A chieftain of the Ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); a former House of Representatives member and minister, among others, Hon Bala Bawa Ka’Oje in this recent interview in his Abuja office with The AUTHORITY sees the demise of the APC after Buhari, should drastic measures not taken, even as he accuses party leadership of leading the party wrongly. Excerpts:
Sir now that your party, the APC is in total control at the National Assembly (NASS), what would be your advice to the legislators?
I am happy with the development, because what is obtainable now is different from that of 2015. The president will also have the privilege to meet up with his designed programmes and policies, so as to leave some lasting legacies after office. We are happy that the APC is now in charge in the NASS, as the leaderships of the legislature are APC members. The APC has majority in both House and Senate. So the expectations therefore are very high from both chambers, in terms of execution of over sight and constitutional functions; and also in the side of the executives, in terms of coming up with policies and programmes that will benefit Nigerians generally and fight against poverty.
I believe that the opportunity now rests totally in our hands as the APC and the APC candidates. We don’t have any explanations to anybody for any failure. I know that the last four years were not interesting. A number of us were not happy with many things that happened and we couldn’t do anything. We were not in control of the legislature.
What would be your advice to the 9th Assembly legislators?
Let them embrace team work and approve anything from the president that will enhance development in the country. Let them speedily attend to such requests from the president, for him to deliver democracy dividends to Nigerians, put our economy in a better shape, attend to issues of insecurity and other aspects. Let them work together as one house in order to meet the yearnings of Nigerians.
Are you against checking the excesses of the executive?
The legislature shouldn’t be a rubber stamp. Checking the excesses of the executive does not mean that you should delay something good or not do it at all. Mr President never said they shouldn’t check; after all why was he sending things to NASS if he was against checking? He knows that whatever he sent to the NASS, must undergo checking judiciously, take decisions on and reverse it back to him. They should do it in such a way that it doesn’t change the idea of the policy of progrmme of government.
Now that the APC is in total control, what is your advice to the president now?
He can’t do it alone. At the Democracy Day, he promised to gather a very good team to help him in the journey from now to 2023. We are all happy that he wants to have a strong team to work with. So we expect him to realy have a strong team by putting a square peg in a square hole, so that there be articulation for the nation toward achieving something for Mr President and for Nigeria. The ball is now in the hands of Mr President as we have done what he asked us to do.
Let him check all nooks and crannies of Nigeria, we have a lot of talents who are willing to work, not for money. Majority of us rejected money, for defending characters like him who said no to corruption; whose interest is not money, but service. He should not make mistake to bring people whose interest is money. If he does so, we shall go back to square one. They may be trying to come-in, so as to make billions of Naira before the tenure’s end.
We are human beings and nobody is above mistake, could you mention the areas he didn’t do well before, areas you would like him to address?
He has tried his best. There are areas Mr President should handle differently, compared with the way he handled them last four years. For example, I think there is the need for him to change the attitude in the security issue. It is very important, because things were happening and they continue to happen to no end. One example is the Abuja – Kaduna road. We should have done more than what we have done so far, regarding to security situation from that time. We have very large number of police and other security agencies around. If we had a good plan, nobody can take anybody around that road, with enough security agents and communications.
Any message for the opposition?
The opposition and the ruling party don’t have any other country other than Nigeria. Let them work together, support the government in power for the government to achieve the needful for the benefits of all. Castigating the government won’t do us any good. If the economy is good, the security intact, isn’t it for our benefits? Let us put party apart, come up with good ideas and move the country forward.
Do you have anything to say about the APC, your party?
Yes, I have, because I am not happy with my party for a number of reasons. I expect the party to move forward, not backward. We lost three states, instead of winning more. It is not a good omen to us and if you look at the reasons behind the loss, you can attribute them to a particular group of people, who sit together and decide for the party. The same thing that caused the crashing of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is happening in our party now. Our plan was to rule for another 30, 40 years, but if we are not going to change things drastically, I have a lot of fear of achieving that after Buhari has left office, because we were all looking at Buhari, ensuring that all our supporters all over, especially in the north where I come from supported Buhari. Without drastic change, I am afraid of what will happen next in the party.
What are your views on the calls for your national chairman’s resignation?
Those calling for his resignation are doing that on their own opinion. To me the issue of resignation shouldn’t come in. Let right politics be played. Things can’t go well unless we punish those who made things not to go well, through the party machinery. Whether you are holding party position, elective position, political position, Nigerians hardly resign. No one has ever resigned in recent time, until a lot of pressure is put on him. Let us follow the manifestoes of the party, its rules and regulations, do the right thing, effect changes and plan for future elections for the interest of the party and Nigerians.
Who should be blamed, the members or the leadership?
I can’t blame the members. If I do so, then I blame myself for doing nothing. The person to be blamed is the chairman, the leadership. Ordinary members have no say and can’t be blamed. The person to be blamed is the chairman, because he is the only one that has a say and we have been calling him to order and all to no avail.
You could remember what happened during the governorship primaries when he was dictating to the people. He didn’t care to find out what the people needed and what they didn’t need. A good leader is expected to study the people and find out what they needed. We should build this democracy; we are over 20 in the system now.
We lost Zamfara because of the issue of direct and indirect primaries. Because of the chairman’s refusal to give the people the leverage, many members defected and that was exactly what happened in Zamfara. There were many formidable people in Zamfara who were not given the leverage and their happiness was short-lived and they had to decamp. So the leadership didn’t do well. In my state, we are intact. All of us who had one position or the other called for the support of the governor and we smoothly and peacefully did that, had more votes than Lagos and that is the importance of coming together in peace.
What is the president doing about it?
He is the president’s friend, because he was brought in by the president. Now that he has shown the president that he is not the right candidate, the president will do the needful for the party.