Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why El-Rufai is not worried about emergence of APC factions in Kaduna’

Acting Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State, Yahaya Baba Pate in this interview explains why the party is fully behind Governor Nasir El-Rufai and why it is not disturbed by the creation of splinter groups by some members of the party.

You are aware of the existence of the APC Akida, what does it mean to the APC in Kaduna State? 

Constitutionally, the APC is one in Kaduna state and is ably led by Alhaji Shuiabu Idris Lauje, who is the acting chairman with other members of the state executive council duly elected at the state congress three years ago. That is the constitutionally recognized leadership of the party in Kaduna State. As far as the party is concerned, we do not know any faction, we don’t know any splinter  group, we know only of the existence of one APC in Kaduna State which leadership is recognized by the national body of our party.

 But is there anything the party is doing about the group?

 I don’t think it bothers the party much because that is not our responsibility, our responsibility is to discharge the affairs of the party according to the constitution and to give every member of APC a level playing ground as provided in the constitution. That is what we are focusing on at the moment and also to guide and advise to make sure that the APC government of Malam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai in Kaduna State is in line with the APC manifesto and is governing to the best of his ability.

Why has it been difficult to fill the vacant positions in the executive committee of the party? 

The constitution recognizes that in the absence of the chairman, the deputy chairman should act as the chairman, whether by death, travel, resignation, expulsion and what have you. Our first chairman is now the deputy governor, Honourable Barnabas Bala Bantex. When he assumed the position of the deputy governor, his deputy, Alhaji Shuaibu Idris, assumed the position of acting chairman. Likewise myself, the secretary of the party is now the chief of staff to the governor of Kaduna State, I was his assistant and after his promotion, I took over as the acting secretary of the party and that is the provision of the constitution  pending when the national body fixes a date for the conduct of congresses to fill the vacancies. It is not the responsibility of the state arm of the party to organize congresses to fill vacancies of any positions even if it is at the ward level; it is the responsibility of the national body which we have sent so many requests for. We are ready and any time they accept a date, the party in Kaduna is ready to give all the necessary support to be performed. But it is not only in Kaduna State, it is almost in all the APC states in Nigeria because some of the leaders have gotten one or two appointments and the state chapters are not the ones to conduct the congresses but the national body. For instance, Senator Binta Masi Garba, former chairperson, Adamawa State APC, she is now a senator, up till now, it is her deputy that is acting as the chairman. The former SGF, David Lawal, was the national vice chairman, North East, up till now the vacancy has not been filled because it can only be filled through convention or congresses organized by the national body. Katsina State chairman is now the SSG, Katsina State government, and the position has still not been filled and there are so many states like that, so it is not the issue of Kaduna alone.

The complaints from the other group is that the state chapter of the party carries on like a parastatal of the government....

As I said earlier, the party has played a major role in the activities of the state government. We have given advice in so many situations which we think and believe will help the APC government in Kaduna and the governor of the state. The government in turn consults the party and the party leaders in almost all programmes and policies that they want to implement in Kaduna State and I think that is the kind of relationship an elected official is suppose to have with the party. You don’t expect us to be having rancor. The government is an APC government and our responsibility is to guide the government correctly. We applaud them where we think they have done well. We have been doing that and the governor, to a great extent, is cooperating with the party to see that we fulfil the campaign promises we made to Kaduna during the electioneering campaign, this is what we have been doing so far in the last two years. 

Protests trailed the selection of delegates for non-elective convention of the party, it is alleged that the list was drawn from the government house and did not pass through due process. What actually happened?

As far as the APC in Kaduna is concerned, there  was a congress to elect delegates for the non-elective convention and in that congress, there were guidelines which were fully complied with by the party at the state level and there was an election team sent by the national body in Abuja which was here with us. We held a meeting, they addressed the leadership and stakeholders in the state in which a unanimous decision was reached by the stakeholders and leaders of the party at different levels in the state to elect three national delegates through consensus and that was what we did. What we did was not different from what other states did. We held our congress to elect delegates according to the guidelines of the said convention. The constitution provided that if you can reach a consensus, there is no need for balloting. As I earlier told you, all the members and major stakeholders agreed that those people should be elected based on consensus and that is what happened in Kaduna State and it was fully complied with. 

What can be done to reconcile with the other members? 

Our doors are always open, we are a political party and one of our duties is to mobilize people to come and join the party. That is one of the principal duties of every member of the party or every leader. 

 With the problems in the party, do you think if there is any election, especially with the local government elections in Kaduna State, the APC thrive?

The APC is more eager than anybody for the local government election to hold and Kaduna State is an APC state and it will continue to be. Our governor is fulfilling our campaign promises in every nook and cranny of the state. If you go round, you will see one or two projects of our APC government. So, we have nothing to fear, our governor is campaigning for the party with his development projects in education, infrastructure, health and what have you. We are comfortable and very eager for the local government elections to hold and we assure you, come rain come shine, the APC is going to triumph in any election in Kaduna State. 

In spite of the fact that none of the three senators in the state is with you? 

Ninety eight per cent of elected members are with the party and we are working together to see that we make Kaduna state great by fulfilling the promises we made to the people and to uplift the APC as a party in Kaduna State. Our primary concern as I said earlier is for the APC government to deliver its campaign promises made to the electorate during the electioneering which our government is doing excellently and with the kind of work the governor is doing, I don’t think APC as a party has any problem as far as election is concerned in Kaduna. 

Apart from the APC Akida group, there is the restoration group that has been criticizing the policies and ways of government. Are you comfortable with the leadership style of Governor  El-Rufai?

I do not know what they are trying to restore. Most of them are, maybe, busy trying to restore their pockets or they want to get appointments. But have you ever heard any one of them saying that the governor of Kaduna State is not performing? All you hear from them is that they have not been given appointments or contracts. Ours is a government of change; we promised change to citizens of Kaduna and that is what our focus is. Ours is not a government that comes to fill pockets or to give appointments. We have a focused governor that is busy working day and night to see that he fulfills his campaign promises and that in our objective, we are not distracted by Akida or whatever you call them. Our concern is the common man from Kaduna State; how to provide good health care services, how to provide quality education, how to provide good roads and how to develop infrastructure and change the face of governance in the state. We have cut down unnecessary spending in government and there is more seriousness from the civil servants towards governance in Kaduna. 

You said your doors are open and you are ready to accept people who are genuinely concerned about the party. What informed your decision to suspend Senator Shehu Sani indefinitely?

Shehu Sani was given a fair hearing as provided by the constitution before he was expelled indefinitely by the party. We sent a letter to him more than once to appear and answer some questions but he refused to honour the invitations and only replied us through the media houses by insulting the leadership of the party. First of all, we suspended him for some months thinking that he will be remorseful and apologise to the party but, he refused to toe the line of the party and continued to be arrogant and disobedient to party rules. That is why we suspended him indefinitely. But as I said, the doors are open.

Some have accused the APC in Kaduna of being behind the incident that happened at the NUJ center recently. How will you react?

The APC as a political party respects the freedom of the press and I can say to you now that we have no hand in what happened at the NUJ, we have been partnering with you in every of our activities and we can never be so irresponsible to attack somebody that is disseminating information to the citizens. We have no hand in it, we do not know how it happened and we will always promote freedom of the press, freedom of association as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria and I think those that were having the press conference were the ones that organized the incident in the NUJ and I have my reasons to say that. I saw one of them with a picture of a journalist from Liberty, somebody who claims to have been attacked, but he was unruffled and does not look like somebody that was attacked. So I believe that the same people that organized the press conference organized the attack at the press center just for them to dent the image of the party in the state and our government in Kaduna State.

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