Zaria bye-elections: Matters arising
By Muhammad Ali –
The by-election held in Zaria city constituency on Saturday 15th September, 2012 to elect a replacement to Rt Hon. Mustapha Bawa (of blessed memory) has come and gone. It has left in its wake lessons for political juggernauts to ponder over especially now that preparations are in top gear for the December, 2012 local government elections in Kaduna state. What happened in Zaria during the by-election is a summary of what may happen in the forth coming local government elections if members of the Congress for Progressive Change decide to go to sleep. This is because; up to date our people have not learnt their lessons neither are they ready to go for credibility or competence other than money when it comes to electing a representative.
Much as it may not be appropriate to point accusing fingers given the fact that everybody tried what he can do in the context of what happened on that date; it is still very important to look at the preparation by the Congress for Progressive Change towards this all important election from the level of the local government party leadership. How prepared were they in the context of reaching out to all stakeholders and making sure that there are no dissenting voices here and there as a fall out to the barrage of petitions received after the primary elections. What mechanism have they put in place to neutralize the impact the presence of the Deputy Governor will make in whose constituency this election held and who for sure will not want to be taken to the cleaners?
Information available indicated that the primary election that returned KASSIMU ILIYASU as the winner with 59 votes to his closest who polled 29 is the best in recent history in Zaria as far as election is concerned. If this is true, why must people write petitions to the extent of sending offending text messages to very important well meaning citizens in Zaria city whom we have cause to believe have sympathy for CPC?
What did the party leadership do at their level to appeal to such personalities to win back their support for CPC?
In all, the defeat suffered at the polls by Kassimu Iliyasu as the CPC candidate in this election is not a defeat to himself alone but to CPC as a party. Reason being that some egocentrics who had wished Mohammed Ibrahim Zaria to be the candidate but failed at the primary elections conducted earlier felt CPC must lose the election. This is bad politics because Mohammed Ibrahim had wished to be nominated unopposed immediately after the death of Hon Mustapha Bawa forgetting for a fact that he still has a matter pending in court against late Hon Mustapha, challenging his nomination by the party. It is also a known fact that the National headquarters of this great party has instructed all loyal party members to withdraw any case in court against any elected CPC member or be expelled from the party. Mohammed Ibrahim was not expelled neither did it dawn on him to obey the party directives which would have earn him sympathy having regards to the role he played in the past to further the cause of CPC in Zaria local government. He remained unchecked because at that time he was in the good books of the State deputy chairman of the party. As such problems like this are bound to continue unabated until such a time when people become prepared to stand up for the course of justice whoever it is for or against. It is also a minus on the part of the party leadership who must be held accountable for loosing this seat in the heart of CPC traditional support base. Or is this simply justifYing speculation making the rounds that members of the establishment have met and brokered a deal with elements within the CPC high command? Those in position to know should please shade more light on this.
Secondly, it is believed that the preparation for this by-election in Zaria was driven by many factors. Some of these include the zeal exhibited by all CPC elected members particularly those of the State House of Assembly who owe it a duty to return that seat if only to deny PDP a clear 2/3 majority in the Assembly. This was not to be because of the effect or leadership style of party leaders at both ward and local government level in Zaria which leaves a lot to be desired. The apparent lack of commitment and loyalty of members of the party and the open use of money to woo voters by the PDP establishment was crucial in deciding the outcome. But for how long will Nigerians continue to mortgage their future and that of their children for pittance? Enough of money politics! People need to understand that PDP is the problem not the answer in Nigeria today.
Everything considered, the loyalty and commitment of the generality of CPC party members in this very election at Zaria is in doubt for the fact that everybody was only after how much money he/she will get and not how CPC will deliver the seat. The electorates particularly within the rank and file of CPC were also divided along Iliyasawa (the candidate) and Madu (who lost at the primaries) and this was a critical factor in the party’s performance at the polls which the party leadership in Zaria did nothing to correct before the election. Of equal concern was the behavior of CPC party leaders at ward and local government level in Zaria local government which was both uninspiring and discouraging.
These leaders were divided along the lines of those supporting either Kassimu Iliyasu or Madu and this attitude left party members/supporters with no mQtivation, inspiration or direction on the very day of election.
The leadership also failed to exhibit any openness or tran~parency when it came to funding and this is the more reason why accounts must be rendered in order to understand who did what and why.
The PDP used this opportunity created by us and easily permeated the rank and file of the party mainly for reasons stated above. Nearly all the ranks were compromised. The file just followed the rank closest to their expectations. This is the more reason why the leadership of CPC at the state level must call Samaila Sarkin Gandu who has just joined epe in Zaria local government to explain his role on the day of the election. Is it true he supported the wishes of the establishment candidate for a price? The leadership must find answers to this if only to retain our confidence.
All this put in perspective; it now behooves the CPC leadership at the state level to do all that is necessary to ensure that a hitch free primary election is conducted for those to fly the party’s flag at the forth coming local government polls. In doing this, the supremacy of the party constitution must not be compromised by those wishing to impose candidates on the party. Section 10 of the CPC Constitution which spells out the mode of conducting local government congresses must be followed to the latter in electing a flag bearer as anything short of it will amount to flagrant violation and thus open the salvo of petitions which has the potential to leave the party divided as was the Zaria case.
It is therefore necessary to understand that the spirit of internal party democracy cannot be built on mere sentiments and contrived stability.
The need for unity at this material time within the rank and file of CPC is a must because success will only come via the vehicle of a United Party. Any attempt to do otherwise as was the case in the just concluded election at Zaria, we will not only end up with counterfeit candidates but as losers of the local government polls; God forbids. Therefore, the party must have the courage to nominate the right caliber of men/women to serve at the various screening committees to be set up. This is necessary if only to avoid a repeat of our past experiences. Or what do you expect when people appointed cannot differentiate between a school certificate and a birth certificate? Worse still is the refusal to tell people with soiled reputation that they aren’t fit to hold public office.
We must understand that citizens of Kaduna State are in need of leaders at the local government level who are capable of making things work and not contractors, story tellers or liars to superintend over the affairs of their local government councils. This is to avert management by crisis. Though you must be conscious of the fact that if you nominate zombie candidates, the legitimacy of your local government councils may be undermined, their primary functions and responsibilities abandoned leading to the collapse of infrastructure and the consequent personalization of the public domain including private use of the local government treasury if you don’t insist on the right candidates. This must cut across all parties because what your people need is development not long grammar.
Muhammad wrote in from Kaduna.
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