Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame was a former minister of Police affairs during the Late Yar’adua administration and in this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the chairman of Fariah Foundation and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) talks on party issues and the way forward.
Some members of the APC believe that if what played out in the last gubernatorial primaries which you participated in is not resolved, the party could disintegrate, do you share this view?
Primaries are always the foundation of a stable regime. In a democracy especially the type we are operating, you cannot become a political leader until and unless you belong to a political party. We don’t have a provision for an independent candidate and you cannot be a candidate until you are chosen and your name submitted by your party. The primaries of any political party constitute the recruitment of quality leadership. So when the primaries are not done properly, the people don’t get what they truly deserve. The APC primaries was nothing but a sham. It’s the most disappointing primaries I have ever seen that I participated in. I have participated in all primaries from 1999 in all the major political parties, I have never seen a primaries that was so badly conducted, so dangerously portrayed like the last primaries. I said that because this party was built on the foundation of credibility, democracy, and of change. So we expect that the rules of the game will be fair because once you lose that, you will lose everything. The last primaries brought about a lot of problem to the APC. There was massive corruption, the rules and guidelines of the party was abused.
By whom ?
By the party
Was it at the state or national level?
At all levels because it is the responsibility of the party to organise the primaries. So whether you say it’s at the national or state, it is the party’s fault. It didn’t take its time to organise credible primaries and the people who have constituted themselves into an obstacle took opportunity of these loopholes. People who came to the party because they needed a platform, they never believed in the philosophy of the APC Which we brought to Bauchi state. These people came in and our mistake was to accept them into the party. We open up our gates and many people came in at the last hour because it was clear to them that, their party was losing elections and they needed a platform to continue their privileged positions. So they wanted to use another platform to come into position of prominence and they rushed into APC with a lot of money to buy positions. Immediately after the primaries of our party in Lagos in 2014, APC started crumbling and this is because the people that came in came for the purpose of getting position and once they got it, they started planning how to destroy the party and secure their own future. It started from the election in the National Assembly. The result that came out was clear manifestation of the purpose of those that came to use the APC as a platform. We couldn’t blame the different parties that came together and form APC because it made us achieve our aim, but immediately president emerged in 2015 as our candidate, the party went into their cocoon.
Are you saying you also agree with the assertion that APC is just a marriage of convenience?
Yes it was a marriage of convenience but understand that the initial movers of the merger meant well for this country. Unfortunately we thought opening our doors to other people will strengthen our chances of winning elections. Some of us saw it at that time that, it will be the beginning of our destruction. I was one of those who believe that we could go alone the way we started without getting these multitude of people that came in and I believe many of us shared that view. If we had gone ahead with our initial focus, we would have still won the elections and it would have been better for us. We would have blended easily and formed a government that will be fast in implementing the programmes of the party.
With what has played out during and after the primaries, do you still have faith in the APC?
APC is my party and I believe we can still do something to rectify the problem.
Given the opportunity to advice the leadership on how to resolve this crises that came with the primaries, what will it be?
The problem is from the party and some of the functionaries of the APC, especially the state governors must be made to understand that the party is supreme, so that the party can function without depending on certain organs of government. The party can be funded through membership contributions so that, there will be a demarcation between the function of the executives who are members of our party. We shouldn’t allow a group of people to hijack the party and determine who aspires to what and who gets positions. We have been having this problem since the PDP day…
Don’t you think the APC is now doing those things the PDP used to do that made them lose the general elections in 2015?
The party has not lived up to its responsibility and the rules and regulations of the party has not been observed. So I don’t know the state of the PDP now but I know what the APC is doing that is wrong.
What is the way forward now?
If we want to move forward, we need to redefine the position of the party to make it independent of all other organs of government so that, the party can be seen to have the authority to control the behavior of its members and the way to do that is to, strengthen their control from the ward level to the national. The structure of the party from the ward to the national must be allowed to function. The responsibility of a party is leadership recruitment of leaders, political enlightenment and gathering data on members. Leadership recruitment requires properly investigating, enlightenment, registration of the members and also setting a standard of what the members need to do and know concerning the party. If members are made to pay certain due, they will want to take responsibility of the party and ensure that the right things are done. The process of selection must be looked into. We must have adequate data of our members and information of what we do, while developing the capacity of the party. The party must be able to assert its level of authority over all members of the party.
Most aggrieved members of the APC have laid the blame for what played out at the feet of the chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomole. Do you share that view?
Adams Oshiomole is the chairman of the party, I believe he has his own problems. As the leader of the party, he is handling the situation and when I believe in what he wants to do. I believe he wants to bring back the supremacy of the party. Once you said you are a member of a party and don’t have authority on who you recruit, it’s some people that sit somewhere and write names of people and expect the party to accept it, then there is a big problem. I think what Adams attempted to do was take the membership of the party back to the people. If I were him, I would have made sure I have all the necessary data and machineries needed else you will find it difficult because the people in control of the party will sabotage your efforts. As a former governor, he should know that these guys will fight back.
Are you in support of him to resign?
No, I am not. I don’t believe he should resign at this critical moment especially when the elections are around the corner. I believe he should rectify whatever the problem is. He must have the courage to rectify this injustice that was done to honest, committed party members by governors.
If the APC is not able to resolve this issue, will you still remain in the APC?
The right thing must be done. Nobody can come and send us out of APC, because we built the house. A mercenary cannot come and send me out of my house or town. We will rescue our party from the hands of outsiders, don’t be surprised that they will themselves leave very soon.