Hon. Khamisu Ahmed Mailantarki was representing Gombe/Kwame/Funekaya federal constituency of Gombe state in the House of Representatives before the court annulled his election. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, he argued that direct primaries would give every party member a sense of belonging, among other issues.
Gombe state is in the hands of PDP. What are the chances of APC in 2019?
Our chances are greater than that of any political party. In 2015, the only reason why PDP beat us was because of little internal issues we have. 8-% of Gombe people are APC supporters. They love the ideology of APC and supported Muhammad Buhari. I am sure they will do it again. I am sure the PDP know that they are not strong in GOmbe and cannot beat APC again.
Goje is the leader of APC in Gombe and its a common knowledge that there is no love lost between you and him. Don’t you think that could work against your interest?
I never had any issue with Goje. He is like a father to me. We had some little difference which is natural in politics. It can happen even in families. But you end up resolving it. For instance, Goje’s first son is contesting the governorship in PDP. So will you say that he has problems with his son? No! So we had a little difference which people around Goje exaggerated and wanted to use it to divide us but it’s been resolved. If you remember I was the only opposition then in CPC before they joined us. I welcome them all with the help of few. It is all politics.
Some prominent persons have left the APC for other parties like PDP. Does this bother you?
I am not worried at all because it is normal in politics. If you look at the defection, APC benefited more because we have welcome more prominent people into our mist than those how left. Most of those who left were the ones sabotaging the efforts of the government. It was only their bodies that were in APC, their mind and spirit was in PDP for long. We were accommodating them because the president doesn’t discriminate, but treated and accepted everyone. But now they have gone back to where they belong to. To us, it is a big relief because we have gotten better and qualitative leaders with strong followers.
The APC have revealed that they are going for direct primaries but some are worried that it could cause problems for the contestants. What do you think?
Politics is local. Direct primaries is the best for primaries of which I am align to it. These are situation in some states that could make them hold indirect primaries. Direct primaries gives every member of the party a sense of belonging. Most of the party structures in some states are hijacked by some few individuals, so they can easily tailored them to any direction but in situation where it is direct primaries, it carries everybody along.
Some APC members have complained bitterly about the exhorbitant fees charged for party nomination forms. What is your take on this?
During the PDP days, the government spent lots of money to found parties but this administration is not ready to give political parties money form government purse. So parties must source for income and if you see how large APC is, you will know they need money to maintain the party and its activities. I believe they need much funds to conduct the primaries. Beside to be a governor, president, senator or member is not a small thing. So for you to aspire, it means you are ready for it. I don’t have any problem with price of the forms.
Godfatherism is a major factor in Nigerian politics. What is your take?
I have never had any need for a Godfather. What I have is not a godfather but mentor and that is Mr. President who I admire. He has never contributed to my success but I admire his leadership skills. I believe people should be allowed to do things themselves. That is why I like the idea of direct primaries. I rely on God alone and the people not an individual.
What is your assessment of President Buhari-led government?
We all know what the opposition have is the media. They don’t have any grassroots support. But when you go down to the grassroots, you will realize that everybody is happy with the president. Take for instance the security situation, we are all happy because we can now congregate without any fear. I went to the units in the course of my campaigns and I was delighted that, there is no place we went and gatherered people that you will not hear 50% of them praising the president. Some told us they don’t have any godfather in government yet they were given forms to fill and received text to go and collect ten thousand bags of fertilizer. Some will say they got alerts to come and collect loans of #200,000 and so on. So the masses are really happy with Mr. President. it is only those on social media that say bad things about Mr. president. It’s not what you see in the media but what is on ground, Their threat and blackmails is inconsequential.
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