Isa Yahaya Zarewa is a former Senator and aspirant in the recently concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries for Kano -South Senatorial district. In this interview with CHRISTIANA NWAOGU and HENRY tyoemba the aggrieved senator who defected to PRP on grounds of injustice speaks on the chances of the APC/ PDP.
You have recently dumped APC to PRP. What informed your decision?
Actually I am a founding member of APC, we nursed APC from the grass roots to where it is today and I contested for senate in APC but there is no fairness and that is what leads to a lot of grievances in the party. Alot of people are aggrieved and cannot truly wait to see what will happen.
We complained to the leadership of the party at state level and national level, nothing has been done. People just felt that it is the party that is ruling the country and they are treating things with impunity and that is what led us to leave the party.
In fact, we have a lot of aspirants that are willing to leave the party. So we left that party and joined the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). We have started PRP at the grass roots, it has no followership, it has no membership but if you have a situation whereby a lot of members who contested are coming out it means you have a lot of followership. Among us we have people from other party’s apart from APC. From APC we are over 100 plus who decamped to PRP. Unfortunately, in PRP we have a lot of contestants.
With your defection to PRP, what has changed?
Our coming has really boosted the party, now they have gubernatorial candidates, senatorial candidates. There are almost all sorts of positions in PRP which means that PRP is competing with other parties. I wanted to contest for Governorship in PRP but unfortunately, we are about seven and I am not the one that emerged but like what has happened in APC is what is happening in PRP. There is no fairness the selection process is not transparent. That is why we are watching to see what will happen because even in PRP the process is wrong, but we are still complaining.
What is your next move?
May be we are just sitting down to look. The situation is so bad in the country, the polity is not credible it has felt that majority of our members in the country are corrupt in almost all the political parties. The bad people in all the political parties are more than the good ones.
Does this mean that the selection process in all the parties are not good enough?
The selection process is nothing to write home about. When you really look at APC, we invested a lot of money, we paid a lot of money to do the primary election in Kano. Unfortunately, the primary election was not held. Our money was not returned they are just there, that is stealing. Some of us are going to court, those that have time will go to court. It is legitimate because they claimed that the primary election was going to be conducted and it was not conducted, so the right thing to do is to return the money.
As one of the founding members of APC, are you surprised at the misfortune in the party?
I am not surprised because in any given situation if there is no fairness, that particular association is bound to fail. There is no fairness in APC. I am in APC you know we make the governors to be everything in APC and that is where we have the problem.
If the governor doesn’t like you definitely there is no way you can come out in that particular party. The selection process is not actually good there is no fairness in the selection process. Those that laboured for the party are not the people enjoying the party and it is very painful that a lot of people that really invested so much in APC like us, right from inception we have been funding this party with our own money, making the people to know that this is the right party to go with, unfortunately, we have very bad eggs among us. Those that are not interested in the promotion of the party and in making the democracy to be what it is. We are not saying that in democracy you must win, what we are saying is give a level playing field to everybody to do exactly what they want to do, not to say these are the set of people you want them to be there whether they are right or not and that is in the national assembly, state assembly and most of the houses of assembly. You have a very wrong people there because they are money bags they just bring their money and buy whatever they want to buy and get away. That is why the president cannot have the right candidate in the national assembly. We have to go back to drawing and do whatever we can do to make sure that the selection process is okay otherwise we will not get it right.
The issue of governors building up so much power in APC and in politics generally, what do you think can be done to correct that?
We need to have very strong party people, those that have something doing not the voice of the governors. If the governor said you should be there, he just can pick you and put you there then some people have their own needs and your own aspirations you start going about looking for money here and there. The moment you start doing that you are corrupt already, you cannot be a man of yourself, the governor comes up with a demand and you cannot say no because he is the one who made you.
So we have to start, people really have to know what they want before they go into because it is only between the governor and the party leadership that knows exactly what is happening. And again, individually you cannot contest without giving money to a party leadership, that is exactly what we have been hearing at the national headquarters and at state levels. If you do not give money you cannot be selected or you cannot be elected. In fact, it is not even election, it is selection. You give money to your party chairman and whoever then you get selected and what do you expect of the result? If I give money to be selected, it means that whenever I go to the national assembly or state assembly, I will be working towards recovering my own money because it is like an investment.
PRP is relatively new, especially in the Northwestern region. What will it take to make it different from APC now that several people have decamped from other parties to join PRP?
Actually I am thinking PRP is going to be an easy sell because it emerged about 40 years ago. It has been an old party. You know it formed a government in the past years so it is there. The logo is there so everybody at least in Kano, Northwest knows the logo of PRP, that is ‘Key’ so it is going to be an easy sell and the idea of PRP is to fight for the masses, to emancipate the masses.
The ideas and vision of the party is excellent. There is no party that has that particular one so we decided to join PRP because first, it is easy to sell, number two its logo and slogan are well known. Even if you don’t know at least your parent knew so with that idea we decided to go PRP. And I believe if not because of the hierarchy of what is happening in Nigerian politics, PRP should have been the party to beat.
What are the chances of PRP, your new party?
The chances are that we may win because it is just like a movement it is not for one day. We are not saying that we are targeting 2019, yes 2019 we are going to make some influence but 2023 God’s willing we are going to be the best party in the country and that is why we decided to remain here and assist build the party.
There are rumours that your party is adopting President Muhammadu Buhari, how true is this?
Well we don’t have a presidential candidate in PRP so we said we are going to look for somebody to support and I think with the good works which we have seen so far, Buhari is doing we opted out, we are yet to take a final decision but majority of us are in favour of supporting Buhari government at the top.
How would you assess Buhari’s government going by the state of the nation?
Nigeria is very large and looking at security challenges in the country we know from where we are and where we are going. We know the impact of Boko Haram, I happen to be in a Mosque in Kano when Boko Haram went there and killed about 350 people so we live in a situation where by you are sleeping with one eye open.
We are not talking of Adamawa, Maiduguri, those places are no go areas. So with the situation now, at least we have a free movement in those particular regions, you can do your business. We can say the government has achieved something because Boko Haram is not the creation of Buhari’s government, he met it and at least he did something. There is also a lot of poverty alleviation programmes, though we are not creating the impact very much but at least it is there.
How would you rate the chances of APC coming back in 2019 general elections?
There is a very strong opposition APC is facing. The candidate of PDP is a well known person, he is a commercial man and is somebody whom a certain portion of this country like very much. When you really look at the Southeast and the South south they love Atiku so much. They think he is a messiah they are going to vote for him massively. So you have at least two out of six geopolitical zones that are completely in support of Atiku. Going to the South south, South west, when you look at Lagos, it is a no man’s land, Yoruba, Ibo, Hausas cannot claim Lagos and the majority of the traders there are Igbos and they are going to support Atiku. So even in that particular region you can see Atiku will get some votes. Then coming back to North east no matter what happens definitely Atiku is going to make some wave in this country and coupled with the fact that there are some people in APC that are leaving, like myself I was in APC and I know the followers I have in Kano south and in Kano in particular, we are leaving APC to PRP, we are not going to PDP where Atiku is so the chances of APC or PDP forming government in 2019 general election is 50/50 depending upon who works better.