Kwara APC crisis about self-interest - Oyin-Zubair

Date: 2019-12-07

Kayode Oyin-Zubair, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, is the State Coordinator of Kwara Youth Centre (KYC), an advisor body to the state government. The former House of Representatives aspirant was also a factional spokesperson of the party at a time.

In this interview with 'Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, he debunked widespread insinuations that the state chapter of the ruling party is troubled.

According to him, only a few people, who are yet to get what they want, are complaining. He also spoke about other issues, including the recent governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

Excerpts

TONGUES are wagging over the last elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. What have you to say about the outcomes?

APC did very well in Bayelsa State by reaping from the backlash in PDP. That is okay and acceptable in democracy. APC has a mastery of poaching and providing asylum for aggrieved politicians. It happened in 2014 when five PDP governors and a number of lawmakers abandoned the umbrella to join the newly formed APC. There can never be any perfect party primaries in any political parties in Nigeria if we continue this way.

Where there are sitting governors; they manipulate the process to bring in their own in such states. That is at the state level; there are other interests from the national secretariat of the party too. If we don't get party primaries right, we will not get general elections right too. APC as a party needs to do more; wounds from poorly conducted primaries usually take time to heal. In Kwara State, if Bukola Saraki group had remained in APC, our case would have been similar to that of Zamfara State.

As at the time we were complaining about the procedure of party congress in Kwara State, Zamfara APC was equally in the news. The issue in APC Zamfara was unresolved until they had their primaries. Ours enjoyed the support of everyone in Kwara and this helped us to scale the hurdles of party congress and later the primaries. As it turned out, Kwarans needed a platform to effect change in 2019; so they didn't check for the imperfections in the whole process.

Above all, INEC must continue to research into issues that emanate from every election. The electoral body must be seen to live above board. I am disturbed that the outcomes of these elections are rubbishing some of the gains made by the electoral umpire in 2015. The card reader has lost its place of pride in our elections. What do we do so that we can successfully deploy technology to end electoral malpractices?

Many are already identifying 2023 politics as reason for some of the developments within the leading political parties?

2023 presidential election will only throw up more surprises but APC will remain strong. More states in Nigeria will be willing to join mainstream politics. The South-south that used to be an exclusive of the PDP is depleting with Bayelsa now joining the APC. Though crisis is inevitable in politics, our party will survive the current hurdles. More states or zones will negotiate their ways to remain relevant in the scheme of things. Abuja is too sweet for any state in Nigeria to turn blind eyes.

But there are worries about the alignments and realignments currently ongoing. Some fear the death of the opposition if these aren't checked.

I have stayed long in politics to know that nothing is fair in politics. It is about the dynamics of the moment. In 2011, our very strong campaign point in the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was generational change. We threw Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Fola Adeola up as our presidential team. Our leaders said we needed people in their 50s to change the fortune of Nigeria. But in 2015, age was not an issue but something else. We needed an unblemished leader, an incorruptible man with a very strong support base in the North.

President Muhammadu Buhari was adopted by movers and shakers of the party ahead of our primaries. The generational change if sustained would have favoured the former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso. But following the need for a new direction, an elderly Buhari became the toast of all and today, we are all seeing the result of the change. So, people are aligning and realigning based on what they presume will be the direction of things in the years leading to 2023. Like every businessman, politicians do permutations before taking decisions.

The government in Kwara State recently declared war on open defecation across the state. But some people are of the opinion that there are more serious issues needing the governor's attention than open defecation. What's your take?

Open defecation is a serious challenge all over the world and very unfortunately Nigeria is leading in open defecation. Recently, we overtook India on the sorry table of open defecation. I donít know how we find ourselves in every bad company. Poverty cluster, we are there. Corruption gang, we are there and even open defecation. It is equally worrisome that in the North Central zone of the country, where Kwara occupies a strategic location, open defecation is prevalent. There are many homes without toilets, offices without toilets, schools without toilets, etc. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq saw this and on assumption of office saw the need to tackle it headlong among other issues relating to water, sanitation and hygiene. Because of my record in water intervention in the last two years across the state, the governor invited me to collaborate with the Ministry of Water Resources to fix hand pump boreholes across the state - that is about the only source of water that can reach everywhere. Rehabilitation of boreholes came after he had awarded five water works for rehabilitation, namely, Igbaja Water Works, Lafiagi Water Works, Patigi Water Works, Kaiama and Asa Dam in Ilorin.

The excellent role played by Lower Niger River Basin in Gwanara with the underground water is commendable. And the mini water works in Yipata (NYSC camp) and Malete are not only complimentary but timely. So, the governor called young professionals such as architects, builders and other relevant stakeholders to bring in designs for public toilets. Very interestingly, he personally made modifications on those designs to allow for more ventilation and added shops to it, so that revenue generated from its rentals can be used to maintain the toilet facilities.

Are you saying the projects are being handled through direct labour?

We mobilised our people and worked with the Ministry of Environment to make it happen because it was their own direct labour assignment. The prototypes are superb with energy and water generated independently. The prototypes are built in various locations in Ilorin and they were commissioned on November 19. The intention is to build it all over the state. Lip services were paid to ending open defecation in the past with a paltry N5m voted for construction of public toilets in the past. This administration has voted a whopping N200m.

Do you see the people of Kwara remaining with your party beyond 2023 with the way things are going?

The bulk stops on the desk of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. He needs to choose between satisfying the vast majority of Kwarans that voted him into office or aligning with a few. Give it to him, he invented Otoge Ė he coined the slogan to sell his ideas to the electorate. Otoge was again made popular by the poor handlers of Senator Saraki structure in Kwara State. They reacted so poorly, lacking in ingenuity by attacking the message and persecuting the traditional institution to stop it.

When that did not work because the acceptability of Otoge was surging, they came up with Otunya. Otunya speaks of nothing but mental laziness and poor cover up of the bad governance of almost two decades. APC was a platform Kwarans used to end bad governance, maladministration and high handedness in the corridor of power. With the governor on the driverís seat delivering on the fundamental needs of our people, he will drive the vehicle beyond 2023. Those of us who led the party to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) when it was gasping for air will shut the mortuary gate against all undertakers at the appropriate time.

But there are talks about a serious division among leaders of your party as we speak. We heard some people are seriously aggrieved. What is really happening?

There is nothing genuine in all you see or hear than vested interests. This is the first time am making a public comment on the whole thing which I see as pure distractions. Let us ask ourselves, are we quarreling over how to ameliorate the plight of our people? Are we quarreling over the decision of government to complete a road leading to a village to the detriment of the next village? Are we concerned that he is yet to put up a scheme that will engage the army of unemployed youths in Kwara State?

Are we asking questions on how our economy can be revitalised where everybody is almost a beggar? There are issues that can define us as either a serious party or stakeholders in the state. We are quarreling over appointments, over control of party and asserting ourselves as small lords in various domains. The governor must not be distracted. It will be against his name what he achieved with the mandate Kwarans freely gave to him in 2019.

I don't think anybody is aggrieved in Kwara APC. When people get what they need, they will sing different tunes. An average politician in my state can't challenge constituted authority. Those of us who stayed in APC and fought the former Senate President to a standstill were the ones that felt it was possible to do so. Even some leaders could not challenge him openly. We broke the silence, though they eventually joined and made modest contributions.

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