Alhaji Haddy Ametuo is the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Kogi State. In this interview with ADELEKE ADESANYA, he says only Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has the capacity, for now, to save the party from the precipice. He also gave Governor Yahaya Bello of the state hard knocks, saying he side-lined the party leaders once he assumed office. Excerpts:
Ahead of next year’s general election, what is the preparation by your party?
Frankly speaking, on the kogi poll, I don’t really want to say anything about it because of the problems between us and the governor. I believe that the best thing is to leave it for the reconciliation team, headed by Asiwaju Tinubu, to work on. And after the reconciliation, I will be more open to talk on the developments relating to the party as regards our preparation for the election.
But some people have already alleged that you are working against Governor Yahaya Bello and the party, especial on the State Working Committee issue.
Let whoever is alleging that come out openly to face me. I know they are from the camp of the governor, who turned his back on us after assuming office. Let me tell you; the governor lacked moral justification to have accused the party executive members of anti-party activities when he actually worked for the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate, Captain Idris Wada, during the November 2015 governorship election.
Let me tell you; the governor lacked moral justification to have accused the party executive members of anti-party activities when he actually worked for the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate, Captain Idris Wada, during the November 2015 governorship election
I understand that a petition was written by one of them (in the governor’s camp), and I also know that it was sponsored by the governor himself. Meanwhile, the petition lacked merit because some signatories to the letter were ghosts. The inclusion of unqualified and ghost executive committee members as signatories to the petition was not only fraudulent but criminal. Hon. Taufik Isah, who has been appointed as Ijumu LGA caretaker chairman, signed as party Chairman. Osanaiye Taiwo, who died in 2015, signed as Secretary, Ijumu LGA. Haruna Isah cannot sign as Lokoja LGA APC chairman because he has been appointed as Special Assistant to the governor. Our governor, Yahaya Bello, joined APC on February 5, 2015, when it was obvious that President Muhammadu Buhari was going to win the presidential election at a time when we had concluded all rallies. We had toiled day and night, rain and sunshine since 2014, through membership registration exercise, congresses, conventions, primaries and rallies, to all elections in Kogi State – a feat that was near impossible. Those of us who made these victories possible are still much intact and focused. We are still prepared to recover the lost soul of our party in the state, to repeat a resounding victory for President Muhammadu Buhari and recapture all the legislative seats in the state. We, therefore, request that this petition from this set of liars and impersonators be thrown into the dustbin for lack of merit.
But now that Tinubu has been appointed on reconciling aggrieved members across the country, do you think he is capable of resolving the issue in Kogi APC?
Of course, I believe in the capacity of Asiwaju. The President himself knew his capacity on the assignment before he appointed him; so I believe he is so powerful to save the situation, and we are also ready to work with him.
Who is he (Governor Yahaya Bello) not to honour Asiwaju? President Buhari himself understands the weight of Tinubu before he appointed him. Who is the governor not to listen to Tinubu? Tinubu is a man that you cannot underrate in political calculations. Let me tell you; the lifeline of APC depends on this reconciliation, which will be done by Tinubu
But do you think the governor and his people will be open to Asiwaju on the reconciliation in kogi APC?
Who is he not to honour Asiwaju? President Buhari himself understands the weight of Tinubu before he appointed him. Who is the governor not to listen to Tinubu? Tinubu is a man that you cannot underrate in political calculations. Let me tell you; the lifeline of APC depends on this reconciliation, which will be done by Tinubu. You all know what is happening around the country in the party. We cannot continue like this; we have to put our house in order before the general election.
Many have been criticising the APC for not doing enough in the last three years of its administration, in terms of reducing the suffering of the people. What is your take on this?
Let me tell you and all Nigerians the truth; we need to exercise patience. We are the ones causing problem for our own people. The party, PDP, which was in power for 16 years, has spoilt many things. President Muhammadu Buhari just spent a few years, and we are complaining about him. What is the matter with us? What is wrong with our people? And many don’t know the good work he is doing. The man is trying. If not for him and God, the whole country would have been taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents.
If not for the President, the security situation of this country would have been worsened. Many of us who are in our positions and on our feet today would not have had the ability to do so if the Boko Haram people were still in control. If the PDP had still been in power, I assure you, the whole of the North East and other regions would have been occupied by Boko Haram. But today, many of us are free and safe because the insurgents have been defeated. And we can now sleep with our two eyes closed. Many of the areas in the affected regions are under reconstruction. So, we need to thank and appreciate Mr. President for the work and other laudable projects he is doing in the country, especially in addressing the issue of insecurity, which has been a major concern to all. Now, today, everybody is happy and at peace because the security aspect on Boko Haram has been addressed. And as for this issue of herdsmen that we are facing today, there is something attached to it and it will be tackled soon. I believe everything will be resolved any time from now.
But the PDP recently held a meeting, and in that meeting, they said the Presidency must come out and address Nigerians on the issue of Fulani herdsmen and others…
PDP and its stalwarts are just wasting their time. I usually tell people that PDP has spoilt this country for 16 years and this man, President Muhammadu Buhari, came to repair the whole thing. They are talking nonsense. During their reign, how many times did they come to address the people on issues affecting the country, such a insecurity, corruption, lootings, impunity and other bad things they did to Nigerians, which are now causing us problems? And today, President Buhari is seriously fighting many of these problems, especially corruption, which is the bane of this country’s problems. So, Buhari is really trying and we should all support him so that the country can move forward, and most importantly, Nigerians should be patient with this government.
But at the moment, many are of the view that the party should field someone that is younger because he will be able more active.
I am not discarding such an opinion, but they should let him run his eight years. He is hale and hearty; he is okay and very fine. He can go a second term. He should have his eight years and the country will be better for it.
On Tinubu again, some people believe that his appointment at this time is to pacify him after having been side-lined in the past two and half years by the President.
Like I told you earlier, Tinubu is the best man for the job. As far as I am concerned, the President has chosen the right man to do the job. Tinubu is the man that can save us from different crises in the party. He is the leader of the party, and we believe in him. And as for insinuations that the appointment was to pacify him, let me ask you; was Tinubu offended before? He was never side-lined by Buhari. He is always our leader and the party believes he is the only capable person that can lead the reconciliation team.
But won’t some say, ‘How can Tinubu, who is not a Yoruba man, reconcile aggrieved northerners’?
Yoruba man, you say? Whether Yoruba or not, our party recognises him, and of course, with the position of Tinubu, a national leader of the party, the reconciliation will be successful. And for the President to have chosen him, it means he is the best man for the job. A lot of internal problems are still there and the President knows he (Tinubu) can handle it; he is the one that can save the situation now.
What is your advice for the party and its members?
I want them to be prepared for next year’s elections. They should brace up for the primary and the general election. The party, on its part, will field credible candidates ahead of the elections. And we are very sure that the party will defeat the PDP. We want Nigerians to come out en masse to vote President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term. And I want to inform Nigerians that the best is about to come for this government. I want to assure them that all lingering crises will be addressed by Buhari. They should continue to believe in this administration, and all our promises will be met.