Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, in this interview with Leadership’s Victor Okeke says it was to avert violent clashes that necessitated the congratulations by Governor Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti to Ayodele Fayose after the elections in the state recently. He also states that APC signals a new dawn to Nigeria’s politics. Excerpts:
Few months from now we would be having the general elections. How prepared is the APC?
Well, thank you very much. You will recall that some parties went into merger to produce what is now APC. The essence of this merger is to have a strong committed political party that will save Nigeria and to give the country purposeful leadership that will improve the lives of Nigerians. The parties made a lot of sacrifices to merge to give birth to a modern Nigeria.
Nigeria is blessed with rich human and natural resources which unfortunately hasn’t been properly harnessed and utilised for the benefit of Nigerians. Nigeria suffers maladministration and general inefficiency which has made life extremely difficult for the citizenry.
In fact, Nigerians deserve to have a better lifestyle than what we have today. Sadly, other countries with less human and natural resources are better off than our dear country, and this is due to ineffective administration and the mismanagement of resources.
Therefore, APC is built on a passion for socio-economic transformation that will save the country from the economic doldrums, social instability and the general insecurity that has bedevilled it. APC is a Nigerian project that has the interest of every single Nigerian. We are committed to building a lasting peace and security to lives and property of the citizenry across the length and breadth of this country. Our commitment also centres on establishing service delivery, accountability and transparency in governance and, enthroning true democracy where the voice of the people is not only heard but, respected.
So, with seven months to the next election, we are concentrating on building a strong united party, a party that gives every member equal opportunity, a party that will exploit the best potentials and, produce the best leadership this country will ever have to provide Nigerians with the change they have been yearning for.
What will make your party different to achieve what you think the ruling PDP has not achieved?
If you look at the leaders, stakeholders and manifesto of the APC, they have clearly defined goals and approach to the practice of democracy, governance and infrastructural development than what we have had in the last 15 years.
You will agree with me that internal democracy which is a basic tenet of democracy had remained an illusion. Accountability, probity, rule of law and social justice have also suffered wanton abuse in the last 15 years.
Worse still are the conditions of our infrastructures in this country. After 15 years and huge resources sunk into these infrastructures, they are still in comatose.
Look at the condition of power supply. In spite of the crucial role played by electricity in industrial development, the state of electricity supply after 15 years of the PDP administration is still horrible. I don’t think Nigerians need anybody to tell them that they need a government that will make it work. A government with the passion to provide electricity to bring the moribund industries back to life to give Nigerians employment opportunities and, improved lives.
Fifteen years after, we still have poor roads and ineffective transport system, weak healthcare delivery system, unproductive agricultural policies, poor education system and a dead manufacturing sector.
It is totally unacceptable for a country like Nigeria to have its education system in such a comatose. We have the human and capital resources to develop education to international standard. The ineffectiveness in the sector has made many Nigerian students to travel out to much less countries to study.
Sadly, it is either academic staff of Nigerian Universities, Colleges of Education and Polytechnics or, Nigeria Medical Association that are on strike. This has terribly affected these institutions with the consequences of huge medical and, educational tourism to other countries thereby, deflating the economy.
Let me tell you, everybody in this country including members of the ruling PDP are feeling this harsh brunt and now agitating for change. You will be surprised to see the level of support and encouragement we are receiving from Nigerians across geographical and political divides. More surprise is to come as we approach the 2015 elections because, many Nigerians especially the political class have indicated interest to join the APC because of its transparent commitment and zeal to transform the country.
APC shall also practice true democracy with clear separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary to promote check and balance, good governance, service delivery and democratic growth.
It is also sad that in the last 15 years, our legislative arm did not enjoy the legislative independence it ought to have. Similarly, the judiciary ought to have been better than what it is today but unfortunately government in the last 15 years deliberately blocked and retarded the independence of these two arms. This is what will make APC different from other political parties.
How united is your party after the conduct of the national convention where some people were reported to be aggrieved with the outcome of the convention?
Let me use this opportunity to once again correct this wrong impression about ill-feelings in the party after the convention. The APC convention was the best party convention we have seen since the return of democracy to Nigeria in the last 15 years. It was a convention conducted based on national interest. It was a convention in which national interest superseded individual, group or sectional interest. It was a convention in which national interest was paramount, incontestable and irresistible.
Like in every human endeavour somebody who sought for something but could not get it may feel sad at an individual level. We have assured such persons that the party has a large landscape to accommodate every member.
However, to assure every member of social justice, we have in place the convention appeal committee handling all issues arising from the convention and, the committee is effectively handling that.
Let me also make this clear, nobody has told us that he is leaving the party and, for your information, no true democrat with a true sense of patriotism and concern for Nigeria will ever contemplate leaving APC for another political party.
And if you see anyone leaving, he must have realized that, APC is not the party for personal or selfish antics. This is a party that is into bond for change with Nigerians; we will not compromise this stand and, political jokers will have no space here to actualize selfish ambitions.
But again, the doors of the party are wide open to every Nigerian who shares the same commitment and passion to change and transform Nigeria for good.
Your sitting governor in Ekiti lost the governorship election and conceded defeat. Does that not send warning signals?
If you listened carefully to the governor, he said “if that was the wish of Ekiti people so be it” and he conceded in realization of possible conflicts that may follow if he disagrees with the result of the election.
You see the mass deployment of security personnel in the Ekiti election in which members of our party were harassed and intimidated leaves much to be desired. We have always urged security agencies to maintain neutral stand; they must avoid actions that portray them as partisan and supporting a particular political party.
They should promote a level playing ground for all parties and abide by the rules of engagement to safeguard the image of security organizations and the country.
Our experience in the Ekiti election has made it necessary that the security authorities must check their men against repeat of such unfortunate intimidation in future elections.Now, in spite of all these, the outgoing governor and APC candidate conceded defeat and congratulated the PDP candidate. This is a new page in the history of Nigerian politics. This action must be commended and emulated by PDP. We equally expect the presidency and PDP to concede and congratulate us when we defeat them in 2015.