The Senate’s representative in the recently composed 13- member caretaker committee for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central), says the party’s crisis requires political solutions. Taiye Odewale reports.
The general feeling about the dissolution of the APC National Working Committee is that it was targeted at a group of people within the party. How would you react to this sir?
The dissolution of the NWC is not to punish anybody and there is no victor and a vanquished. No, rather it is just a way of moving forward so that we can all sit together in one house, reconcile with one another and then carry everybody along.
Even some of our brothers and sisters within the party that are standing on one side about an issue and those on the fence or even others that have gone to the other side, we will go and meet them and ask them to come back to their house. It is the house they have built. It is everybody’s house.
What is your reaction to the submissions of some aggrieved members of the party that the dissolution was illegal?
You see when you are working to solve problems, things that are legally right may be politically wrong and there are things that are politically right and legally right as well. The law is meant for people, but people are not meant for the law. As far as I am concerned, the fundamental thing is how do we solve the problem of the party at this point in time? What do we do? Yes, democracy is the rule of law, but is based on consensus. Every law is based on consensus. If the consensus of the family is let us move forward by doing this, then so be it.
We have started calling our brothers and sisters in the National Working Committee. We have started talking to people who have gone to court and those who are aggrieved. It is a family thing, so we will sit down and sort it out.
Specifically, are you proposing a political solution to the crisis ravaging the party?
Of course, we will meet our brothers and talk to them in their houses. We will be very frank and honest with ourselves. You are aggrieved, yes. But this is the way we can solve the problem or do you have a better way?
Maybe some of them will still participate in the convention. But if they go to court they are creating more bad blood. But if they don’t go to court, then they will be considered good family members, and urged to come back and contest again.
There is also allegation that the APC governors have taken over the affairs of the party going by their numbers in the 13- member caretaker committee. Do you think it is right for them to hold two different positions at a time?
Whatever you are doing in party politics, can you extricate the governors? Does that mean that the governors are only governors for themselves or are they governors for the party? When you asked whether they can hold two offices, yes, they can, provided one is for the public and one is for their party.
I am a serving senator but I am also in that group. So what is wrong with that? We are looking for people who will come and solve the problem. People who are neither controversial nor have taken side on the ranging issues within the party.
I challenge you to assess that Interim Management Committee and tell me who is controversial among them. Who has taken sides? Is it me? Is it the governor of Yobe state, Niger or Osun? Are we controversial? Which side do we belong to?
We are coming to find the solution and nobody is a victim and nobody is going to be destroyed by this arrangement. Everybody will have participation. In the next six months, every part and parcel of every APC person will be integrated.
Nobody will be excluded because that has been the major problem. I respect Adams Oshiomhole, but circumstances breed circumstances. He came and he tried to solve the problem but then certain problems cropped up, and he is an activist. You will not take that away from him. He has passion. Whatever he does he is passionate about it. But probably the advisers around him did not advise him well, I don’t know. But we will look into it and see how we can solve the problem.
Some party members felt that it was wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to single-handedly dissolved the NWC and constituted the caretaker committee. Was the President right or wrong within the context of democracy and constitution of the party?
Within the context of finding a political solution to problems afflicting a political party based on consensus, the president was right. For me, we are saving Nigeria and not only the APC. So what the president has done as the leader of the political party is to save Nigeria because if Nigeria is not saved, no political party can even exist.
Today, if the insurgency that was ravaging this country had gone on, you and I will not be sitting here. So, let us save our dear country then we move forward.
What if some of the sacked NWC members eventually seek legal redress in court?
Since they are our brothers and sisters we will talk to them. It is one house. It is like a brother suing a sister and a brother suing a brother. We will let them know the implication by asking them how they would feel standing against their brother in court.
We will let them know that though there must have been something that was wrong but internal mechanisms of the party for addressing such issues must be exhausted before one goes to the court in line with the constitution of the party which lays emphasis on consensus as the primary thing to be done before taking any other action.
We will let any aggrieved person realise that consensus can be achieved, that problems can be politically solved internally as against going to court where one side would have its way while the other side may feel cheated. This could give rise to that tendency to go underground with a view rock the boat for all.