Matawalle defection to APC: I hope meeting to resolve Zamfara issue succeeds- Alhaji Hamidu


Alhaji Mohammed Sagir Hamidu

Alhaji Mohammed Sagir Hamidu is a major stakeholder in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State and was a governorship aspirant. In this interview, he spoke about the reasons stakeholders in the state are complaining about certain issues, their demands and the way forward. Excerpts:

By Anthony Maliki

The Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Bello Muhammad Matawalle left the Peoples’ Democratic Party to your party, the All Progressives Congress. How do you see this development?
I see it with mixed feelings in the sense that ordinarily when you have a party, you expect to capture power or to acquire power and you acquire the power through political offices. And so, the more you have people with power coming into your fold, it will be a welcome development but in doing that there is a process, decency and before the other person comes into your fold, it is expected that if a Governor is coming into your fold, he is coming with two or three things. One, he is coming with power, two, he is coming with people that will enable you win election, three, because he is in power, he has access to resources that he can support the party machinery. But, if he is coming with only one, coming with his title as Governor but not coming with the people to help win election and he is not coming with the right resources then he should know we must have mixed feelings as to what is the actual motivation of coming. Is it actually for the benefit of the APC or for himself? And so, if it is for himself, we should be careful then. That is where the mixed feelings come in and don’t forget, yesterday you are calling a person a non-performer, a liability and today you are celebrating him into your fold. How do you reconcile that?

But the Governor is coming with the PDP structure and the house of assembly and National Assembly members and others. Are these not enough to ensure that your party win future elections?
They are there in name, there is nothing that is serious apart from name that is called PDP there and all the people he is saying he is coming into APC with, did they win election? So, yes, they have accompanied him and we welcome them.

The APC has its structure and leaders in the state. Now, the National Committee led by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni is saying that the Governor is now the leader of the party in the state. What is the position of those of you?
At least we must have heard our leader, former Governor Abdulazeez Yari insisting that the purported dissolution and transfer of party structure to the Governor cannot stand and that is where we are. It cannot stand because the due process was not followed and if the due process was followed, we are loyal party men and women, we will accept it. Just like his coming in if it was done with utmost sincerity, decorum and respect for people who have been there, who have nurtured that party, who are standing by the party, there won’t have been any rancour. We don’t feel and think that it is the right thing that was done. Let me tell you something, you see from what transpired in this Zamfara debacle, I am beginning to see that until and unless party is streamlined with government, we won’t get democracy right because where now you are saying governors are leaders of the party. Prior to all the rigmarole that happened, they had already structured the take-over of the party structure to the clear exclusion of the majority.

There were series of meetings from 27 to 30 of June. What happened along the line that you cannot arrive at a consensus?
Like I said, we were not even consulted about the defection. We started hearing it as rumours and all of a sudden when it was about to happen, as important as that kind of transition. We were given no room for consultation or preparation or to even sympathize with you and maybe to see clearly what is happening. That is why the meeting has to come in and interventions from the governors. And so, series of meetings were held. We have those that we suspect to be on our side or to be fair to us or represent, were not part of the arrangement. When we see those that we were comfortable with, that we can trust their words coming into the meetings we now started feeling comfortable to engage them, present our cases to them and feelings known to them and they gave us assurances. They gave our leader the assurances that they will stand be justice, by truth and that anything short of that they will not be part of it and everybody will be on his own, at least they have played their part. This time we feel marginalized, not wanted. Of course, we have to decide on what to do because we cannot be in vacuum but what we prefer is for equity, fairness and justice to prevail so that we can accept our brothers and sisters give them accommodation because we have a bigger house, give them a resounding welcome, help them to settle down and then support them with the privilege they have by coming into the party with government but along the line the agreement reached was not followed. So, can we just sit down and fold our hands? The house that you have built with all sense of commitment and responsibility and people that were abusing you yesterday calling you names, burning your houses, destroying your property, taking you to security agencies for persecution and then today he is enjoying that your labour. I think something is not adding up. I must commend el-Rufa’i for the role he has played. In fact, if we had leaders like this who will stand and committed that peace is achieved through consultation and dialogue, we would have achieved a lot in dousing the tension in the country. Now, until and unless a tripartite meeting takes place and everything laid on the table- the representative of the Governor, representative of Yari and that of the governors and national secretariat of the party presiding, and everything laid bare and sharing formula agreed and everybody accept and embrace each other.

Who fixed the tripartite meeting?
I would say it is collective and the decision taken during the meeting with the governors mediating and that is what was supposed to have taken place before going to Zamfara. So, they saw the need for that to happen that would have been panacea for peace now.

What were your demands initially? What do you really want?
Eighty per cent of the people of Zamfara owned the APC and somebody coming with 20 per cent and it is only logical because he is coming to seek for accommodation and then later on to use our own goodwill having accepted him to use our 80 per cent to get what he wants since we know what brought him and we are not saying we would not give him. The bulk of the work lies with him, the onus of his full acceptance and integration into the larger group rests squarely on the Governor. So, if he comes in and work hard, not as a conqueror but a friend of the people, no arrogance, no grandstanding, work with everybody, he would get what he wants. I can tell you the way our APC family in Zamfara operates, we can even give him consensus because we are loyal party members, we are highly obedient. Looking at majority of us that are in the leadership of the party today, no one is desperate about position. That is why we don’t make noise despite the fact Zamfara is not well-represented in government. We are not adequately represented in government to show that our loyalty and commitment to the party is recognized and that is why we are feeling again how the Governor was almost smuggled into the party with a kind of ‘whether you like it or not’ attitude and APC is not known for that kind of things. The door is so wide for him to enter but he wanted to use a ladder from the back of the house to climb through the fence.

Suppose your next meeting fails, what will be the next line of action?
Let me pray that it doesn’t fail, that it works. But I tell you if it fails, even the Governor will not find it funny by joining the party.

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