Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
Prof Lawal Bashar was a governorship aspirant in 2015 on the platform of All Progressive Congress in Sokoto State and one-time Special Adviser on Economic Matters.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, the erudite Professor of Economics spoke on wide range issues; his stand against Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal while they were both in APC, his efforts to entrench ‘internal democracy’ in the party and why he joined others to form a new political frontier known as APC Adachi Buhari SAK in the build up of the 2019 general elections, among other issues. Excerpts:
You are one of the APC members in Sokoto State that raised the alarm over Governor Tambuwal alleged romance with PDP members before he eventually decamped to the party? What informed your agitations?
You do not know the background. We formed a group called APC Adachi Buhari SAK. The group is essentially a struggle against the anti-party activities of Governor Aminu Tambuwal. Personally, when I discovered this, I motivated other like-minds to create a faction of APC because the main APC was derailing under Governor Tambuwal’s watch. At that time, that was a lot of injustices and excesses of the then governor. So, we decided to create a faction known as APC Adachi – the word Adachi here means ‘justice’ as opposed to the party’s main slogan called change. We noticed that the incumbent governor has started romancing with the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party and its local elements in the state by appointing some of PDP members into the APC-led government as Special Advisers. People like Umaru Bature, Akibu Dalhatu, S/Arewa just to mention a few. He (Tambuwal) kept on shuttling to meet with prominent members of the PDP to the detriment of us in the APC. Then we said wait a minute. How can we condone? We thought of creating an opposition within the party, and that was why we created APC Adachi Buari SAK.
Was there any internal consultation to engage the governor on his stand?
If you recalled, we held a press conference then calling on the governor to make an equivocal statement of his stand in the APC. We also asked his stand politically, whether he was still with Buhari as APC governor. He declined to state his position. We also wrote to the state chairman because all of them were moving toward a direction. After all, it became obvious to us that Governor Tambuwal and cohorts were not with us in real sense, and then we broke away from the party.
You said that your group broke away because of the injustice meted to your members. After the intrigues, have you got the justice you yearned for?
Not at all. The very unfortunate thing was that we did everything humanly possible to get our party’s national leadership to intervene in our plight, but to no vain.
I did know. The reason was best known to them. We tried our best to reach out to the then chairman, John Oyegun and explained the anti-party issue in the state. We have a paid advertorial published to reveal our points, but nothing was done to that effect. Amazingly, even the local party leadership did not help us at all even when they know that Tambuwal is not with them. We told them categorically that this is what Governor Aminu Tambuwal is planning against the party. We told them that the governor is using APC as shield and will soon dump us before election and that was what happened.
The governor eventually left the APC to PDP. Can we say it was the pressure mounted on him that made him defect?
There was no better reason for him to leave if not for the pressures that our group mounted on him. We made our point clear and warned him not to play on our intelligence. We told him that we are not his stooges. We are in politics to serve the people and not to serve a sitting governor. You can form alliance with another party to the detriment of us who built the party that brought you into power. That was what we told him.
After Governor Tambuwal’s exist, has the party been able to get its balance?
The damage has already be done before the governor exit. In the bid to reform the party, we wrote to the party national leadership demanding for three things to be done before the gubernatorial primaries. One, the dissolution of the state executive members of the party because with them in place we believe that we can never achieve internal party democracy. Secondly, we demanded a caretaker committee for the state and third, to have direct primaries election. I was part of the signatories. Others were A. A Umaru Kwaboo, Senator Abubakar Gada, Senator Dahiru Tamnuwal, A. A Gumbi, Dr Abdullahi Sifawa, Sadiq Gebe, and Engr Aminu Ganda. Our main objective was to entrench internal party democracy in APC. All these began when APC merger was actualised. If you could recall that the merger was between three main political parties namely; CPC (the party which I belong), ANPP and AC, after the merger arrangement, APC was formed. We later accommodated some members of PDP called Yan-PDP. They decamped from PDP and rolled into already constituted APC in the state, and when they came they hijacked the party from us. Elective and appointment positions were taken from us and given to the decamped PDP members. They deserted most of us that are founding members of APC and struggled for its survival in the state.
Now that you have a new leader of the party in the person of Senator Aliyu Wamakko, has he been able to redress these grievances?
We approached him on the matter, but it is as if there was a misconception over our struggle. Because I can recall that during our meeting he said it was him and his political group that are Buhari SAK and not we. I considered this as a misunderstanding of our struggle in the party. We are not against him rather those who want to play on our intelligence as party men. And our target was at Governor Tambuwal and his cohorts because of his anti-party activity. We expected Senator Wamakko to join forces with us or giving a helping hand against Tambuwal. That was the logical thing we expected from him, but he left us alone. So, we assumed he must have misunderstood us. But Senator Wamakko is our leader in the state. But he left us in the genuine struggle and allowed Governor Tambuwal to crush us.
Governor Tambuwal has been re-elected for a second tenure on the platform of PDP that your group claimed to have forced him into. Has that rested your case?
We have dragged him to court to challenge the election. The mandate was obtained in a fraudulent manner. The election was rigged and marred with irregularities on the part of APC. Our candidate, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto won the election with wide margin and not the 342 votes that the PDP is claiming to have secured for victory. So, the party is in court and we pray for victory.
Your Buhari SAK group worked rigorously for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari. Which area did you want his second term to focus?
He should concern himself with entrenching good governance, this should be paramount. Let it be accountability, transparency and so on. If these can be upheld, then whatever it does will be successful because all his decisions will be in line with the norms of democracy. He must not let it continue to be business as usual. He must stop the governors playing the role of emperors in our polity. He must reduce leadership to service and make sure that we have political leaders and not political rulers who are bastardising the polity. Let me tell you this, our contemporary governors are the scourges of the country polity. They make sure everyone is muscled under their feet. Take local government administration for instance. They must be reduced to their statutory level and make local government work efficiently.