Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina) was recently removed as chairman of the Senate Committee on Police amidst insinuations that he was not protecting the interest of his colleagues. In this interview, he speaks about the development, including why he vowed out of the Senate race ahead of 2019. Excerpts:
You were out of the country when some committees of the Senate were reshuffled and you were moved to chair the committee on labour amidst allegations that it was because you were not doing the bidding of your colleagues, what will you say?
Thank you very much. One, I am an old senator here – four times senator. I know the rules. And I know sometimes any action has objectives. From my experience, I know the objectives and I have done my very best. The police committee has not been a very consequential committee; people didn’t even bother about it. I made it to look powerful, a good committee and I am not afraid of any challenge.
I think the Senate President (Bukola Saraki), legally ought not be the Senate president; ethically he should not have been the Senate president. Anyway he has the power to change committees and I accept it in good faith and I will do my very best in my new committee.
For my colleagues, I think I did my best; sometimes I had to go with any senator who had problem with IGP (Inspector General of Police); I would go personally with him. In many cases, I would call the commissioner of police to help my colleagues with any local problem. I will give you a typical example. Shehu Sani had a problem with the Commissioner of Police and they wanted to arrest him. I drove to Kaduna and took Shehu Sani to the commissioner; they didn’t arrest him because I went with him.
The allegation was that he was accused of murder so they wanted to arrest him. I delivered him, they questioned him and I said if they wanted anybody to bail him I would do that. They said there was no need for bail, and he left. If I can go to Kaduna on behalf of my colleague, I would do it easily here in Abuja. In many cases I drove with my colleagues to the IGP’s office to solve their problems.
So, I did my very best and I thank them for cooperating with me. I wish the new chairman good luck. But I assure you the labour committee they gave me, I will make it an interesting committee. And I come at the time the issue of minimum wage is raging. I will work hard and get national consensus on this issue.
Don’t you think, may be, they changed you from the committee probably because of the 2019 elections?
As I told you, I am an old senator; I can see the objective of any action. Ahead of the 2019 elections, people thought I was misusing the police. I was not misusing the police. At any rate, I am not the commander in chief of the police. The President is and if he wants to misuse it he can but President Muhammadu Buhari will not do that. He has all the powers to use the police but he would not allow them to trample on the law. But if people think they can take a member of the National Assembly to control the police during election, it is a mistake; it won’t happen. The police have direct instruction from who appointed them.
What prompted you to withdraw from the Senate race?
Well, I have been on and off in the Senate since 1993. And I have been advocating after the election 2015 that I should allow a younger person to come and have a shot at it. As it is said, the world is like a stage; you come, act, and leave. I have fought to be a senator four times, so I have done enough; let’s build other talents. And we will help them, guide them. I am doing this for the sake of the younger generation because at 70, I should be thinking of retirement.
But politicians of your standing tend to be afraid of leaving power. Are you not afraid?
I am not leaving power. You see, power is a function of your activities. If I control my zone, participate fully and make sure the new senator emerged, I would still be influential. I was looking at the Osun (governorship) election. Look at Omisore; they had to bring him back; he was senator two times and he left about eight years ago but he still controls his area. We have to bring him on board to make sure we get enough votes to win the election. So, power is the function of your activities. If we leave it, it does not mean the end of the world.
Are you worried with the crises in the APC ahead of the 2019 elections? Don’t you think it will affect President Buhari who you are passionately working for?
It is not too late to resolve the problems. I know there are problems; we must take action now. We have to find solutions, state by state. Unfortunately the president is travelling now. When he comes back, we will put a mechanism whereby there will be serious intervention. There are certain cases that he must intervene himself.
But the fear is that there is deadline for substitution ahead of final submission of names of candidates to INEC…
We can do submission at any time I think.
But senator you can’t do it after the day given by INEC…
What happens if I die or if I resign? There is still case for submission for certain reasons. If you say you cannot do it or if you are sick people will withdraw. What a party cannot do is to take somebody who did not go through the normal process of screening, they will not accept that. But I am sure some actions have been taken now to sort these issues.
What is your take on the emergence of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar as PDP presidential candidate?
What will happen? Listen, Atiku is known politically in Nigeria as much as I know him but I would have been more afraid if it were the governor of Sokoto State (Aminu Tambuwal). One, he is younger. Two, he has a spread as a speaker of the House of Representatives. Three, he is not exposed, per say, as Atiku. Atiku was vice president under Obasanjo. All the atrocities of Obasanjo were done with Atiku’s connivance.