state government did not because they have the security apparatus at their disposal and they use it.

Can you defend your factional congresses and the executives that emerged from them?

I have submitted to the appeal committee full documentation of everything. Now, they will rule. The final arbiter is the NWC. The NWC members are also not too confident. There are some people among them that are desirous of scuttling the processes, thereby endangering the electoral success of the APC. They may rule against me, for instance. One thing I am sure of is that the court will rule in my favour.

The situation is not peculiar to Zamfara as the congresses held in other states have generated controversies. What do you think will happen afterwards?

After the primaries, there will be pre-election cases in different courts, and the courts will definitely do the needful because when you look at the massive evidence against everything, there is just nothing. The governor and his team did not even comply with the provisions of the guideline to pay monies into the accounts, they were simply allocated forms. I paid and my people paid. I have my receipts, I have everything. The net effect, the final result, to me, is that they have long concluded that they cannot beat the President in a normal election. What they are looking for is technical knockout, to plan something that could be challenged in court, which will nullify any election, God forbid, after the election. Unless the party does what is right, unless the leaders at the top look at these things eyeball to eyeball, what are these people up to and who are these people that are doing these things, there is going to be a problem.

Are you opposing Governor Abdulaziz Yari because of the 2019 elections?

It has absolutely nothing to do with the elections. When you are speaking the truth, it does not take too much intelligence to be verified. I want what I have said to be seen from that perspective, not about 2019. Is it the truth or it is a lie? If it is a lie, then, it has something to do with 2019. That means I am saying it to get sympathy from some people. If it is the truth, what has it got to do with election? I have been in this office since 2011. Did I ever call anybody to talk about the problem in Zamfara? No. I did not say anything. Maybe you need to go to Zamfara to find out what my position is politically. I don’t need to paint anybody in a bad light or to say anything bad for me to win election. The people know me and they know who they are voting for. All I am saying is that we have a problem in Zamfara and this problem requires that everyone needs to come to the roundtable and solve it. Otherwise, it has the capacity to consume everybody. If the governor finishes his term today, take it from me, he cannot go back to his village and sleep.

Are you going for another term as a senator or you’re eyeing the governorship of Zamfara?

As far as I am concerned, I have not reached that stage. Several people have talked about it. As you know, politics is in stages. There is an election time and there is also a working time. Now, we are holding party congresses. When I get to the bridge, I will cross it. I will tell people what I am going to do and why.

Punch

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