Zamfara Politics: All Hail Yariman Bakura!

Alhaji Ahmad Rufai Sani
Alhaji Ahmad Rufai Sani

By Gab Efo

Since the beginning of the fourth Republic on May 29, 1999, the politics of Zamfara State, Nigeria’s North West, has largely been dominated by Alhaji Ahmad Rufai Sani, the Yariman Bakura.

A former staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria who was elected as the first civilian executive Governor of the state under the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party, APP, from 1999 to 2007. He served two terms and at the end of his second term nominated and sponsored his deputy, Alhaji Maimuda Shinning to succeed him under the slogan “Dan giwa, giwa ne” meaning the child of an elephant is also an elephant.

He was the only two-term governor to have voluntarily and actively promoted his deputy’s ambition in the same party. The only other case of a former deputy governor taking over from his former boss was the acrimonious and no-love-lost situation in Sokoto State where an almost impeached deputy, Mallam Magatakarda Wamako was forced to resign and soon recovered to scuttle the political permutation of his master, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, the Garkuwan Sokoto. Wamakko went on to serve two terms as Governor from 2007 to 2015.

In Zamfara, Yariman Bakura has fought many battles especially in the early days but his populist philosophy has worked to get him victory. He introduced the Sharia system of governance to stabilise the society and that endeared him to members of the Ulamahs, the Islamic clergies. At the time he was governor, the National Security Adviser of the ruling Federal Government was of a different political party but he survived the familiar “Federal Might Syndrome”.

Although he felt disappointed in the activities and politics of his successor, Maimuda Shinkafi, Bakura remained unruffled and trusted in his belief that all power belongs to God. The departure of Shinkafi from the ANPP platform where he was elected governor to the then ruling PDP provided the opportunity for him to rejig the politics of Zamfara.

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Then entered Hon. Abdullaziz Yari, a former lackey who was elevated by Yariman in 2003 to the position of State Chairman of ANPP. In 2006, Bakura again assisted him to secure a ticket to the House of Representatives and they had toyed with the idea of making him a running mate to Maimuda. He subsequently won election to the House of Representatives in 2007 and was appointed Chairman, Committee on Loans and Foreign Debt. Coming from the same Senatorial District as Yariman Bakura, Yari easily won the Governorship election in 2011 against an incumbent Shinkafi.

Like his immediate predecessor, he seemed not to have correctly valued his relationship with his principal and soon lost focus and tutelage. He was saved by the transformation of ANPP as a legacy party into APC in 2013. Although he won election for a second term in 2015, his drift into destruction had just begun. The people felt let down and frustrated by his disposition to governance and the contradictions that his lifestyle exemplified.

Yari’s election to the office of Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF further alienated him from his people, and with a new found ego he sought to dominate and diminish his benefactor. This became his waterloo, despite the humility of his benefactor in offering to withdraw from the Senate to allow him have a shot since they both share the same district.

Not satisfied or contented with that offer he contrived how to impose a successor Governor. It is this decision that aggravated the security challenge in the state. As the saying goes “you cannot fool all the people all the time,” the outcome of the election processes of the 2019 general election has shown that he railroaded every one a supporter of his into no where as the Supreme Court judgment has proven.

Dr. Bello Matawallen Maradun, who once represented Bakura/Maradun Federal Constituency and a Candidate of the PDP at the March 2019 elections has been sworn in. His choice of the immediate past Deputy Governor under Yari signifies a genuine effort to rebuild Zamfara from the ruins of Abdullaziz Yari’s misrule.

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Political pundits believe that now is the time for Senator Ahmad Rufai Sani, the Yariman Bakura, to get interested on how to galvanise the Zamfara people towards engineering dividends of democracy, given his contributions to national development. He has remained a stabilizing factor in national politics from the days of Obasanjo presidency through Yar’ adua, to Goodluck and now President Muhammadu Buhari. All hail the Yariman Bakura!