Issa Itopa Lucky
Build up to the 2023 general elections is beginning to take shape across the country. One forthcoming election that comes to mind is the 2023 Zamfara governorship election.
Nigerians can hardly forget how in a sudden twist of fate, Bello Matawalle now of the All Progressives Congress (APC), while on the ballot of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 governorship election, came second and was few days to May 29th 2019, being the date a new government was to be sworn-in in the state, was later declared the duly elected governor of the state by the Supreme Court.
This was after the Yari faction and the Senator Marafa faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC), then and now again ruling party in the state were taken to court over legitimacy of primary election conducted in the course of the build up to the 2019 general elections.
In fact, the Supreme Court in its verdict over the case, decided in its wisdom that the Zamfara APC chapter never conducted any primary election to the effect of the 2019 general elections, hence all the highest lawful votes cast in the state, were declared by the Supreme Court for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party that initially came second in the election across Federal seats, state governorship and state seat levels.
Bello Matawalle, then gubernatorial candidate of the PDP, who turned out to benefit from that legal tussle after the Supreme Court refused to give legitimacy to either the Yari faction or the Marafa faction, in terms of acclaimed primary elections supposedly conducted by the APC in the state, since May 29th 2019 took charge of the state having been returned by a twist of fate by the Supreme Court, and now, less than two years to the next election in the state, is now set to test his popularity again, this time as an incumbent governor, even under the banner of the APC, the ruling party at the centre, if that would be any cover for him to scale through the hurdles ahead.
What is however unclear but now clear in recent times is the fact about which part he may be exercising his entitlement to run for the same office of governor in 2023. This is as he has after many months of rumours and speculations, defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Feelers have it that, he defected from PDP to APC because his chances of returning back to power as governor of Zamfara in 2023, are assumedly brighter with APC than with PDP. According to such pundits, Zamfara has usually voted for a party trend which can be traced to what is the APC today, namely the APP, ANPP, CPC and today APC, as President Buhari had moved and formed as a platform to run for election over time from 2003 till date; the pundits argued that it will therefore be surprising to see the people of Zamfara vote for PDP, hence the reason Matawalle decamped from PDP to APC.
Some others argue that it is gross ingratitude on Matawalle’s part that he dumped the PDP, the party with whose platform he miraculously at first became governor of Zamfara. They are therefore of the opinion that Matawalle should have stayed and test his popularity with the PDP with the hope that he has done well enough for the people of Zamfara to return him back to power under the platform of PDP.
Some others argue that there is a possibility that when he was in PDP, he was not in charge of the PDP structure in his state even as governor and of course, supposed leader of the structure in his state. Any which way, the matter is viewed, one thing that is certain is that Matawalle will run again for office of governor of Zamfara state in 2023.
However what is now the issue is that the defection of Matawalle to the APC may not have been in good fate as it has introduced fresh crisis to the Zamfara APC that was recently enjoying relative peace within its fold. How Matawalle will maneuver his way and get the Zamfara APC guber ticket to contest for second term in 2023 is a scenario that leaves much to be desired ahead.
It is very clear that the powers that be in the state in the APC are not on the same page with Matawalle. The Yari/Marafa leadership of the party structure in the state are yet to surrender leadership of the party structure to Matawalle as of now. Marafa is of the grievance that Matawalle is being imposed on the party structure without due consultation with the structure at first. This is a stand that has even gone as far as having Marafa question the legality of the Buni-led Caretaker committee of the party at first.
On the heels of these fresh controversies, it is obvious that it is not yet over for Matawalle’s political travails on the road to 2023 as he looks forward to running again for the governorship seat now expectedly under the platform of the APC, a party whose structure leadership in his state, is hostile towards him at the moment.