The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has been declared ineligible to field candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections, PREMIUM TIMES can exclusively report today.
This is because the party failed to meet the October 7 deadline for conducting primaries to elect candidates for the elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), has already notified the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, in a letter sighted by PREMIUM TIMES reporters Tuesday evening.
The Zamfara State chapter of the APC had descended into serious crisis as political camps fought bitter and violent battles as they jostled to produce candidates for positions.
The major tussle was between the camps of the state Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, and a senator, Kabiru Marafa. Mr Yari worked to ensure his preferred aspirant, Mukhtar Idris, the state commissioner of finance, succeeds him.
However, Mr Marafa, one of the leading governorship aspirants, challenged what he described as Mr Yari’s high handedness and attempt to foist Mr Idris on the party.
The APC national headquarters dissolved all party structures in the state while also directing My Yari, himself a senatorial aspirant, to hands off all matters relating to party primaries in the state.
The NWC decision on the removals of the party officials led to a fresh battle between Mr Oshiomhole and his deputy, Lawal Shuaibu.
Both feuding camps eventually organised parallel primaries, producing different sets of candidates.
However, the electoral panel sent to the state by the party’s national leadership announced that it was unable to organise primaries in the state.
INEC has now told Mr Oshiomhole, in a letter titled “Failure To Conduct Party Primaries in Zamfara State Within The Stipulated Time Frame”, that it is not expecting any list of candidates from the party for Zamfara State.
The commission referred Mr Oshiomhole to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections released by the commission on January 9 2018.
“You would note from the timetable that the conduct of party primaries is scheduled to take place between 18th August and 7th October 2018.
“Kindly also refer to the last schedule communicated by your party to the commission on the dates of party primaries nationwide, including Zamfara vide your letter Ref. APC/NHDQ/ INEC/19/18/51 dated 3rd Oct. 2018.
“However, report received from our office in Zamfara State shows that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, Notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed.”
INEC said based on the provisions of Section 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), “the commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidates from Zamfara State.
“For clarity, our position is that the All Progressives Congress (APC), will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara state for the 2019 for the general elections.”
The letter was signed by the acting secretary of the commission, Okechukwu Ndeche.
INEC’s decision appears to have given the strongest opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the chance to govern Zamfara for the first time since the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
The first governor, Sani Yerima, his successor, Mahmuda Shinkafi and the incumbent, Mr. Yari, were all elected on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), one of the legacy parties that merged to form the APC on February 6, 2013.
Mr Shinkafi, who at a point defected to the PDP, returned to the APC last November and is one of the aspirants seeking to pick the party’s governorship ticket.
The PDP has already picked a former member of the House of Representatives, Bello Matawalle, as its governorship candidate for the 2019 elections.