2023: The cracks in Zamfara PDP

As the 2023 general elections draw close, Nigeria’s main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is rocked by endless internal squabbles. However, the party was able to conduct one of the most rancour-free elective national conventions in October 2021, chaired by the Adamawa state governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, which produced Senator. Iyorchia Ayu as the party’s national chairman.

But unlike the October 2021 elective convention, the May 2022 presidential primaries of the PDP were conducted in gloomy circumstances as other candidates felt aggrieved and became enraged. Nigeria’s former Vice President and 2019 PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, won the party’s primaries polling 371 votes. He defeated his main rival, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state who scored 237 votes.

In a last-minute permutation and what seems to be the promotion of regional agenda by the northern block of the party, the Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state climbed up the podium and overtly withdrew from the contest and asked delegates who intended to vote for him, to vote for Atiku. Tambuwal’s solidarity with Atiku and the North didn’t go down well with Wike and other governors from the southern part of the country. Since then, there have been crossfire by the seeming warring factions of the party with Wike and his camp dissipating unsavoury statements which worsen the situation by the day.

In fact, the crisis in PDP at the national level lingers with Wike, backed by some southern leaders of the party criticising the presidential candidate for not prevailing on the party’s national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, who’s also from the north to resign. Wike and his co-travellers have on several occasions claimed that Mr Ayu had promised to relinquish his seat for a southerner in the event that a northerner clinches the party’s ticket but reneged after Atiku’s emergence.

As the PDP boils at the centre, some states are also battling pockets of intra-party glitches threatening the successful outing of the party in the upcoming general elections. And one of such states is Zamfara. The Zamfara state PDP’s ill-fated expedition towards the 2023 general elections began in late June, 2021 when Governor Bello Matawalle put to an end the prolonged speculations of his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, by formally decamping in a magnificent event attended by 11 APC governors, ministers, senators and House of Representatives members from the ruling party.

This singular decision by Matawalle preludes the end of the PDP in Zamfara state, bringing the foremost and prominent stakeholders in the state, including three former governors; Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, Mahmud Shinkafi, and Abdul’Aziz Yari, the immediate past governor of the state to the APC. It’s indeed a threatening and overwhelming formation against the already belittled PDP.

Evidently, the PDP has been jittered and suddenly went to court to stop Matawalle’s defection, but the Federal High Court sitting in Gusau on February 7, 2022, affirmed Matawalle’s decision. Not submitting to the will of God, the visibly disorganised PDP approached the Court of Appeal seeking to reverse the earlier judgment. In its judgment last July, 2022, the Appeal Court ruled in favour of Governor Matawalle, the appeal was therefore dismissed and the judgment of the Federal High Court, Gusau, delivered on the same matter, was affirmed.

Lately, the PDP was stricken with misfortune as the Federal High Court in Gusau, Zamfara state, nullified its governorship primaries that produced Dauda Lawan-Dare as the party’s governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections in the state. On Friday, 16th September, 2022, Justice Aminu Bappah-Aliyu, ordered that the PDP should immediately conduct fresh governorship primaries. It would be recalled that, three aspirants, who are plaintiffs in the suit -Dr. Ibrahim Shehu-Gusau, Alhaji Wadat Madawaki, and Hafiz Muhammad -sought the nullification of the primaries over alleged irregularities.

APC under the leadership of Governor Matawalle, the contrary is the case in the opposition PDP, signposting the besmirched future of the PDP in Zamfara state. A member of the party, Ahmad Magaji, told newsmen in Gusau after the recent court judgment that nullified the party’s primary election that brought in Dauda Lawal Dare as its governorship candidate, that from all indications, the party will be going into the 2023 contest unprepared. Magaji said the lingering internal crisis in the party in the state was becoming irrepressible, saying that the situation has been so terrible that the party dangles from one crisis to the other.

In more revelations, another member, Ibrahim Abubakar, also lamented that the cracks on the walls of the party have paralyzed PDP, stressing that in Zamfara state, the party is divided and there is no secret that the APC is having serious political problems.

Today, most of the members of the party are gradually defecting to the APC and the party is becoming stronger by the day. Matawalle has been working round the clock and providing critical infrastructure across the nooks and crannies of the state while curtailing the prevailing and ravaging insecurity caused by the marauding bandits, kidnappers, and cattle rustlers.

As we head to the 2023 general elections, the coast is becoming clearer for the APC and Governor Matawalle.

Bashir writes from Abuja.

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