The former Governor of Zamfara state, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, has accused the state Governor, Bello Matawalle, who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) of fueling the crisis in the party by demanding a-70 per cent takeover of the party structure at all levels.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, Yari accused the Governor Matawalle-led group of going against the subsisting court order by inaugurating membership committee in the state, rather than allowing the decampees, including the governor, to go to their respective wards to enroll in the already existing party register as enshrined in the party constitution.
He said, though negotiations were still ongoing and the existing party structure had agreed to the proposal earlier made by the governor on 50-50 deal, the insistence by the governor on 70 per cent control without recourse to original party members who had built APC to what it is spelt doom.
“You know in this kind of situation, there must be negotiations and renegotiations because that is how it is like Zamfara politics since 1999. It is not like that of Governors Dave Umahi and Ben Ayade of Ebonyi and Cross Rivers States respectively.
“Our case is entirely different, which we are still doing some further negotiation on how best we are going to strike a balance that will be of help to the party and some extent, to the governor.
“The governor came into the party because we believe he wants to win election in 2023 and that is because, from APP to ANPP and now APC, we have never lost any election in Zamfara state and we don’t want the accident that happened in 2019 to repeat itself. So, we have been talking, up to this moment we are now,” Yari said.
He stressed that before the meeting held at the instance of Senator Kabiru Marafa, with the governor in attendance, they had agreed to the proposal of the governor on 50-50 slots for party executive at various levels; but the governor only changed his mind during the meeting last weekend.
“You may recall also that, last weekend, the governor paid a visit to Senator Marafa’s house and in the night I joined them too and we discussed further. He came to discuss how best we can have an excellent deal to strike, whereas, at the initial time, we gave the Committee our proposal with the intent to have a harmonized meeting with his side and our side before he decamped.
“But we could not achieve that because some of the organizers said there was no enough time but they promised that we should make a presentation and it would be executed before anything.
“So, we put together our memorandum and presented to them that this is what we are looking for as a party because we own the party. So we proposed that we shall hold on to 80 per cent while we relinquish 20 per cent to them, while we also expected he should relinquish 20 per cent of his government (cabinet and other appointments) to us too, while he holds on to the remaining 80 per cent. That was the proposal we gave to them.
“But in negotiation, the Governor said why not agree on 50-50 so that you can have more people to work together and plan and we were convinced. So, we agreed with the submission of the Governor and we said, no problem.
“We now came down from our initial proposal of 80-20 and agreed on 50-50 but we are going to hold the chairmanship to our side because anybody who shall emerge from us as chairman would be more competitive because of our larger followers. His people can come and start learning what we are doing so we take off.
“But when he visited Senator Marafa, he told me he wants to take 70 per cent t and I said you want to take 70 per cent tof the party? I don’t know who you are going to give it to because we know ourselves and who is going to do the work at the grassroots and if these people that are winning the elections a long time ago, if you offend them, they will eventually leave the party and abandon us and the party will go nowhere.
“Let us, therefore, agree on what the Governor suggested earlier which is 50-50 then we take the Chairman and continue. Any other negotiations can be made along the line, including his 2023 ambition.
“So, that was the purpose of his coming to Marafa and me and he remains adamant on 70-30. So, we promised him we would have a meeting with our people and discuss it. Yesterday, we met, up till 10 pm and today we continued from 4 o’clock till now,” Yari added.
On the composition of membership committee by the Matawalle camp, the ex-governor said, it would amount to contempt of court or working against the party constitution if the original party register at the ward level is tampered with.
“The membership committee when they went to Gusau, he made a pronouncement that he, the Chairman and Caretaker Committee, dissolved the ward, local government and state executives of the party, which Marafa and I called him to order that he would be going against the constitution as it does not empower him to do that.
“So, some of the executives of the party concerned went to court and challenged the pronouncement and the court issued an order that status quo should remain. The order is still valid, it is still with us.
“There is no provision in the constitution that if a new member enters the party, they should condemn the register and dismiss the old members that have registered. So, we said, the party should only open the old register and allow those who joined the party or are willing to join the party, to come and register.
“So, what they did yesterday is against the subsisting order of the court and it is a clear contempt of the court and the party cannot grow with such impunity.
“We welcome the development that he came to us and we discussed and the path of discussion continues and when he responds at a later time, we would know whether he has accepted the deal or there is need for adjustment.
“I have said it earlier, Zamfara is not Ebonyi or Cross Rivers States. We are traditionally APC and we are strong people. Even the President cannot deny the power and strength of Zamfara people, because, in all his political life, he has never lost elections in Zamafara state,” Yari stressed.