With the current political situation, are you not having fears over President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election next year?
To be honest with you, I really don’t have any fears. However, what we need to do which is also good for our democracy, is that we need to work hard as a party. We need to improve on our marketing and we need to consolidate on our area of advantage. We must continue to reach out to the people, doing what is expected of us considering the limited resources available to us. If there are healing processes to take place internally to avoid any more cracks, we must concentrate on them until they are done with. We must ensure we tidied up our house first.
Even in the face of a rising formidable opposition?
The president’s chances are very bright and I can take a bet. I am very confident because of his performances, report card and commitment. You will see an honest person in him. I don’t believe that his strongholds like Kano, Kaduna, Kwara are uncertain. Anybody who watched Buhari’s arrival at Kaduna unannounced and the crowd that received him will also know that the same thing will happen in Kwara and Kano. The commoners and average Nigerians feel the impact of what he is doing. You can see the man’s determination and commitment. He is willing to deliver and he is making every effort despite the challenges. We have to take into account where we were, where are today and the likelihood of where we will be in the next four years.
But your party appears to be jittery over the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), isn’t it?
Why should we be jittery over Atiku? He is the choice of PDP and we have no role to play over who emerges. PDP may have weighed its options but you may be surprised that other aspirants would have been a more formidable force. You may not know what an average Nigeria is looking for in a candidate.
How do you hope to win a major election with the crisis rocking your party?
Naturally, in any human organisation of which APC is one, interests are bound to clash. There must be disagreements after every major primaries because in every contest involving two or three persons, only one person will win. Having clearly established that fact, it is incumbent on us, who by the grace of God and the will of the people, are saddled with the responsibility of managing the party, to set us the machinery to reach out to every concerned person in the reconciliation process.
It is not an individual’s specific responsibility and as you must have seen in the media that Mr. President met with some of our aggrieved colleagues who did not get the party’s ticket and are not happy with the process. These are all part of the reconciliation. Committees will be set up to reach out to as many people as possible but the most important thing here is that we are a very large family. It is a viable platform and it is incumbent on us to ensure that we reach out to as many people as possible to assuage the aggrieved ones.
With the election three months away, can you do enough reconciliation before the poll?
We must continue to talk because politics is collective. You cannot do it in isolation because it involves human beings and interests. It has gotten to the point we have to dialogue and address the issues. Any politician like me will not wish to lose any party member at all. We have to lean over backwards to accommodate our personal interests. The window for dialogue is still open and we must get to the point we all have to agree. APC is one big family but if we must retain power, the fight is not in the party but outside the party.
We are human beings running a human organisation and if I tell you that everything was perfectly done during the primaries, I may not be telling myself the truth. It is not easy to find a perfect situation. I will say that what happened was what would have ordinarily happened.
There may have been mistakes because human beings and interests are involved. Since we don’t have absolute control, the most important thing is the pertinent questions of whether our conscience is clear, whether we are sincere about our actions and whether we are aware that God is watching. Once we ask ourselves these three questions and are satisfied with the answers, we will leave the rest to the judgment of the people and God.
Unfortunately, this is a business where people assume you have collected money from any side. At any given period, you are accused of receiving money from either the winner or loser.
Many believe the style of your national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is not helping the situation, is it?
You know that everybody has his own style. The way one will handle a situation may be entirely different from the way another will. Handling issues vary from person to person. The point is not how you arrive at 10 but the important thing is arriving at 10. It is not the vehicle you use in arriving at 10, the concern is the determination to solve the crises. It is not a one-man show or what many may call cabal. This thing about cabal has been over-used. I grew up to hear about Kaduna mafia, Kano and or Anambra mafia. It is about two or three persons agreeing to do something. I agree with you that it could be about perception.
Would the former Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun have done things differently?
It boils down to the same speculation. We are trying to create an impossible situation. For me, God gives power at His own time. He determines who He wants to give it and at his own time. No leader emerges because he is good or bad
Has APC given up on its avowed determination to have the leadership of the National Assembly changed?
The situation is not about giving up; the present reality is that as a law-abiding party, one thing is the wish while another is the act itself. We wish to have the leadership of the two chambers as a party, but the point is that the reality on ground will not make it achievable.
Considering the prevailing reality, the possibility of changing the leadership of the two chambers is not there because we need the required number to do so. Don’t forget that we are in a constitutional democracy. We may be left with no other option than to live with the current situation because we don’t have another choice. However, my simple appeal is that the common denominator is the unity of Nigeria. We must all be accountable to the country. We have to place Nigeria first in whatever we do whether we are in the opposition or ruling parties.