The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in this interview, speaks on the outcome of the presidential election, the party’s preparation for tomorrow’s governorship, zoning of the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, and the call for his resignation, among others.
The presidential and National Assembly elections threw up some upsets, with APC losing some of its strongholds to the opposition. What has the party learned from the exercise ahead of the governorship and state assembly polls?
The very important and unfortunate lesson we have learned in APC is the fact that ethnicity and religion have been brought to the forefront, far beyond what had been our experience before now. No matter what you think of the other factors that are also relevant to the election, that step that our people took is, for me, a setback.
We do hope and pray that all politicians who are desirous of deepening democracy in this country will take a very critical look at this situation to get the country out of this mess of religious and ethnic politics.
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However, we did well. We never set out to have a perfect election, but we set out to have a free and fair election, which we have done.
Certain important developments that are so much different from what we used to see in Nigerian politics played out in the last election. People who are at the forefront of Nigerian politics, including yours sincerely, lost the election in their strongholds, and it is not easy to explain.
How do you explain Governor Nasir El-Rufai losing Kaduna to PDP; me, as the national chairman of our party, losing to Labour Party in Nasarawa; the president-elect, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, losing the presidential election in Lagos that he ruled for eight years, and who has been the centrepiece of Lagos politics? How do you explain our losing Gombe or Yobe, whose governor is my predecessor in APC (Governor Buni)?
There are so many things that happened and it is not easy to explain why they happened. Notwithstanding these losses, we didn’t cry. I didn’t cry, Tinubu didn’t cry, so also El-Rufai. Though it hurts politically, we have the large hearts to bear this kind of setback in our politics.
But as you can see, the person who beat us in Lagos is complaining about the fairness of the election. This is a guy who, at the time he contested the election, his party didn’t have one local government chairman. There are lessons to be learned, but I thank God the Almighty, we won the election.
Though there are some losses in some places, which we now call flashpoints, we hope and pray that we will overcome them in the subsequent elections.
You mentioned religion and ethnicity playing key roles in the last election. How do you factor the Muslim-Muslim ticket of your party in all these?
Maybe that heightens the religious element, but we are doing our research on that.
What’s your party doing to avoid the upsets of the last election in this Saturday’s governorship poll?
Having gotten some setbacks here and there, we are back to the drawing board again to see what we can do, where we made mistakes and wrong assumptions, and then correct ourselves. By the grace of God, the governorship and state assembly elections will be better for our party.
Are you having sleepless nights because your governors in the states, hitherto regarded as your vote bank, are already apprehensive ahead of the governorship poll, fearing a repeat of what happened in the presidential election?
If I’m not sick, I sleep well. I’m telling you in all honesty that since the presidential election results were announced, there was no day I went to bed and stayed for 10 minutes without sleep taking me over. I sleep very well.
There is no doubt about the fact that I get concerned and worried as to what I will do. But once my mind is set on doing a particular thing to correct certain mistakes, I go straight to doing it. But once I hit my pillow, I sleep and have dreams too. One of the dreams I had recently was that we were winning more states in this governorship election.
How many states did you dream of winning?
That will be too prophetic. As we go to the election, we have 21 states that are governed by the APC. I hope that we will get more. Though, in the course of that, we may lose one or two. And depending on how many we get in and how many we lose out, in the end, we will still be in the majority by God’s grace.
My personal experience is: anytime God gives me leadership, I lead my party to victory, and this election is no exception.
All eyes are on the president-elect and you, especially on this issue of religion. How do you intend to balance the equation following the reaction the Muslim-Muslim ticket generated?
Our president-elect is a fair-minded politician, and he will not be any different this time that he has won the election. It is a characteristic inherent. As the national chairman of the party, I have to advise, direct and lead the party into thinking and adopting a formula that is best suited to creating equilibrium of interest in the political arena.
During the last meeting we had with the National Assembly members-elect, we made it very clear that we need to sit down after the governorship election to discuss the issue of National Assembly leadership.
There is nothing the president could do without recourse to the National Assembly. We suffered in the 8th Senate because some people beat the gun and we had a whole tenure in jeopardy. There was no peace between the executive and the legislature and that affected governance. But somehow, we managed to meander through the crisis-ridden National Assembly, and that happened because of selfishness.
Some people just believe they want to lead the National Assembly. I don’t see anything wrong with having ambition, but unguarded ambition that is loaded with a spirit of betrayal and abuse of trust.
The key players in the 8th Senate said there was no clear directive from the president as regards zoning the leadership of the parliament, hence what happened…
This is because they beat the gun.
Now, lawmakers-elect are already grouping, and there is fear that if zoning is not released on time…
But what do you call zoning released on time? The election is still on, and the inauguration of the National Assembly is sometime in the second week of June. So, why the hurry? There is nothing wrong with you consulting or presenting yourself to your colleagues; but why beat the gun?
We don’t want the 8th Senate experience to happen this time. It was a very bitter lesson. At the last meeting with the lawmakers-elect, we told them very clearly to wait for the president-elect and the leadership of the platform on which they were elected.
If there’s the need to link up with other parties to increase our membership in the National Assembly, the party will do so. But for God’s sake, don’t beat the gun. We have a very delicate situation on our hands, and we have to be very careful how we handle it.
Should Nigerians expect a Muslim Senate president?
That is not for me to determine. But I want to assure you that we will be as equitable as we can and sensitive to the sentiments of Nigerians. It is not for me to decide at this stage. Mine is to lead the party to be fair-minded and equitable.
What’s your reaction to the opposition parties going to court to challenge the outcome of the presidential election?
I wish them a safe journey. It’s their right to go to court. I do hope that when the court decides for or against them, they will accept the verdict. Sometimes, it amazes me that Nigerian politicians don’t have the heart to bear the loss when they lose an election.
We signed a peace agreement before the election, they have thrown that into the bin already. Why is the election fair in Lagos where they won, and not fair in Borno because they lost there? The same umpire, the same rules.
This is the most peaceful election Nigeria has ever had. This is the only election in recent times that people are not talking about vote buying.
What surprises me most is that some developed countries are listening to this thrash. They are not being fair to us. How old is democracy in Nigeria? How old is it in America? Didn’t Donald Trump try to topple the government of America because he didn’t accept the election results? This is naivety beyond one’s comprehension. We have won the election, free and fair.
How will you react to the call for your resignation by one of the APC NWC members?
I don’t have time to take on Salihu Lukman on that. I have more important issues to think about, talk about, and attend to. I don’t want to condescend to that level.
By Ismail Mudashir & Abdullateef Salau