From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Former National Deputy Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Mallam Saliu Mustapha, has said that his decision to vie for the position of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman was borne out of the desire to render service to the party.
In this interview with Sunday Sun in Abuja, the Turaki of Ilorin Emirate said that if he emerges the national chairman, he would be a team player by galvanising others to achieve the manifesto with which the APC came into office.
At what point did you take the decision to vie for the position of APC national chairman?
I have always been in politics since ever you knew me. You knew me in politics and you knew my passion and my interest and you know I have always stood for where we can add value to our immediate society or environment. And for me to have been one of those that stood firmly well to oppose what we felt was not the best for our people in terms of the opposition parties, and know that God has brought us, the opposition, into power, we are no more in the opposition, we are now the ruling party. I also believe in my tenets of always hoping that we can always create a better environment for ourselves. So, I became interested in running for the APC national chairmanship position after looking at what is happening today and I believe I have a lot to offer because I believe I want to serve to help improve the system and the environment with the experience and value I think I can add.
Your party is having so many challenges across the states. If you become its national chairman, how will you be able to navigate the party out of the murky waters it found itself as a result of congresses held across the states?
Well, that is from your own thinking. My party is not having crisis all over the country and I am sure by the time, God’s willing, if I become the chairman, there will be less issues to resolve because the party in its wisdom, through the caretaker committee, has constituted a reconciliation committee headed by His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu. They have been going round and they have been achieving success all over. I think they have just about five to six per cent to cover nationwide. I know they have gone round and they were even in Ogun State just two, three days ago and I know they have been having a very big resounding success all over. By the time, God’s willing, some of us come in; we will be coming in to meet a very healthy and united house. So, I don’t share your assertion that my party is enmeshed in crisis all over the country.
Going by what we have seen in the two major political parties whereby chairmen don’t serve out their terms, why do you want to go into a position that is uncertain?
I don’t think so because in life, accidents do happen and nobody would say because accidents do happen in life, I will not embark on a journey or I will not take a step to do something. Like I told you, I am coming to serve. I want to come and see how I can add value to the system. We must not all be governors, we must not all be presidents and we cannot all be ministers. Anywhere you think you can add value to your society or to your immediate community, please do. That is when we can all have a better living environment. For me, it is about putting all hands on deck to see how we can give the best to our society, our community, our country and our party. If I am the ruling party national chairman, I should be able to have a team work with other members to see how we can influence policies and also promote our party manifesto which we have initially used to campaign to come into office, to see how we can promote these things to come to fruition. So, I don’t see it as because this person had an accident on the way going to deliver the good work, then I should also not want to embark on that journey. No! Don’t forget, the style of everybody’s leadership is different. For me, it is about team work, it is about carrying people along, giving people a listening ear and making them have a sense of belonging. So, if I come in with such style of administration, then I am sure we will have a very victorious and successful outing.
Since six years and some months that the APC has been at the centre, it is believed that the favour coming to the party was as a result of President Muhammadu Buhari whose tenure is coming to an end next year. If elected chairman, will you be able to hold the party together to continue to retain power at the centre?
Definitely! There is no doubt about it that President Muhammadu Buhari has brought in a lot of goodwill being the kind of person he is. In the last decades, I will say in this country, I don’t think there is any leader that has some peculiar characteristics he possesses. Today, nobody born of a woman can come and say I sat with President Muhammadu Buhari and we decided that we would do this business together, I will take 10 per cent and he will take X, Y, Z per cent. For me, that alone is something we have not seen in leaders, something we are lacking in so many of our leaders. And by the time you have a leader whose primary objective is to exemplify leadership, because one of our major problems is corruption. And like he always says, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. The moment you have people who are there to serve for the sake of service to the people, then you don’t have a problem. But these days, the majority of the people you find that are coming in are coming in for what they will gain for their personal interest. So, for me, he has given us a very good foundation and I hope God’s willing, if I am elected or endorsed as the next chairman of APC, I hope to also translate this attributes of the president to my team whereby I and other members of the National Working Committee will be looking at how to bring about a conducive, united and purposeful platform that will be able to deliver and give popular candidates the opportunity with good track record which in return, will translate to people that will give us good representation anywhere they find themselves, either as president, ministers, governors or national assembly members. The most important thing is that those who are given the thrust of office, by the time you have people of impeccable character, the end result will be good for the society.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is determined to return to power. What measures will you adopt to ensure that the PDP does not return to power in 2023?
It is for us to continue our good works and for us to continue to serve the Nigerian people better. For me, PDP brought us to where we are today. So, I don’t know what anybody will want to come and say. That APC should be dumped and go for PDP, the same PDP that messed everything up for many years? I mean, it is just for us to continue this work in progress and deliver the dividends of democracy and we hope we will continue to do that.
We have seen party chieftains declaring for presidency. We have seen Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Umahi and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. How do you look at the developments?
It is a welcome development and I am hoping more declarations will come up, more aspirations will come up and at the end of the day, as a party, focussed and a progressive party, we will look at the best option. These are internal party strategies that will be accepted by all. We will look at the best options and we will look at the best materials either by consensus, by voting and by whatever means democratically possible. We will look at the best and when the party brings out the best, we will all rally round that candidate and deliver that candidate for the betterment of Nigeria.
In your heart of hearts, are you confident that you will emerge victorious at the national convention?
I am very confident and I pray that God makes it happen.