Iliyasu Abdu is seeking to become the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He told journalists in this interview that he will ensure that everybody in the party complies with the rules guiding the party. He said if elected, he will take the party to higher heights. Abdu spoke on other national issues. BABA YUSUF was there.
How do you think the APC govt has fared so far?
APC has fared very well; if you look at the interventions, the APC government has done well from 2015. In terms of monetary value through social development and intervention programmes, they have spent over N3 trillion on infrastructure developments. It had never been done before in the history of this country. It is a deliberate policy of the APC government that brought all this. And you can see, the N-power, survival funds and this is a party policy to help the citizens to overcome challenges.
Everyone knows what Covid-19 has caused the world, not only Nigeria. The whole world was shut down. But because of the intervention of APC, many people are still surviving and doing very well more than in other countries. So, APC is fairing stronger and stronger. However, there is still room for improvement because that is not the end of it. That is why we are trying to come out so that we can improve on these with a view to doing better, because we are entrepreneurs.
We have been in business and we know how to grow an organisation for optimal performance.
Will you then say that the citizens are enjoying the APC govt?
Yes, Nigeria is a dynamic country with over 200 million people. People will not agree that everybody is enjoying the APC. But, in all sincerity, the majority of Nigerians will agree with me that as far as this APC government is concerned, it has done excellently well.
The on-going party revalidation, some say, is against the party’s constitution; what’s your reaction to this?
Well, you know this country is dynamic, like I said earlier. People have their own ideas with different views. But a political party is supposed to accommodate everybody. And I think it is a very good idea for revalidation and welcoming of new members. This is because that is the only way a party can bring in new members; after all, we are not cultists. The party is open. It is like an association of like-minded people. If somebody wants to be with you, welcome him.
Why do you think the party has been suffering leadership problems – from Oyegun to Oshiomhole and the present?
It is not like suffering leadership problems. APC was recently formed – a merger of different sets of people with different political views. So, definitely you should have that kind of skirmishes. Even your tongue and mouth do have issues at times. It is a normal thing. As time goes on, this too will be resolved and there will be peace in the party.
What the commander-in-chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, is doing gives everybody free time to participate actively. He is not intervening. He wants the party to grow by itself. He wants it to grow very well. Sincerely, that is what we call teething problems. It will solve itself one day.
What kind of leaders do you expect the party to elect when it goes for its convention in the next few months?
Well, we need a dynamic leader, a focused leader; a God-fearing leader who will be fair to every member of the party. He should also be a young vibrant leader who can move and have ideas to move the party to the next level. If the president who is the national leader leaves power, we should think ahead of what will happen to the party.
Because of his presence, many things cannot be done. But when he leaves, what happens? That is why we need a dynamic and vibrant youthful person to lead this party.
President Buhari has won elections on two different occasions. How will you rate his administration?
President Buhari’s administration is God-sent. The COVID-19 pandemic; look at the calamity that befell Nigeria. The oil price crashed, then the coronavirus outbreak. Then the whole world was shot down. Look at the social intervention from different aspects. Survival funds and N-power, conditional cash grant which cushions the effect. People at the grassroots who don’t have bank accounts were provided with N5, 000 each; people that have never held three thousand naira in their lives.
God loves Nigeria so much and that is why he brought Buhari in. By the special grace of God, when he leaves, the next sets of people coming in will take Nigeria further. That is why the party itself must be the pillar that will hold this country together. This is because if we have one hundred and twenty thousand polling units that are performing optimally, this issue of insecurity will not be there.
How will you rate the present govt in the area of security?
Well, as I said, if you were in this country prior to 2015, you would recall how bomb explosions scared a lot of people. This was a situation where you didn’t know when the next bomb would explode. Some people couldn’t even go out because they didn’t know if the next car was laden with bombs behind or in front of you. Even the president’s life was attempted in Kaduna. But you will agree with me that since he won his election in 2015, the menace of Boko Haram has been curtailed to the North-east. They are just surviving. But by the special grace of God and with the help of the citizens, you and I, the issue of insecurity will be a thing of the past.
At the party level, we have agents everywhere. We have party members all over this country that if we harness that power in the party we can do better.
Some people are of the belief that President Buhari is the life wire of the APC and that when he leaves the party will crumble. Do you believe in this school of thought?
This is one of the reasons I came out, because I so much believe in his ability. This is a man that since he started his campaign, though I have not met him, I have been voting for him. It was only in 2011 that I voted for Jonathan. I believe in his ability and integrity very much. What is missing in this country is integrity. So, if Buhari leaves the scene and the party collapses, the youth should be blamed.
Let us keep building on the legacy of his integrity and honesty. That is what we want. And, to do this, you and I should be committed. There is this slogan, “change begins with me.” This is the truth. It is you and I. We must be the change- agent. Let it start from the polling units and to the right thing and let’s see if the country will not turn to an Eldorado tomorrow.
We have all the resources that we need to move this country to the next level. You don’t need to invent anything again. Everything we need we have. It is for us to now build on his legacy. If President Buhari goes and the party goes, it will be an indictment to the youth of this country; those who believe and die to make this country to be one. So, if we allow that to happen, then we have disappointed the country. Nigeria should be stronger and better when Buhari goes.
Are there any money-bags within the party that are sponsoring your campaign?
I came out to discountenance that issue of money-bags. When the time comes, it is you and I that will finance my campaign. We will do an SoS and google application. The youth of this country will take back the country from the money-bags, from people looking for one position or the other.
If the position of the chairman you are seeking is not zoned to the North-central where you hail from, will you opt for another position in the party?
This is an issue of policy. I am coming here to give my best, so, if by chance it’s not within my zone, I will offer my expertise to the next person that is coming in. I can be his special adviser. I will offer him my experience so that together we can move this country forward. The main issue is the leadership of the party.
We want to live a legacy for our youth. Our fathers have gone. We are on our way and our children are coming up. Look at the issue of kidnapping. Look at education. Everything has issues. But we just have to do it. Nobody will come and do it for us. If you allow these people who couldn’t do it to remain there, that means you are doing the same thing over and over again.
So, people like us have to come in to change the narrative. We cannot sit down on the sideline and watch. This is because a political party is the vehicle for good governance. And that is the truth. Without a political party, you cannot do anything. The next thing is that you see charlatans all over the place making laws for you.
From your zone, the North-central, the governor of your state is aspiring to become the president while you are going for the party’s chairmanship position…
Good, as I always say, it takes a king to have a Kingdom. My governor is eminently qualified to be the president of this country. He is a young man, dynamic and a two-term governor. He is intelligent; he is eminently qualified to be president of this country.
I am also very eminently qualified to be chairman of this party. So, it takes a king to make a Kingdom. If it means that the people that will make this country perfect should come from the same village, so be it. The issue of zoning or rotation should not be a hindrance for the success and well-being of a nation. If everybody from my village will be ministers and everything works perfectly and everybody is happy, then there should be no problem.
President Buhari appointed a youth as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently. What’s your reaction to that?
You will all agree with me that the appointment of the EFCC chairman, Abdurasheed Bawa, is one of the appointments that the president made which has been applauded country-wide. You will agree with me that Bawa is young and dynamic. This is the first time that somebody from that system will rise to rule it. You are encouraging those people to work harder because you know you will get to the pinnacle of your career.
So, if given the opportunity to lead the party, what will you do differently?
Sincerely, I will return the party to the grassroots. I will eliminate money-bags, empower the people at the grassroots. Before coming to the ward, we will empower the polling units. There are one hundred and twenty thousand polling units and they must be empowered.
So, if they are empowered then I think we can eliminate the money-bags. That is what I want to do so that people can sit down in one place and decide for the whole country. Let the people decide for themselves – that is democracy, government of the people and by the people and for the people.