Senator Kabiru Marafa in this interview with Taye Odewale gives reasons the management of the National Assembly shouldn’t have allowed Zamfara lawmakers-elect to participate in the induction courses organised for the already confirmed lawmakers-elect.
Though the court disqualified Zamfara state APC lawmakers-elect, yet the governor and other elected lawmakers attended the orientation programme organised for newly elected federal lawmakers. What is your take on this?
I may not know because I am not a judicial officer. I cannot seriously comment on that but I think there is a failure from the management of the National Assembly because if you go to the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), you will discover that it put set aside in front of the spaces allocated to the elected senators and House of Representatives members from the state.
Who are the people that allowed the affected persons to enter the venue of the orientation and why? If there are rules, somebody is supposed to enforce those rules. The induction programme is not open to anybody who is not duly qualified to be there.
The management of the National Assembly needs to be asked why they allowed the federal lawmakers from Zamfara state to enter the venue of the orientation programme when their election has been set aside.
It is a show of ignorance on the part of the affected lawmakers because somebody like me could embarrass myself or the people I am representing by attending a function which I know clearly that I am not qualified to attend. I don’t know why they should go there but they have displayed the kind of people they are and the fact that they are so desperate to be what they are not even when the people are saying otherwise.
My concern now is that I want justice. The matter is before the Supreme Court now and I don’t want to comment on it so that I would not be accused of contempt. But clearly they supposed not to have been allowed Governor Abdulaziz Yari as senator- elect from the state and others in the same category from the state to participate in the orientation programme or induction course.
Bandits keep on killing people in your state despite your outcry. How do you feel about it?
I want to start by thanking Nigerians from all walks of life who came out to protest peacefully against the wanton killings and destructions currently taking place in Zamfara state. This has again awakened the national spirit that is inherent in Nigerians. I also commend the federal government for taking some proactive measures that could curtail the problems.
We now have heavy presence of the various security agencies and the military there now. I don’t think a single strategy could be adopted to wipe off the problems. The crisis started several years ago and it will naturally take some time to fully address it.
Many people, especially some of the protesters, believed President Muhammadu Buhari has not shown enough concern on the matter. Do you also think so?
President Muhammadu Buhari actually feels the pains of Zamfara people. I have discussed the issue with him on several occasions at home, in his office, and so many other places. I even went to Zamfara together with him in a rare privilege journey where he had to put on the army uniform after several years of his retirement from the military.
What are your expectations now that the issue has become a national discourse?
What we need to be in place now is for the government at the state level to be serious about the issue. The constant claims by the governor that he had spent huge sums and bought vehicles for the security agents should stop. The governor is not spending his money but that of the Zamfara people. He should rather tell us how much Zamfara had earned between 2011 till date and how much had actually been spent to provide security for the people.
The N15bn that the current government in Zamfara state claimed had been spent on security is a far cry compared to the amount that the officials had spent on themselves and projects they are executing to satisfy certain interests. We want to see some seriousness on the part of the government of Zamfara state. The acting Inspector General of Police travelled to Sokoto state recently to address the security challenges there and all the government functionaries were on hand to receive him but the story was different in Zamfara state when the acting IG went there on the same mission after he left Sokoto.
I wonder why our governor is ruling the state from overseas or from other bigger cities in the country. He was elected to work and live in Zamfara state. He is supposed to be doing the work expected of him constitutionally. Let the people see that he has done his best but that his best is not good enough.
The governor seemed to have been overwhelmed by the situation. Remember he cried out sometimes ago that he had resigned as the chief security officer of the state?
It is not true that there is nothing the governor can do about the security challenges in the state because if his political opponents today did something wrong, he will tell the Commissioner of Police to arrest them and the CP will carry out his orders being the chief security officer of the state. It is when it comes to a serious national issue he will say that he had no control over the CP. I don’t think what he has done is right. The issue in Zamfara right now requires all the efforts and seriousness to solve the problems.
Has the miners heeded the FG’s directive to vacate the state?
First, I wouldn’t know if the miners have left the state because I am not the chief security officer of the state. I am just the representatives of a portion of the state at the federal level so I don’t have the means of finding out whether the miners had left or whether the security agencies had carried out the 48-hour ultimatum given to the miners to pack and go. I, however, believe that the miners would have seen the seriousness exhibited by the federal government and would have left, seeing that it was no longer business as usual.
What is the politics behind the mining activities in Zamfara state?
The mining activity in the state is just one aspect of the problems. I am not privy to the information available to government before it took the decision to chase away the miners but the people are concerned that the rich miners who are exploring very expensive commodity alone in the bushes and remote areas of Zamfara state are unmolested by the bandits. They have never been killed or kidnapped but the criminals are going after the poor villagers, kidnapping and killing them.
Our people want to know the magic behind that. They want to know what the miners are doing that stopped the bandits from attacking them. So, people are saying that there is a nexus between the miners and the bandits. It is, therefore, believed in certain quarters that there is a deliberate attempt by the people who are benefiting from the mining activities to scare the locals so that they won’t pay attention to what they are excavating beneath their soil.
The same scenario is playing out in countries where multinational agencies are exploring solid minerals. They are scaring the locals so that they can have all the areas, free for them to do their business. I am sure the government would have decided to chase the miners away from Zamfara because they are enjoying their activities unmolested but the bandits are going after the poor villagers who had nothing to offer them.
If the bandits are looking for money, the miners possess more money than the poor villagers. Some of the miners sleep freely inside air–conditioned rooms deep inside the bush yet they were not kidnapped, attacked or killed.
What measures are being taken to ensure that the N10bn approved for Zamfara state would actually be spent on the victims who are directly affected by the crisis?
We have asked the executive arm to set up a presidential initiative on Zamfara state so that the body will take care of the money. This is not the first time such body would be set up. We have the presidential initiative on North-east with the government drawing out their operational modalities.
The money is necessary and Nigerians should look at it from the point of view of the fact that it would also help to check the activities of beggars flocking most cities because their needs would be taken care of at home. People, who are displaced and had nowhere to go, would have no option but to start moving into cities to beg. Some able-bodied ones among them could be a tool for anybody to carry out criminal activities. When there is a humanitarian crisis and people are turning a blind eye on it, it won’t take long before it will become everybody’s problems.