•Why APC is wooing Jonathan, speaks on money politics in Nigeria

By Omeiza Ajayi

Hon. Musa Sarkin Adar, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, is a ranking member of the House of Representatives from Sokoto. He chairs the committee on petroleum (upstream).

In this interview on Arise TV, he speaks on why the APC is wooing ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and the chances of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to clinch APC’s presidential ticket in 2023.

It looks like the APC wants former President Jonathan. Is that so? And why is the APC so interested in the man it demonized before the 2015 elections?

The rumours about Jonathan joining the APC but which have been disproved by his spokesman are no longer rumours anymore. Be that as it may, the bottom line is this; a party is free and can woo whoever it thinks would add value to its side.

And the person who has been approached to join a particular party is also free to make his choice whether to remain where he is or to defect to the other party that is wooing him just as it happened with Femi Fani Kayode on Thursday.

Before President Jonathan decided to refute the rumour that has been in the news media throughout last week, there are certain factors that we should look at. When you mention some governors of the APC visiting President Jonathan some months ago, and when you also say the National Secretary of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe has also expressed their willingness as party to the effect that if President Jonathan joins the party he is free to contest for the presidency under the party; we shall look at certain factors.

First, in a multi-party democracy which we practice in Nigeria, if we have two parties that have emerged to be strong -APC and PDP- each of them must have to adopt some strategies that it thinks would enhance its chances in the next general elections. It might be in the thinking of APC strategists that we need to have people that can add electoral value, and those are the big names before we go to the grassroots who are at the tail end in an election campaign.

So, APC should not be faulted if it decides to look for President Jonathan to join it and also to contest for the presidency or to be a father figure in the party. For me, President Jonathan, like I said is also free to make a choice to join the APC especially having been respected and recognized. This was somebody who contested election against the APC in 2015 and lost and humbly accepted the results, handed over power peacefully and took his sabbatical until recently when he started coming back into political limelight.

Also, he has established good relationship with incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and the president has also played a fatherly role by accepting him and facilitating for him several international appointments. All these are factors that we should look at.

APC can’t abandon Tinubu

 But I do not subscribe to the idea of if Jonathan comes in, that the APC is going to jettison its national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. That is far from the truth. If the APC zones the presidency to the South, I don’t think it will micro-zone it.

It is going to be the entire South with all its three geo-political zones. It is now at the level of the South that they will sit and decide which of the geopolitical zones should take the slot. The southwest has had its shot by President Olusegun Obasanjo for eight years and President Goodluck Jonathan for over five years for the South South. And now, I just heard my colleague, Senator Abaribe making a case for Igbo presidency in the South East.

READ ALSO: Crisis rocks APC as pro-Tinubu group drags party to court

However, politics is a game of strategy and numbers. The odds first favour the southwest which had populated the APC because five states are under the leadership of the APC. The South South has Cross River state and the South East has Imo and Ebonyi. So, any zone wishing to clinch the presidential ticket should go back to the drawing line and restrategise. You don’t expect when majority of you are in the other party and you are thinking of getting the presidential candidacy of the political party simply because you are making agitations. My take is that Tinubu still remains the frontline presidential aspirant of the APC from the South generally.

Then, of course if President Jonathan joins the APC, he is going to give Tinubu a good fight. Then if the South East wishes, they can now come together and think of joining APC enmasse to populate the APC, then they can make their case that they have never produced a president before and that the rest of the South should give them a chance.

But if they think by remaining in the PDP is where they can get the presidency, then they are free to remain there. But they should remember that the PDP is now depopulated across the country. For example in the whole of the Northwest, the PDP has only one governor which is Sokoto, my home state. In the Northeast, it has Bauchi, Taraba and Adamawa. In the North Central, it has Benue. In the Southwest, it has only one, Oyo. So, they should look at this as well as the number of federal and state lawmakers that they have. Also, what is their membership strength?

Do we actually have two parties? It would seem as though Nigeria is a one party state.

In Nigeria, the politics of ideology is almost absent in the sense that all the political parties do not have significant difference in their approach and ideology.

Until now, the politics of this country was dominated by mostly the personal interests of aspirants. Everybody wants to win the elections.

In America, you hardly see anyone decamping from the democrats to the republicans or vice versa and even when a candidate loses an election, he remains in his party but with time, we are going to get to that level. Don’t forget, America’s democracy is over 200 years and Nigeria’s democracy is just now 21 years.

Money politics is what we have in Nigeria. As a politician, at what point does your conscience prick you?

True, we have monetized the political system in Nigeria. That’s just the way it is. It is a general phenomenon caused by those seeking elective positions and the electorates themselves. For you to become a party executive at Ward, Local Government, State and National levels, you must part away with money. It is the same thing when you are standing for elections from the local government level to the federal.

Not only that, the electorate and electoral officials are all involved in this. Let me give you an example. If any of the registered political parties sends its committee to go to any particular state to conduct primary elections or congresses, the members of such committees go to the person who is seen as the leader in charge of the party and when they go there, they do his bidding especially if he is a sitting governor.

They go to him and in return something will happen. He will then gain an upper hand and determines who becomes what and all those who are not in his good books will not get that opportunity. It is a collective responsibility for Nigerians to desist from collecting money from people before they are elected. Even when they are elected, every now and then, requests are made especially to the members of parliament. We are more vulnerable because we don’t have any shield.

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