Barring last minute change, the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, has concluded arrangements to defect from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that arrangements have been concluded for the formal defection of the governor, who will be introduced to President Muhammadu Buhari by the chairman of the ruling party’s convention committee, Mai Mala Buni.
The deal, according to sources, may be sealed on Tuesday when the federal government delegation visits Zamfara to sympathize with the governor over the recent market fire incident in the state.
Sources said the governor has been in talks with at least two governors of the APC for several months.
Aside from the serving governors, a former governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani Yerima, is among the top politicians courting Mr Matawalle into APC in order to whittle down the influence of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari in the party.
Mr Yari, a former political godson of Mr Yarima, has taken over the control of the party in the state, deciding who gets what in the APC political equation.
In a February interview, Mr Yarima first broke the news of Mr Matawalle’s planned defection, saying “I think we have gone very far” in the arrangements.
But sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that Mr Yari had vowed not to remain in the APC as soon as the party transfers control of the structure to the governor. “Abdulaziz Yari vowed to leave the APC the day Matawalle defects to the party,” said a source.
The reasons for Mr Matawalle’s defection are not far-fetched as the governor himself once lamented that the PDP did not show solidarity to its governors.
In November last year, the governor lamented about the manner with which the PDP governors showed lack of solidarity for him when he needed them most.
“I am having a very bad experience of recent from some of my PDP Governor colleagues which I still find very puzzling. For instance, the South-South Governors accusing me in the media are PDP Governors and they are the same people who brewed controversy over the so-called Zamfara Gold, premised on deliberate misinformation and outright lies.
“Surprisingly, it is the APC Federal Government which has all the correct records on the gold mining issue that came out to defend me in this saga. As PDP colleagues, I expected the Governors to contact me first and find out my own side of the story before unleashing their venom in the media.
“As the brouhaha lasted, I commend the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari for being supportive of our efforts to organize the economic sector in the state to avoid using the mineral deposits to promote insecurity in our dear state,” the governor said.
Inside sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that the governor’s defection was not for personal interest but the general interest of the people of Zamfara State.
“Matawalle is a person who can sacrifice his life to get peace in Zamfara. So if he can sacrifice his life to this cause, then he can sacrifice his political interest for people to live in peace.
“Zamfara State will have a good synergy with federal government and get more support towards fight against banditry if the governor is in APC. Although President Muhammadu Buhari respects and gives Governor Matawalle audience anytime he requested, a lot can be easily achieved, just as support and cooperation of the Presidency can be easily secured through the Progressive Governors’ Forum.
“Let me give you another example, Governor Matawalle last year ordered security vehicles to donate to security forces fighting insurgency in Zamfara State, but the Customs rejected to give duty waivers to Zamfara State. But at almost the same time, Lagos being an APC state, gets waiver for the importation of commercial vehicles.
“Look at the recent fire incident in Zamfara market. None of the PDP governors came to sympathize with us, but APC ministers have come. The federal government delegation is also on its way next week,” said a source close to the governor.
With Mr Matawalle’s imminent defection, Zamfara APC crisis may yet be over as other political actors like Senator Kabiru Marafa, Dauda Lawan, among others may remain in the party to fight for supremacy.