Senator Shehu Sani until last week represented Kaduna Central in the senate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Following his running battle with Kaduna state governor Nasri el-Rufai which led to him being denied the party’s ticket, he subsequently defected to the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP on whose platform he hopes to re-contest. He appeared on AIT’s Kakaaki Programme on Friday. Here are excerpts of his interview.
Your colleagues left the APC when many like you had issues with them, but you had to wait for the rug to be pulled off your feet before leaving?
There are factors that made me to stay back. You should understand that a politician runs for office on the platform of the party, as a politician you register from the ward and when you want to leave you have to make consultations. I was one of those who plotted the July pull out of the party. But three things held me back. The first was the intervention of the Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole who has been a friend for decades and the President( Buhari) and other forces.
And the assurances they gave when I raised the issue that I was on my way out was that those issues would be addressed. Part of the issues was the attacks on me by the governor of Kaduna state. He tried to frame me, to call on people to attack me but these did not work.
So those were some of the issues I raised, that I did not know how I can work with such people who have different ideological background with me. These issues have lingering and aggrieved Senators were assured the issues would be resolved. The second was that when I made my consultations with my constituency, they told me to stay until they see firm and concrete proof that the party had not lived up to its promises for me to pull out. I have seen evidence of what happened to people who defected without consulting widely; I want a situation that in my constituency, I should be able to stay in my house, I should be able to go out, to the market and leave freely with people. Another was that many of my colleagues were moving to the PDP and I have never been a member of the PDP; so why should I move from one orphanage of the APC to another orphanage of the PDP? The APC was not such a party with ideology but a convergence of views from different groups. So, I decided to pull out when my people were convinced. That is why I defected to the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP. Some people are still defecting next week so don’t think we have seen the last of defection. It is a continuous problem.
You seemed to have shot yourself on the foot. You had often criticized the government’s way of fighting corruption with insecticide and deodorant, how did you expect the presidency to forgive you?
Well, they don’t need to forgive me. My statement is very clear; they are based on fact. When I said there was double standard in the fight against corruption, it is a fact and that when don’t define corruption in Nigeria in terms of evidence and fact, we define it in terms of political enemy. That is a fact. The deodorant and insecticide formula remains, I have never retracted that statement.
I never shot myself in the foot, what happened is a consequence of a having a revolutionary activist participate in bourgeois politics. It is part of the things you suffer. Balarabe Musa ( Second Republic Governor of Kaduna state) was impeached in 1982 for similar reasons. What I said about this government has not changed and Nigerians have seen evidence of it. But the fact is that the President and other persons wanted to address the Kaduna crisis; it is not being addresses like other states with crisis.
You recently wrote advising Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu that he should remain in the PDP, when it was being rumoured he was planning to leave, Why?
Well, Ike Ekweremadu is a very good friend and a colleague. On many occasions, he advised me to leave the APC. When I took a walk, I had to tell him the truth, don’t walk into a landmine. Now you can see Rochas Okorocha ( Governor of Imo State) has walked into a landmine with the party). YWhe n you see things like that you have a duty as a friend and colleagues to advise him to remain there. This what I have just experienced and I have the evidence, don’t walk there, stay where you are. I also told Godswill Akpabio, Senator and former governor of Akwa Ibom State who recently defected to the APC) I told him that people who are in the party are like hostages and you are coming to join them?. Now don’t attempt to go there because you are going to suffer. I posted a script advising Akpabio that there was imminent danger for him staying in APC and he should move to safety.
Where is safety when political parties do not have strong ideology and…
Well, you are right. It is one of the issues that I considered when I moved to a party that is not considered big but it is ideological compatible.
Your view about voting in the 2019 polls
I believe I have never shifted my grounds about the coming polls. Now that I am out of the party , I can still speak my mind. Even though the Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim has retracted his statement( That the APC should realize that the forces at paly in 2019 have changed and there is no guarantee it may win the Northwest votes as it did in 2015), but there are facts on the ground. As long as the bitterness continue within the party, the insecurity in the country increases with the inability of the government to solve them, certainly the President would suffer in voting. Here was a party that claims to be progressive. In APC you can only win if you have transparent congresses and direct primaries in the conduct of elections, but there was none. First of all the sale of the forms in APC was bad, process of screening was dubious. Now there are three ways people emerge from the party as it is now: One is you can get a note form people from above, those who insert names even if you did not win a contest, secondly for you to emerge you have to be a favourite of the governor and thirdly we have seen a massive protest that attended the outcome of the primaries, what progressivism is that? So as a far as I am concerned, my friend, Comrade Oshiomhole cannot say what has been done was right.
You wanted automatic ticket, not even primaries. Why?
Now the assurances given to us was that there would be direct primaries and that would have been the most credible for the APC to consolidate as a party. The congresses that happened some four months ago were fraudulent. In my state, Governor el- Rufai and his aides compiled the list of delegates and those were the people called delegates; the only remedy to such abuse was to have direct primaries. The day, the Chairman of the party capitulated on holding direct primaries
That was where the crisis started. I was assured of direct primaries, but it never took place.
Now you once said the party may implode before 2019. Can you expatiate on that?
Now that party has an appreciable number of follower ship in the Northern part of the country and I believe that is where the hope of the APC is . But the vote of the north is not enough to determine who becomes the President of Nigeria. In the issue of implosion, you can see the bitterness and crisis that has become of the party. That is implosion. When you have governors raising issues that that is implosion. And that would negatively affect their votes in 2019.