In this conversation with Buhari, the candidate for the post of chairman and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Iliyasu Abdul, reveals why he is putting himself forward for the number one post in the party.
Why are you a member of APC?
My name is Malik Iliyasu Abdul. My father was a policeman and we lived outside our environment, outside our comfort zone. So, we grew up to know Nigeria without any ethnic or religious colouration. We just believe in your capacity and your ability that determines who you are and that was how we grew up. But, today, division sets in. so, when the issue of change came up, we thought yes!, Nigeria needs to change. And, the vehicle we took to achieve that change is the All Progressives Congress (APC). Because it is a progressive party that accommodates every other person.
Will you say people are enjoying the APC government today?
Yes, Nigeria is a dynamic country. And, that is why we have over 200 million people. Everybody will not agree that everybody is enjoying APC. But, in all sincerity, the majority of Nigerians will agree with me that as far as this APC government is concerned, it has done excellently well.
How do you think APC has performed since inception till date?
APC has fared very well. If you look at the interventions, the APC government has done right from 2015, in terms of monetary value through social development and interventions programmes, they have spent up to N3 trillion. It has never been done before in the history of this country. It is a deliberate policy of the APC government that brought all these. And you can see. The N-power, survival funds and this is a party policy to help the citizens overcome challenges. Everyone knows what COVID-19 caused. The whole world was shut down. But because of the intervention of APC, many people are still surviving and doing very well than other countries. So, APC is going stronger and stronger and we still have room for improvement because that is not the end of it. That is why we are trying to come out so that we can improve it better because we are entrepreneurs. We have been in the business and we know how to grow an organisation for better performance.
Some say the ongoing party revalidation is against the party constitution
People have their own idea. But a political party is supposed to accommodate everybody. And, I think it is a very good idea for revalidation and welcoming of new members, because that is the only way a party can bring in new members, after all we are not cultists. The party is open. It is like an association of like-minded people. So those party leaders saying it is not good, I wouldn’t say they have their own agenda, maybe it is the way they see it. But, to me, the party is supposed to welcome everybody. Anybody that knocks on your door you are supposed to welcome him, because the essence of a political party is for you to get the best so that you can give good governance And, people must come in for you to do that.
Do you share the view of the Minister of Interior that APC is admitting killers into the party?
A political party as I earlier said composes of all sorts of people. Armed robbers can be there because they are human beings. But, as far as the court has not convicted them, because if the court has, the party may say no. But the bottom line is that a political party is a collection of people that come together. So, I don’t know what you are into. But when the time comes, we will scrutinise you. Because before you are anything in the party you must be scrutinised. That is why we are coming in to change a lot of things. That issue of money politics will go. It will change a lot of things. The party goes back to the people, to the grassroot, to the polling units.
Why do you think your party has been suffering leadership problems? From Oyegun, to Oshiomhole
APC was recently formed. A merger of different sets of people with different political views. Definitely you should have those kind of skirmishes. Even your tongue and teeth do have issues at times. It is a normal thing. As time goes on, this too will be resolved. And, there will be peace in the party. And, you know with the commander in chief with what he is doing, he gives everybody his time. He is not intervening. He likes the party to grow by itself. He wants it to grow very well. sincerely, that is what we call teething problems. It will solve itself one day.
What kind of leader do you expect the party to elect when it goes for its convention in the next four months?
Well, we need a dynamic leader. A focus leader. A God Fearing leader who will be fair to every member of the party. And, a young vibrant leader who can move and have ideas to move the party to the next level because if the president who is the national leader leaves power, we should think ahead what will happen to the party because now, the party is with Buhari as the leader who is there and will people respect him? Even because of his presence many things cannot be done. But, if he leaves, what happens? That is why we need a dynamic and vibrant youthful person to lead this party.
Will you want the party to zone the offices? Because a Southern person just left as chairman of the party.
Definitely, the party will zone its offices because as you are aware, there is an unwritten rule for rotation though not in the constitution . The South does eight years and the North does eight years. So, you cannot discard that. If the presidency goes to the south certainly the party chairmanship comes from the north.
Buhari has won elections on two different occasions. How will you rate his administration to previous ones?
President Buhari’s administration is God sent. Let me give an example. The Coronavirus pandemic. Look at the calamity that befell Nigeria. The oil price crashed and we had the Coronavirus outbreak. Then the whole world was shut down. Look at the social intervention from different aspects. Survival funds and N-power, conditional cash grant, etc. it cushions the effect. People in the villages who don’t even have an account were provided with 5000 naira each. People that have never held three thousand Naira in their life. God loves Nigeria so much and that is why He brought him. That by the special grace of God if he leaves, the next set of people coming in will take Nigeria further. That is why the party itself must be the pillar that will hold this country together. Because we 120,000 polling units that are performing optimally, this issue of insecurity will not be there. Because the truth of the matter is that, it is me and you that gives security agents information. So, if the people are doing what is supposed to be done, then we won’t have all these challenges we are passing through. But as times goes on the party will reposition itself and do better than what we are doing now.
How will you rate the present government in the area of security?
If you are in this country prior to 2015, that sudden bomb explosion scares a lot of people. A situation where you don’t know when the next bomb will explode. Some people couldn’t even go out because they don’t know if the next car is laden with bombs behind or in front of you. There was an attempt on the President’s life in Kaduna. But you will agree with me that since he won his election in 2015, you will find out that Boko Haram has been curtailed to the North-east, just on the fringes. They are just surviving. But by the special grace of God and the help of the citizens, me and you, the issue of insecurity will be a thing of the past because the security agents need information. We have agents everywhere. We have party members all over this country that if we harness that power in the party we can do better.
Like you said, prior to 2015, insecurity was restricted to the North-east, now it is in all zones. Do you still see that as an improvement?
You have to understand something. The issue of insecurity didn’t start yesterday. This is something that has been brewing because PDP’s 16 years of waste, impunity, allowed a lot of persons to take laws into their hands and that is the truth. But you will agree with me that in the past six years, there have been calm. Because this is a president that no one has heard any scandal about. You have not heard him giving his brother or sister anything. Even the wife even complains, because if the going is good nobody complains. So, that is the truth of the matter. The present president needs to be commended.
There are some schools of thought that Buhari is the life wire of APC and that when he leaves the party will crumble. What is your view?
This is one of the reasons I came out because I so much believe in his ability. This is a man since he started his election even though I have not met him one on one. But I have been voting for him. It was only in 2011, that I voted for Goodluck Jonathan when they brought that “fresh air”. I so much believe in his ability and integrity. What is missing in this country is integrity. So, if he leaves and the party collapses , then it is our fault. So why can’t we build on it because it is something we like? Let us keep building on the legacy of his integrity and honesty. That is what we want. And, to do this, me and you will have to be committed. There is this slogan, ‘’that change begins with me’’. And, that is the truth. It is me and you. We must be the change agent. Let it start from the polling units and do the right thing. And, see if the country will not turn to Eldorado tomorrow. Because we have all the resources that we need to move this country to the next level. You don’t need to invent anything again. Everything we need we have. It is for us to now build on this his legacy. If President Buhari goes and the party goes, it will be an indictment on the youth of this country. Those who believe and die to make this country to be one. So, if we allow that to happen then we have disappointed the country. Nigeria will be stronger and better when Buhari goes.
Are there any money bags within the party that is sponsoring your campaign?
I came out to discountenance that issue of money bags. When the time comes, it is you and me that will finance my campaign. We will do an iOS application, google application. You will go to google store and download those applications. You will contribute. If the moneybags will bring N1 billion, all of us and the many other people that want this country to be good, if we bring 100 naira together of one million people that is 1 billion naira. The issue is that there will be money politics if we must not tell ourselves lies. But we should organize ourselves moneywise to counter them. Even me, I don’t even go to peoples houses. I don’t know anybody. So, we will organize ourselves. The youths of this country will take back our country from the moneybags from people looking for one position or the other. Today he is Minister, next Senator, House of Reps then governor. Same set of people moving round. And, all they have is the money. And, when they go to the grassroots, they just give them money and that is all. I want to change that narrative. Let the people move the country. And, that is democracy. No money bags will sponsor me.
If the position of the chairmanship you are asking for is not zoned to North-central, will you opt for another position of the party leadership?
This is an issue of policy. I am coming here to give my best. So, if par adventure it is not within my zone, the next person that is coming in, I will offer him my expertise. I can be his SA. I will offer him my expertise. So, that we can move this country forward. The main issue is to the leadership of the party. If it is not zoned to my zone, the next person coming that gets it whether a woman or man I will work with him or her to move this party forward. Because that is what we want. We want to live a legacy for our youths. Our fathers have gone. We are on our way and our children are coming up. Look at the issue of kidnapping? Look at education? Everything has issues. But we just have to do it. Nobody will come and do it for us. And, if you allow these people who couldn’t do it to remain there that means you are doing the same thing over and over again. And, you will never get any result. So, people like us have to come in to change the narrative. We cannot sit on the sideline and watch. Because a political party is the vehicle for good governance. That is the truth. Without the political party, you cannot do anything. The next thing is you see charlatans all over the place to be making laws for you.
How comfortable are you that you are contesting as national chairman of your party and your governor is contesting for the presidency? Yet you said it doesn’t matter if everybody comes from one village?
Let me tell you something. The national convention of the party is coming up and that is when a decision on it will be taken. So, when we get to that bridge, we will cross it.
President Buhari made an appointment of the EFCC as a youth. What do you see? Do you think he has delivered on his campaign promises of revamping the economy, fighting insecurity and curbing corruption?
You will all agree with me that the appointment of the EFCC chairman, Abdurasheed Bawa is one of the appointments that the president did and everybody applauded him in this country, you will agree with me. Because the guy is young and dynamic. And, even justice was done because there are a number of people that you bring from outside to come and superintend over them. This is the first time that somebody from that system will now rule over the system, and will now head the system. You are encouraging those people to now work harder because you know you will get to the pinnacle of your career. One of the cardinal objectives of this government is to fight against corruption. He has done very well by doing that because he has motivated those guys that the sky is their limit. So even in the process if they get hurt, they know that the country is behind them, the president is behind them. So, in terms of performance economically, you know what happens because I said it earlier because of the covid-19. We are still kicking. We even came out from the recession when other countries like Britain are still in recession. But we came out of the ingenuity of his excellency.
Given the opportunity to lead the party, what will you do differently?
Sincerely, I will return the party to the grassroot. I will eliminate moneybags. If I return the party to the grassroot, it will empower the grassroot. Before coming to the ward, we will empower the polling units. Those 120,000 polling units will be empowered because that is where everything comes from. So, if they are empowered then I think we can eliminate moneybags. That is what I want to do so that people can’t sit down in one place and decide for the whole country. Let the people decide for themselves. And, that is democracy. Government of the people and by the people for the people.