Abdulrazak Namdas is the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Army and the member representing Jada/Ganye/Mayo-Belwa/Toungo constituency of Adamawa State. He has expressed his desire to contest in the Adamawa State governorship election under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023. In this exclusive interview, he expressed the hope of winning the election, his support for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential ambition and other issues.
In 2019 you won a re-election to represent former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s constituency as an APC candidate, even when he was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); what was the secret?
I am in touch with the people. I don’t want to blow my trumpet, but I am one of the few people communities believe they have in Abuja, so when they want to vote in any election, they give me the benefit of the doubt because I am doing what they need most. I am part of the success story as a person that was able to make the president award a contract from Mayo-Belwa to Toungo, to the tune of N22.7billion. That road was in a state of despair for over 20 years. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, was part of the success story. We made presentations and this road was awarded. Today, half of the road has already been done.
- FG threatens to prosecute Nigerians bribing immigration officers for passports
- Amidst fuel scarcity, Nigerians decry widespread power outage
I worked with Boni Haruna my boss, who is in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while I am in the APC. I still relate with him because it is not about party alone. For the fact that somebody trained you somewhere, you must relate with him very well. I was the director-general of the support groups of the former vice president you were talking about. The groups took care of the entire North-East. Today, we are in a very good relationship. I still have the likes of Markus Gundiri, an engineer, who was my governorship aspirant and I was his deputy. So you have to carve a way of relating with people and how to use that to get success.
Today, I am aspiring to be governor and I hope to relate well with them. If you cannot vote for me, at least don’t spoil the show for me.
You want to be the governor of your state, which is under the PDP. How do you think you would be able to unseat the incumbent, considering the fact that your party, the APC, was dislodged from that position in 2019?
That is what gives me confidence. Between 2015 and 2019, Governor Jibrilla Bindo of the APC was in charge; and when the present governor was contesting, we took things for granted and believed he was not going to win. Just as he was able to dislodge us, it is not going to be out of place for me to dislodge him. It is a matter of strategy. In any case, the APC remains the party to beat. Its membership in Adamawa is more than that of the PDP.
Our challenge at that time was that our stakeholders were not speaking on the same page. Having realised that mistake, no matter how bad the situation, I will advise stakeholders always not to engage in anti-party activities. If a man takes office and knows it was only by his efforts, he will not recognise you. He cannot give you appointment because the people who worked for him from day one to the end will not sit and look at him give positions. Having realised that, all the party stalwarts and people contesting for the office of the governor are not going to fight. We have been pleading and talking. Personally, I have spoken to all of them. If God makes one of us to get it, the rest will support the person. If I get it, I hope that all of them would support me. I believe we will not make the mistake of saying, ‘if I don’t get it, I am going to support another party.’ There is anger in politics, but we must manage it.
Apart from political party affiliation, there are other factors that come into play in Adamawa politics to determine how things will turn out. Do you see those factors as a threat or plus in your aspiration?
Some of these underlining sentiments can also be strength if you are a good politician. In my state, we have 76 different ethnic groups. When you are vying for office you must understand that it is a heterogeneous society. We have a very good number of Christians and a good number of Muslims. So we have to be very cautious on how things are handled. That is why, if you have a Muslim governor, you must have a Christian deputy, if you have a Christian as a governor like in the case of Boni Haruna, you must naturally have a Muslim as deputy. There is this understanding, except somebody wants to create trouble for himself. What is on ground is on ground? Talk to people and believe in what they are doing.
Sometimes, if you are nationalistic by nature and you are seen as somebody who is tolerant, people will always have confidence in you. I am a Muslim, my father was an Arabic teacher in a primary school till he retired and died, but I will not be working with Muslims alone because there are Christians in my community and everywhere in the state. And you must understand that apart from being elected, certain appointments come from the west, even within your own community. Some will come from a certain part of the community. So you have to understand that by the time you isolate people from power for a long time, it can be counter-productive. For me, having been part of politics from 1999 till today, at least, I have a fair idea of what I can do as a politician to survive; and I believe that has been helping me a lot. It cannot change.
Since Asiwaju Bola Tinubu declared his intention to be president, there has been a lot of discourse, particularly about his age and rumoured health issues. As a stakeholder, what is your take on his ambition?
For me, Asiwaju is a leader. And I believe that with the kind of experience and political turmoil he has passed through, even as a chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the kind of contacts he has, and the way he has been able to train upcoming leaders, he is somebody we must listen to. To be sick or not is for God. Sometimes a child can die before his father although it is expected otherwise. Somebody may be sick but a person who looks strong can die before him or her.
I have been in the political activities of Asiwaju for over 15 years. I was a member of the Action Congress (AC), ACD, Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), then the APC. We have metamorphosed with him for a very long period of time, even when I was a deputy governorship candidate on the ACN in Adamawa State. I ran with Gundiri and Asiwaju was our leader. He gave opportunities to two of our sons – Nuhu Ribadu and Atiku Abubakar – to be president of this country. So it is time for us to give our support too. Atiku got the ticket for the first time when Asiwaju gave him the opportunity. Again, when the ACN came on board, the same Asiwaju made sure that Ribadu became the candidate of the party. If such person wants to be president, do you expect me to run against his interest? I will not do that because he loves us so much.
You are a young person who wants to vie for governorship, but you are supporting an older person for president. Is this not a contradiction?
There is something we have to explain here. The House didn’t say we should make youths to be president and block elders; no. The House said we have to open the space and reduce the age so that our young men and women can join politics and occupy positions. If you are a young person, that right, which you have to contest is the same right the old man has to contest.