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ANPP is an appendage of PDP – Buhari

Firstly, I wrote to my supporters after the December 12, 2008 verdict of the Supreme Court. The same day, I spoke to you press men…

Firstly, I wrote to my supporters after the December 12, 2008 verdict of the Supreme Court. The same day, I spoke to you press men at Hilton Hotel where you posed many questions, but I can only recall two. The first one was that having gone through what I did in 2003 and 2007, would I throw in the towel? I said no, I wouldn’t.

The second question was, “What are you going to do with your party, because it is the problem?” I said yes; I would consult with members of my party and my supporters and then I will address the public. So in February 2009, I wrote to all the state chapters and some groups and individuals and gave three conditions or guidelines, which I wanted them to consider.

One, whether we should remain in ANPP. Two, whether we should join any party other than PDP or whether we would float our own party. I received all the feedback and a committee studied and reduced them into an executive summary and made recommendations. Subsequent events in the polity delayed my decision till now.

There is the Mega Summit Movement and the National Democratic Movement where we are trying to see whether we can have one party to face the PDP in the next election. But most Nigerians know that my leaving ANPP was just a matter of time. So, eventually, I had to leave by the first of this month (February).

How correct is the report that you intend to pitch tent in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)?

Well, there is a lot of truth in the report. The important thing is that what happened to me in ANPP, I don’t want it to happen to me again if I join another old established party. After being in court for thirty months, the Supreme Court dismissed our suit. In the 2007 election, the rigging or non-election was worse than in 2003, so I said that I would not go to court, but the party insisted that I must go to court because I participated on its ticket.

But luckily for us, we decided to raise our own separate legal team from the party, so we went to court. Without even saying goodbye, the party leadership withdrew from the suit and left me alone. The significance of that, very few people seem to realise. If I hadn’t continued with that case, the same people would have gone round to tell my supporters that I had been settled. And it would have been very easy to create some doubts in our supporters’ minds.

I would then be seen as another unreliable, deceitful person posing as a leader in Nigerian politics. So I continued alone and it took me another 20 months. So, between 2003 and December 2009, I was in court for 50 months. Not only did ANPP withdraw its case, it joined the so-called Government of National Unity. Not only that, they nominated themselves for cabinet positions when in fact even members of PDP that were holding party positions resigned when they got political appointments. But the officials of ANPP sat tight. They totally disregarded the constitution of the party.

All the three things that they did, withdrawing from the court, joining GNU and personally participating in it, went against the constitution of the party. They were also never endorsed by the party caucus, National Working Committee or National Executive Committee. A few members led by the former deputy governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Suleiman Muhammad Argungu, made efforts to reverse the decision by going to court.

They called themselves the Integrity Group and went to court to address this constitutional abuse. And, of course, if you go to court in Nigeria against PDP, you do it just to keep your record straight, but don’t expect any justice really. So, up till now, they’re in court; do we wait until the next election or after the next election in order to get this leadership which does not respect the constitution of the party out of office?

It is alleged that your exit from the party was rather pre-emptive; that the party had already concluded plans to expel you before you left.

Well, I don’t know, but I’m not sure about that. But how I wish that they had beaten me to it, then, I would have given a more respectful explanation to my supporters. For all intents and purposes, ANPP members know that it is now an appendage of PDP. This is not why I joined politics.

PDP was there when I joined APP which was an opposition party and it was in the process of being killed all over the country, but I joined it, thinking it would work according to its constitution. But it has become an appendage of the tyrannical ruling party, so I just had to leave; I had no option really.

Is there a plan for the opposition groups like Mega Summit and National Democratic Movement to coalesce into a political party?

Well, we are discussing and in our last meeting on Friday (January 29), we accepted the reports of the contact/mobilisation and strategy and programmes committees. In the third week of this month, we are going to debate and the terms of reference that were drawn up were quite adequate. We are going to discuss either to float a party or go into one party amongst the parties that our members belong to or have a very strong alliance. It depends on what we decide.

Has any party stalwart, party official or political office-holder left ANPP with you in solidarity?

I don’t know, but I do know what will follow. This is a style that I really want to entrench in the political system; let people choose for themselves, just as I decided to join ANPP in the first place. Let people choose their political linings. All those who had supported me in ANPP and even outside it have the right to remain in their respective parties. Whether they will be card-carrying members and casting votes or participating actively at different levels, be it local government or state level or at the centre, this is what will make or unmake the party.

It seems that you have not really bade your finally goodbye to ANPP, because in your resignation letter, you said that you hope to work with the party but under which circumstance will that be?

Well, ANPP is presenting itself as an opposition party while still in the Government of National Unity. So really, the party is having its cake and eating it. Maybe in that process, it can cooperate with other parties that want to face the PDP squarely in subsequent elections.

Some of your critics are saying that you are not cut out for Nigerian politics; that you should quit and become an elder statesman. Have you heard that comment before and what are your comments on that?

Since you as a press man have said it, then you must have heard it somewhere. But this is unfortunate. If we think that there are some class of Nigerians that are not fit for Nigerian politics, then it is unfortunate. We are supposed to give our country the ideal, the best that we can. Those people who started this system called democracy went through various stages.

America went through a civil war to hold the nation together just as we did. The zenith or success of that system was Obama’s election who is an African American and a clear minority. This means that democracy has matured there and that should be our aim.

There are people who also saying that you are more interested in being a presidential candidate than a politician and that that is your real problem with ANPP.

Under this system, is it possible to want to be a Nigerian president without being a politician? Is it possible? So, if you quoted ANPP correctly, this is one of its contradictions.

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