By Ismail Mudashir
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara), in this interview raised alarm that plots are on to technically knockout President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 election.
It was reported that last Saturday you were tear-gassed during a parallel congress conducted by your camp in Zamfara. What really happened ?
There was an incident in my local government. The police I believe under the instruction of the state government mobilised heavily to prevent an innocent citizen from carrying out his civic responsibility, and that was me.
Saturday, 12th of May was the date fixed by the APC for local government congresses, and as a party man and a politician, I drove to my local government headquarters where the event was supposed to take place. On reaching there, I met massive security buildup comprising mobile policemen and officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
I was informed that the Area Commander was there, so I tried to see him but I couldn’t. There was an APC vehicle stationed there, this time not APC political party but Armored Personnel Carrier. Before I knew it, one of my mobile policemen was manhandled. So I moved forward to ask what the problem was and they threw teargas right in front of me.
In a nutshell, the mobile policeman was manhandled, harassed and disarmed. My orderly was equally disarmed. So I tried to ask what was the problem, they were just busy throwing tear gas. But I thank God that they did not deter me.
The whole thing was just to stop me from organising or conducting my own local government congress.
But the beauty of it is that the world has seen that the state government lacks confidence of the people that is why there was that massive police or security buildup. If you are popular in politics, you don’t need any security agent to help you organize your own affair.
What would you say they wanted to achieve by incapacitating your security?
The state government has lost popularity and touch with the people so it is afraid of elections. What I simply asked was that let these congresses be conducted following our guidelines.
That is what I asked for. What do the guidelines say? They show how the ward congresses should hold; how the local government should go, and this is how that of the state should go. So why the massive buildup of security? If you had done the right thing, people will see it, people will be the judges too. I think the whole essence was aimed at either embarrassing me or intimidating me, but that is not possible because they cannot stop me from defending my right.
Possibly, too, may be they wanted me harmed, but God protected me and that is the most important thing; it is not the police around me that protect me, it is just a precaution.
What do the parallel congresses organised in Zamfara and some other states portend for the APC?
To me, after looking at the whole congresses, the way it started – you know what the party did and everything – to me there is massive conspiracy against the party and against the leader of the party that is the president of the country.
If you look at the first scenario, some people just came up with the idea of one-year extension for the members of the National Working Committee (NWC), the president was advised that that extension was illegal and it will portend serious problem for the success of the party. The president put his feet down and said we should go for elective congresses or consensus where possible.
The party came up with guidelines on how these congresses should be conducted, but the same party that produced the guidelines, was the first to break the rules.
In one of the clauses in the guidelines, they said forms should be filled and returned within 24 hours. But the NWC of the APC didn’t even meet the committees until Thursday evening.
The committees started going to their stations on Friday. They said, if you are desirous of contesting pay your monies into some accounts.
They gave us seven accounts and said “pay this amount, collect forms and return them, 24 hours before election”.
Two things; they didn’t give the committees the forms to go to the state with them. Secondly, there was no clear 24 hours to collect the form, fill it and return it. The whole thing, was a kind of sabotage. Something that will be rancorous, breed parallel congresses, and a set of executive will be established for each state. The whole thing comes to just one thing, sabotage.
Like in Zamfara now, we had parallel congresses – we now have two sets of executives, one by the state government and another by me. I have followed due process from beginning up till where we are now. But the state government didn’t because they have security apparatus at their disposal.
As far as I am concerned, there are some people within the NWC that are desirous of scuttling the processes thereby endangering the electoral success of the APC.
They may rule against me on the case I made to the appeal committee for instance, but one thing I’m sure of is that the court will rule in my favour.
You can take this scenario and put it in several others states. If the states are more than half of the total delegates that will vote in any convention, may be the presidential candidate will be determined, after the primary election and there are going to be pre-election cases and the courts will definitely do the needful looking at the massive evidence against everything.
The governors didn’t even comply with the provision of the guideline to pay monies into accounts, they were simply allocated forms. I paid, my people paid. I have my receipts and I have everything.
The net effect, the final result, to me, is that there are people out there who have long concluded that they cannot beat the president in normal elections so what they are looking for is technical knockout; to plan something that could be challenged in court, that will nullify any election.
Unless the party does what is right, unless the leaders at the top look at these things well; know what the people are up to, and who the people are, there is going to be a problem.
At the parallel congress you conducted was the representative of INEC on ground?
INEC is an umpire, they just look at everybody, and they have the guidelines. That is what INEC does. Who complied with the guideline, what did you do? There is also what they call ward and local government congress committee that was sent by the party. That committee was dead on arrival.
My candidates emerged unopposed because they were the only candidates that fully satisfied the provisions of the APC guidelines and that is the foundation. You cannot build on top of what you know will collapse.
These things are likely going to be challenged in court and the courts are going to rule in favour of those that followed due process.