Yabagi Yusuf Sani, ADP chairman: Those talking of zoning are thinking backwards

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The National Chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) Yabagi Yusuf Sani has carpeted both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), describing both parties as nightmares to Nigerians.

In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the ADP leader noted that zoning is a backward thinking, insisting that the best hands should be leading the country irrespective of .    

INEC has released the timetable for 2023 polls. What are your expectations for the elections?

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The timetable so released will put the political parties in particular and the electorate on their toes, which is good for democracy, especially when the exercise is coming under what one can call a much more organised environment, where you now have IT (Information Technology) employed from the very beginning of the process to the end, meaning that you can now have a record of anything going differently from how it is supposed to be.  I’m talking about electronic transmission of results, accreditation. Results will now be collated electronically. You can visit INEC portal as the election is going on and you can follow from the comfort of your house or office or wherever you may be and be able to know the way the election is progressing.

Now is when the political parties and the electorate should organise themselves in a way that the environment created would help to deepen democracy.

Do you think that there is going to be changes as the battle seems between APC and PDP?

No, no. This is about democracy, which is not just about two parties. We are practising a multi- party democracy; so it is not just about the APC or the PDP. If you look at it critically, they don’t hold the future of this country. If you have not forgotten, for 16 years the PDP was on the saddle, they swindled this country. This time APC has been in power, it is like from frying pan to fire. Nigeria has never been this bad in terms of what is going on. If you look at the economic aspect of it, political aspect of it and the social aspect of it, Nigeria is in tatters. 

So, democracy is not just about two parties that are failing. That is why we are saying the organised environment that INEC has created, that is the introduction of electronic transmission of results, is for Nigerians to support a growing party like ours for rescue because we need to be rescued from the hands of these people. Can’t you see what is happening to everybody in this country, the kind of retrogression that we are facing, the kind of pains and lamentations from people?

Democracy is not about people being put in horrible situations that we have found ourselves. The purpose of democracy is for you to be able to exercise your franchise and get dividends of democracy. It is just about you having a good life, having freedom, having the ability to be what you want to be, being protected, being loved and associate with who you want to associate with.  But what we are experiencing now is the opposite of what I have just highlighted. So, the election cannot be about the two nightmares that we have as political parties.

You have painted APC with all kind of negative words, but the party is beating its chest that they have done so much for Nigeria

What do you expect them to tell us? They have done so much for Nigeria, maybe as their own capacity and ability can go. We know what this country is made of in terms of natural resources, human capital, the size of the populations, and the fact that Nigeria has great opportunities which we are not thinking of. Investments are not coming to the country anymore, which is not the way it is supposed to be. You don’t have this kind of country with such a great potential and you don’t find investors coming in.

It used to be the destinations of foreign investors, but look at what has happened. How do you measure performance? Is it not how much you are able to impact on the people in terms of happiness, in terms of infrastructural development, in terms of unity, in terms of peace? But where are those things? Today, people sleep with their eyes wide open. You find that you are under fear as people are being killed, kidnapped, maimed, houses being burnt for no reason.

Why are we having all those things? Why do we have shortage of fuel, which was the architect of some people who are in government and have brought us this unnecessary pain? How can a government not punish anybody when we know that the only people that can bring fuel in this country are the government, the NNPC? People are responsible and the government is not doing anything but looking for scapegoats where none exists. What kind of lawless country do we have? They said they have performed. Performed what, where, how?

Like your party and few others, why is it that it is only when election is approaching that we begin to hear about them?

ADP has been active all round, we have been engaging with Nigerians. No party actually is quiet. If you don’t have government, it will be difficult for you to do certain things in this country because of impunity, because there is no accountability.

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These people engage themselves in political power to have people’s money at their disposal and use it the way they want and nobody questions anybody. This is the situation we are in. It is not that other parties are not doing what they can do in terms of ensuring that they win elections. We are working. It is not only when elections come that you hear about us.

You said PDP ruined the country for 16 years, while APC has buried it. If your party is elected, what are you going to do differently?

We are going to ensure that government works. Government is not working presently as we all know. We are going to ensure that judiciary works, we are going to ensure that corruption is, if not completely removed from our lives, we’ll make sure it doesn’t look like it is a normal thing by reducing it to the barest minimum. These are the some of the things working against the progress of this country.

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Look at the scam going on in the important sectors of the economy – oil and gas, solid minerals, agriculture, but nobody is saying anything. Nobody has been called to explain why we are losing so much, why we are piling up loans when we have so much in terms of resources, in terms of capacity, in terms of population etc. Why are we still the ones borrowing? We are number six among countries exporting crude oil and we are number three when it comes to gas, but we are borrowing from people that are supposed to be borrowing from us. This is an economy that can be grown with little efforts, but it is going down the drain as if we don’t have people who have the capacity to do the job.

We will ensure that the regulatory agencies are reformed so that we attract people in the private sector to come and do what they are doing in their companies. That is what every nation that is progressing does. They create close activity between the government and the private sector. The economy has to be private sector driven, but if you allow it to be public sector driven what you get is corruption and that is what is happening to us.

How can you hand over the economy to those that are not accountable to anyone? They don’t have any stake in the economy. A civil servant doesn’t have a stake in the economy; all they know is how to take the money away. If you put somebody who invested his money, he would not allow it to be run the way they are running our economy.  When we come to power, by the grace of God, we will make sure that the economy is private sector driven.

Is your party considering rotation or zoning?

Go to economies that are performing. Are they talking of religion or ethnicity?  How can being a Yoruba man, Hausa man and Ijaw man translate to good governance? This shows why we are backward. We are looking at Nigeria from the rear mirror instead of looking forward to see how we can progress and put the economy on the right track and allow it perform to its fullest capacity. But we are talking about where the person is from. If you have a company and you want it to be run properly, do you care if the person in charge speaks Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo before you appoint him?  You won’t do that.

This is 21st century economy where we are supposed to be playing big in the global setting, but we are losing. We are not pulling our weight at all. We should be thinking of a person that has track record. Can he think out of the box, does he have the skills required, can he perform, is he able to communicate and network with people, whether he is Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or from one part of the country? That is backward thinking. We should forget about this zoning or rotation, and look at how to grow our economy.

Look at Buhari, if it is somebody coming from a particular zone, the worst area in terms of insecurity is Katsina State where people are being kidnapped and killed like chicken. Which region is the most backward in terms of economic progress in the country? It is the North. You are telling me rotation which does not equate with performance or dividend of democracy or improving your lot. We should forget thinking of rotation and look at how to grow the economy.

People say rotation or zoning of positions is necessary in a multi-ethnic and multi religious society like Nigeria

The constitution has taken care of what you are talking about, multi ethnic and multi religious. That is why you have the National Assembly, three senators from the various states and members of House of Representatives. The constitution says you must appoint a minister from each state and you have all these in the Federal Character. The chief executive should not be based on sentiments, otherwise we will never get it right. The constitution adequately made provision for all these things so that we can be united and everybody taken care of and having a sense of belonging. We have turned things upside down; and have not operated it the way it is supposed to be; it is not about zoning or rotation.

But many have said the constitution was not made by the people, that it was foisted on them by the military?

America has practised democracy for over 200 years; they are still trying to perfect their laws; they are still saying some people are not allowed to vote in some areas. Constitution is not a destination, it is a journey. We should know that times are changing, things are changing and that is why there is provision for the amendment of the constitution. It doesn’t say what you have is what you just have to work with; it is not the Bible or the Quran. It is a piece of situations put together by people based on what was happening at that point in time, but things are changing; situations are changing, it is expected that your representatives will help you to ensure that the constitution is in tune with the reality of the situation at any point in time, which is why we have them there. We don’t have them there to work with just what they have, but they must ensure that they work continuously to ensure that the constitution is fine-tuned to the demands of the time at all time. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel; this one can be amended to respond to what we want.

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