The APC is going through a transformation through the registration/revalidation exercise which some have criticised, how would you access the process so far?
With due respect to other people’s assessments, the exercise is going on very smoothly. From the angle of my own state, it’s going on very smoothly and every stakeholder is being carried along and it should be expected that such a programme is likely to get some controversies in states where they are factionalised. However, l think the stakeholders must be able to adopt the spirit of give and take, you mustn’t get everything you want, you must be able to accommodate other tendencies within your own state. So, l think it is necessary that members develop this attitude of accommodating other tendencies that are not likely to be in tune with their own beliefs. By and large, the story is largely successful.
To what extent do you think the exercise would strengthen the party?
l think that is even the essence of the registration, to ensure it opens its doors to new members because on daily basis you see defections from other parties to APC. Now, it poses a challenge to them because they don’t even have membership, it is closed. So, that is why the opening of the registration exercise indeed is very noble, to accommodate other people who are just coming into the party. Now, the advantage you have is that it is like a fresh start so that it can accommodate all tendencies. So, this will enable the party to grow from strength to strength, accommodating both the old and new in a unified struggle to contend this balance of power at the national and state levels. I think it is strengthening the party generally and l hope we succeed.
What is your take on zoning of the presidential ticket which is causing disagreements within the party?
At the moment, l am not privy to the high level discussions in terms of zoning in the party. However, on a personal ground, zoning creates some level of accommodation, it enables inclusiveness, allows every region to have a shot at the highest office in the land. l think zoning will be very accommodating, it will create unity, it will create understanding within the party. But in terms of discussion as to whether there was a previous arrangement, l was never part of such discussions and l wouldn’t know anything about that. I think the person who spoke to you might have information that l don’t have and l guess he knows what he is talking about.
In the next four months the APC would be going for an elective national convention, what kind of leadership do you suggest for the party?
I think we need a party chairman that has a listening ear, who will be able to talk to all tendencies within the party, be firm and also be a peacemaker, ensure that the party’s principles and objectives are devoid of rancour. I want a party chairman who tells truth to power. So, in essence we need a firm, broad-minded, creative diplomat as party chairman going forward.
The caretaker committee has spent almost seven months in office, what do you think of its performance?
The difficulty of governance is that from the outside it looks like a very simple venture but once you are inside you get confronted with practical realities of the challenges within the system. Now, l think the caretaker committee initially underestimated the challenges within the party and having come face to face with the realities now, they require some level of tinkering with the initial timetable. So, l can understand the justifications in terms of the tinkering with the timetable because of the enormity of the challenges they are facing. l think it is to sincerely look at the issues and confront them once and for all before the national convention. So, l support what the caretaker committee is doing at the moment.
How worried are you about the level of insecurity in Nigeria?
l want to give an answer that my colleague, Chibuike Amaechi, gave on Channels Television. When he was asked about security, he said, “I am minister of Transportation, l am not minister of security.” I think this question would be rightly answered by my colleagues-the ministers of Defence and Police Affairs. I don’t want to go beyond my brief as they say in law.
2023 is approaching, do you see an APC presidential candidate from the South defeating a PDP presidential candidate from the North?
Resoundingly, a resounding defeat, but l will further state that the PDP bringing their presidential candidate from the North is still in the realm of speculations. These are all hypotheses, right. So, my advice to you who are my friends in the fourth estate of the realm is that when we reach the bridge we will see how we can cross it.
What is your assessment of governance in Nasarawa, your state?
Well, to be fair to the government of Nasarawa State, they are doing the best to consolidate on the initial gains of the previous government but you know sometimes these insecurity issues are challenges that you don’t foresee. They just erupt out of circumstances beyond one’s control but within the circumstance of what l have been able to come up, security-wise, l think the government has been able to deal with those issues drastically and effectively. Again, when it comes to the delivery of services in terms of welfare of the people, from what l read in the papers and from the briefings we get from the governors when we go for stakeholders’ meetings, l think he is doing tremendously well. l respect the fact that he is trying his best considering the economic downturn, low internally generated revenue to sustain the government and of course from federal allocation too. In spite of these, l think he is doing his best.