By Sulaiman Bala Idris
“Kun yi failing, ku zo ku kwashe kayanku…”
The first misstep by the Zamfara state chapter of the APC was to take the above song for granted, roughly translated as ‘you have failed, pack your things and leave’. Behold! Come May 29th, Zamfara will witness a new dispensation with a fresh start – the government of Dauda Lawal.
Among the shockers of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria was a political tsunami that abruptly ended a more than decade of domination of the powerful actors in the politics of Zamfara state. All the big shots with exaggerated political value joined forces in a camp under the All Progressive Congress (APC), for the very first time since the return to democracy that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has broken a jinx to win an election in Zamfara state.
The fear of being in the opposition PDP, prompted the outgoing Governor, Bello Matawalle’s decision to defect from the party to the ruling APC, hoping to be rescued by indeed, the Federal Government and, by extension, to stop any of the political gladiators from contesting.
Matawalle’s foresight was that of a lone selfish fighter in a battle with well-trained and experienced warriors. It was a scary and desperate move to avoid a suicidal clash with the duo of Abdulaziz Yari and Kabiru Marafa that pushed him to commit an immature defection – a defection that nearly cracked the ruling party in the state, but desperation, selfishness, and power-hunger made a marriage of convenience possible for the outgoing governor and his so-called party warriors.
A naïve political analyst would tell you that the alliance in Zamfara APC was, from the onset, a misalliance formed out of greed, envy, and desperation for power. Matawalle aimed to secure his second term bid; Abdulaziz Yari’s goal was to secure and win his senatorial seat; also, for Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, it was a battle for the central senatorial seat.
All these political calculations and maneuvering were mapped out without anyone among the plotters considering or projecting Dauda Lawal as a threat. They consider him a beginner who will barely survive a fierce encounter with them.
As the tension in the APC doused, Governor Matawalle got his way into the ruling party and was ‘forcefully’ reconciled with Abdulaziz Yari and Marafa; The federal government and all relevant stakeholders in the APC had to intervene for the merger to materialize. None of the party stakeholders at the national and state level had enough foresight to consider Dauda Lawal as a threat. Zamfara was sealed, they believed.
Out of the blue, the former top banker decided to defect to the PDP, which was the beginning of a new era in the political history of the rural state. The governor, APC at the state and national level, joked about the defection. Yari and Marafa boasted about being the ‘owners’ of Zamfara politics.
It was the outgoing governor who realized the height of Dauda’s political relevance at a time when the ‘die has cast’. The political atmosphere of the state got tensed immediately after the May 2022 governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party that produced Dauda Lawal as the winner.
That was when the governor noticed his miscalculation of not adding Dauda to his ‘roadblock’ checklist. It was rumoured that Governor Matawalle sponsored an aggrieved governorship aspirant, Shehu Bakauye, to protest the conduct of the PDP primaries.
With Dauda in the contest, Governor Matawalle anticipated a severe setback to his re-election, though Yari and Marafa were consistently consoling him with false hope.
Yet, Matawalle’s instinct kept pushing him to use the court to scuttle Dauda’s chances. We witnessed how a Federal High Court judge in Gusau danced to the tune of the governor by, on two different occasions nullifying the primary elections that produced Dauda Lawal.
The appeal court sitting in Sokoto, in a unanimous ruling, reinstated Dauda Lawal. The judgement gave Dauda a booster shot and a setback to Matawalle and the APC.
In less than a month, Dauda Lawal’s name became a household brand in villages and towns across the state. The famous ‘Bazamfara’ campaign vehicle did a lot of damage to Matawalle’s re-election bid than the combined efforts of Yari and Marafa in ensuring his success.
Lawal enjoyed accelerated popularity by the day. His style, tenacity, and political sagacity got him a very high rating. For the first time in the state’s history, a governorship candidate flagged off his campaign with the unveiling of a manifesto.
Lawal’s manifesto with Six Smart Agenda has raised the people’s hope that a new breed has joined the race for good. His campaign slogan, ‘Rescue and Rebuild Zamfara,’ has captured the hitherto reality of the state.
Dauda campaigned in all the 14 local government areas of the state without mobilizing thugs or rented crowds. Throughout the campaign, Lawal had shown a high level of restraint and dislike for political thuggery. He always asked the police to protect the billboards and banners of the opposition from an overzealous crowd. I witnessed that in many places.
To cut it short, I am making a public declaration that all the so-called bigshots in Zamfara; be it Yari or Yarima; Marafa or Matawalle; Shinkafi or Jaji, all fought Dauda with all their might, but woefully failed. Don’t be deceived!
Bala writes from Gusau
By Sulaiman Bala Idris