Mataimaki Tom Maiyashi is the leader of the splinter APC group, APC Akida in Kaduna which is opposed to the leadership style of the state governor. He explains why it has been difficult for his group to work with the governor.
Can we know where the APC Akida stands on the issues between it and the Governor el-Rufa’i led government?
It is important to recap what the issues are. In the past 24 months, we, as members of APC, have not been at home with the governor and the way he formulates and executes his policies and this is so because if you reflect on how this government came into being, it was fundamentally a platform built and energized by the wishes and aspirations of the ordinary people of the state who had lived under a government they considered as exploitative for 16 years and it got to a point whereby the people on their own desired change.
The issues of welfare and wellbeing of workers have deteriorated far beyond what obtained in 2015. Farmers still do not have access to primary inputs as they should in order to boost their production. Education has deteriorated and I can tell you that it has deteriorated to a far horrifying level than what obtained or what the base line was as at 2015. The relationship between the government and the people has been basically extortionist, government is only interested in what it extorts from people, rather than what it is going to give to the people. Now I will give you some few examples, look at the situation of Kasuwar Barci market with over 3,000 stores. As far as I know, since this government came into power, I have not seen any policy that is geared towards supporting and enhancing the capacity of petty traders, market women and so on. But you will just wake up and say you are relocating, you are asking these people to move out of their place of abode, that they are going to build a shopping mall of Dubai standard, I consider this inhuman. Now look at workers, since these government came into being, it has been verification, verification over and over again. As we speak two years down the line, the verification is yet to be completed, retirees are yet to receive their basic benefits of gratuity not to talk of pension. People are being dismissed left right and center without even following due process. The most recent one which we are still battling with; all of a sudden the governor woke up and dismissed all district and village heads totalling more than 4,000 without even following the proper procedure of doing so. Now I don’t think there is anybody in his right senses that would say this is a government that came on the platform of change and is going to address issues that would bring about fundamental change to ordinary people.
Secondly, the governor decided that even the platform that brought him into power, that is, the party APC, he is not interested in building it as a platform for developing democracy; he decided to mutilate the party and weaken the party to a level that it is only what he wants the party to do that it should do. The party which is supposed to be the overseer of even his actions in government has become so weak that all that it does now is that, it has become the megaphone of the governor. The governor has a structure in the executive, that whatever he does or whatever the government does, that structure is supposed to publicize whatever the government is doing but today the party has taken over that responsibility.
You are a member of the APC, one would have expected that you would have used internal mechanisms within the system to resolve the issues but it got to a point where you passed a vote of no confidence on the governor; is that not taking the matter too far?
Let me tell you, we saw this crisis coming from the onset. If you recall, what the people were voting for, they said Sai mai gaskiya, in other words they were voting for integrity and that should have sunk the message into our heads that we needed to build this party on the foundation of integrity and there were series of interactions and meetings right from the onset to make sure that this was done, but the governor frustrated everything. If you recall, the deputy governor was the chairman of the party and immediately they were elected into office, constitutionally, he should have relinquished his position as chairman of the party but he remained the deputy governor and chairman of the party for over 18months. In other words, to keep the party within government house so that it is only what the governor wants that will be done. Now, there are no intrigues that we did not play, we brought it to the notice of national secretariat of the party that we were in danger in the first quarter of 2016, so the national secretariat intervened. They came here and brought all of us together to discuss this issue, but the governor frustrated it.
Secondly, a committee was set up by the national secretariat under the chairmanship of Governor Masari of Katsina State. The governor was a party to those decisions, he knew that those decisions had been taken, he knew of the composition of the committee. If he had any misgiving, he should have told the national secretariat that there was no need for that committee and that we will sort ourselves out but the committee was constituted with a colleague governor and he frustrated every effort by that committee.
But one would have expected you to wait for the various interventions to conclude their report and submit to the party before taking further action….
Let me tell you, our membership of the party is not contingent on Nasiru’s interest. This must be very clear, we are not going to wait for him to take his time and destroy the party before we act. Most of us are more experienced than him in this business. Look, by 1980, I was already a Commissioner in a democratic regime, I don’t know where he was in 1980; so we are not going to wait for him to take his time and destroy this party because this will completely destroy our integrity and image before the electorates. We have one thing that we live for and that is our integrity.
What if by tomorrow, he is able to deliver on his election promises?
There is no rational basis for me to make such assumption, this is political science, it’s not tales by moonlight, there is no basis for us to wait and hope or go down on our knees that we are praying that maybe in the next six months, he is going to change and become so wonderful and I tell you he is not going to because his level of arrogance and recklessness is legendary. We are not going to wait for that, but if he does that, fine, he would have saved himself. It will mean that the things that we have brought to bear on him, he has been able to see reasons and all our efforts wouldn’t have gone in vain.
Is there a way out, because very soon the party will be going into elections?
It is left to him to scrutinize within his conscience whether what we are saying makes sense or not and don’t forget, he had made pronouncements that what we are saying does not make sense at all. He said anybody who is not happy with what he is doing should go to Kufena hill and commit suicide. Luckily, he is not in a position to drag anybody to the hill, so we are still alive. He also said that he has iron feet with spikes and that all of us are ants and he will crush us, put us in a wheel barrow and throw us in a dustbin, which means all we are saying does not make sense and we ourselves are inconsequential.
Why was the congress for election of delegates for a non-elective convention important to you?
If you cannot be trusted with N100, then you cannot be trusted with N1,000. So if a non-elective convention cannot be handled properly, then it shows that it is clear fraud. So as insignificant as you may think a non-elective congress is, it is a test of integrity. This congress does not belong to the governor but the party. If the members of the party are so irrelevant, that the governor will sit down and draw up names, should we trust him? So if we are going to have an elective congress, what will happen? He might cage all of us, build a huge prison and put all of us there, send guards to guard the gate and he can even withdraw the oxygen we breathe so that he can get the delegates he wants.
What is the relationship between APC Akida and this Restoration Group that keeps writing letters to the governor?
Akida means ‘Principle’. This party is constituted on the basis of principle, principle of change and that is why we are saying we should come back to the principle. We saw it from the beginning and we took a stand. The Restoration group thought that they will manage it from within just like what you were proposing so that we can sort these things out but see it has exploded. So when they use the word restoration, it means something has gone wrong. It means that integrity and honesty are gone, they want to restore it.
There was a time you threatened to set up structures of the APC Akida from the state level to the ward level, how far have you gone?
As we speak, Akida is present in the remotest part of the state. You, as a journalist can crosscheck or verify this directly from the people so as to find out whether Akida has made sense or not. Just this morning, I got phone calls and text messages from the US, people talking about Akida, so Akida is now getting to the White House in Washington.