NATIONAL Convention: APC’s in injury time — Senator Al-Makura

Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is one of the frontline national chairmanship aspirants in the All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview, the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State says that the APC is in injury time. He also debunks the insinuation that President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed one of the aspirants for the chairmanship seats and also enumerates what he will be bringing to the table for the party to win the 2023 general elections.

You are contesting for national chairmanship of APC, what are you bringing to the table?

Personally, I feel I’ll be doing a disservice if I do not partake or show interest in presiding over the party particularly at this transition point. I think it would be a disservice for me as a committed member of APC not to show interest so that I’ll be able to add value to the administration of the party, especially at this point in time, the transition period.

What I’m bringing to the table is the experience I have garnered over time, particularly, my participation in the merger taking into consideration the unanimity and total submission that the different tendencies in this country have had to do to ensure that we come as one united indivisible people with one destiny. That is something we must sustain and promote so that younger Nigerians coming behind will benefit from this mutual understanding to move the country forward.

I’m also bringing to the table my experience with President Buhari because I have learned the tutelage of transparency, good values, and commitment to what is good for everybody.
I feel if I become the national chairman, those experiences I have had to garner from my interaction with him, will be brought to bear to sustain those values, and legacies.
Not only that, virtually all the people that came together to put this party together not necessarily to be an election winning machine but a platform where Nigerians will come together, talk and work together for the benefit of the country. Given the way and faith with which Mr. President has held all these tendencies together as one and indivisible is something that we are striving to sustain.

Finally, my experiences in the field of politics, political administration as a youth leader and as a secretary, by belonging to different constituencies like the youths, governors, and legislators are all advantages that can be brought to bear to smoothen administration on the party in such a manner that when you adjudicate or mediate, or preside or direct affairs within the party, you are doing that with people that have known each other. I think our party at this point in time requires someone with that pedigree for the party to ensure a successful transition, and also success in the 2023 elections.

There was a report that you are daring Mr. President, by going ahead with your campaign when it was speculated that Mr. President had endorsed somebody. What do you have to tell those who say you are daring Mr. President?

No. The sources of information were not authentic. They were not genuine. And I know what Mr. President stands for. He always stands for what is right and due process. And unless I have an authoritative source of information that is clear, I still have my doubts.

I have many avenues through which I can reach Mr. President and people around him. And since the reports of the adoption did not come through those avenues, I consider them as speculations.

That is why as I speak with you, my campaign is going with a different tempo, to ensure that my campaign is going far and wide to await the next line of action as directed by the party leadership.

So, are you optimistic that your race to the national chairmanship of APC would be fair, and open to all?

Yes, I’m very optimistic. I am always an optimist until things prove themselves otherwise. And what has really given me the hope for this optimism is the uprightness of Mr. President and his passion for due process. So I believe that whatever comes from Mr. President must come through a process. And I consider the process for the emergence of leadership is going to be transparent. I believe it’s going to be fair. And I believe it is going to conform to the articles and sections of the Constitution dealing with that.

On how will resolve grievances in the party if elected

A party with about 41.7 million people is not a tea party. A party that has within it the complexity of differences at different levels, you do not expect the party to be a very quiet ocean. It is populated by people and no two individuals are the same. What I’m bringing to the table is to respect the individuality, the peculiarity of each of these tendencies, and see how I can synthesize them harmoniously for the benefit of the party and the country.
I believe in leadership, I believe and respect leadership because whoever is the leader requires the support, encouragement and commitment of the followership. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m a follower. And I will do anything that needs to be done to support our leaders who are handling the issues of the party, so that by God’s grace, we will have a very successful convention on March 26.

It’s not easy. But you can understand this, the party that has brought up different kinds of people and we are working together. Besides, it is a transition period, the period where certain decisions will be taken, and it will be total and you will expect a lot of people to clamour, scramble to have different ideas. But I think these differences will be harmonized in the most peaceful manner.

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There will always be one winner in any contest. And people believe in that philosophy, especially with the leadership we are seeing from Mr President, I believe everything will be taken care of.

So the party has run into a bit of a pickle right now given the chairmanship crisis. So we hear on the one hand Governor Sani Bello, supposedly imposed and Governor Mai Mal Buni’s exit that wasn’t too tidy. I’m sure you understand the difficulty that it imposes at the moment. Now, a fresh angle INEC is not recognizing Bello but recognizing Buni. And this comes a few weeks before the convention. Is that convention still going to hold? Do you think it was the right timing for Bello to have been imposed on the party?

I can tell you without mincing words that from the mindset of our leaders, this convention would definitely hold God willing. The issue about the rancour and all that is something that is beyond me to comprehend. It is something that I’m sure will be sorted out between them. I need to have more facts to be able to know. But for now, I am supporting harmonious, unanimous and mutual understanding to move the party forward.

But is this the right time for Governor Bello to have come into the party to replace Buni?

No, I don’t know because the facts are yet to be properly put before the public domain.

But you are a major stakeholder, didn’t you know about this?

Don’t forget, I am an aspirant and there are limits to which I can get certain information. I sit back, in fact, part of my principle is to carry everybody along and I relate with everyone. I don’t have any circle, I don’t have any group.

I belong to everybody. Because if I become the chairman, I should have the confidence of people that this is somebody that is not clandestine. He doesn’t have any agenda. He doesn’t have any group he is working for.

That is a plus and I have maintained that position of non-interference, non-participation in anything that is clandestine. All I am focused on is seeing what my president wants, and seeing what is best for the party at any point in time.

I like your confidence, you are sure on March 26, the convention will hold. But what we read in the papers is that there are over 200 court cases to stop this convention. Are you still confident that this convention will hold?

I still consider that as speculation. There could be more than 200 cases but I’m just seeing that on the pages of newspapers. When a newspaper came up with a shouting headline that the President had endorsed so and so, Villa debunked that. So I don’t take things that come either as headlines or whatever, except I do my due diligence to assure myself that yes, what he said is authentic, and until it is, I consider our convention a doable thing. And I consider that we are going to go through it without any problems.

There is a report that the security agencies, the anti-graft agencies have done background checks on each of the chairmanship aspirants and they have tendered the report to the President for a final decision in terms of a consensus candidate. Do you think that anything in your past or indictment during your years as governor or even presently as senator could be a hindrance for you getting into that position?

I don’t think so. I discharged my responsibility as governor to the best of my ability, and as I speak, there’s no single petition against me, or any case that has to do with my propriety or otherwise.

During your preambles, you said the APC is at injury time. Why do you think so?

You see, this is a very difficult time. We have about one year, six months or five months for Mr. President to complete his tenure. Anyone who thinks well for this party and for this country will be in tremble to ensure that the right things are done so that APC will seamlessly continue the streak of the winning that it has always known.  So that’s why we have to be really focused. That’s why we have to really abide by constitutional provisions. That’s why we have to be free and fair.

We have to ensure adherence to the party culture, and also the constitution of the party in the way and manner things are done. I believe if that is done, it’s a delicate period, to have a very seamless and successful convention, which will usher in a successful election. And you can see the election and primaries are coming shortly after.

INEC has put April to June, for the parties to do their primaries. So that is why I say we have to be really careful to ensure that this convention is successful, so that we can seamlessly  transit into very smooth primaries for the emergence of people who will represent us at polls in 2023.

You are a serving Senator, the affirmative action in the Senate failed. Why did it fail when somebody like Senator Al-Makura was there?

A tree cannot make a forest. I have a passion for women. And I can tell you, I voted in favour of women. But one Al-Makura cannot change 109 people who wish to vote otherwise


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