From John Adams, Minna
Tanko Beji, a lawyer, is the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Niger. He said the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, government in the state, lacks direction.
By May 29, this administration will be two, what is your take on the journey so far?
The fact speaks for itself and we are all living together in Niger state and we are seeing what is happening. For me what is happening in Niger is not surprising because you have people in government who were not prepared for governance, but they found themselves there by accident so there they have nothing to offer to the people. Two years down the line, there is nothing tangible to show and thank God the governor is currently on projects inspection tour of all the local government areas of the state, he calls it projects assessment tour but I call it jamboree tour, properly to test the feelings of the people. So far, the government has shown that it lacks direction.
What is your take concerning the array of arrest of your party members across the country, and in the state over alleged corrupt practices?
It is unfortunate and that is what I will call massive clampdown on PDP members nationwide but I can assure you that we are not intimidated at all; the party can never be intimidated because as an opposition party now you should expect that. But we have conditioned our mind for the worst. However if they think that the arrest and harassment will weaken us, it is a lie, it has further strengthen us to face the situation we are in today. With the level of political awareness in the country today, it is such that nobody can be intimidated again. What used to happen years back has changed because Nigerians are more enlightened now about political development, so the situation we found ourselves now is not even about political party again, it’s an issue of whom you are, everybody will bear his or her father’s name when it comes to election.
One major problem facing your party is leadership. How many factions do you have in Niger?
Well, first of all let me say that as a political party you cannot say that there are no problems but your ability to manage the problems makes you who you are, and I agree that we have some pockets of problems here and there which arose from the fall out of state congresses. But thank God we have put our house in order because we believe that only a united house can fight and reclaim power, and it is in that spirit that we are working. I want to use this opportunity to thank all stakeholders and members of the elders committee and the state executive committee for their intervention, today PDP has no faction in Niger state, and we are a united house.
So which faction does the state belong to at the National level?
The Niger state PDP was part of the party’s national convention in Port-Harcourt, decisions were reached at that convention so that is where we are. But in any case, what is happening at the national level is an in house thing, and we are at the Supreme Court so whatever decision that is reached at the Supreme Court will determine the next line of action. For now, Niger state stands by the Port-Harcourt convention’s decision.
People believe that the death of the former governor of state and member, Board of Trustees, BoT, who is the pillar of the party, Abdulkadir Kure will cause a serious setback for the party, what is your opinion on that?
Yes we lost one of our pillars, a strong member of the BoT and a former governor of the state, and there is no doubt that his death has created a vacuum in the party in the state and even at the national level that will be hard to fill, but nevertheless the party is not dead. The death of Engineer Kure has further strengthened us as a party, we have no choice now than to come together and work together as a family so as to achieve our objective of reclaiming the power back.
From our own observation, Niger state is the only state in the entire north central that PDP is still respecting the zoning arrangement; will the party still maintain the zoning come 2019 in the state?
Well I have nothing much to say here because we have two more years to the gubernatorial election, when we get there we will know how to cross the bridge.
We are asking the question because there are already insinuations that majority must carry the votes in the state in 2019 like is being done in some other states?
I don’t subscribe to that, I subscribe to sincerity of purpose, I subscribe to fairness and justice and above all I subscribe to the rules of the game which I believe will enhance unity in the party. But in any event, like I said, let us wait till when the time comes.
Let us look at the ongoing anti corruption trials, why is that majority of the former governors that are being tried are from the north, does that mean that there are more corrupt former governors in the north than other parts of the country?
I think this is one question that is being asked everywhere, but what I need to say is that whatever goes around comes around. Anybody who finds himself in the corridors of power today should know that tomorrow will be another person’s turn. What is happening in the north today is like setting a precedent which will not augur well for the north as region, so I want to call on the current crops of governors in the north to see in between the lines and to also know that someone else will be in charge tomorrow and they will be called to come and account for their deeds while in office. Am saying this because if you think today you are in power and can do and undo, tomorrow someone else will take over and do the same thing to you.
But some people are of the opinion that the northern governors are over ambitious in their quest for higher political offices and that is why they are finding themselves in this mess, what do you think?
Absolutely, I agree with you to some extent. I say so because people in the corridors of power get blinded by situation, and there is the need for the present crops of leaders in the north to open their eyes wide to be able pip into tomorrow from today which belongs to all of us, tomorrow belongs to God. But for the unity of the north, yes there is no gain saying that the north of today is not what it used to be, there is serious disunity across diverse groups in the north, division among the leaders, division among religious groups, division among tribes and ethnic groups, division in every sphere of our life in the north and I think it is high time the leaders in the north look beyond their nose, let us realize that our strength lies in the unity of the north.
Today there is serious concern and controversies about the health of the President, some people feel that he should resign, what is your take?
You see to me I have a different opinion about this matter, because every living being must fall ill, once someone is alive, he or she is bound to be sick one day, no human being is super-natural, that the President is sick and so what about it, anybody can be sick. However my major concern is the way the whole thing is being managed, my problem is the way the presidency is managing the sickness of the president. It is no crime to be sick.
How do you think they should have managed it?
Let them tell Nigerians the truth about the president’s health, there is nothing to hide, it should not be about saying one thing today and tomorrow another thing is happening. They should know that after election Buhari becomes the president of Nigeria and not the president of APC as a party. But above all I wish the president quick recovery because he is our president, the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Recently sir your party Deputy gubernatorial candidate in April 2015 general election, Isah Liman Kantigi was accused of keeping stolen funds amounting to N4billion in a Commercial Bank, how true is this?
Our party’s deputy gubernatorial candidate in the April 2015 general election is one man everybody knows was a business man before he joined politics; as a matter of fact he was already a successful businessman before joining politics. If the anti graft agency finds anything against him, they should know what to do, not to prosecute him on the pages of newspapers, I think that is very wrong. The Man in question is a law abiding citizen of this country so let follow what the law says. This is not only a mere propaganda, to me, it is a political witch hunt, and Nigerians are tired of all these propaganda.
What can you say about the recovery of money here and there by the security agents?
That is what I am saying; this is a big question, if money were found in the airport in Kaduna, who kept the money there? Up till now nobody has come out to claim the money. They have also not told us who owns the money, so that means somebody must have planted the money there just to create an impression. If they cannot tell Nigerians who owns the money then they were the ones who planted it.