The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been advised to take urgent measures to resolve series of crises rocking the party so as to save it from breaking up. Making the appeal in an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, a leading chieftain of the party, Senator Joseph Waku noted that the party’s future is being threatened by series of crises currently rocking it.
Some Nigerians have expressed concern about series of crises rocking your party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and fears are being expressed that if not well managed they could have unpalatable consequences or even lead to a break up, what is your take on this?
Yes I agree with those who harbor such fears about APC’s numerous crises having unpalatable consequences on the party’s fortunes. The crises are not only many, they are also serious ones ranging from grievances arising from a fall-out of the nationwide APC congresses, nPDP complaints of marginalisation, executive-legislature face-off to the recent threat by the National Assembly to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari if he fails to take action on the ongoing killings in Benue State and other parts of the country by Fulani herdsmen.
However, before I go into APC crises, let me express my sadness over the way killings going on in Benue State and other parts of the country are being handled by the Federal Government, especially some top members of the present APC-led Federal Government notably, the Minister for Defence, Brigadier Mansur Dan-Ali, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the Minister for Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami.
For Malami and Mansur Dan-Ali, these two ministers appear to value the lives of cows more than the lives of Benue State people who are being killed on a daily basis by the Fulani herdsmen. Imagine Ali, the Minister of Defence saying at the meeting of security chiefs recently held with Mr President that anti-open grazing law made in Benue and few other states should be repealed or suspended. What an insult on the people of Benue State. I wonder whether these people have feelings for human lives at all.
How can Ali and Malami openly canvass that a law made to save the lives of people of Benue State from killer herdsmen be repealed or suspended? Do these people have milk of human kindness in them at all? It is a big shame, a disgrace to humanity that Ali and Malami can show such open hostility to people of Benue State by showing their preference for cows’ lives to be preserved, and that they are not bothered that human beings like them are being slaughtered on a daily basis.
Alli and Malami through their actions are ridiculing President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. I wonder whether the two of them are giving President Buhari the right advice. President Buhari should call Malami and Alli to order especially Ali the Minister of Defence. He should be cautioned. My belief is that people that are appointed to position of authority or holding public office should not only be responsible but also should be credible.
It is a shame that both Malami, and Ali are showing bias in the discharge of their duties.
What both Alli and Malami should however realize is that Benue State anti-open grazing law has come to stay. No pressure from any individual or group will lead to the suspension of the law or it being repealed.
The law was made by Benue State House of Assembly to protect and save lives of the people. Benue State is legally and constitutionally empowered to make laws to save citizens of the state from the killer herdsmen.
How can Ali ask Benue State to suspend or repeal the anti-open grazing law? Is Ali a friend or an enemy of Benue State? Is Ali a friend to Miyetti-Allah group whose members are allegedly responsible for killing and terrorizing people of Benue State? These are questions fair minded Nigerians should ask Ali, the Minister of Defence.
It is only in Nigeria that when a law is made to save lives and properties, such laws now become an offence to some powerful interests.
When Zamfara State made its Sharia Law during Sani Yerima’s time as the state governor, and they were implementing their Sharia laws, did the Federal Government then under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo stop them? No. The Federal Government then could not do anything to stop Sharia laws in Zamfara because the Nigerian Constitution recognizes the power of state governments to make laws for states. States are autonomous units of the Federal Government, and are constitutionally empowered to make certain laws. Has Sharia Law been repealed in Zamfara State since over 18 years ago when Yerima and the state House of Assembly made it? No. Sharia is still in Zamfara because that is what the people and government of Zamfara State want. So nobody should disturb us in Benue State. We want anti-open grazing law in Benue State, so nobody should disturb or put pressure on us to repeal or suspend it as doing so will amount to interference in the affairs of Benue State.
Anti-grazing law has come to stay in Benue State, and there is no going back on it. It is unfortunate, very unfortunate that people like Alli who pretend to be President Buhari’s friend are creating more problems for Mr President. It is sad that people like Alli are taking undue advantage of President Buhari’s reliance on them as aides.
You were saying something about Miyetti Allah that …
Miyetti Allah, members of that group are a big problem for us in Benue State. They are the ones terrorizing our people, turning many Benue State people into refugees in their own homeland. If you look at the number of Benue State people that are living in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP’s) camps as a result of attacks by Miyetti Allah members, you will weep. Millions of Benue people have been turned into refugees, while others have been killed as a result of the nefarious activities of the members of the Miyetti Allah organisation. It is sad that in spite of their atrocities, members of Miyetti Allah are being protected.
In Nigerian Constitution, only four categories of people are supposed to enjoy immunity, that is the president, vice-President, governors and deputy governors, but today, members of the Miyetti Allah group have also joined the elite group as they enjoyed same immunity being enjoyed by President Buhari. They have become untouchables or how many of them have you seen being prosecuted in spite of all the havocs being wreaked by the members of the group. Miyetti Allah members obviously or it seems are above the law, and this is sad; this tends to lend credence to the claims by some people that in Nigeria, you have two sets of lawa; one is for the rich, and the affluent while the other is for the poor and the weak.
Then on the APC crises, what’s your view?
The crises rocking the APC are becoming more and more pronounced, and this is not in the best interest of the party. What is even more pathetic about APC crisis is that most of them are crises that are self inflicted -impunity, disobedience to the rule of law, injustice and series of others.
With these crises which are very serious, I have been telling people that APC may not rule Nigeria for 16 years which PDP did. Internal wrangling may kill or bury APC even earlier than expected. What APC should realise is that with all these crises festering, Nigerians are getting impatient with them, and what the party should realise is that Nigerians have a choice. If crises persist in APC, and Nigerians are not happy with the ugly developments, there are other platforms and choices available to them. APC is shaking, and for those members who are saying that there is no cause for alarm, they are deluding themselves with false impression. APC is shaking, and the earlier something is done to stop these wrangling, the better. The signs of cracks in APC is there for everybody to see.
You ask me, what is responsible for the crises in APC? The answer is very simple -impunity, arrogance, and greed. These are the major factors. For most of the actors causing the crises in APC, they are not only greedy but they also see politics as a do-or-die affair. They want to impose, and corner everything to themselves. They don’t want to brook opposition – they don’t want to serve, they want to lord it over others. They don’t want dissenting views – they also detest being given the right advice – they want it all. This is why some of these APC leaders arrogate to themselves or give themselves different titles that suit them. I even heard some of them saying that there is no shaking within APC, and that anybody that wants to go can go. I feel sorry for these people. Are they truly politicians? I want to feel that whether they accept or not, there is a lot of shaking in APC today, and if care is not taken, these crises may consume APC or let me say the party APC may pay dearly for it. The ominous signs are there, and are very visible for any discerning politician to notice.
What do you think can be done to salvage the situation?
For peace to reign in any group, organization or party, there must be justice, equity and fair play. When the PDP held its convention last year and there was no serious crisis, it was successful. I told fellow APC leaders that that was a wake up call for us as a party, but instead of taking my observation in good faith, some APC leaders labeled me pro-PDP element. They tagged me a PDP sympathiser instead of taking my advice and acting on it.
I have been in politics since for over 60 years now – a lot of people are defecting from APC and this should give us some concern. APC will only get stronger if the problems of impunity, arrogance and greed are addressed. Nigerians loved APC but there is an extent to which they can tolerate what is happening within the party – so it is better for us to put our house in order now.
How do you see the complaints of marginalization and persecution by the nPDP members in APC?
The complaints of the nPDP members should not be glossed over if APC wants to remain in government – that bloc (nPDP) is very powerful. Even from my investigation, about 80 members of the House of Representatives that are from nPDP are planning to dump APC. If they should make good their threat, won’t that affect the APC? You also have several senators that are 100 percent loyal to nPDP bloc. And the nPDP members grievances should be addressed.
APC as a political party is not being well run, and this is making APC to appear to be its own enemy. Even on the issue of the impeachment threat, what it portends again is that APC is not working together in harmony. All these things happening should give APC a cause to worry about 2019. The APC as it appears now is like a house divided against itself.
Ahead of 2019, some groups and organizations have started campaigning for President Buhari for a second term, how do you see the development?
There is nothing wrong with individuals and groups canvassing support for the president. However, I implore President Buhari to be careful with some of these groups, and one of such groups I have in mind is the one called Buhari Support Group led by Colonel Hameed Ali. The group is full of arrogant people whose stock in trade is only to praisesing Buhari. I’m sure that the president doesn’t even know most of the people in the group. Most of them are political jesters, and instead of preaching unity and reconciliation, they utter statements that are provocative and divisive. Buhari should keep his distance from them.
How many members of this group are so popular to win votes for Buhari? They can’t mobilise any support within their own households.
The most important weapons Nigerians have to fight injustice is their PVCs and their votes – they don’t need to fight anybody for the control of the party. If life is being made difficult for you in one political party, then you have a choice of moving to another platform. Politics should not be a do-or-die affair. We have about 68 political parties, so why should you kill yourself or worry yourself to death if you are being persecuted in a political party? I also disagree with some who are ascribing most of the problems to the outgoing party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. Oyegun may have his own faults but there are also some individuals within APC that feel they are bigger than the party. Some are so full of themselves that they call themselves or their supporters call them Tigers, Lions etc. Some state governors are also involved – they also have their own share of the blame.
My advice to all these that are power hungry is that they should all remember what happened to former President Goodluck Jonathan – Jonathan spent a lot of money to remain in power but unfortunately, Nigerians were wiser – they took his money, and still voted against him.
I once again appeal to Nigerians to maintain the same spirit this time around. Any politician that brings money to you, take it but vote only for your conscience.
What’s your view on the allegations and counter-allegations between the camps of supporters of President Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo especially on corruption-related issues?
For me, what is happening between Buhari and Obasanjo is good for our democracy. Let the camps of each of them continue to expose themselves. It is good. It will enable Nigerians to know the truth.
When Buhari came into office in 2015, I told him he can’t fight any successful war against corruption without probing Obasanjo’s administration. Obasanjo’s government was very corrupt and I expect Buhari to probe him.
However, if those in Obasanjo’s camp feel they have any document indicting Buhari on corruption, let them bring it out. It is good for our democracy – like I said earlier, having both Obasanjo and Buhari squaring up to each other will enable Nigerians to know the truth about something that had hitherto been covered up.