Inuwa Abdul-Kadir is the National Vice-Chairman (North-West) of the All Progressives Congress. The former Minister of Youth Development speaks with LEKE BAIYEWU and ADENIYI OLUGBEMI on the crisis within the ruling party among other issues
What is your view on the alleged anti-party activities of some of the party chieftains, particularly at the presidential rally in Ogun State, where hoodlums almost stoned the President?
I think it was a very unfortunate situation. In whatever you do, there should be a level of decorum. It was very unfortunate because it doesn’t give a good image of the party and the party’s leadership in that state, especially with the presence of the important dignitaries like the President, who deserves the highest respect in this country.
All these things are about how we conduct ourselves as leaders. Are we selfless? Are we patriotic? That will tell you so many things. We need to look inward and make amends on how we conduct party business and how we conduct ourselves as leaders in our own right.
APC issued a statement after the Abeokuta fracas to condemn what happened at the rally and that those involved would be punished. What kind of punishment does that offence attract in the party?
I think what that statement tried to say was that action would be taken. When you say someone will be punished, there is due process. You have to ascertain who was behind it? Who does this and that, and what led to that? Also, don’t forget that the party would not want to be distracted from the campaign activities because they are more paramount than waiting to punish some people who have done something wrong at that particular time. When you commit a crime, it can take 100 years before you will be punished. Let us finish with the elections. After the elections, the party will have to review all that happened during campaigns and elections.
As the zonal vice-chairman of the APC, it appears you have stayed away from the campaigns of the party in Sokoto. Why?
No; that is not true. I did not withdraw from any campaign or activities of the party.
But why are you not seen in Sokoto leading the campaign?
That is my point. You cannot ‘localise’ me to Sokoto. I am the chairman of the party in this North-West zone, the biggest zone. We have seven states. Other zones have six and five. I am also a national officer. My duty is not to come and campaign in Sokoto or even elsewhere. My primary duty is to ensure harmonisation of activities of the party within the zone in terms of bringing the members together where necessary; to work hand in hand with the various leaders of the party in these states.
I also have a second responsibility as a member of the National Working Committee to be all over the country with my colleagues to do one thing or the other, in pursuance of the success of the party before, during and after the elections. Even before the presidential campaign train started going round, I have travelled to many states to assist them in terms of campaign activities and deploy my goodwill. When you talk about Sokoto, don’t expect me to be here all the time. Luckily, I am a Sokoto man. I have been in this game for several decades and the people of Sokoto, if you ask them, they know what I can do in terms of mobilisation. This is my primary constituency. I don’t need to show off. I was involved in producing many governors.
Who are the governors?
I have been in the game of politics for over 30 years now. The current governo, who is now in the Peoples Democratic Party (Aminu Tambuwal), I was involved in his emergence. The governor before him, (Senator Aliyu) Wamakko, I was involved in the thick of it and everybody knows that. I have a very high profile in politics apart from the various offices I have held. I was a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I was the attorney-general here. I was in the civil service here. I held so many positions in various political parties. I contested elections myself. I was a vice-presidential candidate. In Sokoto, I have been a traditional title holder in the last two decades or more. I have been involved in the leadership. I am one of the leaders in the state. So, I don’t need to be involved in ‘thuggery’ to show that I am a party official. The issue of not seeing me or visible here is because I am a member of the Presidential Campaign Council; you don’t expect me to also be around to campaign for senatorial elections.
Some people say your body is in the APC while your spirit is in the PDP. Is this the situation?
I was in the PDP before and held several positions in the party. I became a minister on the platform of the PDP in the last administration. If I want to be in the PDP, I have the right. Remember, I am not contesting any election. If I had been an aspirant in the APC and lost (the ticket), that would have put me in that state. I am not leaning on anybody to do my politics. I am a ‘mobiliser’. So, it is not something that will be hidden if my body is here (and spirit elsewhere). Why; to gain what or to sustain what?
The incumbent governor dumped the APC for the PDP not long ago, while political leaders like you and Senator Wamakko are in the APC. To categorise Sokoto, will you say it is a PDP or APC state?
What are the criteria for determining whether it is an APC or PDP state? Is Kwara a PDP or APC state? What about Enugu State; it is of which party?
Since 2015 till date, don’t forget that there were a lot of defections across parties. And the history of elections has always been like that even during the Second Republic. The NPN (National Party of Nigeria) won the presidency but it did not have a comfortable majority in the National Assembly. They (leaders) had to enter into an alliance with other political parties, especially the NPP.
Going back to your question, what is clear is that here in Sokoto, the governor has defected and members of the state House of Assembly have defected from the APC to the PDP. So, will you say that it is an APC-controlled state?
Some people believe that the APC has been built around President Muhammadu Buhari; that should he leave power, the party may not survive for long. What is your view on this?
Do you remember that before the election of Buhari, there was no APC? When the APC was formed, Buhari was nominated and he won the election. These are two different things. If you are talking of Buhari’s presidency, I think we still have more time to look at it. To me, the APC is an institution, a political party that is known to law; an institution that is not owned by anybody and its membership cuts across all Nigerians from the age of 18. After that, in 2014/2015, the members of the party determined through the primaries to elect Buhari as the presidential candidate and it was successful. What will happen is that this election will determine so many things. I don’t think it is charitable to say that a political party is built around a particular person.
But in Imo and Ogun states, the governors are claiming loyalty to the President under the APC but are currently sponsoring governorship candidates in another party. If Buhari was out of the picture, would they not have exited the ruling party?
You have just mentioned two out of over 20 governors. I have my opinion, reason and conviction (as to) why I joined the APC. I have my own reasons for staying back, even though some of my persons and political friends decided to defect to the PDP. I have my reasons too when we were defecting from the PDP to the APC. And even now, I have some friends that were not really in the PDP but (with whom) we have done politics before and they are in other political parties apart from the PDP. In politics, like in many other things, there are many factors that determine what direction you take. I am not involved and I will not be involved in the politics of ‘thuggery’ where you abuse in the name of criticism of a particular person or political party or political persuasion. We are in the APC, even if there is an intra-party crisis, my opinion may be different from other members of the party. That is what democracy is about – freedom of choice.
The issue here is the 2019 elections and the outcome of those elections will determine drastically what will be the future of not just the APC but the PDP as well as other political parties and individuals. I am not in politics just to get positions or get elected. I am in politics to contribute my own quota to nation-building, development and well-being of my community. This could be at my own level. The country has done very well for me through my education and opportunities given to me to serve. I’ve held several political offices and I have made my marks there but we have to face the reality.
At the Ogun rally, the President told the people to vote for him and any candidate of their choice in other elections. Does that not amount to anti-party campaign?
What the President said was correct. This is because the President was disappointed in the conduct of some party leaders. It is not something hidden that there were infractions in some places. That is why some people are even in court.
Why is it that some leaders of the APC endorse and love candidates of another political party more than their own (party) candidate? Why? Is it because of who nominated the candidate? If, as APC members and the majority of us, supported Mr A to emerge as our candidate, there is no way we will not campaign or vote for him or her. But if you, as a leader of the party, impose somebody as the candidate, how do you compel people to vote for him or her during election?
Some of your members in the National Assembly complained that the APC did not carry them along on national matters, which they cited as the reason for their exit from the party. Is it an oversight or what?
The party is an institution; it has its own structure and everybody has their role to play. Members of the National Assembly are well represented in the party hierarchy. They have representation and in some instances, they are members of the various organs of the body, right from the ward to the state and so on. As far as I know, these things are not issues of discretion. The issue of somebody claiming to have been excluded because he is a member of the National Assembly is not correct. Don’t forget that the party is supreme in terms of membership. Because you were elected as a senator on the platform of a political party or a member of the House of Representatives or a governor, it does not mean that the party will come to you. Are you not part of the party? That is why the party with the majority in the National Assembly has the leader of the Senate or House. He is a member of the party and the liaison between the executive in respect of party matters with other members of the caucus in the parliament. So, any bill that comes from the executive, the leader will know about it. It is his responsibility to sell whatever idea the executive has to members of the party and other members of the chambers. Don’t forget too that each party has a caucus in the chambers. It is not for the national chairman of the party to come and tell them that a bill is being brought.