By NBF News
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People say ANPP in Kaduna only exists in name. What's the strength of your party in this state?

I wonder where those people live, because anybody that lives in Kaduna state must know that the ANPP in the state does not exist on paper.

In 1998 when the first council election was conducted in the state, the ANPP, then APP won five chairmanship seats out of 23,and the contest then between our candidate, Alhaji Suleman Zontu and then Alhaji Makarfi was very, very close. It was a keenly contested poll.

The total difference in votes was not much. We won over a hundred, about 119 or 123 councillorship positions. A party that is rooted in the grassroots will not be said to exist on paper. And since that time, ANPP has remained a thorn in PDP's flesh.

I can boldly say that PDP has had to rig elections in several constituencies to stay in power. And the only party that has been given it problem has been the ANPP, all across the state. Only recently, weeks ago, through the court process, we recovered one of the seats they stole during the 2007 elections; the Sabon-Gari Federal Constituency. I mean, anybody who is saying that out of 16 Federal House of Representatives seats, a party that has three; and 10 out of 34 seats in the state House of Assembly, is not on ground , I think really needs to understand what it means to exist on paper.

How will Buhari's departure affect your party in the state?

We thank God for the person of Gen. Buhari. When he came into the party in 2002, the party was already on ground, it had nine governors. It had more senators that first time than it has ever had up till now, ditto House of Representatives, Houses of Assembly in all the places. When he came in 2002, he had an immediate impact on the Nigerian politics, given his antecedents.

He has a large following, nobody can take away from him. The man is popular, especially with the grassroots. So he has an impact, especially in Kano where he aided the political realignment that brought about the success of ANPP and Mallam Shekarau as governor in 2003. He also has an impact in Bauchi where he assisted the Yuguda campaign in 2007. You can see the outcome.

But his impact is limited. It is not as widespread nationwide as you would desire. As presidential candidate of our party we had a lot of hope, but sadly we were disappointed in 2003. We didn't win enough votes. In 2007, the same thing happened. So, with his exit, he definitely will take away some people along with him. There are people who came into the party because he did and these people will certainly leave with him. But the other side is true also. There are those who left the party because he came in.

Such people are making their way back to the party now, because he has left. So it's a bag of mixed fortunes. We look forward to a good showing in 2011 with or without Buhari. I want you to know that politics the way it is, has gone beyond the personality of an individual. Even the PDP that has been in government has not been there, because of one person, even if it is the president of the federal republic. He alone is not as influential as to cause the victory of the party. There are so many other factors to consider. We wish him good luck. ANPP is well-rooted, well-grounded in Kaduna State, and I can assure you his exit will not have a negative impact on the party .

What are the chances of ANPP in next year's elections?

Very bright chances, our chances are better than those of the PDP in winning the governorship and all other elections. It's simple. For the last 11 years, PDP has led administrations that have frustrated the people; administrations that have disempowered the people.

The Makarfi administration and the Namadi administration,and now the Yakowa administration do not have anything to show. There are people in this state; you will do us a world of favour not to just interview partisan politicians, go to the streets and talk to the people; go to the markets, talk to the okada riders, talk to average Nigerians on the streets.

Let them tell you, if their lives have improved. But we are very hopeful that once we get the chance at becoming governor and becoming the majority in the State House of Assembly, we will be able to implement the party's manifesto that proposes freedom and empowerment and nationalism and development for everybody without segregation or ethnic considerations.

If Gov. Yakowa runs for his party in 2011, will it not affect your party's fortunes in Southern Kaduna where he comes from?

There are events that take place in any given polity that affects political trends. This is the first time a Southern Kaduna man is becoming governor in the state. So naturally there will be alignment and realignment.