Victory awaits APC in all elections –Ex-minister, Suleiman
Honourable Yusuf Suleiman is a former minister of transportation and currently the Director General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Organisation in Sokoto State. He spoke with our correspondent, OLAKUNLE MARUF, on the party’s stand on the sudden postponement of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), its chances in the state and other issues. Excerpts:
HOW confident are you about the candidate of your party?
I am very much confident that our party (APC) will not only win the presidential election, but also clear all the available seats in the National Assembly.
The governorship election in the state is also a won battle. I am saying this based on the overwhelming support our candidate, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu, and his running mate, Honourable Faruk Malami Yabo, have been receiving in all the 23 local government areas of the state.
Also, you should not forget the support of our leader in the state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, who remains as strong as you can imagine in the state. I believe, all things being equal, Sokoto is 100 per cent for, APC while APC is for Sokoto.
Penultimate week, Nigerians woke up to the news that elections had been postponed on the D-day. As the DG of APC campaign in the state, what is your reaction?
My reaction will not be any different from the reactions of our Presidential Campaign Council. I was actually disturbed. I woke up early enough to go to my polling unit, but was shocked with the news that elections had been postponed for. Naturally, like every Nigerian, I was very disappointed and I think Nigerians have a right to show disappointment.
When you want to postpone or reschedule elections at this critical stage, you need to do it a day or two or even three days to the actual day of the election. An election that was supposed to commence by 8:00 a.m. was now rescheduled around 3:00 a.m., after you had been aware that human, material, financial and other resources ought to have been committed to the process. A lot of logistics had been taken and committed to the process. I think this is avoidable. I think INEC should have done better.
Like most Nigerians, just like what the Presidential Campaign Council for the APC said, we are terribly disappointed that the elections had been rescheduled.
Your national chairman reacted just the way you felt disappointed, but a lot of people think it was a plan work between the ruling party and INEC to postpone the elections. How do you react to this?
Well, Nigeria is a country where rumours thrive. With little or no control over social media, people do write anything they want. Mr President expressed his disappointment in Daura and in his statement, he said he was terribly disappointed. I respect Mr President because while expressing his displeasure, he called on the Nigerian public to remain calm and law abiding, because issues like this, at times, can ignite tension. As a leader and as a statesman, he called on Nigerians to remain calm and be law abiding.
Absolutely, there is no way APC would have been involved in this and still have the strongest voice in condemning it. There is no any party that condemned it the way the APC condemned it before anybody did would have a hand in it. The APC Presidential Campaign Council did condemn it before anyone did. President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement in Daura before he moved back to Abuja. I don’t think he would be involved in a process and at the same time come out publicly to condemn it. People are entitled to their opinions, but the fact is that INEC had shown its independence in taking decisions, even if and where they don’t go well with general thinking of most Nigerians to agree with them.
I am one of those who believe that personally, if I were the chairman of INEC today, I would have resigned. This would be because I had failed to deliver a national assignment like that on a special day. I would have nothing to say than apologise and resign.
Do you think his resignation would be the best? Besides, which one would you prefer, a postponed election or an inconclusive one?
I would prefer an INEC that is up to the task; that would have nothing of these options that are tabled. I prefer an INEC leadership that would not take an option between inconclusive and postponed elections. That means INEC would have done its works the way it was supposed to have done it and the way it was constitutionally empowered to do it. Anything short of that is not acceptable. As I said earlier, INEC should have informed every Nigerian earlier that it would not be able to deliver.
How do you think his resignation would have solved the problem?
It is a matter of integrity. When the British people were calling for Brexit, the prime minister resigned. That meant he took responsibility.
It is obvious that you are very disappointed, just like other Nigerians. Don’t you think the postponement would affect the turnout of Nigerians on the new Election Day, particularly the governorship and Houses of Assembly elections?
No. We will continue to actively call on voters to come out and exercise their franchise and constitutional right to vote and elect their leaders. I think basically, a larger part of Nigerians should now realise that the onus rests on them to determine who leads them. People have taken a serious and position that they must come out and exercise their franchise to determine their leaders. I agree there is disappointment, but it is not sufficient to make people decide not to come out to vote on the rescheduled date.
We will continue to tell Nigerians to come out and exercise their civic rights and vote for the right leaders for the country.
Will your party go ahead with campaigns?
I listened to the live broadcast of the chairman of INEC where he said campaigns has stopped and one of the parties told him they could not continue to stay idle without campaigning. If the law says campaigns stop 24 hours before the election and the election has been postponed, it means campaign stop a day before voting.