2023 won’t be easy ride for APC – Samaila Dahuwa

Dr. Samaila Dahuwa, is a medical doctor and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bauchi state. He is also one of the aspirants for the position of the APC national secretary and speaks to BODE OLAGOKE on why his party should concede the position of national scribe to Bauchi, why it is impossible for any president to emerge without winning Bauchi, among others

You are aspiring to be national secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and you are canvassing that the position be ceded to Bauchi state. How realistic is this?

My view is that party office is different from political office. The party office is given or allocated in order to give the party political advantage because the main essence of any political party is winning elections and no political party will win elections if it doesn’t have zoning system matter how good its internal democracy is.

Having said that, the reason Bauchi is now agitating for the position of national secretary is simply because Bauchi state is now in a high disadvantaged political state. As you know, Bauchi state used to be an APC state which was at the forefront of electing President Muhammed Buhari, giving him the most votes in almost all his elections and all of a sudden due to some reasons Bauchi became a state PDP. However, the Senate, the House of Representative and the House of Assembly are dominated by the APC. This is why we are saying they should give us the national secretary position so we will have a rallying point for our politicians to take back our state come 2023.

We all know that in the whole region, APC Bauchi state is the most disadvantaged. We are not in charge of the state government, we don’t have any position at the national working committee level and we never had; we don’t have any position in the leadership of the National Assembly.

We also don’t have any of our leading politicians in position in this government and you know the politicians are actual foot soldiers; they are the people that go round the villages and community canvassing for votes and they need politicians in positions of authority and influence to mobilise them. Don’t forget PDP is working round the clock in order to make sure it entrenches its successes towards 2023.

What is your take on the challenges of the APC has been facing after the 2019 elections?

You see, after the elections it is normal for political parties to have rancour and challenges especially after winning elections. So, I don’t think what is going in APC today is any different from what has being going in other parties in Nigeria post election. That is not a main problem and I don’t think it is right to say that there is any serious problem in APC in terms of leadership.

However, the fact that our national secretary left, he had done his best and we are just here clamouring to come and fill in his large shoes, continue with the good works he has started and see if we can finish all he has started. I don’t think we have any serious problem in terms of leadership that is different from any other party and don’t forget leadership is more challenging when you win the elections. No one admits your successes but they concentrate more on your shortcomings. So, shortcomings are normal but I don’t think we should dwell on our shortcomings. We want to reposition ourselves so that we can face the shortcomings and prepare for 2023.

I have said that 2023 won’t be an easy ride for APC because a lot of politicians rode on the back of President Buhari’s integrity, honest, and the love most Nigerians have for him but in 2023 he won’t run for office hence such won’t exist. So, it is very important we start to strategise now.

The first thing is to put our house in order, all the positions that are not filled we should endeavour to fill them with prominent APC faithful that are capable and we move on.

Thank God in APC we have a large pool of competent Nigerians that are running for the position, it is left for the national leadership of the party to look at advantages each aspirant will bring to the APC and pick him because it is very important to understand the difference between political office and party office. In my opinion party office is given to give the party political and electoral advantage.

If we will put all the party offices in one place and win the election then we have to do that. However, even if we will bring the best politicians with the best party democracy and then lose the election we are useless. That is my view.

Do you think the delay in filling vacancies in the national working committee is causing the party harm?

Obviously there is a delay and there is a party and legal machinery that governs how to go about this issue of replacing officials and offices. I am very comfortable and very sure that the law hasn’t been breached because if the law has been breached the present leadership will not allow it, the APC national chairman will not accept it. So, I am sure the party laws and the laws of the land haven’t been breached. However, bearing in mind we have an opponent that is very serious about takeover, an opponent that had been in government but has tasted almost five years of not being in government and is now doing everything it takes to be back government, we should know that it is important to put our house in order.

One of the things we must do and do quickly is to fill all vacant appoint positions and let the party machinery start working in full gear because that is the only thing that will save APC.  It will not be fair to Nigerians that after we have rescued them from the hands of the PDP and we have stabilized the country to now become lackadaisical and allow PDP to takeover and take us back.

So, what will you bring to the table as APC national secretary bearing in mind that the party in almost all states is crisis?

I don’t think there is crises in all the states of the federation and one of the things I want you to understand about party politics are just part of the political distractions. There is really crisis, which is just what the politics is all about.

Yes, we have issues in many states and if you look at them deeply you will find that all the issues are bothering around leadership and interest. So, it is not really crisis because if it was crisis I am sure the leadership of the party would have resolved it.

If I am given the opportunity to serve as the APC national secretary one of the things I will do is to bring about cohesion and bring everyone to the table to discuss, negotiate and come up with a better and workable solution to all the issues bedevilling the party but to be honest with you some of the states don’t have issues like my state, Bauchi. I don’t think we have an issue in terms of leadership. Also, in most of the states that are having issues it is centred on interest of this or that. The purpose of playing politics is to serve our people.

Jostling for the 2023 general elections has already commenced in major political parties, when will Nigerians enjoy the benefit of the last election?

Let me say that unfortunately the government in Nigeria is the prime mover of the economy and despite all the efforts Mr. President has put in for us to be self reliant and stop depending on government there are some loopholes we are yet to address and because of that everybody wants to be in government, everyone want to get political appointment and four years is nothing to people, they just want to get it and they can start working for it from today. As long as the people depend heavily on government political office clamouring will continue.

I don’t think it would be fair to say that we haven’t been seeing the result of what we have elected. Nigeria and Nigerians will be fair to accept that Nigeria is not what it uses to be, a lot of things have changed.

All the indices of development, security, economy and other things have improved but we have a long way to go. We are not saying we are there, we are trying and the government is trying and I believe very soon things will fall in place.

We have just heard what the president just came back from Russia with and how things are just been kick started again. I think we need to be patient a little, the foundation has been laid. Our hope and prayer is that we will not allow this development to be truncated.

It is common knowledge that President Buhari played a major role in the APC coming to power, how will the party maintain its hold on power in 2023 without him?

It is just that Nigerians easily forget things but if we remember where Nigeria was before APC, even talking the way we are talking now was almost impossible five years ago. Everyone was so afraid, even afraid of your next door neighbour. All those things have changed. We have achieved a lot and all I have to ask Nigerians is: do they want us to go back to the days of bombing? Do they want to go back to the era of importation left, right and centre? Do they want to go back to the era of insecurity and despondency? And I believe everyone would say no. We have a lot to say to Nigerians that we must not go back to that situation.

What is your take on zoning by APC in choosing its presidential candidate for 2023?

Well, I don’t think it is time to start talking of where the presidency should go to. What I can only say to you now, with all honesty, is that APC will field the best candidate who will win the election for the party and will be acceptable to all Nigerians. I can tell you that without any doubt.

However, I think it isn’t time for us to talk about where the presidency is going to be zoned to but I think we should position ourselves so that we can effectively bring in a candidate that will be acceptable to all Nigerians.

But you are aware that there is an existing zoning formula for APC party offices and the position of the national secretary is supposed to go to the North-east, between Yobe and Borno states, why are you in the race?

Positions were zoned to the North-east and they were divided within the North-east through consensus. Now the condition that led to all those decisions are no longer there and since the conditions have seized to exist we believe those zoning agreement also seize to exist.

As I said earlier party offices are zoned in order to give the party political advantage. An example is when the national youth leader was zoned to Bauchi and Gombe, party faithful in Bauchi decided without anybody asking that Gombe should take the position. At that time, APC was in control of the Bauchi state government and Gombe state was controlled by PDP. We believed that giving the position to Gombe would facilitate and give the party leverage to work hard and take the government which they did.

What we are saying in that as it stands Yobe state has government and Senate government, Borno state has APC government apart from other appointments. They also have the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives.

Gombe state is controlled by an APC government, they have National Youth Leader of the APC, Adamawa state doesn’t have APC government but they have National Vice Chairman of APC and they also have the secretary to the government who is also a politician.

Also, Taraba state doesn’t have APC in government but Taraba has never been an APC state. I can tell you if you give them the national chairman they won’t vote for APC so it is going to be a waste of position.

Bauchi state on the other had the highest votes in the whole of North-east for President Buhari. Bauchi has been in the forefront of whatever agitation of the APC since the coming of this administration. What we are saying is as it stands today Bauchi state has nothing in the national working committee of the party, no position in the National Assembly and no state government and still we are the highest in votes. So, unless APC wants to lose Bauchi state and I am sure APC doesn’t want to lose Bauchi state that is why we asking that the position of national secretary should be given to the state.

You can lose Kano state or Lagos state and still win the Presidency of the country. Since Tafa Balewa up till today there has never been a President that won Presidency without winning Bauchi state.

Can you throw more light on the assertion that no one can become President without winning Bauchi state?

It is still a hypothesis since it hasn’t been proven but I will want to be proven wrong. Bauchi state has been at the forefront of Nigerian politics from the 50s through the 60s and 70s there is no Northern politician that will tell you contrary.

There was a time in the 50s they call Bauchinization because there was a time that anything you do you had to go through the Bauchi formula. The truth of the matter is that we have always been politically literate.

There has never been a governor in Bauchi state that won Senate election when going out that is a fact and this is because Bauchi people are not politically naive they know what they are doing and that is why we won’t allow APC lose Bauchi just because we want to satisfy certain sentiments. APC will not gain anything by giving this position of national secretary to any of the other state rather it will gain a lot by taking it to Bauchi. Let me emphasis, I am not saying the people that are agitating to become National Secretary from other states are not good, no! They are all good and capable but what we are saying is give the position to Bauchi and I am not saying it should necessarily be me and Bauchi would decide whether to give the position to me or not but I hope and wish they will give it to me because I know my capabilities and I know my capacity.

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