Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central senatorial district in this interview BODE OLAGOKE, speaks on why the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may finally collapse soonest.
Why are you at the APC national secretariat today?
I am here to personally express my support for President Muhammadu Buhari for setting up a Reconciliation Committee headed by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. We are confident that his intervention could most likely address the fundamental issues that are facing the party at both the national and at the state levels.
The APC is faced with crises in some states where it holds sway as a party and this crises have defiled solutions for over two years and past efforts have not been able to address the problems. Nobody can solve this problem other than President Muhammadu Buhari himself through Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The governors cannot solve the problems of the APC because they are part of the crises. The APC senators and members of the House of Representatives cannot solve the problem because they are party to the problem. The party at the national level cannot solve the problem because there is disrespect and disregard for the leadership of the party in the last two years.
The very fact that the party itself has been inhibited with lack of funds and other challenges made it impossible for the party to bring to order what is happening. What we need to understand very clearly is that crisis within a ruling party is not new and not strange. Each time you have a group of people who organise themselves and take over political power, you are bound to have internal crisis within the party. It is so in the National Liberation Front in Algeria, it is so with the African National Congress, it is so in any political party you can think of in history that has taken over power.
Right now, the APC is both the government and the opposition because most of the criticism and opposition that is going on in the country is within the APC itself. So, one tragedy that usually becomes the symptom that extinguishes a political party is absence of internal democracy. You can see the supremacy of the party in South Africa and in Ethiopia. But in Nigeria, there is no supremacy of the party because people holding position of executive power think that the party should be under them and not they being below the party.
If the state chairman of a political party can go and kneel down before a state governor for money to pay the rent of his office and feed his family, political parties in the Nigeria setting seems to be parastatals of the state government and that is totally unacceptable. There is also the syndrome of the party is our own. If a clique of people believe that they founded the party and other people are strangers, then the recipe for crisis has been set. What we need to understand is the very fact that the PDP was not destroyed from the outside, but from the inside. It is the elements within the PDP that were marginalized and oppressed that became the final nail on the coffin of her party.
If the APC must learn anything, it must learn from the history and I believe that some of the people who left the PDP to join in this merger should not come with that bug and bacteria because those fundamental issues need to be addressed. If all party members are not treated equally and fairly, certainly there will be problem.
Why is there a parallel APC exco in Kaduna state?
In Kaduna state today, there are two APC secretariats. There is the one which the governor set up for himself which serves as his personal convenience where he can do whatever he wants to do and we also have our own APC secretariat.
Our own is the genuine one because the chairman of the party that was duly certified and elected and recognized by the INEC was not the one the governor is dealing with. So, we are here to tell the national secretariat that Senator Shehu Sani, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and other party stalwarts in Kaduna will not accept, tolerate, and endorse any form of tyranny by the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai.
He has pocketed the party and wants to impose his will and is exploiting his proximity to the President to unleash reign of terror on the party. Right now, the party is already divided in Kaduna and it is for the national secretariat to note this and we have said it in clear terms. The problem has defiled solution for two years, but we believe that Asiwaju can do a lot of reconciliation and we hope that he will be able to achieve a lot because if Asiwaju fails, it is going to be doom for the party.
When you see people fighting within the party, it is because they want to remain in the party. If they don’t want to remain within the party, they will simply walk away from the party. So, we are saying in the 21st century Nigeria, there are those of us in the APC that will not accept any governor going into a room to write the list of his concubines, friends, his errand boys and guides and send them as executive of the party.
We are going to remain in the APC and pursue this agenda and my presence here at the APC is to send a clear message of appreciation for Tinubu’s appointment and so to tell them that it is in the best interest of the party that they don’t take sides or the most they can do is to give us equal treatment as far as Kaduna is concerned.
Is it possible to see the parallel exco in Kaduna state happening at the national level?
I don’t know anything about national level. But we have parallel APC in Kaduna and it is left for Asiwaju to build the bridges. Lagos is known for bridges, therefore, we hope that there will be seventh Mainland Bridge to connect the divide. But we are not sure of that.
What is your take on Buhari contesting the 2019 Presidential election?
One thing Nigerians refused to recognize is that people have the right to decide if they want the President to re-contest or not and he ałso has the right to accept or reject the decision of the people.
Any opinion on whether he should contest or not is simply an exercise of the freedom of speech, and it is left for him to decide. However, in every consideration, he is constitutionally empowered to decide whether he wants to contest or not.
But I think it is in the interest of the country and the interest of the party that President Buhari makes his position known because right now, it has been his aides that are speaking on his behalf and whether they are doing it with his consent or not, no Nigerian for now knows whether President Buhari will contest or not.
Your posters, ‘Shehu Sani for governor’ are everywhere in Kaduna, are you contesting for governorship in 2019?
Well, in politics, there are things you want and there could be decision later of what may be or may not be. In the process where reconciliation is taking place now, I think it is in our interest to put our ambitions in our pockets, according what Mr President said, and a wait for Asiwaju to address the problem.
It is going to be a tragedy if he fails. This is what I know and I can speak in parables. The pronouncement appointing Asiwaju to reconcile members has averted the tragedy of people decamping from the APC to the other parties. It has been able to do so at least for now.
The National Assembly recently re-ordered the 2019 elections time table and it is generating some heat. What was really wrong with the initial time table as designed by INEC in which the Presidential Election was to come first?
There is an impression of the National Assembly which people have, that there are pro and anti-Buhari senators but I do not think that is true. We are all senators and on issues we vote or decided what our positions should be.
The re-ordering of the sequence of elections was informed by a number of factors. One, the hitherto position where you start from the president and end up with the states was one in which we had the “bandwagon” effect.
Smaller parties felt that each time you had a presidential election and President Buhari wins, it means nobody will win any seat again, it is going to be President Buhari all through. So, now, what we are saying is that they should put the Presidential Election last and that Nigerians have the opportunity to vote for Senators and members of House of Representatives; the ones they want, they elect them and those they do not want, they reject them. The reason for this is very simple. We are trying to avoid mass trials, mass convictions and mass burials of senators and members of House of Representatives. So, by that, we will now allow each person to go to his grave or to be acquitted before “Justice Electorate”.