Engineer Yabagi Sani is the Presidential Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), who doubles as the National Chairman of the party and the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council [IPAC].
By Cyril Mbah
Nigerian politicians have elevated the winner-takes-all syndrome to a dangerously high pedestal, and this has understandably turned the nation’s elections into a do-or-die affair as office seekers desperately struggle to become successful by all means. This situation is about to change however as some concerned party leaders have been talking with each other and negotiating to ensure that any party that wins the 2023 general election at the federal level, carries other opposition parties along by forming a government of national unity.
Engineer Yabagi Sani, the Presidential Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), who doubles as the National Chairman of the party and the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council [IPAC], in this interview with Cyril Mbah in Abuja, explains how a government of national unity will work out, bring peace and better economic development into the country. Excerpts.
Sir, how prepared is your party for the 2023 general election which will commence on February 25, 2023?
We have been preparing for a long time since we came on board in 2017 when our party was registered. We came into being when the political space was facing imminent collapse and we believed that there was a need to have new political parties that could rescue the situation. This was why we christened ourselves the child of necessity. We have been proved right because when we observe what has been happening with the two so-called big parties, everything has been crumbling around them. There is no way a big country like Nigeria, the biggest in the African continent, in the 21st century can be left in the hands of jokers, who call themselves leaders, to manage. Listening to them discuss the country in their campaigns, leaves one in agony because they do not even know why they are coming forward to ask Nigerians to give them their votes. The things that each one of them talks about are irrelevant to the issues facing the nation. So, this goes to confirm that our decision to come on board was a very correct and right decision.
We participated in the 2019 election and came third. Even this time around, we hope to spring surprises everywhere. Nigerians will find that it is not noise making that matters. We are connecting widely with stakeholders and people that matter in the country and that is the most important thing. A typical example is the last off-season election which took place in Osun State where our party took third position even though we did not make as much noise as the other parties. Even now as I speak, there are no corners of the country where you will not find ADP and very strong structures in all the constituencies of the country.
So, can you tell Nigerians what your party’s selling points are to enable them key into it?
Our selling points include the need for a credible alternative in the country because people are tired of what has been going on in the country. Nigerians need to have an alternative party that will take the country in the right direction of growth, unity, peace and stability. Nigeria is a country with a promise of greatness but what is lacking is leadership. There is a leadership deficit. This is the missing link between Nigeria and greatness.
We have several natural endowments and resources in abundance. We also have vast human capital which is the most precious assets that one can think about for any nation and we have good weather since we do not suffer many of the natural disasters that wreak havoc in many countries. Our position on the equator is a choice, an advantage and the nation can become a destination for tourism, among other things. If we make this country safe, many international companies will site their headquarters in Nigeria like they are doing now in Dubai and Qatar. We have better advantages for businesses and for people to visit. The global narrative today is about climate change, energy transition, and information technology. These are our policy thrust as a political party because we know that every one of them is number one in Nigeria in terms of potential and opportunities. If we look at information technology, Nigeria is the only country in the world where the highest population of about 73% is made up of youths. This is a huge potential. By 2050 or thereafter, Nigeria will be third in the world in terms of population. Since we have a population of younger people and good resources and as you know, the next frontier for economic development in Africa. Nigeria comes into the picture. This is why in the ADP; we believe that Nigeria is a country of greatness. The only thing missing is leadership. We have what it takes to become really great. I am highly grounded in terms of educational background. I attended one of the best universities we can find in the world such as Columbia University, Harvard University, etc. When we talk about intellect, I know that I have the capacity. I am intelligent. God gave me that as a gift and a blessing and I know that I have good health and I can think out of the box to solve problems. We also have excess gas that we can tap because the world needs it. These are what the nation’s economy requires and that was why we believe that the ADP is like Noah’s Ark for Nigeria. We do not want this beautiful work of nature to just disintegrate.
We are in an era of alliances, negotiations, and lobbying between presidential candidates and political parties. Is the ADP talking with any party or group for merger or collaboration for the 2023 general election?
In my capacity as the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, I can tell you that a committee was set up and it is working to see how we can have a government of national unity in the next dispensation. This means that whoever wins the 2023 general election, will create room for everybody using certain parameters for involving other parties rather than maintaining the winner takes all attitude. Yes, to that extent, party leaders are talking to each other about cooperation and collaboration, but it is not for a merger. Nobody is talking about a merger at this point in time. Rather, what we are discussing is a collaboration or coming together to move the country forward.
Still on leadership, how do you hope to use your position to bring good leadership to the country if you become the next president? What do you think about the change of currency barely a few weeks before, the election?
Whatever I say is for the records only because I do not think it will change anything as far as the redesign of the Naira is concerned. If I were the president, I will not redesign the Naira now. Democracy is not about putting people in unnecessarily difficult situations. Nigerians have had enough of pains, frustrations, hardship, backwardness, and killings, among others. There are many better ways to stop rigging and money laundering without putting people under unnecessary stress and unnecessary hardship. The timing of the programme was wrong. However, people with autocratic tendencies will always do things in an irrational manner without first thinking it through. This is why we believe that Nigeria is still in a transition to democracy. We are yet to fully transition to full democracy because over the years we have been governed by former military officers. Military standards and attitude cannot be taken away from these former military officers because it has become part of them. Their training and orientation are basically military. As a president, I will not redesign the currency at the period it was carried out because I would have known it will affect the masses adversely. Democracy is such a robust system of government, and it is possible to find other means to stop vote buying and so on. I am not in support of the currency redesign even though the law says currencies can be changed after every five years. It should be done for good reason and not inflict unnecessary pain on the people. If it was done properly, it will grow the economy; remove certain dislocations in the economy like people printing money illegally. It can also redirect the flow of the currency and douse inflation in the country. However, people have now been reduced to beggars by making them queue for their money, queue for fuel, and queue for PVCs. What is the administration trying to achieve? Is it to undermine itself or what? Money is very important during elections because we need it for fuel and logistics etc. When people are made to queue for these things before getting them, what is the logic in saying you will guarantee free, fair, and credible elections when you are introducing things that will bring obstacles that can derail the system? When you put a military man as the head of government, these are the type of things that people will see because a military man does not see things the way a civilian will see them.
Do you think that INEC is prepared for the 2023 general election? Also, what would you say about the attacks on INEC facilities nationwide?
It is unfortunate that some of these things are happening. Such disruptions cannot be wished away in a country as big as Nigeria. The attacks are coming not because the culprits are looking for economic advantage like stealing INEC materials but because these attacks make one believe that there must be something wrong with the system of governance in place. People are frustrated and eager to sabotage every policy. It is a deliberate thing to sabotage the system. This is why I stated that we need to begin to have a government that is inclusive. A government that people will begin to feel they belong to and own because democracy really is supposed to be a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. This is not happening here and since that principle of democracy is not fulfilled, that was why we are having all the disruptions and upsets. The ruling party claims we have democracy but when it comes to appointments, they are made in a lopsided manner, and this leaves people wondering what type of democracy we are practicing. On INEC preparations, one thing I want to thank this administration and especially the President about is the electoral bill that he signed into law. It was a big achievement because he laid the foundation for proper electoral reforms and a better-streamlined way of conducting elections in the country. We are expecting that there will be free, fair, and credible elections this February but the downside of it is that the power to appoint all the key officials that will ensure free, fair elections are in the hands of one person which is the President, one party, the APC. So, I am afraid of the power of incumbency because even the INEC Chairman, the IG of Police, and the service chiefs are all under Mr. President. This is what does not seat well with what democracy says and it takes the will of God for the nation to have free, fair and credible elections.
In your capacity as IPAC Chairman, are you not bothered about what has been playing out among the two major presidential candidates and the way they have been throwing mud at each other despite the peace accord?
It’s really unfortunate but there is a saying that nobody can go through an abattoir without seeing blood. I believe that what is happening is normal in any political setting to some extent and Nigerians should not worry about the situation. My only grouse is that they are not addressing the issues or problems of the nation. Even in the politics of the USA, there is mudslinging. What we should worry that the presidential candidates are not addressing the issues we have as a nation. In America, candidates discuss issues like how many people they hope to give jobs to, how to adjust the high taxes, grow the economy and so on but here, people will campaign on the other candidate’s ethnic origin, religion, or things that have no relevance to good governance. Ironically, when any of the candidates have something to celebrate, people will see the other person at the event like when Alhaji Atiku Abubakar officiated as the father at the wedding of the son of the president. Ends.