In this interview, a former minority leader in the House of Representatives and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Farouk Adamu Aliyu, spoke on important national issues as the country prepares for the 2023 general elections.
The All Progressives Congress has been facing crisis in recent times, do you see the party resolving it before her convention?
Well, crisis is normal in politics. In fact, politics thrives with crisis. That is because you have shades of opinions and different interests. We will overcome it. There is no major crisis in the party.
The perceived crisis is about leadership. We have a caretaker committee which some members are not happy with, which is normal. Not everybody will be happy with whatever is happening. We are resolving it.
There was a court ruling that members of the APC Caretaker Committee should stop parading themselves as leaders of the party. What is the implication of this?
In fact, I challenged that ruling. We are not going to take that seriously. We are going to take it as another fake and purchased order. I am sure our lawyers are looking into it.
As an active player in Jigawa politics, people have been calling on you to contest for the governorship of the state, but you are going for a national office. Why is it so?
I am the APC leader in the state, which means that I and the governor are the rallying point. What we are trying to do in Jigawa State is to make sure we have one party, one family. In the whole of this country, it is only in Jigawa that there is no faction of the party as at today. Maybe there is another state, but I know of Jigawa. Nobody is challenging the leadership of the governor in the state. Nobody is also challenging my position as the leader of the party in the state. So we have unity.
Yes, I want to contest for a national position, but I still don’t know the office. It is done by arrangement. This has to be agreed upon by my state, zone and the country. And these things will be juggled. If no position is zoned to my state, of course I am not going to contest for it. I don’t do things because of myself, I do it because of the people.
As one of the persons close to President Muhammadu Buhari, are you telling him the actual situation of things in the North?
It is also sad and mischievous for you to say the North. We are leading the country. Buhari is not the president of the North, he presides over Nigeria. So I take exception to any northerner who thinks he should do more for the North. He swore with the Holy Qur’an to lead this country and treat people equally. But he is from somewhere, the North. I am also from the North. First of all, I am a Muslim, secondly, a Nigerian, a Fulani man and a northerner, in that order.
However, it is true that there are a lot of challenges in the whole country, particularly the North. Before we came in, we said all sorts of things about security. We condemned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, saying they were not tackling Boko Haram. When we came in we were also confronted with Boko Haram, which has not gone, but certainly, they are not as potent as they were back in the days. Now, we are confronted by bandits and kidnappers. It is a huge challenge for us.
But what can we do in this situation? A lot of people have lost confidence. A lot of people are complaining. My doors are open. I get all sorts of calls. I get visitations. People call to complain, abuse, insult and condemn, and we take it in good faith. I told the president that these complaints from people are too many. He said, “Why are you complaining? We went and asked people to vote for us and they voted for us, so we shouldn’t be tired of hearing their complaints.” That is the main issue.
Let me also confess that before we came in there were certain things we didn’t know. And these things have opened our eyes to see that when you are in opposition there are certain assumptions you make – some deliberately, mischievously and some out of ignorance.
When we were in opposition there were certain things we assumed that Jonathan was not doing, but when we got in we found out that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to do some of them, it was just impossible. An example is fuel subsidy. We demonstrated. Every day I keep getting pictures of myself, Mr President, Buni, the governor of Yobe, demonstrating in this town against fuel hike. That time we thought Jonathan was wrong. That was ignorance. We were ignorant of the fact that subsidy had to go. So there are certain things you do out of ignorance. Now that we came in we removed subsidy because the reality dawned on us. There are so many reasons subsidy has to go. One of them is production cost, as well as smuggling. This country subsidises petroleum products for all the neighbouring countries.
There are so many other issues confronting us, but sincerity of purpose is also different. There are a lot of differences between our government and the previous government. In our government you cannot sit on the table or around the table to discuss the issue sharing money or corruption; you cannot do that. You do that at your own peril. But sadly, that was not the case in the previous government. I am not telling you that there is no corruption in this government. I don’t mean that all of us are sparkling clean, but drastically, corruption has been reduced.
In terms of security, we found out that the people have done their best. The government is also doing its best.
President Buhari recently sacked two of his ministers; should we expect more of this action, in view of the performance of some of the cabinet members?
I am sure your paper might have carried the press release issued by Femi Adesina, where the president said it was an ongoing exercise. This means that more heads will roll; there will be certain changes. I am sure there must be a compelling reason for what he did and the time he did it. I assure you that it will be an ongoing exercise, not just for ministers but other appointees of the government. Now that the government is winding down, there is a need to sit up.
As a former member of the House of Representatives, what is your view about the belief by some critics that the present National Assembly is a rubberstamp?
During our time we were in opposition and I can tell you that we were more vibrant. We fought third term to a standstill, and so many things. But the former government and this one are not the same. There were certain actions former President Obasanjo took that were not popular. Remember how he declared state of emergency in some states and removed some governors. He did some things illegally that were unconstitutional in this country. Remember how he invaded Odi and Zaki Biam. He did many things.
But now, you have a president who will not behave that way. Now that we are in government it is not our duty to tell the opposition how to do their work. If they cannot oppose what we are doing, it is their problem. It is sad that there is no vibrant opposition. We need a strong opposition for the government to thrive. Selfishly, we will tell you that those people are moving in because they believe in what we are doing. It is politics.
If anybody does not agree with what we are doing, when election comes they should vote us out. The way we came in and defeated the PDP, if our performance does not speak well of us, when we go to the polls people should vote us out. This country does not belong to the APC or PDP, it belongs to all Nigerians. Remember that as a government, with Buhari as president, we lost five states and he never interfered. Remember how we lost Bayelsa a day to inauguration. See how we lost Zamfara and so many other states and we didn’t do anything.
But Zamfara is back to the fold.
But at least we lost it in court and didn’t interfere. It is on their own volition that they came back because of the way we run this country. The people of Zamfara believe in us, that’s why the governor moved.