…There’s no written or unwritten agreement on sharing of positions in APC
…I’ve gathered enough goodwill, experience to offer positive leadership
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
FRONTLINE National Chairmanship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Deputy National Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Malam Saliu Mustapha, in a chat with editors in Lagos spoke on why he is aspiring to lead APC, his chances, the challenges of the party, and the way forward.
Born in the 70s, the Turaki of Ilorin, who is the youngest APC chairmanship aspirant, also spoke on why the party should allow the youth lead it into the 2023 general elections.
On zoning of the chairmanship
Making a case for the North-Central zone, he said the zone deserves to produce the APC national chairman because it determines the outcome of all presidential elections in the country.
“In the run off to the 2023, though there is no official zoning of the offices of the party for the national convention, but we are certain that it will be zoned to the North-central zone.’’
Giving a brief history of the ruling party, Mustapha said: “The APC as a political party was formed by a coalition of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, led by the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; the Congress of Progressives Change, CPC, led by President Muhammadu Buhari; the new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, a faction of the PDP led by the defecting governors of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, and Bukola Saraki; and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
“So far, the CPC has taken the presidency with President Buhari, the ACN produced the vice president in the person of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, while the ANPP produced the Senate President with Ahmad Lawan.
‘’There is no written or unwritten agreement on sharing of positions in the APC. It is about your party’s winning strategy. Unless the party does not want to win elections, if it wants to win, it should elect a chairman that will lead it to victory. It’s about looking at your plans and strategy and how to achieve victory.’’
On why he is aspiring
Oftentimes we fold our arms and avoid politics on the assumption that it is dirty. Assumption is the mother of all errors. We must all get involved. I don’t want to assume that everything is okay. There is room for improvement. When all hands are on deck we will achieve more. I want to add value to the system.
If we shy away we will have people who do not have our collective interest as a nation in charge. If the party produces people who are bankrupt, the end result will be bankrupt leadership. We can’t always sit back and say it is left to the politicians. It is time we all get involved.
I was deputy national chairman of the CPC to the late Prince Tony Momoh. I was a key player in the merger of the APC. I have a lot to offer. I have been involved in party administration. I am going for the national chairmanship because I have gathered enough experience and goodwill to bring about positive leadership.
Being a key player in how the merger came about, I decided to step into the arena for the post of APC national chairman because I believe we don’t have the best. I want to see a party where there is fairness, equity and justice, not a party where there is imposition.”
I want to work with others to ensure the electorate get what they deserve. I will ensure there is no imposition of candidates. I will ensure equity, justice, fairness and accountability. There will be team work and no one-man show. I will be guided by the party’s constitution.
The APC is getting ready for the national convention in February. The PDP brought a 25-year old as youth leader. APC can do better by bringing a young person as national chairman. If elected, I will be an accessible chairman. Believing that you can do it alone is the beginning of failure.
On the faction he belongs in kwara
I don’t belong to any faction in Kwara. I am one of the oldest APC members in Kwara. As a former deputy national chairman of CPC, I led CPC to the merger. So, nobody is older than me in Kwara APC. They all met me at the party. I relate with all in Kwara State. I am a founding member of the party right from my days as deputy national chairman of CPC.
I have maintained that neutrality and I’m hoping that given the opportunity to be chairman of the party, my first litmus test will be reconciling all the factions in the APC. I am already doing the best I can to manage the crisis. Having a united house in Kwara is a major task for me, if elected.
On presence of political vultures in APC
There is no vulture in APC. In every political space, there are interests. It is about accommodating and managing people, and giving people a sense of belonging and carrying them along.
Challenges in APC
There are challenges in APC no doubt. But are they surmountable? Can they make you emerge stronger? Our challenges are not what can tear the party apart. These are challenges that will make us address things in a more positive way and emerge stronger. APC is still very strong, that is why people are begging to join us. I won’t look at the challenges as major setbacks.
All parties have challenges, APC also has challenges but they are not challenges that can tear the party apart or prevent it from performing well at the polls, rather they will make us better.
No system is perfect but I want to see that we do the best we can based on what is available
“In all political parties there are interests, you must learn to understand, manage and give all a sense of belonging. We need to look at the bigger picture, and for the party, that will mean winning the 2023 presidential election.
On his chances among a crowd of former governors and senators
I am not intimidated by the former this and the former that. I am concerned about what I can offer. I am appealing to them to endorse me. It is about what you can offer to move the party forward. Today, 80 per cent of votes cast belong to the younger generation. From the EndSARS protests, the younger generation know what they have now as a voting population. The PDP has brought a 25-year old as youths leader, APC can do better by having a youth as national chairman.
I am not intimidated. I bow to superior arguments. It is ideas that rule. Ideology should be the dominant factor in choosing a chairman for the APC. I look forward to working with the governors, senators and other stakeholders. I will sit with my fellow aspirants and tap from their wealth of experience.
I have been endorsed by every well-meaning stakeholder; that is why I am motivated in this race.
I am a bridge builder and very experienced to become the next chairman of the APC.
I am not bothered about past positions held by others, that will not count for much but what one has to offer. I have held several positions that will give me the advantage. I want to be a leader of the party and along with other NEC members, ensure the party is held accountable based on the manifesto of the party. No system is perfect but I want to see that we do the best we can based on what is available. I have been consulting and meeting with all party stakeholders.
On what he will do differently as chairman
I will make the party more attractive and ensure victory for the APC in 2023. My approach and style will be to give all equal opportunities, while reconciling all. I will create an atmosphere that will make for less friction. It will not be a one-man show, you need all to succeed. I am a team player. My interest is seeking the success of the party at all times. APC is a winning party that is why more people are clamouring to join the party.