Alhaji Hashim Ubale Yusufu is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Caucus.
In this interview, he speaks on how the party’s stakeholders reached an agreement on power shift to the South in 2023, among others.
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What is the calculation in the APC regarding the party’s 2023 presidential ticket?
If you ask me, 60 per cent of APC is in the North. And I can see a lot of changes within the South South and South East. The support for the APC is rising.
The support for APC in the North is almost constant. The problem now is the South West because, from an earlier presupposed agreement, they may be taking the lead.
And the South East is also looking for that slot because we never said yes; “it’s from the North to the South West or South East”.
We only divided from the North to the South. All the leaders in the North will speak in one voice. And I believe leaders in the South will also speak one voice.
Even in the North now, party leaders are split. The governors are looking in different directions, but at the end of the day, they will speak in one voice, the same thing with the South West.
But I have not seen any storm coming from the South East. If the storm is large, it can bring a different equation.
Controversy is raging in the APC as some political bigwigs argue that there was no agreement prior the 2015 general elections that the party’s ticket would be ceded to the South at the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023. What do you make of that?
It was not a written agreement. It was more or less a gentleman’s agreement. I heard Bisi Akande speaking at one time. In 2011, there was an attempt between the ACN and CPC to merge, but it didn’t work.
Then they realised later at one of their rallies in Jalingo that it was a matter of necessity that the ACN and the CPC must merge. They needed Buhari to form government.
I listened to Akande carefully and I deduced that they agreed that you can take, we will support you and then you give it to us and support us. So,yes. The gentleman agreement was discussed.
Will you advise that the agreement be respected ahead of the 2023 polls?
Of course yes. There should be power shift to the South. We are one country. We have to improve on the reward system in the party.
Do you see the possibility of President Buhari anointing a successor ahead of 2023, based on permutations that APC will collapse on the expiration of his tenure?
No, I don’t think so. I’m a member of the National Caucus of the APC.
I remember during the coming of Oshiomhole, Mr. President made a statement that he would be leaving and he would allow his party to freely pick its candidate. He told the caucus that.
But we have taken a position. We at the caucus had this notion that about 60 per cent followership in the APC was for Buhari and if he leaves and retires, they will all go with him and APC will be finished.
So we took a decision that he should be made a life patron of the party so that he will continue to be the leader of our party and be relevant, and that will add value to the party.
You can see his resilience as a leader. If it were other leaders, he would have broken down because of the crises in the country. Look at the banditry. He can’t take a gun and go to Sambisa Forest to fight. So Buhari is a character. I love that man.
How do you see the reward system in the APC in view of the uproar that it has been hijacked by new entrants?
Well, there is a real problem of reward system in the APC. People came in as a group – CPC, ACN, ANPP, part of PDP and part of APGA. They all came into this coalition and the major teams are ACN and CPC. By then, the ANPP was just small because the 2011 election in the North had taken away most of it to ACN.
So my group, the ACN, majority of it was from the South West.
So, we saw that most of us who were from the North West in the CPC are not benefitting much from the APC reward system.
For example, my state, if there is anyone that my party will reward, it should be me because I was in the lead of the coalition supporting all the groupings; supporting ACN and CPC. I
sustained the structures and worked with them. When APC was born, I toured the whole state to announce it. Nobody even had the capacity to do that but I did it. At the end of it, I was not lucky because I wanted to be governor. But God has his way, it didn’t come to me.
I was not hurt because I know that politics is a game. One day, I will win and actualise my dream. So it is true that there is a very bad reward system in APC. But as politicians, we don’t hold it as cause for a grudge, we see it as a game. Those who cry about it are weak politicians.
With the festering crisis in APC in Jigawa State and growing influence of a former governor of the state, Sule Lamido and the PDP, do you think APC will survive beyond 2023 in the state?
APC is not really in crisis in Jigawa State compared to what we have in the PDP. Since the last election, we have had just one voice. In Nigeria, except at the formative stage, when a government is formed, the people rally support for it. Loyalty to government is key.
I have not seen the rising profile of the PDP in Jigawa State; rather, I see a decline. Currently, it is entangled in serious disputes creating cleavage within the rank and file. So that gives an edge for the APC to create an opportunity to widen their scope.
There are hints that you are warming up to contest again in 2023. Can you lead us into this?
Yes, I have my ambition. If you want to be a hero, you must sustain it, you must continue to push. So, I have set a goal that I want to achieve.
Are you satisfied with the performance of the Jigawa State governor?
Yes, we are humans. He may not live up to the expectations of other people, even mine. But the drive so far as it is going is satisfactory.
Even when I was contesting against him, I always said he is running the government according to his own style.
If I’m the governor, I will run it according to my own style. If you are the governor, you will end up running it according to your own style and your style may not suit another.
What would you have done differently if you were in his shoes?
The governor and I, we are from different classes. He grew up as a businessman but I grew up as a technocrat and a regulator. So I see things differently and how to do them.