APC National Convention: I’m A Big Masquerade – Shinkafi

APC National Convention: I’m A Big Masquerade – Shinkafi

An aspirant for the national chairmanship of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC,   Dr. Abdullahi Shinkafi, in this interview tells MUYIWA OYINLOLA about his plans for the party, if elected in the forthcoming February 26 national convention of the party.

 

Are you optimistic your party, the All Progressives Congress, APC,  this time around will hold its national convention on February 26,  as proposed?

The February 26, 2022 date of convention fixed by the National Working Committee led by Mai Mala Buni, the Ag National Chairman of Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, of our party is certain because the party has rolled out the schedules of activities for the exercise. The commencement for the sales of forms to aspirants for the national offices is slated for February 14, return and completion of forms is for February 14 -19. The screening of aspirants that fill the forms and return it is scheduled for February 21 and 22, then appeal panel will also sit from February 22 to 24. February 25 to 26 is for accreditation of delegates for the national convention. So, it’s certain and is a welcome development and it was highly celebrated by well-meaning members of the party across the country.

What form of primary would you advocate for the forthcoming national convention of your party?

The upper chamber has asked for the amendment electoral act 2010 into law which Mr president declined assent. And a lot of politicians and also in my own personal opinion, I disagree with inclusion of consensus candidates which has been passed by national assembly in the nomination of candidates because it’s a danger signal to the  sustenance of democracy in Nigeria but if I become the national chairman of the APC, I prefer to go into two options. The party should either go for direct primary or indirect primary. But for consensus, I reject it in totality because it will send a serious danger signal to the sustenance of democracy and even the rule of law because some people may stay in their comfort zone. Some governors felt that they are untouchable, the money bags, political godfathers would stay in their comfort zone and anoint candidates of political parties, they may anoint a candidate who is unpopular. So, one of the matters that mitigate or instigate internal party wrangling is the imposition of unpopular candidates.

And issue of godfatherism, people wants to hijack the party by all means. The only way we can sanitise this situation is only when you have a transparent, credible and verifiable membership register; it would be used to avoid manipulation. If I become the APC Chairman by the grace of God on 26th February 2022, we are going to make sure that we operate within the ambit of the law.

Until a few weeks ago, we did not hear of you in the race for the national chairmanship position of the party. Will it be right to say you’re coming late into the race?

We are concerned about the party critical stakeholders. Since last year October I’ve written a letter to  Mr president about my intention to run for the position of the national chairman and I have the acknowledgement copy here. I have notified the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria I am running for the national chairmanship position and the letter was duly served and acknowledged in his office. I equally notified the President of the Senate Ahmad Lawn ; Speaker, House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and all the APC governors. I wrote letters to them about my intention for the office of the national chairman.

I also wrote to all the serving ministers and ministers of state notifying them of my intention to contest for the office of the national chairman. I also write a letter to the National Caretaker committee apart from the one I wrote him as a governor and I did the same to the acting national secretary of APC. So, I’m not new in the race. I am not a small rat, I’m a big masquerade in this business. So, if they tell you that I came late in the race, that won’t be correct. I know what it takes to mobilise support on how I will emerge victorious at the national convention.

Why are you in the race?

I have the vision and mission to transform the party, to move the party to a greater height, to maintain the victory the party got in 2015 and 2019 and also to continue where His Excellency Mai Mala Buni will stop because he had done a good job for the party for trying to woo sitting governors to the party. Engr. David Umahi of Ebony, Prof. Ben Ayade of Cross River State and Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, respectively. I and Governor Matawalle defected the same day. So, I want to tell you I have the ambition to move the party forward and I also have my agenda.

I’m going to make sure that I maintain credible and verifiable membership, I will recruit and mobillise membership. I’m going to constitute a committee, if I’m elected as Chairman of the APC, to reconcile and harmonise the aggrieved members of the party who left the party or who felt aggrieved in 2019 general elections, and those who felt aggrieved at the fallout on the congresses in their various states. I’m going to also make sure that I restore the lost glory of the party.

I want to make sure that the party is back to life to have the confidence of Nigerians and the confidence of the party. I’m going to create an avenue where we would use an internal party mechanism to solve the internal conflict instead of going to court filling cases. We have to use alternative dispute resolution in trying to settle the internal crisis instead of going to court. If I become the national chairman of the APC, I want to make sure that I operate with the fear of God, to make sure that I run a transparent administration and ensure proper management of resources, and also ensure we are going to be accountable to God.

If I’m elected in the forthcoming convention, I’m going to make sure there is room for youths and women who want to participate in politics. I will make sure that I respect Beijing declaration in gender equality, to make sure that women are being given chance to contest election in intra party elections and also in the general elections. And they will also be appointed into government.

These are some of my agenda. I’m going to make sure that I build a fence between the members of the national assembly and some governors in the state. I also want to make sure that I build a very united working relationship between the governors and members NASS. These are the reasons I want to be the national chairman. 

People out there are saying the present government has not done well since coming into office. Why do you think people should vote this party into power again in 2023?

You see, whenever you have a party in government, you must inherit a lot of problems. The problem this government inherited, there was no proper budgeting and also proper implementation and also when this government came on board the price of oil crashed. So, government had to borrow externally to finance the budget.

There was even the issue of insecurity when this government came on board. If not for the way and the manner they handled it then, this country could have been something else because North East geo-political zone was always bombarded. It was everywhere including here in Abuja. Have you heard it since this government came on board? Even in Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna where you had bomb attacks. But since the coming of the Buhari-led administration, everything has stopped. Boko Haram had wanted to conquer the North East but the remnant of Boko Haram is now encircled in Borno and partly Yobe state. They are not in any part like Adamawa and Taraba.

The issue of insecurity each and every section of this country has its own peculiar security problem. All the six geo-political zones have peculiar problem.

The problem we are having here in Nigeria is the issue of corruption, people who are entrusted to protect lives and properties are the ones also aiding insecurity. This is very unfortunate.

If I become the national chairman, we are going to advice the government on national economic recovery plan, how to increase the gross domestic product, how to also make sure that we return the value of Naira against the foreign currency. We would advise the government, as a ruling party, on how to come out with national economic plan and also how to fight insecurity. 

You recently alleged that a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, is not a card carrying member of the APC and he came up with a statement denying it. What do you have to say to this?

I still maintain that declaration I made, it is irrevocable and irreversible. My argument is very simple, the acting national chairman of Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, constituted a committee to revalidate membership register and membership cards of the APC in Zamfara State led by Honourable Umaru Lawal and up till today as I’m talking to you, he has not submitted report on that exercise to the National leadership of the party. The national chairman, based on the mandate entrusted to him by the national executive committee of our party to run the day to day affairs of the party on the platform of APC decided to reconstitute a new committee to go and revalidate the membership cards and membership register of his members in Zamfara State and when he went on June 29, former governors were present at the rally and many of the APC members were present at the rally based on the mandate entrusted to him. The acting national chairman he made a pronouncement that all the state Caretaker Committee at all levels have been dissolved and the governor who now defected from the APC to the PDP is the leader of the party in the state and the chairman also constituted a Caretaker Committee for a period of three months to carry on the day to day affair of the party. And after three months, the registration and revalidation of the membership registration exercise took place in all the 14 local governments and the entire 147 ward, and also in all the 2517 poling units. All these took place and the report was submitted to the National headquarters of the party. All the membership registers in 14,517 poling units were duly certified, and we allowed them to the APC data base. We are about 1.7 million party members. Then the national leadership of the party constitutes another committee to conduct ward congress election, local government congress elections and state congress election where the substantive officials of the party were elected with the period of four years.

All these exercises that took place the former governor was busy in the court trying to stop the process and they went to Federal High Court trying to seek an injunction to stop the exercise. But the court declined and ordered that all the parties should maintain status quo.

After they made that pronouncement Yari’s faction was dissolved.

On the November 26, 2021, the state congress was conducted and officers emerged were sworn instantly and now they have a period of four years. Since the beginning of that exercise, the former governor and his co-travellers refused to come and revalidate their membership and all the former registers were in the possession of the former chairman of the committee. As I’m talking to you, the membership card the former governor is holding is the membership card registered with that defunct committee and up till today, I swear to almighty God, I saw Honourable Umar one-on-one, and he told me he is still holding those books and he will not send those reports to Mai Mala Buni.

As far I’m concerned practically, theoretically and legally, I know Yari is not a member of APC because you cannot be a member of the party without being duly registered. You cannot be a member of a party without having a membership card. The card Yari is parading is invalid.

From what you have just said about Zamfara State APC, now to me it appears that the party is not united and the party may be heading back to what it was in 2019 that made it to lose election to the PDP. What do you have to say about this?

That is your own perception because you can’t see tomorrow. You are not God and nobody can predict it. I’m telling you people who matter in Zamfara politics are the former governor, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, who mentored former governors Aliyu Shinkafi, mentored Yari, mentored Matawalle as a commissioner and he was a governor for good eight years and a senator for 12 years.

The former governor, Shinkafi was a deputy governor for eight years, and governor for four years. Are you telling me we don’t have anybody? Members of the House of Representatives, former and serving senators, former local government chairmen and current chairmen, counselor, are all with Matawalle. We can’t shy away from incumbency power and federal might.

Somebody like me also, they know is no go area. I’m with the governor. Even when I was with the APGA they found it difficult to fight me. It’s only that I don’t have money and I don’t have federal might but I know that in every election I contested I used to be rigged out, not because I’m not popular but because they don’t want to see my face and I don’t have money. I don’t have a godfather, I don’t have money bags, I don’t have money to do vote buying. So, I’m telling you the party is not divided. What is happening cannot be avoided in politics.

Abdulaziz was blessed to be governor for eight years; he defeated an incumbent governor in 2011. Constitutionally, there is no way he will come back to Zamfara State as a governor. What is he looking for? Why won’t he allow the governor to do his term?

All the governors in other states are the leaders of the party. Why is Zamfara going to be different? He said he wants to be leader; he wants to be our Tinubu of Zamfara. It’s not possible.

I’m calling on the former governor and his co- travellers, including the PDP, to stop playing with the lives of innocent people of the state because they see 2023 is approaching and they want to serve their selfish agenda ahead of 2023.


Tags assigned to this article:
APC