Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman is a former Minister of Transport, Youths and Sports under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The former PDP chieftain, who recently registered as a member of All Progressives Congress in the state, spoke with journalists in Sokoto. OLAKUNLE MARUF brings the excerpts:
YOU recently registered as member of All Progressive Congress in your hometown of Isa. Was your decision borne of the political permutation?
My joining All Progressives Congress was borne out of many reasons. First, I will like to agree with what the leader of our party in the state, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, said during the party’s mega rally that all politics are local.
And if I am going to play an active role in the political system within my locality, then I have to identify and work with the people that I believe are working for good governance in the state.
APC, under the leadership of Senator Wamakko, has shown considerable determination to help in the development of this state. I know that I have offered myself many times, because I also believe I have a lot to offer. I am one of the few that have benefited so much from this state and this country.
Every time I wake up, I always think of what can I do to give back to my immediate community, my state and to the country.
I know I have what it takes to help, even though it means sitting down to re-strategise, restructure or promote the party within the state and to work with party stakeholders to ensure that APC remains united and the party of choice among the electorate, ahead of the forthcoming general elections. That is okay for me.
Some believe your quick exit from the party was prompted by the incumbent governor’s move to PDP. Is this true?
You know, you can never stop people from political calculations and permutations at a time like this. People are entitled to say so many things when it comes to politicking. And of course, now that Governor Tambuwal has just moved to PDP and it coincided dramatically at a time I also moved out of the party.
Of course, many people called me to ask why I left PDP when the governor just announced his arrival into the party. But to me, we have reached a point that any political party you want to identify with, you need to come out and do so now.
For all intents and purposes since the last PDP governorship primaries, I have been a partial member of PDP in the State. I have not attended any function organised by the party in the state. Because, one, I never recognised the leadership of the party in Sokoto state because it was frequently installed.
Of course, some even went to court and challenged the process but up till now it has not been resolved. I therefore sent them a letter telling them that I will never be a party to any fraudulent process. I also told them that I will refuse to support or campaign for any candidate that emerges through these fraudulent processes.
That was what happened in 2014 which made me to step aside from the party. Although, I didn’t leave the party totally, I left in spirit and principle.
And now that we are approaching 2019, it is time for me to make a political decision. If I really want to continue playing politics in this country then I must know that I cannot stay idle. It is either I go back and work with those people or dump them and move on.
Then I looked around. One, I am very comfortable with the APC leadership in the state. I have always accepted Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko as a political leader that I can work with in the state.
I have always been part of his political family in the state. I have the highest respect for him. I know him to be a man of integrity. And without any reservation, I sat down, thought of it to join APC.
I know what the party can do in this state. That is why we want to come together to salvage the state for our collective development.
Recently, the APC leader in the State, Senator Wamakko said he belongs to APC and President Buhari. Do you agree with his assertion, especially when you consider the political influence of the incumbent governor who is now with PDP?
Well, I think what the Senator Wamakko said was an expression of the collective will of the people of Sokoto State. If you were in Sokoto on the day he (Wamakko) arrived from Abuja, because I was with him and sat in his car and I saw the outburst of emotion from the crowd. People came out to say, this is what we want, this is where we are. And I can tell you, without any fear of contradiction, that day ended all political permutation, that day was when Sokoto people really indicated where and whom they belonged. So, Senator Wamakko’s statement was an announcement of what Sokoto people wanted to say to the world. Sokoto is an APC state and we are going to return President Muhammadu Buhari and elect all APC candidates in Sokoto come 2019. There is no doubt about this. I have every reason to say that even opposition parties in the state, as well as the incumbent governor, know this.
You are among of the leading governorship aspirants on the platform of PDP in 2014. Now that you are in APC, what is your political aspiration in 2019?
We like I said early, I came into APC to help and develop the party. I wouldn’t be a party to anytime that we scatter its unity or common goal that I had found in the party. Am enjoying the relative peace, the unity and the friendship I found within the party. I acknowledged the warm welcome accorded me into the party fold and I have been embraced by all stakeholders in the party.
My goal is to work for the party success in the coming general elections. And I will try my possible best to ensure that the party is more formidable and success. My aspirations in the past years were because of the belief that I have a lot to offer, and even now I still believe I have a lot to offer to ensure the development of Sokoto State. I still believe I can do a lot in that regard. But, I only rely on whatever responsibility that my party wants me to do. Aside, that I am with my political family and we are talking but all we want now is to make APC a success. It is party success first.
Outcomes of party primaries in most cases have caused disunity among party members and stakeholders. Do you foresee a smooth and rancor-free process in APC, especially its governorship ticket?
Yes. I can guarantee you for that. It will not in any way disrupt our unity. The good thing about APC in Sokoto is that we have a good leadership and everybody has submitted to that leadership in the person of Senator Aliyu Wamakko. He is going to be just to all. And there is no any member of APC that will not abide by the leader decision. I for one, I will always abide by his decision as a leader. And I believe every serious and genuine members of the party will do same.
As a citizen of Sokoto State, how do you assess Governor Tambuwal’s administration performance since inception?
I think the time to talk about his performance is not now. I wouldn’t like to start assessing his performance at this period because it will be unfair now that I left the party he just defected to. But in due course, I will assess him with fairness.
As a former PDP chieftain, can you give an insight on real reasons why the party lost in 2015 general elections?
Fundamentally, two major reasons made PDP to lose the 2015 general elections. First, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s political movement; it swept across the country. Because of that, PDP could not withstand the movement and they were dislodged. Secondly, within the party itself, it has weakened itself by lots of infractions that were allowed to be. Everybody arrogated laws to himself. The party leadership was not following the party guidelines and rules. There was no rule of law. I mean, it was like when you know or have a friend that is party official, there is no need to campaign or contest in primaries because you will be hand the party ticket. People are just going to Abuja to secure party ticket for any elective position. In these modern day of Nigeria where people are more aware and more informed. There was such injustice to a level I had never seen. Even to people like me who had served as member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), such injustice was extended to me. Of these entire, nobody is talking or try to salvage the situation. So, it was in this process Buhari’s movement came like a tsunami and cleared the party off the power. Ever since, PDP has failed to recover and I don’t see the party recovering from the 2015 elections defeat.
What is your take on Third Force political movement initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo ahead of 2019 general elections?
To me, there is no third force movement. It’s just a formation of people without political direction. People who may have aspirations but don’t have any platform to actuality them. So, there is no third force that can march Buhari’s movement in 2019. I don’t want to use any derogatory words to describe them.