In this interview with BODE OLAGOKE, former governor of Kano state Senator Kabiru Gaya speaks on reasons the APC should consider him for the position of deputy senate president, and how to resolve crises in the party, among others.
Why do you want to be deputy senate president?
I am happy and proud to be a member of the APC. And I’m happy that President Muhammadu Buhari has won re-election on the platform of the APC. I believe President Buhari will do much better than he did in the last four years. I am sure you no previous federal government had performed like this government. We expect to see more progress in the fight against corruption, and good governance.
To discuss politics of the National Assembly, leadership positions and elections of the leadership positions, I am happy that the APC has zoned position of the senate president to the North-east of which the most ranking senators are Ahmed Lawan and I this coming ninth senate.
I am happy that he is the choice for the senate president and we have Gbajabiamila, the endorsed for speaker from the south for the House of Representatives and we have the deputy speakership zoned to North-central.
Therefore, out of the four zones that contributed most, I am not saying other zones did not contribute but if you are putting calculations, North-west comes first, North-east second, North-central third, South-west fourth, then South-south fifth, while the South-east sixth. In each of these six zones, there must be a member of the leadership in each of the chambers.
If in the senate, we have the senate president from the North-east then deputy senate president from the North-west then the other four zones will share the posts of senate leader, majority leader, chief whip and then deputy senate leader. So, let me just say it clearly that is one of the reasons I feel that two criteria or even three that bring somebody into the leadership of National Assembly are based on: one, ranking in the Senate.
In terms of ranking, I think I’m one of the most ranked in northern Nigeria. In the southern Nigeria, we have people like Ovie Omo-Agege, Enyinnaya Abaribe and so on. So, I think four of us are the most ranked in the ninth senate. So I am qualified by that criterion.
Also, experience. I have been a former governor and of the three of us that are former governors in this senate; Myself, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi and Senator Bukar Ibrahim, I am the only one returning. If you look at that seniority I’m also qualified. If you look at experience in the senate, I’m also there.
why I’m saying nobody else except North-west should produce deputy senate president is that we have produced 6 million votes and in this kind of politics, you don’t throw away where you are strong. You will have to consolidate the party because this last election was made because of Buhari and Kano factors.
So, what we are saying is that if we could give speaker to the South-west, I don’t see reason we can’t get deputy senate president in the North. If we are saying we have the president, fine, the South has the vice president and I believe it is better we consolidate on our positions now. That will attract even the other two zones to also work hard for the APC because I knew that President Buhari did a lot in all these states.
You talked about taking along people, don’t you think it is good to also embrace those far away from the party like the South-east, South-south and some other areas?
We need the South-east, South-south and the remaining four zones, we need them! But there are other positions like senate leader which is also a very important position, we have chief whip which is also important because if you give all other zones positions, and you deny North-west which has the highest number of votes – 6 million votes, do you want to throw away 6 million votes?
I’m saying we need the South-east, we need the South-south but you cannot throw away where you have 17 senators just to satisfy where you have only two senators.
I believe the party should look more into serving the people that served them. Even as a Senator when I won my election and I looked at the results I got at the various local governments, where I got more results, I encouraged them. Even the opposition knew and said some local government are no-go area for them and there are some LGs they know they can never win because they fear that those LGs are Gaya’s own and they would not even try that because I have consolidated myself.
Therefore, if APC will continue, I’m sure that is the goal of President Buhari. Let’s consolidate where we have strength. I mean give North-west a position of strength in the leadership, and with that I believe in the 2023 we won’t have much problem.
Of the three of you are jostling for this position, the others have been reeling out the numbers of senators in their support. Can you tell us the number of senators backing you?
You know it is not good to lie because you are campaigning. I’m a gentleman and in terms of election, I have gone through many elections not only as a senator for four times and as such I don’t need to be saying I have 60, I have 70, because of campaign. Even if 60 or 70 signed, when it comes to election, it is a different thing altogether but I’m sure I’m comfortably leading.
Two, among those who are running for the seat, if you talk of ranking, I am the most senior. You can even see it in the senate, sitting arrangement in the senate is based on seniority. The leadership first, then the next seat is ranking, then the newcomers. So, in any society we respect elders, in any society we respect ranking, even in the bar. As elders, we will also leave some day but people should have respect to the elders and we are doing our best.
Those who I have worked with in the National Assembly know my performance. I have never quarrelled with anybody in the National Assembly for good 12 years. Even, the outgoing leadership, we worked together in the interest of President Muhammadu Buhari.
What are your chances of becoming the next DSP?
My chances are very high. I’m sure I’m not bragging but definitely it is over 70 to 80 percent.
Aren’t you worried that your party went silent on other positions after zoning the senate president and the speaker?
Well, I may not blame the party. May be the party doesn’t want to be too much involved. Already, the party is trying to resolve the issue of Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, which has not been settled 100 percent. So, if they do that now, it may open another crack. That is why the party kept mute on the deputy senate president position too.
To be honest, the party should have zoned the deputy senate president to North-west and then may be South-south will now go for senate leader. South-east can go for chief whip, to carry them along. The APC should say let us give it to North-west. I am not saying it has to be myself but I’m just saying that let that zone be consolidated for the interest of the party. If there is somebody more ranking than me and also capable, I don’t have problem with that but let it go to North-west.
How do you think present brouhaha within the APC can be resolved?
There is no where a political party won’t have problems, but it’s too much in the APC. It’s affecting us, making us lose states, lose members of the National Assembly to the opponent. We have lost members of states assembly, and even governorship seats.
It’s not in the interest of the party. We are far less than what we were before. Last time we had elections, we were better than what we are now. So it’s a minus. That is why some people like Oyegun had to speak out.
It’s not good for us to continue like this. People must understand this. If you’re a leader, you just do your best. Be a leader, not a dictator, be a leader, not a boss, be a leader who accommodates people. That’s what leadership is. As a leader, you have to face many problems and be able handle problems that God has placed before you to solve.
And when you become a leader, make more friends and not enemies.
We should look inward and say what are the problems with this leadership of the party? Let them come together and resolve our problems. Everybody is fighting for the interests of the progress of the APC and the interest of the president. We want him to run a good and sound government. That is the essence of the team working together. I believe we should all work together in the interest of Nigeria and for the interest of our party.