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Only political solution can salvage APC, says Etta

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Etta

Chief Hillard Ntufam Etta, immediate past Deputy National Chairman (South) of All Progressives Congress (APC), in this interview with LEO SOBECHI, contends that President Muhammadu Buhari as the leader of the party holds the key to political resolution of internal crisis dogging the party.

Do you feel vindicated by Supreme Court observations on the leadership of APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC)?
I did not go to the court to feel vindicated or to make my party feel guilty. That was not the purpose. I went to court, because our constitution was violated. I believe that the leaders and elders of the party will come together and find a solution to all of these.

My suit is in the Appeal Court. The suit is not dead. In fact, it has been given a lease of life.

There were suggestions that the NWC was swept away for showing allegiance to former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu…
I am very sure that not everybody that was a member of the NWC was a sympathiser of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I also do not know the purpose for which that action was taken. I cannot begin to speculate.

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There is no politician that does not have a political estimation of who he is supporting or intending to support. So, whether you drive away Tinubu’s supporters or whether it was a reason the action was taken, because some people believe they are Tinubu’s supporters, then who is that person going against the constitution of the party supporting? As a politician you must support someone.

To me that doesn’t make sense. Politics is driven by enlightened self-interest. If you feel someone is not with you, then you try to convince that person to support what you believe in. Politics is predicated on persuasion. You cannot destroy a party because your intention is to drive away the supporters of a particular person. In which case you may not even be able to determine whether it is true that this person is supporting that person.

We were elected in a properly constituted convention. We stood elections as Nigerians and we had a four-year mandate, but someone cut it short unconstitutionally and illegally, because you feel, “we are looking to dispense with the support of another person. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Is it true that NWC was dissolved to ensure that the Presidency does not go to the South in 2023?
I cannot speak for those who conspire to weaken the party. I can only tell you that the protection of the presidency in Nigeria from my own perspective, zoning has become necessary to unite the country.

I believe that for us to move forward as a country we need to make this kind of sacrifice for the political soul of the party. I believe that with the judgment of the Supreme Court, it behoves on the President as the leader of the party to find means and ways for proper reconciliation. National Working Committee of the party must be part and key to that reconciliation.

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Will you ask for expeditious hearing of the suit challenging the setting up of the Buni committee?
On expeditious hearing of my appeal, that is for my lawyers to decide. If you leave it for me, I am a politician I love my party. I am a dyed in the wool progressive. I came into the NWC as a state chairman of the ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria), who has two years of my four-year mandate taken away from me. I sacrificed all of that so that we will have the APC. I am not that person that would want to destroy what I have laboured and sacrifice to build.

My take on the matter is that rather than the matter be resolved by the judiciary, it will save us more if we can find a political solution to it. I have been in politics for a long time and I know that most times judicial pronouncements do not make for political reconciliation.

The CECPC has taken some far reaching decisions, including endorsing the governorship nomination forms of the party’s candidate for Anambra gubernatorial poll, will you say the apex court note vitiate those actions?
Though, I have not seen the court judgment, but I have read some interventions from prominent party members, like Festus Keyamo and Babafemi Ojodu and my summation is that the Anambra primaries have been impacted by that judgement.

I believe that the hurry to which those who will rather weaken our party brought to bear is the cause of some of the deficit we are currently witnessing.

My father once told me that when a man in a hurry, he is prone to mistakes. You know when you are in a hurry to chase away your wife you will discover that you threw her away with the certificate of occupancy of your house.

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Given what happened between you and Chief Victor Giadom before the NWC was sacked, what is the best way forward?
On way forward, we all have a lot of respect for our President. Nobody can speak with the President and continue with altercation. It behoves on the President to call his children together and begin to interact with them.

The President must call all his children as the leader of the party and then we will find a political solution to the problems.  The President should not allow a few, who have premeditated agenda to destroy the party, to have his ears as against having all of us.

Let it be a cacophony of positions in his presence. But, I believe that if he calls all of us together we will have solutions to whatever the issues on ground are.

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