Former All Progressives Congress (APC) National spokesman, Nabena Yekini has a trademark of bluntly baring his mind on issues in the front burner regardless of who is involved.
Engaging journalists, he spoke on the speculated plan to lure former President Goodluck Jonathan into the APC with an automatic ticket, rolling out litany of reasons that will force him to campaign against him.
He equally reacted to the fall out of the APC ward and Local Government congresses and the controversial zoning formula in the ruling party, announcing that the fact that all the aspirants are from the same section of the country was enough indication of which zone gets what.
*Did the pockets of crisis trailing the conduct of APC congresses come to you as surprise?*
I was not surprised at all because even in a small family, there are still some little misunderstandings. There is no way everybody can be satisfied and be on the same page at all times. Even in sharing pieces of meat after meal, some people will want to take larger chunk than the other person. Therefore, the situation is unavoidable in a large political family like ours. What should be the major concern of the party leadership is whether they are fair to everybody concerned. We are, however, aware that we have some greedy politicians that still believe in the old system of godfatherism where one person takes charge of the entire state while others must queue behind him. Yes, there are party leaders, but what is obvious is that they can only be in the polling units of their wards on the day of election. The party leaders must wake up to the reality that this party now belongs to the grassroots. They are the people to vote during the elections and in most cases, they are the foot soldiers. They have the powers to make or mar any situation. Sometimes, some of the big names are just Abuja-based politicians after occupying one exalted position previously. What we are seeing today as crisis in the party is a rebellion that can be likened to greedy generals having problem with the soldiers. We are also seeing cases of people in the North going to the South or vice-versa to intervene on issues that concerns another in the name of former colleagues without necessarily understanding the terrain well there.
*Who is the real leader of the APC in your state Bayelsa between the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and David Lyon, a member of APC Caretaker Committee*?
The leader of the party in Bayelsa is not in any contention because everybody clearly knows that Sylva is the leader. It is not about staying in Abuja and making frivolous claims without knowing or understanding the running of the party especially financially in the state. I challenge anybody claiming that Lyon is the leader of the party Bayelsa to ask him if he has contributed a dime to the running of the party. We gave him the ticket of the party to contest the governorship election, ask him if he had come back to appreciate the people that were instrumental to it. People made enemies because of him, but he never cared to thank those that made him the standard bearer of the party during that governorship election. It is even good that he did not make it. Yes, it was by God’s grace that he was elected, but he never cared to return to the people to thank them for supporting him. He never contributed a dime to the running of the party in the state. He is rather receiving sitting allowances among other things from the national. Did he care to know how we raised money to conduct the registration and congresses in the state? How can such person contest the position of who the leader of the party should be? He is just benefitting from the party while others are making contributions to sustain the party. I can tell you on good authority that he is not even contesting whether Sylva is the leader of the party in the state. What happened to him was a blessing in disguise because he would have ended up a big disappointment.
*So, will it still be possible for APC to spring the kind of surprise it recorded during the last governorship election in the forthcoming one*?
Bayelsa APC doesn’t like joining issues or talking too much. We believe in action and surprising people. Even when they labelled APC an Hausa party in Bayelsa, we took the governorship ticket, a senatorial and two House of Representatives seats. Thunder will still strike twice in Bayelsa in the next governorship election.
*How do you feel hearing the speculation that APC is lobbying former President Goodluck Jonathan for 2023 presidential ticket*?
I don’t know who is flying that kite in the first place. If Jonathan must be a member of the APC, he must start registration from his ward and until such registration is done, I will not take the speculation serious. I don’t know the motive of those fronting him, but I can see that he may just be testing waters with his cronies joining the APC now. Maybe he wants to use them to test how the reception will be if he decides to join the party. Yes, the Caretaker Committee chairman is doing his best in providing quality leadership to the party. He promised to bring people to the party, including serving governors, lawmakers among others and he has done that very well, but he must understand that though there is no problem Goodluck joining the party, the motive must be defined. I will deploy everything when the situation comes to offering him automatic 2023 presidential ticket. It won’t come to me as a surprise if he joins and I will not stop him from joining the APC, but I will personally campaign against him if the party offers him an automatic ticket. By the way, having attained the highest office in the land, what is he looking for again joining the APC? Maybe he wants to pursue President Buhari’s record because he never constructed a road to his village while Buhari has done that. *In fact, he cannot get APC ticket by God’s grace and I am very sure that God will not even allow him get it. God in heaven will be against him too if he is coming just to do only a tenure and short-change the South-south because of greed and selfish interest. He cannot still do anything in that single term when he could not do in the six years as president*. There will be no problem if Goodluck joins the APC as an elder statesman to give advice, but if it is to get automatic ticket, I will not support him.
*Are you worried like most APC members the kind of persons coming into the party*?
My worry is that if we continue the way we are going now, Nigeria is going to become a one-party country and it is not good for us and the democracy. Yes, no other party can defeat the APC yet there is the need for viable opposition to checkmate what the ruling party is doing. I was surprised that all the people that abused the hell of APC previously are also joining the ruling party. *Let me tell you that APC is surviving even with all the lunatics coming into the party because it is laid on solid foundation*. The merging parties and the ideologies made the party strong and despite the crises rocking the party, it has continued to stand solidly. The difference between the APC and PDP is that the latter is like a privately owned company, resulting in the high level dictatorship in the party while APC is made up of different owners joining hands together.
*Have you heard that FFK will soon become the spokesperson of the APC*?
Don’t forget that the position is by election not appointment. I know that anybody can aspire to be anything, but he must be elected. We will see if he will purchase the form first when the time comes and we will pray if the position is zoned to his side if it is his ambition or desire.
*Can you allay the fears of implosion in APC because of the zoning controversy*?
You need to understand how this thing works. First, the stakeholders will meet to dialogue which zone gets what position. But I want to believe that there will not be any serious problem about zoning arrangements because as you can see, all the party members aspiring for the national chairmanship position are all from the North. I don’t understand why people are worried about implosion in the APC because of zoning. Having completed membership registration, ward and Local Government congresses and now looking up to the state congress despite the apprehension, why should people still entertain fears of implosion. With the all northern aspirants for the chairmanship position, there will be no serious controversy about zoning again.
*Did you feel bad hearing Baba Ahmed of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) claiming that power belongs to the North*?
Well, he is entitled to his opinion. He was exercising his fundamental human right of freedom of speech. How much such a claim will affect the country is what may give Nigerians concerns.
*What is giving you the confidence that APC will retain power beyond 2023 and what are your fears*?
I am not afraid and there is nothing to fear because as I usually say, APC is built on solid foundation and not even the calibre of those coming into the party will affect or stop the party from winning. APC is going to win, however, we will need divine support. All I can say is that there is so much APC government needs to fix before the 2023 general elections. We cannot claim that there are no issues of serious concern engulfing the country when we can visibly see and feel them. There will be problems with winning the election, but we must fix the country, security and economic wise, first to have a country we can proudly call our own beyond the 2023 general elections.
*Are you insinuating that the APC has failed Nigerians*?
No. It is not true that APC has failed Nigeria. What I said is that Nigerians voted our party to fix the problems confronting them and the elected leaders must leave the country better before leaving office in 2023. We are not afraid of the PDP because they are no longer a serious threat, but we must fulfil our campaign promises and fix the country. The good news is that we will see a new country by the end of this administration.
*What is the practical solution to the insecurity ravaging the country*?
We can’t deny that the country is facing security challenges, but I feel that the situation is blown out of proportion most times. The propaganda is more than the reality especially as we are getting close to election year. I strongly believe that the situation is politicised. We are in the era of politicians doing everything to remain in power having enjoyed the pecks of offices. Some of them that cannot go home freely have even made Abuja their homes and that is why traffic is building up too much in Abuja now. Essentially, we are all busy blaming Mr President without asking the governors what they do with their security votes. The insecurity is happening in states where the governors collect millions and billions of Naira as security votes yet they cannot do anything. Some of the governors are even living in Abuja and once the allocation comes at the end of the month, they will use their templates to share it. The bad situation is across party lines. If the state governors cannot secure the people after collecting a security vote they should not put pressure on the Federal Government. If the governors are not in charge of security in their states as they usually claim, how come they are bankrolling the state’s security apparatus like Amotukun and Ebubeagu?
*What are the chances of APC in the governorship election in Anambra State*?
The chances are very bright for the APC. What is just required is for the party to do the right thing. Anambra people have also tested APGA and seen that APGA has failed them even as an Igbo party. The party could not provide the infrastructure APC has provided for the state. Look at the Second Niger Bridge that was perpetually on paper during the Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP. The major roads in Anambra are receiving Federal Government attention. The APC government has also provided inland ports to enhance their commercial activities. The only thing I want to beg Anambra people is to connect to the centre. Erosion is devastating the state and they apparently need federal attention. It is not true that the APC got it wrong during the primaries as speculated. Yes, Moghalu is in court, but as a party man and even former member of the NWC, he knows how this game is played and how the game works. Yes, the party cannot satisfy everybody, but I am surprised that he is in court.
*As opposition in Bayelsa State, will you say that PDP has failed Bayelsans so far*?
The PDP has failed Bayelsans big time from day one. The state has only eight local government areas, but I don’t know why the state cannot be developed because it has remained a glorified village. What do they do with the allocations that come every month because nothing has changed? There are roads they have been building in the past 16 years. There is nothing on ground to show for the huge allocations the state has received in the past years. Look at what Governor Nyesom Wike is doing in Rivers and don’t forget that Bayelsa was once under Rivers. There is infrastructure in Rivers that Wike cannot take along with him when he lives office. We have to start to hold the governors accountable, especially in sharing monthly allocations.
By Romanus Ugwu, Abuja