Yari counts on experience to emerge APC national chairman
If experience and ability to garner human and material resources of a political party to win elections are major prerequisites the All Progressives Congress (APC) is looking for in its search for a new national chairman, former Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari claims he towers above all other aspirants.
Indeed, he says he is not a push over in party politics and has proven his mettle on several occasions in organising political parties to win elections either as a State secretary, House of Representatives member, two-term Governor or Director General of Presidential Campaign Organisation.
Apart from various positions he held in the past, the grassroots politician said, “My colleague governors unanimously accepted me to be the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) in 2015. If you look at what we have done in the past and what is on ground now, the issue or responsibilities of chairmanship will not be a difficult task for me because I know the right buttons to press to bring people together and win elections.”
To him, the ruling APC is currently at a crossroads over contending forces that are trying to redefine the philosophy of the party and said only experienced politicians can lead the party to win the 2023 general elections and direct affairs of the party after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in May 2023.
The maverick politician is, however, not unmindful of political calculations against his ambition by tendencies clamouring that the national chairmanship of the party should be micro-zoned to the North-central to pave way for those who want to become Vice Presidential candidates of APC in the Northwest.
He said, “Somebody told me that some of my colleagues and former colleagues are interested in the number one and number two slots. To them, if the National chairmanship seat goes to northwest, nothing will get to them, so they have ganged up to neutralise me. But if God decides that I will emerge the next national chairman of the party, it is going to be. People can manoeuvre and do all sorts of calculations but they will not prevail. All I know is this: I have the capacity to lead this party and they know what I can do.
“It doesn’t matter what excuses they are giving that I am from the same zone with the President. Our calculations are now towards 2023 and not 2019. It is only when you have a strong party, that you start thinking of 2023 and whatever the situation may be, the capacity to lead the party to electoral victory is the most important thing. This is one major area in which I believe I have a little but very significant knowledge about how to get it done.”
Another hurdle Yari has to contend with is the argument that the next chairmanship of the party should come from among old members of CPC, one of the major parties that formed APC. The proponents of this sentiment have noted that ACN bloc has been occupying the seat of national chairmanship since its formation in 2014, but it appears that argument doesn’t carry much weight among party leaders that see all APC members as one family. Yari has ANPP background.
Speaking on the Governors’ influence on the party, Yari said: “Governors must have strong influence in the affairs of the party because they are the financers. But we have to change the narrative. Governors, lawmakers, and the president are members of the party and have their own card numbers as any member has it.
“But all elected officers must see the position they occupy as an opportunity to serve people, be it governor, Senator or Reps member. I know as a governor who served for eight years, I can hear from the background that we dominate. So, this is very correct. But we must agree that no single chairman either from state or national can do it alone. All of us have to agree, sit down and design how our party is going to look like beyond 2023.
Yari, who decried the plethora of litigations filed by aggrieved party faithful in the aftermath of the state congresses, promised to entrench a reward system for party loyalists across the country if given opportunity to emerge the next national chairman.
He also urged fellow contenders to guard against the “do-or-die mentality” as they jostle for elective positions ahead of 2023 poll. On the clamour for power shift to south, he said, “I have no personal position beyond the party’s official stand. If the leadership of APC made a promise that power should move to any place, we should respect it. We would have no reason not to oblige. But we should look at this and all others things critically, so that APC can survive and succeed further.”
As a foundation member, Yari believes his knowledge and the roles he played during the party’s formation would assist him to carry out major reforms that will put APC on the winning path.
“I became the governor and then came the process of merger to form APC. We were then 11 governors: Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Edo, Osun, Lagos, Oyo, Ekiti, about eleven of us including one from APGA. That’s how we started the merger process. We wanted to be the progressives in the sense that we wanted to bring all the opposition on board. Ondo was a Labour Party (LP) member, Anambra was APGA, but Anambra and Ondo defected to PDP finally and then we remained eleven. That’s where we started this struggle up to 2013 when PDP had their congresses; we had the new PDP joining us, with four states: Kwara, Rivers, Kano and Sokoto States and we became 14. We started the process of merger and in the 2015 election; we won all the seats in the National Assembly and the Presidency. So, I know the genesis of this party and I understand its dynamics and how to navigate the party to victory in 2023.”