The lawmaker representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District, Senator Kabiru Marafa, speaks to LEKE BAIYEWU about the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State
The Independent National Electoral Commission has ruled the All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State out of the 2019 general elections as no primaries were held to field candidates. Is it true that the factions of the APC in the state are now working on consensus candidates?
I think that matter has been laid to rest a long time ago. I have spoken my mind about it. The INEC has spoken its mind. The electoral umpire has said it will not accept any list (after the expiration of the deadline) from Zamfara State and it cited relevant sections in the Electoral Act (as amended). The party equally responded, saying there was a consensus. All I know is that there was never any consensus between anybody as of the close of primaries on Sunday, 7th of October. I am not a lawyer and I don’t know what the lawyers are going to argue, but as far as I am concerned, there was neither any primary held in Zamfara State nor was there any consensus list from the state.
I am not against the APC fielding candidates. In fact, that is what I worked for tirelessly. But then, to now put forward any list on the basis of primaries by anybody is not acceptable. I even said, to a reasonable extent, it is criminal. One of the factions claimed that it conducted primaries and I called that a criminal act because nobody has the powers to conduct primaries other than the National Working Committee of the APC, which delegated its powers to the various committees sent to different states to conduct primaries. Only those committees have the powers to conduct, announce the results or cancel primaries. Anybody who does anything in this regard does so in futility because one cannot place something on nothing.
You were once quoted to have said you could form an alliance with another political party if the APC will not participate in the general elections in Zamfara. Have you concluded plans on that move?
I never said that. Maybe I was quoted out of context. What I said was that people were free (to form alliances). When you say the door of one party is closed, it does not necessarily mean that the doors of other parties are closed. People are free to choose whatever line of action they have. Some might decide to stay in the APC while some can decide to go to other parties and contest if there is room for them.
What are you considering now?
I have not exhausted this option we have in the APC now. I said I am a loyal party member and I will wait until the party comes up with its final position. If it is based on fairness and justice, and it is within our extant laws, I will abide by it. If it is not, then I will make my position known at that time, whether to accept it or not. I will advance my reasons.
Don’t you think that the crisis in Zamfara APC might affect the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari in the state at the presidential poll?
No, it cannot. My reason is not far-fetched. You could see it from the presidential primary in Zamfara. The first exercise we had was the presidential primary and you did not hear anything from Zamfara. The reason is simple – nobody is opposed to Buhari’s candidacy for the APC. There was no rancour. Even though the state government tried to sabotage the process by allocating very small number of votes to the President, you did not hear any opposition because people in all the factions – all of them – are committed to the President. The only complaint we had was that the number of votes were not a reflection of the registered APC members in Zamfara.
Due to the post-primary crises across the states, APC governors are now calling for the removal of the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. Do you think this call is justified?
I agree totally with the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, that when you say ‘governors’, you are just being unfair. Maybe two governors are against him; I agree with him entirely. I don’t know who the other governor is but I know one.
Who is the governor?
I will not be surprised if that governor goes to any length to pull down the APC. Right from the outset, I have reason to say there are fifth columnists in the APC. There are people who are desirous of pulling down the APC, and they are within the party, and they have been working with the opposition all through to this point to ensure that the APC does not work. This is just an extension of their agenda, because calling for the removal of the national chairman at this point is counterproductive. And anybody who attempts to do that is doing a great disservice to our APC. What Oshiomhole and his NWC did in Zamfara, I am fully convinced, was with a very clean mind and within the limits of what is available to him to work with. That is the rule of law. The APC was founded on respect for the rule of law.
There was a court order that said parties should maintain the status quo and should not take any step that could render the litigation before it worthless. Remember that there was a litigation filed by my faction that we felt disenfranchised in the conduct of congresses conducted in May, in which the state government monopolised everything, using the state apparatus – security apparatus – to disenfranchise us. We went to court to challenge the processes. If any of the factions takes any steps or conducts primaries, then it will render the whole litigation useless because the essence is about the primaries. The court, in its wisdom, said ‘maintain status quo’ and nobody should conduct anything. In compliance with the directive, the party did what it was supposed to do. In my candid opinion, they stood on the side of justice, fairness and truth by saying both factions should not take part in this election. The governor, the government, his faction or any other faction should not take part.
I am in total support of what the APC did in Zamfara State. Anybody that is not happy with it is just an opportunist in the corridors of power, using the APC to perpetrate himself in power, and that cannot happen. If you are popular, go and face the people. I don’t think that the calls for Adam’s removal are patriotic; they are selfish and intended to pull down the ruling party and bring about chaos in the party and, maybe, make the party lose the coming national elections. Anybody obscuring that should be dealt with, not only by the party hierarchy or leadership but also by Nigerians. Nigerians are supposed to watch and see. You cannot say you must have your way, you don’t own the party. Part of the problems some of these people have is that they have never belonged to or operated within a truly national party where all the forces are brought to bear on everybody. They are a product of banana parties where they could bend rules and do whatever they wanted to do. Now they are finding it a lot difficult, very difficult or even impossible to operate in a strong party that is well-grounded, rooted and can take decisions.