STATE OF NATION TODAY ........The shame of Zamfara’s zig-zag
By Louis Odion, FNGE
The old squirrel, according to an ancient Edo riddle, habitually sips from the gourd of iniquities. His lineage is forbidden from eating the palm kernel near its warren. But out of ancestral curse, the duplicitous mammal soon finds himself in an abominable web. Not only is he caught mating a neighbour’s maiden, he, forever triggered by opium-fueled phallus, is also found romancing her menopausal mother. Shattered by the unthinkable tale and another shock discovery of the infernal powder, his much-besotted psychedelic bride flees abroad with a broken heart.
Then, the wrinkled squirrel is left to gnash his scanty teeth smeared with opium, more in mortal dread of his darkest secret being uncovered by the entire community.
It will hardly be difficult to recognize the sepulchral footprints of the proverbial squirrel in the political farce currently unfolding in Zamfara State. Taboo committed by a few evil men have brought dark plaques to the acclaimed “Home of Agricultural Products”. The fruit of a seed sown in ethical quicksand is surely fated to be bitter indeed.
Now, just like the fabled squirrel, the ruling APC in Zamfara increasingly faces the prospects of losing its bride - power, by default. At least, going by the Appeal Court judgement of last week voiding the candidature of all its candidates in the March 9 polls in one fell swoop.
Indeed, no clairvoyance was needed to foretell the sorry outcome of last week. The story we heard originally was that no valid primaries held in Zamfara ab initio. Afraid of democracy even though masquerading as democrat, Governor Abdulaziz Yari wanted the process of producing the candidate to be by affirmation - a euphemism for imposition.
His arch rival, Kabiru Marafa, chair of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), preferred direct primaries. Enter a stalemate. When Yari, who had already built a reputation as an absentee governor, later brought a list to INEC the commission understandably refused to accept it not only on the grounds that no valid primaries held, but also that the deadline for its submission had already lapsed.
So, when a counter-narrative later surfaced barely a week to the March 9 polls that the embattled Governor Yari’s anointed would vie for Zamfara governorship on the strength of a sudden curious judgement by a Zamfara court, many were left wondering whether it was Yari’s widely televised threat to ensure those initially standing in his way at the national secretariat of the ruling party end up in body bags or the power of the now ubiquitous dollars that did the magic.
But let no one lose sight of where precisely the rain began to beat Zamfara in the present circumstance. The bungled primaries of last October by the ruling party actually set off the wider circus where courts in Gusau, Abuja and Sokoto later found themselves fabricating and issuing conflicting orders eventuating in last week's political novelty in which the supposed "winner by landslide" of the March 9 governorship polls will, alas, not be handed the trophy - the certificate of return.
Overall, the political mess Zamfara now presents underscores partly the failure of party leadership. When his presidential campaign train stopped in Gusau on February 11, President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed the confidence that the crisis would be resolved before the election. But apparently, the usually aloof PMB underestimated the magnitude of the problem or over-trusted the competence of his underlings to fix things.
Following a judgement on February 13 by the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal dismissing one of the appeals on the ground that the appellant had filed an application of withdrawal, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, entered what would seem a last-minute, self-serving order by asking INEC to postpone the elections in Zamfara (originally scheduled to begin on February 16).
On the whole, we will never know how much dollars exchanged hands under the table over the Zamfara ticket such that those who ought to tell the truth became tongue-tied.
However, Zamfara is not the only state where the party self-destructed following what appears the collapse of moral authority by the party leadership. The ghost also haunted Imo. In Bauchi, the oxygen mask wangled from the fortuitous “inconclusivity” declared by INEC on March 9 turned out to be grossly inadequate to save APC from being asphyxiated by its own self-contradictions in last week’s re-run.
The same virus of dollars is easily cited as one of the reasons the party lost Adamawa. Exasperated beyond self-restraint by the shenanigans that transpired in her own home state, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, dismissed it as a bazaar quite unprecedented in scale and obscenity.
To begin with, it is a big shame that a certified political leper could be shepherding APC in Zamfara. In saner climes, Yari’s voice should not be heard in this season at all. He is certainly leaving Zamfara worse than he met it in 2011. Even by elementary development indicators like access to portable water, basic education and primary healthcare, the state has remained at the nadir. To say nothing about widespread insecurity with bandits’ murderous siege unabating; such that even the governor himself was sufficiently shaken enough to infamously offer to vacate power recently if that would appease the marauding murderers.
Neither is there any redeeming feature at personal level. Yari’s garment is undoubtedly soiled indelibly from what a court of competent jurisdiction declared the primitive looting of the state exchequer. In 2017 for example, it was established that a princely sum of N500m looted from Zamfara’s share of the Paris Fund refund was used to offset Yari’s personal loan obtained from First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited.
Apart from that, an Abuja Federal High Court ordered an interim forfeiture of another $500,000 looted from the Paris refund earlier made by the Federal Government to states as part of a creative measure to bail them out of financial difficulty. Apart from First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, the name of the other conduit linked to Yari in the pillage was Gosh Projects Limited.
To be sure, let it however be stressed that the excoriation of Yari’s leadership deficit here is not to make a case for his rival, Marafa, who seems to betray a carnal desperation for power. From experience, desperate politicians are not to be trusted. If the true motivation is service, you don’t begin to act or sound as though your life depended on being elected into power.
In what evoked the memory of the biblical claimant to the disputed baby before King Solomon’s court, Marafa, by action, did not seem to care if APC was completely decapitated in Zamfara. Like the vulgar “mother” before King Solomon, Marafa had begun to gloat over APC’s defenestration before the curious judgement restating the party few days to the elections. He seems too obsessed with the governor’s perch that he was willing to bury his party and state if the prize eluded him.
Now, unless the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, the door is already left ajar technically for the runner-up in the March 9 polls (PDP) to simply approach the court for a consequential order to be declared winner of the elections in place of the feuding APC.
A classic example of a self-inflicted perdition by political prodigals.