The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress in Zamfara state worsened yesterday as Senator Kabiru Marafa Zamfara (Central) called on President Muhammadu Buhari to shelve the presidential rally slated for the state Sunday.
Marafa, who made the call at a press briefing in Abuja, said even without the presidential rally, Zamfara electorate will overwhelmingly vote for President Buhari.
According to him, holding the rally is like dignifying Governor Abdulaziz Yari who, he said is the architect of the crisis rocking the party in the state.
“I will do everything possible to convince Mr. President not to go for the presidential rally slated for Gusau in Zamfara state on Sunday. And if I failed in achieving that, it means my faction of the APC in the state will hold a separate rally for the president.
“The Zamfara people are overwhelmingly in support of President Buhari but majority of them who are with my faction of the party will not attend a rally where the governor would be part of, being the architect of the crisis rocking the party in the state as a result of illegal primary elections he conducted,” he said.
He commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for standing by its earlier position on the rejection of Zamfara APC candidates.
INEC’s decision, Marafa said, showed the commission was not doing the bidding of any of the parties involved in the intra-party squabble.
He said: “From the beginning, the commission took a weighty but truthful position on the Zamfara APC primaries logjam, despite the fact that our party is the ruling political party.
“The development has shown that the commission will conduct credible, fair and transparent polls. We are urging the commission to always stand by the truth, no matter who is involved.”
He however said APC could still field candidates in Zamfara if their prayers before the Appeal Court in Sokoto were granted.
“We are very optimistic that a fresh window to conduct primaries opposed by Yari, will by God grace be granted by the Appeal Court,” he said.
Yari vows no election if…
Meanwhile, Governor Yari has said no political party will participate in the forthcoming election if INEC did not allow APC to field candidates. .
The governor said this yesterday at the stakeholders’ meeting in Gusau while reacting to the recent decision by INEC to stand its ground on the Zamafara APC. .
He said arrangements had been concluded to ensure all candidates presented by the state headquarters of the party to national headquarters of APC were accepted by INEC for the polls.
“Zamfara, since the inception of democracy in 1999 has been the APC state and we will not allow any other opposition party to take advantage of next elections in the state,” Yari said.
He said, already the lists of Zamfara candidates had been submitted by the national headquarters of APC to INEC national headquarters for confirmation.
“We are still waiting for the final outcome from INEC and we have no doubt, APC will contest for the next elections in Zamfara state God willing,” Yari said.
Governor Yari then enjoined members and supporters of the party to remain calm and desist from anything that could cause unrest during campaign, elections and beyond.
He said his administration had concluded all arrangement to receive President Buhari, who will visit Zamfara state next Sunday as part of his ongoing nationwide electioneering.
The governor cautioned party members, particularly youths in the state to eschew any form of thuggery that could disrupt the presidential campaign.
Governorship aspirants fault INEC
And in a related development, a coalition of eight governorship aspirants from the state has faulted INEC’s decision to stop Zamfara APC from contesting elections.
Addressing a press conference on behalf of the coalition, tagged G8, one of the aspirants, Alhaji Aminu Sani Jaji, said his party complied with laid down rules and regulations in the choice of its flag bearers.
Jaji, who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence, said the resolve by INEC to heed the ruling of the Abuja Federal High court was a step in the right direction.
Jaji said INEC should know that APC settled for the option of a consensus arrangement after series of efforts to conduct the party primary using both the direct and indirect mode but failed to yield results.
He said: “The APC had a consensus arrangement that was very clear. We had three options — direct, indirect and consensus; and we settled for consensus so as not to lose participation. Our own stand is the party did the right thing.
“That is what the party’s constitution says. There was no primary election in Zamfara and we all know this as a fact. INEC sent its officials who attested to that. INEC officials are also in the know of our consensus arrangement endorsed by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC).”
While calling on their teeming supporters to exercise restraint, he expressed optimism that the Court of Appeal would surely deliver a favourable ruling on the appeal filed by members of his group before the 12th of February.
He also said Zamfara state remained an APC controlled state, adding President Buhari would win the poll come February 16 presidential election in the state.
Speaking on the development, APC National Publicity Secretary Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu said the party would continue to take steps to meet up with requirements of the electoral umpire legally.
“What it thus means is that it is not over and then we will continue to take steps. We are very certain, we did the right thing. The primaries held, INEC was not satisfied with that but it is our right to field candidates and we would follow up on all the legal means to ensure that our candidates stand for elections in this 2019 general elections in Zamfara, same situation for Rivers.
“It also shows for people who are discerning to ask that question, this supposed to be the APC that INEC is or ought to be working for? And this is what we are going through in the hands of INEC that PDP has repeatedly claimed is put in place to rig elections for APC.
“May I remind all of us, that we had primaries in Zamfara which was affected by conflicts but the process allows for three different options. You could go for indirect which is an electoral college, you could go with direct that allows every card member of the party to vote for their chosen candidates and then thirdly, you go by consensus. We have the right under the constitution to exhaust these options. We did so.”
Our stand remains -INEC
INEC, had in a statement Wednesday by its National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Barrister Festus Okoye said, ” The commission has decided to maintain its original position that the party in question did not conduct primaries; therefore, in line with Section 87 of the Electoral Act of 2010 (as amended), not eligible to field candidates”.