A close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari and former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Farouk Adamu Aliyu believes that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki will be impeached when the National Assembly reconvenes. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he dismissed one of the conspiracy theories that President Buhari may not contest next year’s presidential election, even as he frowned at the idea of Northern Elders Forum led by Prof Ango Abdullahi searching for another presidential candidate to replace President Buhari in 2019. credit sunnewsonline
In an interview with Saturday Sun, the Chairman of Northern Elders Forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi said the North is shopping for a suitable candidate that will replace President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s general elections. As one of the core supporters of the President, how does his statement come to you?
First of all, President Buhari is not the candidate of the North but Nigeria as a whole. So, anybody in the Northern part of the country who thinks they are still looking for a candidate from the North, we wish them well. Prof Ango Abdullahi is entitled to his opinion and we cannot stop anybody from seeking or searching for a candidate. To us, we believe in this country and we believe that some of these kinds of comments are divisive in nature. Why talk about a candidate from the North.
His argument is that since the major political parties have zoned their presidential tickets to the North, the zone should carefully select a candidate that has more capacity in terms of delivering quality leadership to the nation.
First of all, Prof Ango Abdullahi is a father to me but I do not think he belongs to any political party. So, Prof Abdullahi and his group cannot decide for any party who its candidate should be. Yes, they could support somebody if they do not believe in Buhari because they are entitled to their opinion. Let them produce anybody who can defeat Buhari in 2019. We are in a democracy. There is nothing wrong in bringing forward anybody who can contest against Buhari. If the person is better than Buhari, so be it. Let the people decide.
As an insider, could you clarify the issue that members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the legacy parties that formed the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been schemed out of the ruling party’s power equation?
It is not true. I, Hon Farouk Adamu Aliyu contested to be Deputy National Chairman from the CPC bloc but I lost the election. Why should we be talking about the ACN or nPDP now? Our name is APC and if we cannot be magnanimous in victory or when we lose elections, then we are not going to move forward. This is the issue. I do not subscribe to the idea of former CPC, ACN and so on members complaining. This is because we are now called the APC. If members of the CPC complain, what do you expect members of other parties to say when Buhari who is of the CPC is the president? So, how can anybody who was a member of the CPC feel shortchanged. Is the seat of the president not more important than any other position? Somebody told me that some groups of the CPC were reported in the media to be complaining but I dissociate myself from them. I am not part of such a group and I do not subscribe to their position. I am a strict party person and I believe in democracy. I contested gubernatorial election on the platform of the CPC and I lost. In every election, there must be a winner and a loser. So, if anybody thinks I lost because I belonged to the CPC, I do not think so.
Buhari is of the CPC and all other parties came together to vote for Buhari to become the candidate in 2014. And as of today, there is no other aspirant from the other parties who have come out to challenge Buhari who came from the CPC. So, my colleagues from the former CPC bloc, please I appeal to them to see reason in democracy and believe that we went to an election and lost. We should work together and make sure that the APC wins the 2019 polls.
Are you comfortable with the leadership style of the new national chairman of your party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I ask this question against the position of some people who argue that he operates like a dictator and that he appears to be too flippant.
If I answer you this question, I would be very subjective because I was the Director General of Adams Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation. As for me, I totally subscribe to the way he does his things. If we in the APC were used to doing certain things in some ways, he came with new tactics and his tactics need time but some people do not understand. People were used to a certain way and another way has been introduced. After sometime, people would understand his tactics. The important thing is that he wants the party to win. Adams is doing very well and a lot of us in the party are very happy with him. You cannot say he is talking too much. He is talking to power and we are pleased with the way he is talking. He should keep talking. If you bring somebody that is quiet, people will say why did you bring somebody that is too quiet and if you bring somebody that talks, people will again say why did you bring somebody who talks too much.
One of the speculations in the public domain is that former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe is being positioned to replace Buhari in the event that the president declines to run. As an insider in Buhari’s government, how true is that?
Before I answer that question, let me confirm to you that President Buhari is contesting. I just came back from London where I had a meeting with him and he has indicated to the party that he would run. But if anybody is willing to contest against Buhari in 2019, there is no problem. Buhari is a democrat and if Kingibe wants to contest against Buhari, he is welcome. If we go to the poll and Buhari is defeated, we will join hands and work for the person. Just like I told you, I contested election on the platform of the CPC which is of the Buhari bloc and I lost but I have been working for the APC since then. If anybody tells you that they want to remove Buhari, it is a lie. Buhari can only be removed at the polls. He can either be defeated at the primaries or at the elections proper.
What is your take on the crisis between the legislature and the executive arm of government. Do you agree with those who insist that the APC is desperate to impeach the Senate President Bukola Saraki?
There is nothing like being desperate to impeach the Senate President. I can assure you that the APC shall impeach the Senate President. Before, we were children of the same father but of different mother but now, we are not the same mother or father. Bukola Saraki is of the PDP and the APC is determined to remove him. So, there is nothing desperate about it but he does not belong to the APC any more. Some say why do we not want to remove the Speaker of the House of Representatives; he is of the APC, so why should we remove him. He did not defect to the APC. As for Saraki, we shall remove him. Let him convene the National Assembly. We are slowly getting the signatures of those that will impeach him.
But the opposition party, the PDP is saying that the APC cannot get the 2/3 majority constitutionally required to impeach him. So, how are you going to do that?
It is not impossible. The APC is very close to the required number to impeach him and we shall get there and do that.
Looking at the array of PDP aspirants positioning to replace Buhari in 2019, how do you feel?
We are extremely happy that all these people are going to the PDP and you could already see from the way they are talking that they are not in unity. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has already complained about why the Senate President, Bukola Saraki should be given leader of the party when he (Atiku) was a former vice president. Also, the former Kaduna State governor, Ahmed Makarfi is warning that the newcomers should not be given ticket. Shekarau is also saying that Kwakwanso should join the queue. So, we are very happy with the development. After all, it is democracy. We are in our own party and we have one candidate; let them also do their convention and we shall see. All these people ran to the PDP because they are looking for the presidential ticket and there can only be one candidate. Probably, when they finish and they did not get the ticket, they will start running back but all that is democracy. We of the APC have been benefitting from people defecting from other parties to us. We are used to people running into our party.
It appears that the 2019 elections have finally divided the North. I ask this because of the number of candidates coming out from the North ahead of this election. It was not like that in the past.
No matter the number of aspirants that have come out, only one candidate would emerge from any of the parties in the elections. And among all those parties, the APC is virtually going for one candidate. You can see the number of aspirants in the PDP. It shows you there is no unity in the party. All of them are struggling for their interests. So, let us see whether they can come together. We in APC are praying they do not come together. We in APC are praying God keep dividing them. That is our prayer.
Are you saying that APC does not have its own internal challenges. Have you forgotten that you still have the R-APC led by Buba Galadima, one of the foundation members of the party who has even taken the party to court?
Buba Galadima is not the only core member of the APC. As democrats, we believe that Buba Galadima has the right to support Buhari or not than following the R-APC which is unconstitutional and not recognized by law. But he is entitled to his opinion and good a thing, Buhari has not even joined issues with him. That is okay with us. We are not saying that everybody must go with Buhari.
You were once a minority leader of the House of Representatives; how do you see the developments in the 8th National Assembly especially with regards to the relationship between it and the executive arm of government?
It is sad and the development is affecting the nation. You find that the turnout in the National Assembly is too much. That is the problem. I came in 2003 and by that time, more than 50 per cent of the elected representatives were new and when we left, more than 80 per cent were new. The turnout is one of the main problems facing the National Assembly. Most of the people that are there now are first timers. Again, the National Assembly has become a retiring ground for governors. But the masses are seeing it that part of the problem of Nigeria is the National Assembly. People should vote their conscience for candidates with integrity and those who have the interests of Nigeria irrespective of their party.