A former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alhaji Salihu Mustapha, is gunning for the position of national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he explains why other contenders should step down for him. Excerpts:
Members of the defunct CPC are said to be pushing for the candidature of a former governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura. Why are you also in the race?
I am not aware of this and nothing like that is happening. If you talk of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) as a former deputy chairman, I should know. Nobody is promoting any candidate.
- Terrorism financing: Dozens arrested in nationwide crackdown
- Troops, Boko Haram in gun duel over Dikwa
The governor of Nasarawa State came out recently to promote his predecessor based on the fact that he was the lone governor elected under CPC.
Governor Sule, when did he join politics? He joined politics during this outing that he came out. He used to be a staff member of Dangote and he can’t say he is promoting someone and asking others to do the same because he was not a member of CPC. In principle, yes, Oyegun came from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Oshiomhole came from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The party is yet to announce, officially, the zoning of the chairmanship to North Central. When it does, we will make our case and argument. Some of us believe that since ANPP and ACN have produced the chairman of the party, then CPC should be given the opportunity. Politically, when you look at it, the CPC faction will be having an outgoing president.
Naturally, if the president comes from the South, the vice president comes from the North, then those of us from the centre should be able to produce the chairman. That is the understanding in principle, but it is not an official declaration. Even if it would be done, there should be hierarchy. Tanko Al-Makura is a serving senator, so let him contribute his quota and do the good work he has been voted for.
If you look at the array of people who have indicated interest in the seat, most of them are former governors and they are money bags. How do you intend to engage them in the long run?
With all due respect, sometimes, we are the ones who cage ourselves in this country and enable things that should not have happened. Before these people became governors, were they governors? No, they contested to become governors. Before they became governors, they were ordinary citizens like all of us. The same way they aspired to become something, some of us should also have the right to aspire. It is not a contest of title but a call that anyone that wants to serve can come and do that.
With due respect, I need their support and endorsement because I am not saying I am coming to fight them. I believe we mean well for ourselves in the party and we are trying to create a platform to deliver on our own electoral promises or goals.
It is not a contest of title but that of integrity, experience, humility, energy and goodwill. That is why I possess everything positive that one can use to win and lead. It is team work and not an idea of one man. I have been in the administration of this party before so there’s no way it will be a one-man show.
Who are those pushing you and have you consulted with the villa?
When I said it is team work, it is an ongoing consultation. In politics, you don’t shut down communication with the mindset that you have finished consultation or campaigning. That is why some people find it difficult to win.
Regarding getting support from the villa, we all know that the president is a man that shows support to everyone but his preference will be for the person he has known for long.
As a party person, do you see the convention holding in June looking at the fact that there is no congress or timetable yet?
I am sure they will come up with a date for the convention because we can’t miss INEC’s deadline.
I want to assume and believe that they have taken this into consideration. Part of the work they are doing is to make sure they come up with a physical date early enough for us.
What is your agenda for APC?
I want to instill discipline in the party and bring purposeful leadership. Put up an enabling environment where the party as a vehicle will be able to deliver all its promises and goals.