Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani is the National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). In this interview, he speaks on his the performance of his party in the recent general elections, the decision not to go to the election tribunal and expulsion of some party members, among others.
Daily Trust: You were a presidential candidate in the last elections just like former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP who has gone to court. Do you see him getting justice?
Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani: Going to court has two sides. On one side you can say that you want to put something in history so that people can use it to improve on the situation and document the experience for future reference and probably stop some of the things that happened. The other side of it is that you want to claim your mandate. But again, that is where you have the judiciary functioning in the manner it is supposed to function. Not under this climate where Nigeria is not there yet because we are still developing no matter how you look at it. Anybody in the position of that time would take the advantage. In their own investigations and findings, they discovered that the chief justice of the federation was found wanting, and what some of us were quarrelling was the timing. But nobody has proven that the man was not guilty of the offence. So, you now have a situation where if you are the interested party, you will not agree. Even the PDP was in some kind of unholy alliance with the judiciary. The country’s judicial system is corrupt. As someone who is interested in what is going to happen, what do you do? So, there are two sides to the whole thing. Can justice be served under this system?
DT: Are you saying Atiku cannot get justice?
Engr. Sani: Justice in Nigeria, especially under this system, to me, it is far fetched.
DT: Your party announced the expulsion of some of your members. What caused the crisis?
Engr. Sani: The National Executive Committee (NEC) had to take that action because of the overwhelming evidence of the characters involved. They are not bonafide members of the ADP. They are agents. It would have been a different case if it was a case between two committed members of the party which would have been settled as one family. In a case where you have an armed robber in your house, how do you settle it? The only way is to get the armed robber out of the house because he or she does not belong there. This is what happened to us because I do not know how else to describe it. Somebody came, collected our vehicle, went to his state, painted it in the colour of another candidate and campaigned against us. These people have no conscience. We did not have any other option than to get them out of the system to enable us identify our members.
DT: The expelled National Secretary, Dr. James Okoroma, was your campaign director general. You have described him as an agent sent to destroy the party. Will you say his actions were responsible for your loss in the election?
Engr. Sani: On the day of the election, these people sent out text messages telling people that I had stepped down for President Muhammadu Buhari. Even in my own state, I had to be telling people that it was a lie. Some people from his state came and told us the same thing, that they got information from above mandating them to vote for Buhari and not me. What other evidence do you want us to put forth that they are not members of ADP? They kept lying that I emerged as presidential candidate through undemocratic means, that I squandered N200m. After we went around in search of a potential candidate to come and contest on the platform of ADP, it was just two days to closing that Okoroma and Iboro came here, begging me to run. They said if I did not run, then I had killed the party. Okoroma said if I didn’t run, it would be that the party was like a body without a head. That’s how I was looking at them. After much thought, I told them to put my name. That is after I had met Turaki and Kwankwaso twice. Even Oby Ezekwesili, I went to her house. Dankwambo brought somebody here. But when the time to commence the process came, they said they were not interested. So, I was forced to contest. And the same people will now say that I manipulated the process. Is it that they don’t know that they will meet God someday?
DT: You said something about Atiku going to court and you expressed pessimism in the judiciary. Could that be the reason you did not go to court?
Engr. Sani: Yes, that is one of the reasons. Another reason is that we believe that given the situation this country finds itself, to us as a party, we believe that four years is not too long in the life of a nation against the background of the fact that justice will not be served. There is no way somebody can get justice. In Nigeria, if you look at the mindset of people who are in power, it is not about the common man but themselves. So, by virtue of the constitution which they cannot easily change when it comes to tenure elongation, you can as well plan ahead of next elections. Like I said, it is okay for Atiku to go to court. For us as a party, we do not believe it is necessary to waste the meagre resources we have. The only thing we need to do is to plan between now and 2023 when we know that the political atmosphere will be different.
DT: Is that not a defeatist approach because you do not have a case?
Engr. Sani: No, we do have a case. But the case we have is to use and build experiences acquired to build for the future. Somebody is doing what we would have done effectively for the sake of history. But to say to get justice, I doubt.
DT: You ranked your party as the fourth, how did you come about the ranking?
Engr. Sani: If you look at all the presidential candidates, we ran one of the most effective campaigns in terms of visibility and engagement with stakeholders. We didn’t want to indulge in this jamboree of rallies because the same crowd you see in APC is the same you will see in another rally which does not translate to votes.
DT: You alluded that INEC was going to rig the elections in favour of the APC and you also pleaded with President Buhari to sign the Electoral Act, which he did’t. If you knew all these things would play out, why did you still contest?
Engr. Sani: Mr. President was at the centre of the 2019 elections. People have described him as someone that has integrity which I thought he would have brought up. I know that President Buhari as a person did not have the kind of stake on what was going to happen in winning elections. I expected him to rise to the occasion and do the needful. Then, when you look at INEC, we need to revisit the Electoral Act so that you can now look at it from the experiences we have had, if it is not who pays the piper that dictates the tune. We should change it by way of taking it out of the influence of the executive so that it doesn’t have the power to appoint the INEC chairman and state commissioners.
DT: Will you blame the National Assembly for not vetoing the Electoral Act?
Engr. Sani: Which National Assembly are you talking about? Because the National Assembly and the president are one and beneficiaries of what we have today.
DT: Between now and 2023, what should we expect from your party?
Engr. Sani: Nigerians should expect a very vibrant party that will take this country to greater heights and by the grace of God, establish the next government in this country.
Dear Esteemed reader,
As part of our drive to keep improving the content of our newspaper, we are conducting a readership survey to enable us serve you better.
Kindly take two minutes of your time to fill in this questionnaire.
Thank you for your time. Click here to begin