Disclaimer: The following analysis is based on discussions with State-level actors and so reflects their perceptions, not the view of the Peace and Security Working Group. These scenarios were produced prior to the 2014 primary elections and are thus subject to change. Where relevant, updates have been made to reflect evolving dynamics.

Zamfara At-a-Glance

Current Governor
Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yarif

Current Ruling Party
All Progressives Congress (APC); formerly ANPP

Key February 2015 Elections
National Assembly
State House of Assembly

Zamfara State is identified as a medium level risk (amber category) in CLEEN’s report.

CLEEN Map of Hot Spots for Election Violence
Peace Map ( Violence Heat Map Jan 2009-Dec 2014

Political Developments in Zamfara

The Major political parties in Zamfara were ANPP, now turned APC and PDP. The state has 14 Local governments. Since 1999, ANPP has held the governorship position in the state. ANPP holds two out of the three senatorial district in the state, while PDP holds one (Zamfara North). Former Governor (now Senator) Yerima is said to still have significant influence in the control of the state. The present Minister of Defense, Mohammed Gusau is from the state. ANPP holds chairmanship position in 13 LGAs except Birnin Magaji, which is held by PDP.

Elections in 2011

In 2011 it was agreed that there was election violence in Tsafe, Gusau, and Bakura LGAs. Violence by angry youths targeted towards religious houses and shops, especially in Tsafe and Gusau. In Bakura, there was fighting between supporters of PDP and ANPP. Security needs of people with disabilities were not addressed at all and no special provision was made for them to fit into the electoral process.

As regards response to violence, government compensating the victims, while Civil Society helped in facilitating dialogues with disputing parties. The security agencies, especially the police, helped in responding by arresting suspects, while soldiers were deployed to calm the situation. At the time, the primary sources of situation awareness for those consulted in this report were BBC Hausa and Zamfara Radio. There were no early warning systems that they were aware of.

Key Political Developments Since 2011

Several hotspots identified by culsulted participants included Gusau, Tsafe, Bakura, Bukkuyum, and Talata Marafa because of their past history in electoral violence and recent cattle rustling violence. Electoral violence has led to the death of an APC (formerly ANPP) woman leader in Talata Marafa, the local government where the present governor hails from. Four other Local Governments Areas at risk include Birnin Magaji (the location of the only PDP local government chairman), Kaura Namoda, Shinkafi and Maru (which recently experienced cattle rustling violence and kidnapping of women). Birnin Magaji, Kaura Namoda, and Shinkafi are in the north senatorial district where PDP seems to have popular support. Recently the official PDP campaign office was moved to Kaura Namoda.

Zamfara has been known for illegal and artisanal mining, especially in Bukkuyum, Anka, and Maru (which has a state polytechnic) and government officials have been developing preventative policies around this issue. Furthermore, these miners come from different parts of northern Nigeria and neighboring countries. As such, election violence that might ensue from these LGAs could have environmental or social implications.

There are no detailed reports on an increase or change in patterns of gender and sexual-based violence or harassment in Nasarawa surrounding the elections. However, given under-reporting of this and the fact that this is traditionally not examined in detail, this does not mean this did not take place.

Major Political Players in Zamfara State

Name Position Elected/
Party Additional
Abdul-Aziz Yari Abubakar State Governor 2011 APC (1)
Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala Deputy Governor 2011 APC
Ahmad Rufai Sani Senator 2007 APC
Sahabi Alhaji Yau Senator 2007 PDP
Kabir Garba M. Senator 2011 ANPP

Additional Information:
(1) Running in 2015 for Governor.

In the Zamfara north senatorial district, political thuggery, intimidation, and assassinations are possible, due to contestation between PDP and APC supporters and given that this district is the stronghold of the PDP. The presence of the federal polytechnic in Kaura Namoda as well increases the potential of youth restiveness in this district.

In Zamfara Central, where Gusau, the state capital (with tertiary institutions), and Tsafe are located, ballot box snatching, voter intimidation, protest, political violence that can degenerate into sexual violence, and burning of properties may occur. A key member of the APC and chairman of the State Councillors’ Forum, Alhaji Nasir Ibrahim Dagaji from Mayana Ward recently defected to the PDP, taking with him 7 other councillors as well.

Political actors that will be relevant to the upcoming elections will include former PDP Governorship aspirants Senator Bello Matawalle, the PDP state chairman and Alhaji Sagir Gusau, former director at FCTA, Senator Hassan Mohammad Nasiha, General Alhaji Mohammed Gusau, former National Security Advisor, now Minister of Defence, Kabir Danbaba the Emir of Gusau and of the Zamfara state Emirate Council and Lawal Abdullahi of the Zamfara State police. NGOs, such as Doctors without Borders, Save the Children, Society for Family Health and the State Accountability and Voice Initiative are also key in the state. Media institutions include People’s Daily Newspaper, Daily Trust, Zamfara Radio and BBC Hausa.

2015 Elections Possible Scenario 1

Before Elections:

Intra-party violence and political thuggery could occur within the APC especially at the Zamfara Central Senatorial district.
PDP could gain strength in the central senatorial district, leading to clashes at campaign rallies, political thuggery and intimidation between the two parties
Thuggery and intimidation during registration

During Elections:

Violence during the presidential and national assembly elections; increased security presence in the whole of Zamfara state during the governorship election.
People could come out in mass for elections if there is little violence from presidential elections in the state.
Ballot box snatching and voter intimidation in all parts of Zamfara North and Zamfara Central

After Elections:

If APC is announced winner state governorship elections by a close margin, PDP governorship candidate might contest the result.
Political violence could spike in the Zamfara North Central District and Gusau where there is significant support for the PDP.
Security presence from the concluded presidential election could prevent violence from escalating to other LGAs or senatorial districts.
Zamfara radio used by the Governor to reduce tension amongst unsatisfied citizens and supporters of PDP

2015 Elections Possible Scenario 2

Before Elections:

Keen contest between APC and PDP especially over the seats to the national house of representative and senate.
Intra party violence could occur within both parties, including political thuggery and intimidation. State actors occupying positions in the federal government would likely intervene to stop tensions from escalating within the PDP. Intra-party tensions within the APC could occur during election primaries, especially in Zamfara Central.
Inter-party assassination and adoption of aspirants or family members
Disruption and clashes at campaign rallies in Zamfara North and Zamfara Central Senatorial Districts.

During Elections:

Heavy security presence in Zamfara, possibly contributing to a sense of voter apathy and intimidation.
Security concerns (eg. bomb scare) in the Zamfara North Senatorial District
Ballot box snatching and voter intimidation in all parts of Zamfara North and Zamfara Central
If such issues escalate (eg. burning of property and/or bomb scare) in Gusau, Tsafe, Kaura Namoda, and Bakura, governorship elections could be postponed.
The Emirate Council could play a role, calling for calm amongst supporters of political parties as the elections approach

After Elections:

If there are no surprises over the Senatorial election, there could still be violence in most LGAs except Gummi and Maradaun, depending on who wins the House of Representatives seats and the level of polarization and expectations in the run-up to the election (eg. APC could win all constituencies but Kaura Namoda and Birnin Magaji).
In such a situation, Zamfara radio used by the Governor to reduce tension amongst unsatisfied citizens and supporters of APC.

These reports are a collaborative effort of The Fund for Peace and other members of the Nigeria Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG) in Nigeria. These reports reflect the result of a participatory process with national and local-level stakeholders on potential risk factors and scenarios for the February 2015 Nigeria general elections.
For more information, please contact:
Nate Haken at The Fund for Peace, [email protected].