Senator Usman Jibrin Wowo, is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He is also the FCT senatorial aspirant in the 2019 election. In this interview, he warned against imposition of candidates by the party, saying it would ruin its chances in the 2019 elections. Excerpts:
We understand that you are aspiring to go back to the Senate in 2019. What do you intend to do differently for your people?
You will recall that I was in the Senate in 2007, and you will also recall that I only stayed in the National Assembly for barely nine months before I was ousted by the tribunal for omission of party logo of one of the political parties which also contested in the election. Therefore, the nine months I spent were mostly in the tribunal. In fact, I was virtually preoccupied by the issues of the tribunal and so all the programmes and plans that I had wanted to execute for the benefit of the people of the FCT eventually were not implemented.
So I felt another opportunity has again come when I should try to tell the people of the FCT that here I am again and try to also remind them that, though they voted me in 2007, I could not execute all the plans that I had as a result of the tribunal, which was neither my making nor theirs. This opportunity has come again, let them once again try me so that I can get back to the National Assembly and implement programmes I had enunciated for the good people of the FCT.
So, basically, this is one of the reasons I have to beg the people of the FCT and also try to get their consent to go back to the National Assembly so that I can work for them better than what I did.
How confident are you that your party, the APC, will give you the ticket?
Well, as it is, I cannot say I am confident that the APC will give me a ticket. You know the process of getting a ticket is through the primary election. So the party will not give one the ticket because one has a beautiful face or a solid structure. The only way is one has to go through the process of primary election, which will come through the delegates of the party. This process entails that you talk to the delegates, the executive committee of all the wards in the FCT as well as executive committee of all the area councils of the FCT. These are the bodies that you need to convince that you really want to serve the people of the FCT and if they are convinced, they are the ones to elect you during the primaries among the many contestants.
But in some circumstances, those who have advantage in the party always arm-twist the delegates and get advantage over other candidates. Don’t you foresee that kind of situation playing out where the FCT minister who is the party leader in FCT will have his preferred candidate?
Well, the scenario you have painted, I cannot entirely say such thing could not happen but at the same time, I will say I will always believe that this process of election of a candidate by the delegates should be the process followed by the party leader or by members of the party. What makes a party strong and what makes a party to sell itself to the electorate is the ability to have a process that is transparent, fair and just. So what you just said happens but sometimes that is one of the scenarios that normally brings down a political party and I think that so far I have seen APC making effort not to fall into that kind of problem because, to say the least, it is a system that could be described as selection.
And if you select a candidate without going through the process as enshrined in the constitution of the party, you are doing nothing other than trying to bring down the party and when the party falls, you being the leader of the party or anybody for that natter, will also fall.
So far I have seen APC prioritise transparency, fairness and justice in its activities and so I don’t have any iota of doubt that this process will be allowed to flow so that eventually the best candidate, who is a grassroots politician, who has connection with his people will emerge.
The natives of the FCT under the auspices of Coalition of Abuja Indigenous Association, have severally criticised the current APC government for doing nothing for the natives. What is your reaction to this?
You see, I must say that the APC in the FCT won the area councils election 98 percent because the people of the FCT believe that is the party that can serve them better. And I want to say that even with a lot of challenges in place, these challenges I am talking about, have to do with funding. But I think I can say the area councils have performed relatively well. Therefore, some of us do not have any iota of doubt that the residents of the FCT will again vote for the party come 2019.
Besides, the area councils are faced with a lot of challenges especially funding, which I believe if the present area council chairmen had gotten the kind of funds the past PDP area council chairmen had, the story would have been different. I believe you would have seen better performance than the previous administration. So I want to say that as time goes on and as the situation improves, the residents of the FCT would see much better dividends of democracy.
As a native yourself, do you think the natives of the FCT have been treated rightly or there are things that the government needs to do for them?
You see, I will answer you in two perspectives. One is that, if you say do I think that the natives have been given the attention they deserve, I will say well, don’t forget that it is the same natives that have been elected and are representing us at the National Assembly. So if there is anything that is wrong in terms of the natives not getting what they deserve or not getting what they should get, what are our National Assembly members doing? It means that our representatives at the National Assembly are not doing much, that I can say.
And again, it is the responsibility of our representatives at the National Assembly to reach out to the government and explain to it what our situation really is. If I don’t give you a clear picture of what is wrong with me, it is just like going to a medical doctor and he not telling him what is wrong with me.
Again, coming to the government itself, I will also say there are minuses and pluses, whatever anybody thinks is happening to us or we think is happening to us the natives that we believe or think is not what obtains, the proper thing for us is to reach out to the government. And for us to reach out to the government should be through our representatives. So the cycle is still coming round to those who are representing us.