After Two Decades Of Influence, Yarima’s Hold On Zamfara Politics Shaking
For over two decades, Ahmad Sani Yarima defied all odds to control the political machinery of Zamfara State, to the admiration of his supporters and to the frustration of his opponents.
Since 1999, Yarima has been a force to reckon with in Zamfara politics. He governed the state for eight years, 1999 to 2007. He was elected to represent Zamfara West Senatorial District thrice.
Being the first executive civilian governor in the state, he wielded enormous political advantage owing to the fact that most of the political gladiators in the state, whether in the ruling PDP or opposition APC, were hatched by him.
As a political godfather in the state, he tried to maintain his influence despite the fact that several attempts were made by his key opponents to clip his political wings.
It is widely believed that victory is crowned on every contest that receives Yarima’s formal endorsements and blessing and at whatever level, owing to the enormous political power he wields.
Yarima, on expiration of his tenure as governor in 2007, endorsed his deputy, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, as his successor. His endorsement led to the victory of Shinkafi at the governorship election on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Shinkafi defeated the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate, former civilian governor of the old Sokoto State, Mallam Yahaya Abdulkarim. At that time, Yarima was the only governor who handed over power to his deputy in the whole of the country.
However, the relationship between Yarima and Shinkafi turned sour months into the administration of the latter. On December 5, 2008, Shinkafi defected to the opposition PDP and went along with all the party leaders of the defunct ANPP, a development that was seen by many political pundits as the spark of rivalry between the two hitherto close political friends.
Many political observers attributed, among other things, the failure of the PDP to win in the 2011 to the Shinkafi’s decision to bite the finger that fed him.
On the other hand, the defunct ANPP led by its leader, Senator Ahmad Yarima, braced up to take over power from their perceived political enemies, Shinkafi and his allies.
Battle of supremacy over the bid to control the state ensued between the then Governor Shinkafi and his former boss, Senator Yarima, with each of them displaying his political sagacity and might in a determination to win the battle. Plots and counter plots became the order of the day between Yarima and Shinkafi.
At that time, Yarima saw this as a move by the then PDP ruling party to eclipse his political strength and he vowed to fiercely fight back.
In 2011, Shinkafi was defeated by the anointed candidate of Yarima, Abdulaziz Yari, the political development that many saw as Yarima’s sweet revenge. With the development in 2011, Yarima was able to consolidate his political supremacy in the state. Yari was at the mantle of leadership in Zamfara for eight years; 2011 to 2019.
However, in recent times, the once powerful Yarima seems to have lost grip on Zamfara politics. This started in 2019 when many players in the then ruling APC felt betrayed by Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima.
First, the APC’s bigwigs in the state were accused of betraying the party during the crises that led to the emergence of Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle as governor in 2019.
Even after that, Senator Yarima was accused of romancing with ruling PDP in the state despite the fact that he is a card carrying member of the APC.
“There are beliefs within the ranks of the opposition APC that Senator Yarima had played a vital role in the arrest and detention of two key APC members, Alhaji Dankande Gamji and Alhaji Ibrahim Danmaliki.
“That is why they refused to validate his APC membership registration as revenge to what they called his betrayal of the party’s cause. People were just imagining if this could truly happen to a man that was once powerful enough to make choice of party’s candidates at an election,” a political observer in the state opined.
However, the former Zamfara State governor was able to revalidate his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State four days after the commencement of the exercise in the state.
The former governor had struggled to get his membership revalidated after the state party officials refused to register him at his polling unit in Bakura Local Government Area of the state. It took the intervention of some party’s national officials to get him registered.
Yarima’s close ally, Junaidu Dosara, said some of the state party officials are nursing grudges against the former governor and they had no reason whatsoever to deny him registration for the membership of the party he greatly helped to form.
Despite the fact that he hails from same geo-political zone, North-West, as President Muhammadu Buhari, Yarima has declared his intention to contest for the presidency come 2023. Will he survive the onslaught against him by the people he groomed? Only time will tell.