Alhaji Aliyu Bello, the Nasarawa State Secretary of the All Progressives Congress-APC-, recently bared his mind on the subtle permutation for the party’s presidential ticket ahead of 2023 general election and other salient issues.
What is your assessment of the Governor Mai Mala Buni led interim committee of your party?
Before assessing the performance of the interim committee, I want to sincerely express my gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of our party for the timely intervention in resolving the party’s crisis because at the time, the party has become a laughing stock. We have had about three or four National Chairman or acting chairman, so many court cases.
There were indeed so many problems the party was not able to contain. The leadership failure was so conspicuous. Thus, the intervention was timely and we thank God that the NEC, which is the second highest organ of the party, decided to dissolve the NWC and install an interim committee. The committee is being headed by a party administrator, who had been chairman of about two political parties in Yobe.
And you saw their performance in the first term, 2015 general election. He is a party administrator and by the time he was given his recent appointment, if you look at the fortunes of the party and the values of the founding fathers, it’s glaring that these are coming back in the party. By his coming, lots of people that have lost hope in the party, people that left the party like Hon. Yakubu Dogara and other prominent politicians are coming back.
The Mai Mala led caretaker committee resolved the lingering crisis in the south-south, between Amaechi and Silva. There was a frank and realistic reconciliation and they have now agreed to work together. There are other similar reconciliations here and there and it’s by no means, a great achievement. There is stability now in the party.
Some people are sceptical of the ongoing reconciliations within the party. They claimed that previous attempts by Oshiomhole yielded no result. What is your take on this?
The mere reason is because, once you are a leader, you can’t be a judge in your own case. Most of the committees set up by Comrade Oshiomhole couldn’t stand because he was also party to the crisis. How can you set up a committee to investigate you or to reconcile you?
It’s expected that you first step aside. He was also at loggerheads with his party members in his own state, which led to his suspension by the party ward executives. Because he also needs to be reconciled, how can you then set up a committee to reconcile yourself? It was not possible. That was the main reason why.
You spoke glowingly of the acting National Chairman of the APC, but he is also the Governor of Yobe State. Aren’t you worried that governance in Yobe could suffer owing to his new responsibility?
It won’t hinder him a bit. Even last week, you can see the plethora of activities in Yobe, the model primary school being commissioned with lots of work ongoing in the state. His performance in the state is excellent; his performance in the party is also excellent. We are proud of him and impressed with his performance.
As the country inches towards the 2023 general election, there are a lot of debates on whether the party should zone the presidential seat or not. What is your view on this?
First of all, zoning is not a constitutional matter. Everybody knows that at times, zoning breads incompetency. Looking at the kind of situation we have in Nigeria, there is that understanding, whether it’s written or not, whether constitutional or not, there is that very understanding, that power has to rotate between the North and the South.
We in the APC cannot deny that fact, because President Muhammadu Buhari is from the North, by and large from the North-West but he is representing the North. He has spent four years and Nigerians have given him the mandate to spend another four years.
After his four years, the North must have taken about 8 years under APC. Under normal circumstances, no right thinking person from the North, under APC, will come out and say he wants to contest for the presidency.
Personally, I think it’s incumbent upon us and advisable, it’s only moral to agree to that moral understanding, that mutual understanding between the North and the South. If I will be giving my own opinion, I will suggest that APC in the entire South has only room in the South-West. We have no room in the South-south, South-east. We cannot take out tickets to those who don’t even value the policies and programmes of our party.
The entire people in the South-south and South-east do not even value, appreciate, agree that our manifesto and policies and programmes, is in tandem with their own aspiration.
They don’t like APC, they don’t believe in APC. Why should we take our ticket to that place, for goodness sake? If we are going to be frank with ourselves, the only safest zone for APC in the South is the South-west. In the entire South-east, the APC couldn’t get up to five percent of the total votes, not to talk of 25 percent basic requirement. But if you go to South-west, we are now controlling about five states, under the APC. Why should you take your presidential ticket to where the people don’t believe in your party?
When you mentioned the South-west, the leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu readily comes to mind. Do you think he has a chance to run for the presidency?
In the entire APC, apart from Buhari, the next person you will talk about is Bola Ahmed Tinubu. There is no doubt, he is the best possible option, and he is the ultimate option for the APC. Right from the inception, Tinubu and Buhari’s factors made what APC it is now. Buhari has taken his turn.
Recently, Nigerians woke up to the jerk in the price of petrol, as well as electricity tariff, leaving many people with no option than to cry out, especially as food prices also rise. As a stalwart of the APC, what do you think is the way forward?
Speaking about the high cost of food items, in 1999, when the PDP took over power, a bag of rice then was N1, 300. People should ask themselves, before PDP relinquished power, it was 18,000. So if it is now N23, 000 because of the global situation which has affected the entire world, why are people complaining? We have to thank God that it’s this same man that asked everybody to go and farm.
If not because of the agricultural revolution that President Buhari has instilled into Nigerians, we would have suffered more than any other African country. But now we have food in abundance, people are farming everywhere. But the coronavirus pandemic and its negative impact on the global economy is a major contributing factor. If you are talking about the increase in fuel price, it was about N33 when the PDP took over power, how much was it when the PDP handed over to Buhari? That time there was a boom.
Now nobody is buying because of the pandemic. People are just complaining on social media but the reality we all know is that we have a global problem. Buhari was unfortunate in the sense that in his first tenure, he came and met depression in the country, in his second tenure, some months after taking over, there was this pandemic. We thank God but we know, as human beings, we will continue to complain. When you complain that the president should remove fuel subsidy and subsidy is removed, what do you expect?
The price of fuel will now be determined by market forces. As time goes on, the price may come down to even N30 or N40 or even rise to N200. As Nigerians, a lot of people will cry if Buhari leaves office because there is no government that ploughed money into the hands of the downtrodden people. In the history of this country, no president, no government has empowered people directly like the government of Buhari. History will eventually vindicate him.
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