Alhaji Basheer Garba Umar is a Kaduna based chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He was the National Coordinator, Buhari Mass Movement during the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.
In this interview with Saturday Sun, the APC chieftain warned that there may be mass revolt against the federal government if it fails to take all necessary steps to end insecurity in the North particularly and the country at large. He also spoke on 2023 presidency, saying that the Southeast cannot get the coveted office on APC platform because according to him the zone did not vote for the party in previous elections. He fielded questions from NOAH EBIJE in Kaduna.
How comfortable are you with the state of your party, APC and the nation in general?
I am comfortable with the state of the party because you find crisis in all political parties but the ability and capacity to manage the crisis is what really matters. You can see the influx of decampees into the party. There is no doubt, the party is currently facing challenges but they are all manageable challenges. We may differ on the ways the crisis is being managed but at the end of the day we shall triumph as a stronger party.
As for the state of the nation, I think any sane person won’t be comfortable in the area of securing lives and properties especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. The spate of killings, kidnapping/banditry is consuming every part of Northern Nigeria. This is unacceptable. People in charge of securing the nation are not doing enough. I think they have run out of ideas and strategies to defeat terrorism. And unfortunately, all stakeholders are in the conspiracy of silence. The very few that speak, nobody listens to them.
If care is not taken and appropriate measures are put in place to contain insecurity, am afraid the Nigerian masses may rise against the establishment. We need to tell ourselves the truth, very little is being done by the government and all security agencies. Nobody is safe and the common man is the one at the receiving end. Every person in authority should be afraid of mass action by the teeming majority of the poor people. I call on the government to take most appropriate action as soon as possible to avert national crisis. We are in pains. So many people have lost their dear ones. So many people and communities are in distress. The government should hasten the establishment of community police to help in handling the terrorists. On the side of the people, I call on them to devise a means of securing lives and properties in their various communities, including facing the bandits head on.
Since a caretaker committee was set up to give the APC sound footing towards 2023, how would you describe the performance of the committee so far?
As far as I am concerned, the party’s caretaker committee has taken the task given to them so widely. Honestly speaking, I expected the committee to concentrate on vacant offices and conduct a mini convention to fill the positions. Party men were elected into various offices constitutionally for a period of years. All offices without any controversy should have been returned. This will save the party a lot in terms of time and resources. Am sure some elected officers will be contemplating legal action to reinstate them and it’s their right constitutionally. Moreover, you all know that the caretaker committee has not addressed most of the crises in the states. The case of Zamfara is a clear example. I call on the NEC not to accept the dissolution of the party structures from the ward levels as being proposed by the caretaker committee.
There is this speculation making the rounds that the committee may want to extend its tenure for whatever reason, nobody knows for now. What is your advice to the committee based on this speculation?
They are to serve for a specified time, anything short of that may attract litigation, which will not be healthy for the party. The issue of reregistration of members is not within their mandate and should be jettisoned by NEC. The tenure of the caretaker committee should end by December, 2020 and the NEC should decide on the way forward taking into consideration the party’s constitutional provisions.
Since it appears that you are too passionate about the national leadership of APC, who do you think can lead the party at the national level?
I’m passionate about the national leadership of the party because I want my party to succeed in all elections at all levels. Whoever that will lead the party, I want an honourable person that will take everyone along, that will be acceptable to all. He should be a person that cannot be easily manipulated by some people. He should be upright and straightforward person. He should be a party man with the nation at heart.
If you have a northerner in mind to take up the leadership of the party, you must realise that both the President and the national chairman should not come from the same zone. What is your take?
You see, that is one of the reasons I am saying the caretaker committee should only fill vacant positions. The President, from the north west, will finish his second mandate, May 2023 and surely for fairness if the president is from the north, the party chairman should be from the south. That’s why am of the opinion that a mini convention be held to fill vacant seats for the remaining two years while others should be allowed to complete their constitutional mandate of four years. When NEC dissolved the NWC, they mandated the caretaker committee to convene extra ordinary convention which is what they should exactly do, to fill vacant positions and save the party from likely litigation especially that some members are of the view that the caretaker committee is unconstitutional.
Let’s take a look at the EndSARS protest and its attendant killings and looting. Who takes the larger blame and your advice to the federal government against future occurrence?
The EndSARS protest is politically motivated and criminal in nature. They started very well and the government met their demands but then they shifted the goal post and asked for the President to step down. That’s political and unacceptable as it is unconstitutional. They had sponsors who had different motives beside the EndSARS and thank God their ill motives were in the public glare. They rubbished the protest when they became violent and started shifting the goal post. It’s really unfortunate that as usual, the security agencies couldn’t nip the protest in the bud. Government should be proactive to avert future occurrence. It’s just as I said earlier, government should take all necessary steps to avert mass protest on insecurity.
Northern Elders have made case for the Southeast, saying that 2023 presidency should go to that zone. What do you have to say?
The northern elders have a right to their opinion. I will rather advise that they should find a party for the southeast candidate and the best party for that game is the PDP and they are traditional members. The southeast didn’t vote for the APC and therefore has no place in the party for that game. The APC being democratic however, may allow any person from southeast to contest but winning is entirely another thing.
What is your advice also to those dumping other parties to join APC?
The political landscape in this country comprises different decampees. It’s a formation of marriage of convenience. People move around parties to where their interest will be met and not based on ideologies. I advise decampees to always follow the rules and stop seeking for bending of the rules. In the APC, I urge old members and the decampees to seek to strengthen unity within the party. We should sincerely unite to save this country from looters and fight for good governance at all levels of governance. I think it’s ripe for our democracy to start forming ideologically based political parties, may be only then this country will be saved from bad governance, looting and other ills associated with democracy.