Engr. Yusuf Yabagi Sani is the National Chairman of one of the newly registered political parties, the Action Democratic Party (ADP). In this interview, he talks about what the new party is bringing to the nation’s political space and other national issues. He spoke with our reporter, Ogheneuvwde Ohwovoriole. Excerpts:
Congratulations on the successful registration of your party, the Action Democratic Party (ADP). What is the party bringing to the Nigerian political space that is not there already?
First and foremost, we are bringing experience, experience of our involvement in the past democratic experiment—16 years of the past administrations and the two years of the current administration; and of course you know that we have pre-colonial political parties and the post-colonial political parties, but you now have the new opportunity that is given to Nigerians to get it right. You must appreciate the fact that anything new from the inception, you will have to combat the teething problems. I think that after nearly 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, we should be masters of the game by now. It is like a farmer who plants a yam; the yam would have to decay in order for it to germinate and give life to a new yam. Therefore, we believe that all these parties you see today will die because there are internally defective; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are infected with cancer. The parties lack discipline; they were not built on the ethos of discipline, accountability and responsiveness to the yearnings of their own members, let alone the electorate. These are the characteristics of the two political parties that we have had in the past. PDP is crumbling because of lack of discipline, lack of cohesion and lack of leadership that commands respect. These parties have watery constitutions when it comes to the issue of party supremacy. Therefore, like I told you before, what we are bringing on board is the experience. We know that the make-up of these parties will go wrong, and that is why they are now crumbling.
We are also bringing to the table all-inclusiveness; because you cannot shut your door on Nigerians; anybody is free to join any party but in addition to that, we are also bringing party supremacy; we want our party to be the rallying point; the party should be above all of us. We are bringing a party of the law and not a party of men; a party where all members will have hope and believe that all members are equal. We have introduced in our party what we call Alternative Dispute Resolution Council (ADC) so that members will not resort to regular law courts. Courts are not meant to solve political problems but to solve civil and criminal cases. Therefore political cases should be solved politically; this will distinguish us from other parties. We are also bringing programmes that will empower the youth of this country. As we all know, Nigerians excel in foreign countries, which means we are endowed by God and we are special species. We are very intelligent, resilient and hard-working. Unfortunately, we find ourselves where the electorate are relegated when it comes to democracy. That is why we want to unleash the potential of the youth on Nigeria by giving them the opportunity to excel in any field of their endeavour. That’s why we have given 50% of the party executives, elective and appointments to women and youths. When you have 50% of disadvantaged people in decision making, they will not cheat or short-change themselves. They can then democratically influence what happens.
From what you have said so far, it seems the citizens will have a say and that there are not going to be godfathers who will dictate who should be a candidate, or moneybags who will hijack your party?
Yes; Nigeria is not just in a political recession but also in a political winter, which is responsible for the political weather that we are having today. We have a situation where everything is in comatose; you ask who is responsible for the debacle, fiasco and collapse of the political space; we the political class are responsible and we should come forward and solve the problems. That is why we have come out to proffer solutions; because it is not yet a total loss or failure; we have analysed why we are where we are, and we now know how to bring Nigeria out of the woods. We want to open up the political space so that those brains that have been lying fallow can now be engaged in national development. We call ourselves ADP because what has been lacking is action; there has been too much inaction. The present executive is in disarray that you cannot point to any programme that has meaningful impact on the lives of Nigerians. There is so much abject poverty in this country; we have no business with hunger with the kind of potential, natural endowments, human capacity, size and population that we have, coupled with the experience we have as a country. What is happening today is a kind of aberration. People go through ups and downs in life but not in our situation where we have everything to prosper and yet, we are going backward.
Has APC-led government disappointed Nigerians?
Of course; if there is another word we can use for total failure, we will use it. In fact, you wonder if this is not a conspiracy against Nigerians. Because we cannot have all that we have and are still in the situation that we are today. Some people need to be asked questions. If possible, we should set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate why we are where we are today; because ordinarily it shouldn’t happen. There must be a conspiracy within or from outside the country that has led to the situation that we are in today.
How were you able to galvanise support from all over the country to get your party registered within a short period of time?
As concerned Nigerians who were not given opportunities to express themselves or actualise their dreams or even participate in this democracy, they are people that you cannot just ignore. They are many and because of my experience and involvement in politics, I know those who are not tainted; those who are incorruptible and have what it takes to move this country forward; people who have integrity and do not want their names soiled because they have dignity.
How do you see the fight against corruption by this government?
The fight against corruption by this government is a distraction from what we are supposed to be doing; that’s why I said there must be a sort of conspiracy against Nigerians. We already have institutions that are fighting corruption; I am talking about the EFCC, ICPC and the police. You don’t have to mobilise the entire structures of government in the name of fighting corruption, and you are doing nothing else. There is corruption all over the world; go to Europe and America, there is corruption there. President Trump’s National Security Adviser has to resign because he was suspected of corruption; that does not mean that the entire government should focus on corruption and be humiliating themselves. That is not government; government is beyond chasing little things that can be tackled by different institutions. We should be interested in blocking the sources of corruption. Check your regulatory agencies and know how come people are able to get away with so much money.
What’s your party’s position on restructuring; because there are clamours from almost every part of the country for restructuring?
The current agitation for restructuring is as a result of the state of anarchy that the APC has visited on us; that’s why people are looking for escape route. They are thinking that something is wrong with this union or with Nigeria. No; there is nothing wrong with Nigeria for God’s sake. Look at Britain, they attempted to go out of the European Union (EU) but you can now see the kind of confusion it has now found itself in; and they are now trying to retrace their steps. People are looking for bigger unions because if you are not big, you cannot be a player in international politics and global economy. For us to be saying we want to disintegrate is very sad; it’s because of the frustrating situation we have found ourselves.
Let us face our issues squarely and solve them; we have the capacity to do so. People are confused—that with all the abundance of human and natural resources, we are still where we were 100 years ago. In fact, we are worse off. If you have a problem, you solve it. What APC is doing to us as a country today must not be allowed to continue, or else it will become a cancer that we cannot treat anymore. Now is the time for us to yank it off. Let us revive all the potential that we have. No matter your ethnicity, once you are feeding well and have good life, you won’t be talking of disintegration. Like I told you, ADP is a child of necessity that has come to be and we are coming to give purposeful leadership to enhance our unity.