Posted by News Express | 28 June 2020 | 1,049 times
Jonathan Vatsa, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and former commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, former publicity secretary and foundation member of the party in Niger State is not happy on what is happening in the party again. He has, therefore, predicted that APC will not rule the country beyond 2023 except a miracle happens. Excerpt:
People like you who are foundation members of your party, APC, seem to be quiet over the leadership crisis rocking the party at all levels, including your state, Niger, why?
First of all, let me say that crisis in political party is normal because where people of diverse belief and backgrounds come together, there must be some disagreements here and there, it’s quite expected. However, the unfortunate and abnormal thing is that when this crisis persists and people are unable to resolve these differences then it becomes a problem like we are witnessing in my party today. If I tell you that as a foundation member of the APC, I am not in pain I will be lying. It is quite unfortunate that with all the indices of failure at all levels of governance starring on our face, with all the failed promises, with all the hunger and insecurity everywhere after five years, the only thing that is in our agenda now is fight for control ahead of 2023. My heart bleeds because of what is happening today in my party everywhere, including my state, Niger.
I said my heart bleeds because I know the sacrifices we made in 2014 to build a party called APC and the promises we made to Nigerians to vote for us, but today where are we, hunger everywhere, killings everywhere as if there is no leadership, everything is upside down. Can we boldly say today that we are better than the PDP we accused in 2015, the answer is capital no. I am in pain.
So, where did your party get it wrong?
Right from the beginning, from the point of merger of the three parties that made up the APC. You see, APC is marriage of three parties and ever since that marriage took place each person refused to divorce his wife and face one husband. Each wife continued to hold on to its original identity and ideology. Immediately we came on board in 2015 some people began to agitate that the appointments were favouring the CPC people more than the ACN and ANPP people, that was the beginning. Also later the nPDP people came with their own agitations and this has been the problem with the party since inception. So, in summary, APC was just a child of necessity in 2015 and every child born out of wedlock, you and I know the rest.
But some people are of the opinion that the APC lacks leadership that will hold the party together more so that Mr. President who is the leader of the party seems not to be in charge and that is why everyone seems to be doing what he or she likes, do you agree?
Well, I think I will agree with this school of thought to some extent because if somebody is actually in charge, I don’t think the party will find itself in the crisis we are today. Personal and group interest has taken over the collective interest of the party and that is what is killing APC. Instead of the interest of Nigerians who voted for the party, it is individual or group interest that is playing out in the party today. All the promises we made to Nigerians and challenges of development starring on our face have been swept under the carpet; 2023 is the issue on ground now and those who called themselves leaders of the party are equally neck deep in the 2023 struggle so the question is, who will call the warring factions to the discussion table, nobody.
Can we now say that President Buhari who is the recognized leader of the party going by its constitution has failed to provide required leadership and that is why you are having all these crisis in the party?
Honestly, this Buhari we have today is the weak one, this is not the Buhari that was in the military because some decisions he should have taken as a leader of the party he is not taking. Let him come out and tell some people the truth and nothing but the truth, he cannot be afraid of anybody at this age, you are the President and Commander-in-Chief and the leader of the party. There is no discipline in the party today because some people feel that because they played a crucial role in bringing him to power their will must be done, that is nonsense. Things are not done that way, that is why we are where we are as a party today, total disaster.
With this crisis everywhere, how do you compare APC under the former National Chairman, John Oyegun and the current Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole?
(Laughs) Wherever that old man is today, I’m sure he will be laughing because they thought they have brought an angel called Oshiomhole. Yourself compare the two leaders, Oyegun and Oshiomhole, who is the evil or the devil and who is the angel? Adams Oshiomhole is in the world of his own, a man that knows it all. He wakes up from his house in the morning without consultations and takes any decision he likes and he wants it to stand, in a democracy like this. He engages everybody in a fight as if he is the Alpha and Omega. Sometimes, I wonder if Mr. President still has political advisers, if he does then maybe they don’t advise him, or maybe Oshiomhole doesn’t listen to anybody.
Oshiomhole has failed the party and somebody somewhere is insisting that he must remain because of his interest in 2023. Look, let me tell you, everything that we accused PDP of, we are worst today. We are worst than PDP, with just five years in power, everywhere is engulfed in crises, too bad. If a political party cannot manage its internal crisis how do you govern a whole country?
In your own assessment, do you think APC can survive beyond 2023, would there be APC after Buhari?
Honestly, I’m afraid for APC because as it is today, Buhari is the oxygen of APC, Buhari is the heart of APC, Buhari is the eyes of APC, Buhari is the head of APC, Buhari is the air that APC breathes, Buhari is the brain of APC, Buhari is the driver of APC, so if Buhari leaves in 2023, you know the answer to your question yourself. It is very disappointing that APC is going to rule the country for only eight years because all the indices on ground today point to that reality. I don’t think Nigerians will be patient to accept another promises from APC, it will be difficult. What will you tell Nigerians that cannot afford three square meals a day, that are being killed like we are in a war, the youths that have no job and women that are being raped by bandits or ritualists looking for money. Are you going to put yourself there without elections, we will wait and see.
Some people are also of the opinion that another contributory factor to all these crises everywhere in the party is poor rewarding system, those who worked for the success of the party are being sidelined, do you agree?
You see, everything is wrong with this party, what you are saying is correct. Government is a big ship that can accommodate everybody if the sailor wants more passengers, but unfortunately, that is not what is happening today. You expect that after working for the success of the party, people should be rewarded, but there are some few individuals who think that anybody that they do not anoint should not be given anything. What baffles me most is that during campaign, nobody remembers whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, or whether you are Hausa or Igbo or Yoruba, or Nupe my tribe, but when it comes to appointments, they will put on the table ethnicity, tribe, religion and all manner of sentiments. It is too bad for the system, the rewarding system in the party at all levels is worrisome, but only God will help APC.
Another example of poor rewarding system in the party is people like you who were so visible during the campaign for second term of your governor, but today you are nowhere, what went wrong?
My brother, God’s time is the best. During the first tenure I was given an opportunity to serve as commissioner for information and I thank God, at the same time I thank the governor for that opportunity. But this time around I believe the time has not yet come for me to serve and I’m taking it in good faith. There is time for everything, a time to be born and time to die, in between is a privilege to live to the glory of God and to the benefit of humanity. So, let’s leave it at that for now. I am in my farm and I am happy doing what I am doing right now, I am not hungry to the glory of God.
So, how do we address all these problems in your party in your own opinion?
It is going to be very difficult because some of our politicians today are businessmen and women. They are merchants, they put in their money and want to recoup it. We have a lot of them in APC and at all levels, in fact, 80 per cent of politicians in APC are political entrepreneurs, they came in with their money and anyhow, they will want to recoup their money. These people forgot that politics is about service to the people, you come to serve the people and not to corner their money for your personal benefits. We accused PDP of looting the nation, but I can’t describe what is going on now. You see the Anchor Borrowers scheme of this administration which was meant to benefit and empower the peasant farmers in this country to enhance food production. Today, this Anchor Borrowers money disappeared into individual pockets instead of the real farmers. Find out across the country who are the people that got this money, they are not the real farmers which the money was meant for, and I challenge the CBN to ask state governments to publish the names of the beneficiaries. The real farmers did not get this money, and it is all over the country.
What do you think is responsible for the high level of insecurity, especially in the northern parts of the country today?
Poverty is high in the North despite the fact that we are the one ruling, and that is why we should allow power to shift to the South because it does not make any meaning to us. You know that a hungry man is an angry man, there is no food to eat and no work to do, that is very dangerous for the system. Ironically, however, you see our leaders riding in big cars and travelling in a convoy of over 20 vehicles, taking fuel of over 10,000 liters per 100 kilometers journey. The insecurity we are seeing today is lack of care for the people, we only care for ourselves. When these bandits finish with the people in the villages, they will started coming for us in the cities, that is where this insecurity is heading to, and I’m afraid. The insecurity in the country today is worse than what we inherited from PDP, let us be honest with ourselves. Again the whole world is saying let these service chiefs go and Mr. President is saying no, is Mr. President saying that we cannot get other good hands in the military that can replace these people? The pronouncement by Mr. President that he is giving them last warning means that they have been failing, it means they have not performed, so what do you do, let them go on retirement, Nigerians are tired of this insecurity and it is giving this government a bad image.
Recently some youths in Katsina took to the streets to protest the high rate of insecurity and the continued killing of innocent Nigerians, and the next day they were arrested…
(Cuts in) That was a big shame, shame to this government. Protest is synonymous with democracy, when people feel cheated, when people feel aggrieved, when people are tired of a system, the only way to express their grievances is through peaceful protest. Again these are the same people who voted and fought for your victory so why are you arresting them, are people not being killed like we are in wars. That is why I said earlier that I don’t know which excuse APC will give to Nigerians in 2023 to still vote for us. That action is not only wrong, it is condemnable and undemocratic. Very soon I will also lead a peaceful protest to tell Nigerians that we have failed them, and to tell them that we are sorry. As the publicity secretary of APC in 2014, I know the promises we made to Nigerians, I know how we castigated PDP and convinced Nigerians to vote for us, but today can we say that we are better than PDP, I believe we are worse.
Sir, how do you rate the anti-corruption war of your APC administration under Buhari?
I am confused because I don’t know whether we are fighting corruption or fighting opposition and people who have contrary view with us. To describe the anti-corruption war of Mr. President is to say that the more you see the less you understand. There are some that are done in good faith and there are those that are done in bad faith.
Do you support power shift to the South in 2023 because some people are already saying that North should still retain power in 2023?
Those people are calling for anarchy and possible disintegration of this country as well because I don’t know the excuse they will give to the southerners. Right now, we have Buhari who is on his second term in office and we all agreed that presidency should be rotational for fairness, justice and equity. So, it will be a day dream for anybody to say that the next president should still come from the North. But come to think of it, what has the North benefited from producing the president in the last five years? Today, banditry is in the North, hunger and poverty are in the North, the poorest people in Nigeria today are from the North and because of poverty, northern youths are migrating in large numbers to the South for survival, North is the headquarters of
beggars in the country. What have we benefited from this leadership. North is the only place where religion strives very well yet our leaders don’t have the fear of God to help their people and provide for them. Please let the ambition of our northern leaders not drive us to anarchy. Let the Southeast take it. (Sunday Sun)
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