Political parties will determine power shift in 2023–Sani, ACF Scribe

Arewa Consultative Forum

Secretary General, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr. Anthony Sani has said that power shift in 2023 will depend on the decision of any political party to field its candidate from any part of the country.

In this interview with NOAH EBIJE in Kaduna, Sani noted, “If a political party’s winning game plan favours the South and majority of Nigerians support it, so be it. After all, it was such revolution that unseated President Jonathan In 2019”.

The ACF Scribe also spoke on other national issues, pointing out that Ohanaeze, Afenifere, Middle Belt and South-South leadership are not committed to helping in proffering solutions to insecurity in the country.

The Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife have been granted bail on health ground and they are currently in India hospital for medical attention. How will you react to the development?

Both Kaduna State and the Federal Governments have done the needful, especially when regard is paid to the fact that the man is sick and requires medical attention at the hospital of his choice.

I understand some people have used sections 36, 37, 38, up to sections 41 of 1999 constitution to berate the governments for breaching individual rights on this matter. But I hear the government has used section 174 of the same constitution to counter that in the event of the individual right colliding with national or public interest, section 174 which borders on public interest should prevail.

But now that the court has passed the judgement in favour of the trip to India, I guess it must have taken into account public interest and spelt out the conditions under which Sheik Zakzaky and his wife would be treated and brought back to face the trial.

Some concerned Nigerians are also saying that former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki who has been in detention over alleged corruption should enjoy same bail treatment. What is your take on this?

If the situations of Sheik Zakzaky and his wife are same with that of the National Security Adviser, nobody needs to ask the court to pass similar judgment, and nobody needs to ask the government to comply. They know what to do. After all, it was not those people who asked the court to pass the judgement in favour of the leader of IMN and his wife, and nobody forced the government to oblige the judgement.

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Few days ago,  Senator from Shehu Sani said it would be unfair for the North to hold unto the presidency beyond 2023 without conceding it to the South. What is your reaction?

You are never tired of asking me this question about politics of identity symbolized by rotation, power shift and zoning for express purpose of managing our diversity needed for national solidarity and unity, albeit it is a tacit admission of failure of leadership which has resulted in communities accepting that access to national resources by way of appointments, projects and major contracts should be turn-by-turn.

But Nigerians must note that such politics of identity is not a constitutional matter but mere gentleman agreement by political parties. And that explains why out of the 76 presidential candidates in the last elections, only six were northerners. And since we are in a multiparty democracy, each political party is at liberty to develop its winning game plan. I do not see how anybody can prevent a political party from presenting its flag bearer from the South, if its judgement  says that is the winning game plan. I therefore see no wisdom in the controversy as to where the president should come from in 2023. That should be left to the political parties to decide.

Some people are even saying that the real revolution may erupt in 2023 if north refuses to let power shift to either the Southwest or Southeast. Do you foresee such development also?

If a political party’s winning game plan favours the South and majority of Nigerians support it, so be it. After all, it was such revolution that unseated President Jonathan in 2015.

Prominent Nigerians including key northerners have raised the alarm over the perennial insecurity in the country. What do you think is the way out?

When you say prominent Northerners and left out the South you discourage me from answering your question. This is because the security challenges transcend regional boundaries and should be the concern of all Nigerians, not northerners alone. But you must note that CIA predicted that the insecurity had pushed the nation to a tipping point, and it would fall off the cliff by 2015. The prediction did not come to pass because this regime tried and tamed it. For anybody who thinks otherwise, he should support his view with credible facts.

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That there have been upsurge in some aspects of insecurity like kidnapping, banditry and cattle rustling soon after the elections is not to suggest that the government did not live up its campaign promises substantially. I believe if the government use the same resolve and determination deployed to weaken Boko Haram on the renewed insecurity, I dare say, they will be weakened reminiscent of what happened to the insurgence.

And in order to reduce the insecurity across the country, it would be necessary for Nigerians to come together and live up their synergistic potential against collective challenges for larger interest and common good. This is because the task of putting an end to the insecurity is not by government alone but by all Nigerians.

That was why we found the boycott of General Abubakar Abdulsalami’s roundtable on insecurity-organized by the Institute of Peace and Sustainable Development- by some sociocultural organizations like factions of Afenifere, Ohanaeze and South South leadership forum and a faction of Middle Belt very puzzling. Very surprising in the sense that General Abdulsami himself had made it clear that the roundtable was the Institute’s contribution to search for lasting solution to the national malaise.

For the said platforms to boycott the roundtable suggests lack of serious concerns about the insecurity across the country. Else, the roundtable provided an excellent opportunity for the fora to contribute in the search for best strategies and approaches against insecurity. Happily enough, prominent and national leaders from South West, South East, South South and the Middle Belt participated. And I hope the outcomes of the roundtable would be made available to the government for effect.

If you are to meet President Buhari today, what will you tell him about the state of the nation vis-a-viz lingering poverty and security challenges in the country?

What is there to tell the president beyond the advice that he should deliver on the promise of his mandate given by majority of Nigerians. That is to say, the president should improve over and above his achievements of the tenure in order to make the nation experience sea change in the next level. That was his campaign promise which the president is expected to deliver.

Sowore Omoyele, the brain behind the aborted ‘RevolutionNow’ is being detained by the DSS. But some Nigerians are saying that he should be released because everybody has the right to protest against government. What is your stand here?

I expect you to have read Sowore’s statement that he was organizing the RevolutionNow to effect regime change because the last elections were a sham. But one thought he should use due process and challenge the elections instead of resorting to undemocratic means. His was not mere protests but attempt to effect regime change undemocratically despite his knowing that we are in multiparty democracy which allows the electorate to either renew the electoral mandate or effect a change at the end of the  tenure.

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Former President Obasanjo has accused President Buhari of poor management of the nation’s diversity. Has the president attempted some form of correction in the composition of the leadership of NASS and the cabinet?

The composition of NASS leadership was not determined by the president because  National Assembly members are elected. Only the  composition of the cabinet was effected by the president.

But I hear cries of marginalization by some zones like South East and North Central. While that of the South East may be understandable because the zone voted almost completely for PDP and that may explain what happened to them; considering any concession of leadership of NASS to the South East would amount to rewarding bad behavior. I guess that is what happened to South East.

As for the North Central zone, I had thought because the zone delivered five states out of six to the ruling party, they would be rewarded with some positions in the leadership of NASS. I think what did not go down well with North Central zone was perceived short change in favour of North West which produced the President and yet was given Senate leader and Majority leader. In the same way, the South West which boasts of the Vice President was given Speaker to the chagrin of North Central zone. That seems to offend some people sense of justice and fairness.

But as I have said earlier, these posts in the NASS are elective ones  and not within the purview of Mr President. And when you talk of the composition of the cabinet, it is important to read the lips of Mr President who seems to say it does not matter the colour of the cat as long as it can catch the rats; and that he is struggling with challenges posed by diversity only to the extent that it will inspire confidence in favour of national solidarity and serve as precursor for eventual meritocracy, even though I believe meritocracy, rewards for electoral values and diversity are not mutually exclusive.

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