BY IFEANYICHUKWU NWANNAH
The current political events are unfolding in Zamfara politics at a dizzying pace and news is issuing forth like torrents especially with former governor Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi emerging as the PDP governorship candidate amidst intrigues and conspiracy to stop Shinkafi’s candidature. Both Governor Abdulazeez Yari and former governor Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi were great in-laws until December 2008 when they fell apart. They locked horns in 2011 where Abdulazeez Yari ran away with victory.
Though former governor Shinkafi blamed his defeat on the internal sabotage of PDP, reports have it that they are set again for the grand duel over who controls the soul of Zamfara politics, the titanic battle for political supremacy. Shinkafi’s loyalists keep saying that they are not ready to take chances in 2015 as it was in 2011. Some sections of the civil society contend that Shinkafi has a bright chance due to his wide experience in governance that can match and even supercede Governor Abdulazeez Yari.
For a state stealthy making its way out of the maze of economic woes, the political landscape appears surprisingly gloomy only few months to the election which outcome would likely determine the ultimate fate of the gravely troubled Zamfara projects. Certainly, therefore, something must be done in a situation which determines who shapes the destiny of the state; but first, the dissatisfaction with Governor Shinkafi’s performance by many.
Those who understand deeply the Shinkafi’s experience are still yearning for his return to Gusau Government House but it is not in their place to choose who goes there but those who control the lever of power and decide who controls Zamfara politics whether it is the people’s choice or not. This has got serious implication on the reality of democracy not only in Zamfara State but in Nigeria in general. If one can judge by his victory, Shinkafi seems to be comfortable in Zamfara in his first four years. The inability of the power brokers to understand the exact meaning and the motive of democracy has a lot of implications on the people’s political and social lives. It is a democracy without good choices.
Those who actually realise that peace is the most important factor for progress in any given society would know that during Shinkafi’s tenure between 2007 and 2011, the people enjoyed relative peace and did their legitimate businesses without fear. Undoubtedly, however, there is need to rescue Zamfara politics from the mire of opportunists. It is very clear that after four years of governance, Shinkafi has no money to sponsor his second term because as political pundits said he did not steal public money for self aggrandisement.
The PDP governorship primaries which were conducted three times, Shinkafi won on these occasions not because he spent money but the delegates vote for him on principle and the security of lives and properties during his tenure which is justifiable. The evidences that emerged continue to seemingly march towards re-electing him rather than bringing back failed politicians to shamelessly lead the people. Many are set for what they perceived as battle to save Zamfara.
Such people appear to have put behind them money politics. This shows confidently that the predicament of democracy right from the onset is the imposition of wrong people which corroborates the claim that Nigeria is not yet ripe for democracy.
Former Governor Shinkafi is poised to reap the harvest of a good political name and what he worked for assiduously. The PDP candidate is best remembered as the wizard who initiated about 185 economic projects in Zamfara State and brought a branch of Central Bank of Nigeria to the state which were supposed to make Zamfara not to rely only on federal allocation or oil money but also on these economic projects which Governor Yari abandoned and faced only road projects.
The impression has become wide spread that the re-election of Shinkafi means the continuation of these untouched economic projects and this signifies a clean break through to the same old but familiar path. Shinkafi is very different from Governor Yari in the sense of economic development and foresight. If one examines Yari’s Government critically economic growth has no place and the economic consequences have failed the democratic expectations of the people. In the case of Governor Yari, there appears to be no assurance for good economic policy which he can implement.
Analysts on democracy insist that democratic government is only as good as social coalition to ride to power based on sound political permutation and former Governor Shinkafi is supported by the progressives who are ready to fight Governor Yari to a standstill. Yet either way, there is a political war between the two. Governor Yari and his APC have already described Shinkafi as a weak politician who they can easily defeat without sweat.
At first, the APC feared that Hon. Bello Mohammed Matawalle may come out as the PDP governorship candidate but when APC faithful saw the uncontrollable crowd following the PDP flagbearer, it sent a red signal to their spines that 2011 may be a child’s play compared to what is on ground now. As things stand now, Zamfara political temperature will continue to be high until the election time is over. This is unpalatable reality as nothing can stop their ambitions. That is the reality of democracy.
It is very clear to political observe and political class that Shinkafi has not faced any serious criticism either economically or otherwise. The political watchers believe that his emergence as PDP flagbearer can make the difference.
This medium gathered that over 60 percent of the delegates were by Shinkafi during the just concluded primaries. With his excellent record in the eight years as a deputy governor in charge of the affairs of Zamfara State, the people of the state were very confident in choosing him to lead the state as he stood for governorship in 2007 elections. A selfless, trusted, reliable and well accepted politician, whose aim is to leave his foot prints in the sands of time as a concrete legacy for the benefit of all through projects and service of reality, Shinkafi has turned a state in total penury into an Eldorado of sorts in his four years.
Shinkafi pledged to revive the primary education and enunciated continuity with his seven point agenda for the reconstruction of the state with priority on food and agriculture, education, investment and employment, youth and women empowerment. He said further that he will restore the basic infrastructure for the socio economic growth; poverty alleviation, accountability and various restructuring of the state economy to tap resources which are diverse in the state without undue reliance on oil. He said he will strengthen the local governments and give them their federal allocations each month so that responsibility will be their watch word. According to him he has done it in his first tenure between 2007 and 2011 where he gave all local government autonomy and constituted local government projects monitoring Directorate to ensure that all the monies are used for the benefit of the people.
But when Governor Yari addressed his supporters recently, he said that his policies and programs were misinterpreted especially by opponents but political observers said that since nothing is seen on ground, this definitely is a tall assault charged on his failure in many sectors of the economy. But the story is now rife that some forces are working to scuttle the political structure of APC in the state. A conspiracy to rock the boat is in the making. The Shinkafi loyalists are working seriously to upset the political structures and they are dead serious about it. If they succeed Governor Yari may run into troubled waters in his bid to return to Gusau Government House.
Furthermore, Governor Yari’s government is perceived to have got a serious political problems with Zamfara people ranging from security problems etc. public analysts said his problems with the youths and women will affect him seriously because these group forms 80 percent of the votes, while it is generally believed that the massive problems facing Zamfara is political.
Analysts are however of the opinion that to revive the state economy, the issue of corruption will have to be addressed first of all. It is also believed that if leadership is transparent, there will be examples given by them and there will be examples to be followed. The general belief is that corruption is deeply rooted in the federal institutions and emulated by the states.