Food blockade

…Says, Northwest is the backbone of APC

By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) North West  and former Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Salihu Mohammed Lukman  is optimistic that the North-West zone will give his party victory in 2023. In this interview,  Lukman who spoke on APC’s preparedness ahead  of 2023, declared that the Northwest zone, being the backbone of the APC was putting all modalities in place to ensure victory for the party.

Excerpts:

22 APC senators went to the President alleging that they were not treated fairly during the primary election. How will you react against the backdrop of accusation that there was no internal democracy in APC?

Democracy is about negotiation. No doubt there are a lot of things that should be improved  upon in the APC. I always make the point that APC is work in progress. But the fundamental issue is that democracy is about negotiation. Unfortunately, many of our political leaders have this mind set of ‘we  must win’. The humility to accept failure is weak, so even when people validly lose election, they heap the blame on lack of internal democracy. But the positive side of it which is what I’ve always emphasised, is that our leaders are not in denial and I’m very happy with the response of the  President. When leaders acknowledge that there is a problem, then half of the problem is solved.

Unfortunately, part of the challenge which nobody is talking about is the fact that the National Assembly people created most of the problems we encountered in the primary. They attempted to design a law, to achieve specific results and went and put clauses that they themselves didn’t realise exist. They wanted to weaken governance but they ended up disqualifying themselves as electorate in the primaries. APC is founded on the principle of broadening the democratic space, so that if possible all members of the party should determine who becomes a candidate.

Unfortunately, from day one, there were challenges  of membership. We don’t have a good, authenticated membership register. In 2014, we tried expanded delegates which was why those who voted for Governor in Kaduna for instance, were as much as 3600. If you check in 2022, how many delegates elected gubernatorial candidate in Kaduna State, you will be shocked to find that it was very few. So from expanding, we are shrinking simply because we had National Assembly members who wanted  to use their power to show that they can deal with governors. From trying to exclude governors and their aides, they ended up excluding everybody.

So people are not talking about that now, because managing power is unpopular. Every outcry against those in power received attraction. People are not putting the mirror on the face of National Assembly members who created part of the problem they are encountering. They may not like what I’m saying but they must take responsibility

Governors  including those from the Northwest advocated that power should go to the South in spite of criticisms against such move, how do you see this?

There was an advantage in the first place because the President is from the Northwest. But the President has a peculiar advantage because he wasn’t loved because he is from the Northwest. He was loved largely because he was seen as a tested person and based on his past record. People believed him and that was why he commanded the mass support of the whole Northern region. And it was easy to use that to negotiate the merger that produced the APC that eventually won election. Now, the reality is that if we take that for granted, we would be lying to ourselves, which is why we believe we have to work hard. And that is why we are basically re organising the activities of the party to address the fears so that the party is not just enjoying the support of the people because of a singular factor of the President. But that the people in the region should have the confidence to support the party believing that the party can solve the problems they have.

Can you say APC is still strong in the Northwest based on the present circumstance?

There are parameters you can check. All the places where election took place, how did APC perform in the North West?To the best of my knowledge, APC won in most of the bye elections that happened in the Northwest. I think with that barometer you can check to confirm. We may argue that Local Government election is not a good barometer of checking because it is not the standard INEC election, it’s prone to manipulation by the state, but at least you can check in states like Kaduna. Overall if you look at those elections, you find out that APC did very well.

I am from the North West, I don’t run away from that and I’m very proud of it. Anybody who takes the people of the Northwest for granted would do so at his own peril.If you don’t give them what they expect, they will not shy away from withdrawing their support and we are very conscious of that. That’s why we have to wake up and ensure that we do our best to earn the support of the people of the Northwest. They are very critical  because there are challenges which they expect the government must respond to. To the extent of those challenges, we must wake up and earn the confidence of the people of the Northwest.

In terms of political competition, we don’t think our opponents are doing what we are doing, they are just hoping to capitalize on whatever is our failing, without necessarily earning the confidence and support of the people of the Northwest. So if we lose election in the Northwest, I would say it’s because we didn’t do our job well.”

Are you not worried  that  the New Nigeria Peoples Party ( NNPP) led by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso may pose a threat in the Northwest region?

Everything that is new, that is not tested, people would love to gravitate toward it. But to what extent is the NNPP new? Kwankwaso is a respected politician, he was in APC and I still respect him to this moment. But I have problem with his method of mobilization, it would appear as if everything opposed to APC is welcome and that is a complete betrayal of the principle that informed his attraction to the red cap because he tried to link the red cap with the PRP and Aminu Kano ideology. NNPP is only existing in the media, it is not existing in the hearts of ordinary citizens. It is not the same as APC in 2014 or 2015.Withiout anybody saying anything, if you come to the Northwest you know APC is on ground, it is the party to beat.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s unfortunate Kwankwaso did not found NNPC with the right kind of pillars that can carry the weight of political competition. This is the hard truth but 2023 will confirm that. I hope we would have the opportunity in  2023 after the election to come back to this point.

Why do you say the Northwest is  the heartbeat of politics in the country?

Go and check all the electoral results from 1979 to date, in virtually all cases, the party that won the Northwest was the party that  produced the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There has never been one singular case where a party that won the Presidency lost the Northwest. So, when I say that the Northwest is the heartbeat of politics in Nigeria, I’m talking about that.

What was the outcome of the APC Publicity Committee Zonal meeting held at the party’s Zonal secretariat in Kaduna?

The meeting was attended by stakeholders from the zone comprising Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Zamfara, Jigawa and Kaduna. Since our convention ended, we have not met to discuss the happenings in our zone. We have set up six field operations committees which will be meeting very soon to discuss the progress attained in the zone ahead of the general elections.

At the publicity field operations committee meeting, we discussed extensively on how to move the party forward. We will work hand in hand with all state chapters in the zone as part of efforts in creating awareness and sensitizing the members in the zone. This is important in view of the fact that Northwest is the backbone of APC. Once we deliver the zone, we are sure of victory because the zone is the heartbeat of politics in the country. Going by the turn of events and with hard work, the zone will give the party  the deserved victory in 2023.The Zonal party has resolved to partner with the media in order to strengthen its activities. No organization will do it alone without the media.

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