BY UMAR FAROUK, IFEANYI CHUKWU NWANNAH
Former Governor Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi has finally dumped PDP for APC with some of his former cabinet members to realize his second term ambition as the Zamfara State Governor. If Shinkafi popularly called MAS eventually succeeded in 2019, he will be governor for eight years. His former boss, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima had serve for eight years while incumbent Governor Abdul’aziz Yari Abubakar will reach his eight years limit term in May 2019.
Even though MAS has eventually returned to his former party after his political miscalculation of dumping his old party to the PDP as a sitting governor the nagging question in the minds of the excited people Zamfara State that troupe in their thousands in solidarity of the former governor during his formal declaration is that has MAS receive the blessing and endorsement of the state’s political heavyweight, Senator Yerima and Governor Yari whom are often regarded as the doyen of Zamfara politics?
Political pundits who spoke to DESERT HERALD weekly are of the view that Shinkafi may be wasting his time if particularly Senator Yarima did not support his return to the ruling party. Those that are privy to Yerima said he is a political jug nut who no politician can understand his decision until the final whistle is blown while Yari’s support as an incumbent governor is crucial for MAS in getting the gubernatorial ticket of the party in the state.
According to them, Yerima is a political maradona who knows how to play the political game at the dying minutes and that he has built his political dynasty which they said nobody in the State so far shows the capacity to pull it down.
They recalled that certain instances have happened many times in the past especially when he promised Honourable Bello Matawalle that he would support him to become the State Governor in 2011 only to dump him and threw his weight behind Abdul’aziz Yari, and eventually work towards ousting a sitting governor, MAS from office. That betrayal of Bello Matawalle made the later to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They contended that Yarima knows fully well how to play the game more than anybody in the Sharia State. Continuing, they noted that former Governor Shinkafi may be wasting his time by relying on the Senator simply because he had promised to work with him to realize his second term ambition.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming support and goodwill MAS has throughout the state getting the APC’s guber ticket will be a Herculean for him according to pundits if he did not reconcile with the two political power brokers in the state. While others have confirmed to this paper that Sen. Yarima has since endorsed the defection and candidature of his former deputy governor, MAS in 2019, some are skeptical and considers the Yariman Bakura as highly unpredictable and cunning. Shinkafi’s popularity and approval ratings is enough for him to win the 2019 gubernatorial ticket convincingly and with whoever he contested with but the politics of securing the party’s ticket which is being determine by party delegates most of whom under the payroll of Mr. Yari is what MAS must work on by giving sincere and convincing commitment to Yarima and Yari. But the Buhari factor can also turns in his favour if the president became convince about his candidature.
According to pundits, Shinkafi can as well become a consensus candidate of the party if Yarima did not implore his political gimmicks against MAS during politicking. His suppirters said even if that fails Shinkafi should slug it out with any party in the 2019 election. By all standard, MAS is a respected front line politician, a fait accompli who suppose to be any party’s battle axe for governorship election even if the likes of Governor Abdul’aziz Yari will be deploying the power of incumbency to the advantage of anybody he may be backing in the quest for who controls the political soul of the Sharia State.
To some that didn’t know the behind the scene politics that might have prompted MAS to decamp to the APC and probably thought he did not consult with his former boss, Yarima before decamping wondered how Shinkafi who was the deputy to the former Governor Yarima for eight years and later the State Governor for four years would have defected to APC without Yarima who is christened the doyen of Zamfara politics and leader of APC in the State could not register his presence at the venue nor sent any representative to grace the occasion.
Political observers pointed out that most of the former Governors of APC who are very powerful in their various states but have cases with the anti-graft commissions are threatening to dump APC if the APC led Federal Government refuses to withdraw and thwart the charges of corruption against them, Senator Yarima inclusive, pointing out that Shinkafi would not have horridly decamped when the whole atmosphere is still very cloudy and uncertain.
According to them, former Governor Shinkafi wouldn’t have relied on the promises of Governor Abdul’aziz Yari if he has made any arguing that apart from the advantage of being incumbent, Yari is now very unpopular in Zamfara and cannot determine the outcome of any free and fair election in the State. But with enormous resources at his disposal others believed Yari remains a force that can determine the destiny of the state in 2019.
This, they contended should have been an eye opener for Shinkafi before he took his decision saying that there is no doubt that Yarima and Yari still remains the power that be in Zamfara politics. They said Yarima is unarguably the most experience politician in the Sharia State at the moment whose sagacity in political scheming, intrigues and tactics has garnered for him respectability and admiration in the domains of Zamfara party politics.
Pundits said it is to the credit of Mr. Yarima that despite having a government at the centre and with heavy weights like the then NSA, Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd) vowing to install a PDP gofernment in the state, Yarima fought them to a standstill and eventually maintained the state for his party. This is why political analysts keep on saying that Shinkafi should not be so confident even if he got the support of Governor Yari because according to them Sen. Ahmed Sani can easily turn the table against his opponents in any election in the State.
The fact that he is a political warhorse who mapped out strategies for Governor Abdul’aziz Yari to dislodge former Governor Shinkafi in 2011 indicates that he does not see any political war in Zamfara that he can not battle and hopefully win.
The fact that none among the leaders of the state ACP chapter withness the official decamping ceremony of MAS makes his supporters to be very uncomfortable and doubt the sincerity of the APC leaders in the state and by extension Yarima and Governor Yari. As it used to be the practice Mr. Yari, his deputy, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala, the APC State Chairman, Alhaji Lawali Kaura and all the members of the governor’s cabinet did not come to receive and welcome him to the party. For a highly popular and charismatic politician like MAS, their decision to boycott the occasion for whatever reason(s) shows MAS has a lot of work to do if he is to get the party’s guber ticket in 2019.
One of them who spoke to this medium described the occasion as a “missed called” noting that the former Governor’s defection was a low keyed occasion since the APC leaders in the State or APC led Government officials did not attend the occasion, there must be a hidden agenda as it seemed as if it was not a former Governor that defected but a ward councilor.
Even within the PDP, the defection has assumed a grab of grudges as most PDP members contrived Shinkafi’s defection’s idea had precede from the premise that he must complete his eight years. But the absence of any APC leader in the State seems that there are no voice of support.
With this, there are negative predictions with his defection as there were feelers that the former Governor may be allowed for Zamfara North Senatorial district to contest as a Senator under APC just as it was gathered that the leaders of the party are already on a game plan of backing somebody else in the 2019 election. But if the critical stakeholders in the State APC resolve to support another candidate other than Shinkafi by swinging full support to their anointed candidate then Shinkafi would be playing a lost game at the end.
That again would mean that there are other hidden agenda that may frustrate Shinkafi. The game plan may be that he would not be entitled to the Governorship ticket but has to go through primaries where his efforts would be rubbished. Shinkafi, according to a political observer should have known how genuinely committed to his aspiration by the APC leaders in the State before decamping.
The question becomes pertinent against the backdrop of claims doing the rounds that both Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima and Governor Abdul’aziz Yari have already anointed their own candidates for the Governorship. If that is so, analysts contend that Shinkafi would be the most hit as the political observer say he would go down so terribly on the political ladder.
But if the performance of MAS as the PDP guber candidate during the 2015 election in the State despite the Buhari factor is anything to go by and how he almost won or convincingly won (but was controversially denied at the tribunal), it will be safe to conclude that notwithstanding his lack of resources the people of Zamfara will stand by him and ensure that he emerge victorious to continue from where he prematurely stopped in 2011.