There are fears that the upcoming convention might lead to the implosion of the APC because of the myriad of issues going on in the party. What do you think?
I won’t say there are factions but groups that are trying to reconcile with one another. There are no factions but, caucuses that are trying to work out their difference. The problem is just the communication gap. The congresses lead to that but the constitution of the party said, 8years for the EXCO and you know we haven’t got that. When they were dissolving the national working committee, the role of the state chairman became very important. We want to follow the legal way of doing things and those trying to come in through back doors are just impediments. If members understand that we want to do the right thing, then we won’t have any issues.
Are you comfortable with the caliber of people that have indicated an interest in the chairmanship position of APC
This is democracy and you must be open to choice. Let everybody come in because I don’t believe in zoning. It denies you the opportunity of getting the best. We must have open and participatory democracy. Let us jettison zoning because it leads to mediocrity. Everybody should be able to contest for any position irrespective of religion and tribe.
We have a northern president now at the center and prominent northerners are the ones calling for an end to zoning. Don’t you think this will be unfair to other zones that have not led Nigeria?
If we are talking about chances, in 2007, Obsanajo completed 8years from the south/west. Umaru Yaradua came in and we lost him after just 2years. His vice took over and completed that remaining two years and we thought a northerner should take over and complete Yaradua 2 terms but it didn’t happen. Good luck contested and did 4years and nothing happened. So Nigerians have already scrapped zoning from that time. In south/ east, south/ west, and south/ south, they have qualified people that can lead Nigeria, why must certain persons think it is only them that can emerge, a president? It is wrong. Let the best person win.
It is generally believed that the APC revolves around president Buhari and there are fears that the party will implode once he left in 2023. what is your take on this it is a genuine concern but, APC is trying to use the goodwill of the president to build the party because, we desire that the party stands the test of time and, the president will be happy to see the party doing well long after he is gone.
Most of the aspirants that have indicated an interest in the presidency are from the south and you are agitating for the scrapping of zoning. Don’t you think it is obvious that Nigerians are not ready to abandon zoning?
That should not prevent others from the north from contesting. Zoning is not in our constitution and so, nobody should be compelled to abide by it.
Does it mean you will support a northerner to emerge as president after Buhari
If Nigerians vote for him, then why not? If he is qualified and judged to be the best among others, of course, I will support him.
Moving away from the APC, the Senate has been criticized for always approving loans for the federal government. Nigerians are worried that the loans are getting too much. What do you think
The loans Nigeria has been collecting have not exceeded our revenue drive. These loans are tied to projects like construction, roads, railway, and infrastructure. There is no time we approved loans that will not add value to Nigeria. We need these projects because they will add value to Nigeria. We look at the viability of the projects before approving any loan. A lot of people don’t have enough information and that is why they complain. No country does not borrow money. What you do with it matters and in our case, the funds are all tied to infrastructure
Nigerians are complaining that they have not felt the impact of the 2021 budget yet, the Senate passed the 2022 budget.
The 2021 budget implementation will not end till March. But if you travel within Nigeria, you will see major road construction going on, the railway work is still on and many other projects that have chain value.
What should Nigerians expect from the 2022 budget
Nigerians should expect better management of our resources, better stability of our revenue, and a better relationship with Niger/delta. Now that the price of crude has risen, Nigerians should expect more projects.
Talking about oil prices, since Nigeria will generate more from crude, why is the government still looking for more loans when we will make more money from crude
Remember we are still going through covid, we have gone into recession and come out twice. Even the world bank and IMF are also applauding the Nigerian economy led by this government. I think it is a positive inclination now that subsidy will be removed…
Now that you mention subsidy, are you not worried about the suffering the removal will bring upon Nigerians
I am not worried but, I am concerned. We all know that the common man does not benefit from the subsidies. it is the elites that are enjoying it. So the removal will not be an issue but managing the removal might be an issue. We have subsidies in virtually everything you can think of and it has made people lazy. We have to sit down and agree with Nigerians and make them understand the direction we are going. The money paid for subsidy should go to education and other sectors.
There has been an increase in basic goods like beverages and you are still talking about subsidy removal. Are you not worried about the chain effects it will have on the economy
Many of us believe that our naira is undervalued. We need to harness the potential and block leakages that we have in the system. Research has shown that we don’t harness the value that comes from crude oil. Nearly 40% of our earnings from oil is siphoned. So with the removal of subsidies and contain leakages, the price of fuel will drop, and other goods will follow suit. Mr president has said severally that, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria…
Are you saying that the federal government has succeeded in “killing” corruption in Nigeria
No, but I have seen EFCC figures that they have done over two hundred cases and won many. Fighting corruption is everybody’s business in Nigeria. Society allows one to be corrupt.
A law was passed recently that will stop EFCC from prosecuting governors after leaving office. Don’t you think this will rubbished the fight against corruption
It is a supreme court judge and there is nothing that can change it. but the attorney-general of the state has the power to prosecute governors. The Senate is also looking at the judgment.
This brings us to the electoral act that Mr president refused to accent. Do some Nigerians think the president and APC are averse to free and fair elections?
Mr. President is a democrat….
Yet he has refused to accent to any electoral act amendment since he came in as president
It is a matter of choice. The electoral law did not give parties any choice. But is Nigeria ripe for direct primaries? For you to do direct primaries, you need to know the number of your members, their biometrics, you need proper security and understanding and these are things Nigerians don’t have. So I like Mr president’s belief that Nigerians are not ready for direct primaries.
Most Nigerians expected the senate to veto the act yet, they haven’t done anything about it. Does it means they support the president on this
Why should we veto when we know it is not in the best interest of Nigerians? Most Nigerians don’t know the real content of the act. They don’t know the implication of direct primaries. You cannot allow people to have only one way of doing primaries. There should be indirect primaries, independent candidates, and other choices for people. That is what democracy is all about.
What will you say is the achievement of the Buhari administration
When the government came in, we were dependent on foreign rice but now, we produce our rice today, rice is now a staple food.
Are you not worried about the rise in inflation
We imported inflation into Nigeria with our high taste for foreign goods. That is why our naira is depreciating. We don’t patronize our local products but, will rather important things.
Coming back to insecurity, are you worried about the spate of kidnapping across the country
I am worried and concerned. there were political injustices that happened in the past. We all know about injustice. some politicians think, they cannot win elections without violence and so, they equip criminals and today these same criminals have turned to banditry and kidnapping. Before the establishment of FCT, there were over three million cattle but, when the federal capital was moved to Abuja, the cattle have to give way but to where? That is why you see the herders moving their cattle to the south and places like Benue trough where there is water and good vegetation. Also, the legal routes for cattle rearers have been overtaken by houses and farmlands. Where do people want them to go with their cattle? we have nomadic people that move from one place to another. In 1978, the PRP government in Kano abolished cattle taxes and this act became popular so much so that, other states and the federal government followed suit. Now we don know how many cows we have in Nigeria, where they are, how they move, and things like that.
Coming back to you, there have been reports that you will contest the gubernatorial seat of Taraba state. How true is this
Well, my people have been calling on me to do that but, I am still consulting. God will decide where and what I will do next.