Dr Yunusa Tanko is the National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP). In this interview with some journalists,he speaks on issues as they affect his party and the nation. PATRICK OKOHUE reports.
The National Assembly’s entrance was recently blocked by men of the Department of State Services (DSS), following crisis that trailed the defection of the Senate President and some other senators. What is your reaction to this?
That is why it is very good to practice what you preach. These particular leaders of APC came with the progressive idea, but what we are seeing is completely different from what they preached.
And there is this impunity by the government, there is this way in which they tried to cow the people. There is the way this government is blocking the opposition from making inroad, that is not democracy.
And people who fought for this democracy will be turning in their grave to see this kind of thing happening. There are many democratic ways of doing this kind of things rather than forcing the people.
And I am even hearing that any political person in the opposition even if they have stolen government money to stupor if they change overnight to become members of the APC they are protected.
That’s nepotism, it is totally unacceptable and you are crying that you are fighting corruption. That is not the way to fight corruption.
When it is your own member you try to cover him with Vaseline oil. If it is on the other side you inflame it with all kinds of petrol and kerosene to put that person on flame.
That is not acceptable and so what you see they are doing by trying to frozen the account of Benue and Akwa Ibom state is unacceptable. Guiding people to commit violation of the constitution is unacceptable.
We in the human rights community who fought for this democracy will fight with all our might against impunity.
This is because it is the same democracy that we fought for that they are now enjoying, that brought them to power and that is not what the Nigeria people bargained for at all. You can now see that the government of the day is now in defence.
The police and the EFCC are on the defence. They have committed an heinous crime against the people and they have gone against the tenets of democracy and that is even enough for them to resign from government.
But APC is saying it has done well and that President Muhammadu Buhari deserves a second term next year, don’t you agree?
They can say whatever they want to say, they are not the ones that would decide next year. People can see that there is a clear cut difference between what they are claiming and the reality.
Let me ask you a simple question; is it true that there is an improvement in the power sector in the country? Are the population of unemployed youths increasing or decreasing? Has the price of commodities in the market reduced to the barest minimum?
Has the security of lives and properties of Nigerian people guarantee than before, no. So almost all the areas have not improved. It is only in this government that payment of salaries is a celebrated issue.
So you foresee problem for Buhari in realising his second term ambition?
Yes, because the people did not see exactly what they were promised. What we have been seeing are promises upon promises.
The people have known the differences between what they said before they got to power and what they are doing. It is quite unfortunate that they are doing different things from what they promised the Nigeria people.
How do you see the recent defection of senators from the ruling APC to the PDP?
That is why it is good that those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones. The way this government got to power is the way they are been shown the way out of power.
If you remember that time in 2014 that there were serious defection from PDP, that was what brought Saraki, Tambuwal and others and they celebrated it .
But they couldn’t manage it to the extent that the National Assembly passed another Electoral Act that the President has not signed. Had it been that Electoral Act was signed into law , you cannot just jump ship from one political party to the other like that.
It took care of the issue of cross carpeting. And that would have advanced the political gain of a party like ours, because after winning elections most of our candidates now go to the juicy political parties.
How will you react to the spate of killings in the North Central part of the country?
The killing is happening all over the Northern part of the country, but more especially in Zamfara State. We have in Adamawa State, we have in Taraba State.
It is not only peculiar to North Central as it were. Let me tell you it is politically motivated. But the government of the day gives it room to happen.
This is because the government of the day lacks the political will to solve the crisis when it started rearing its ugly head. The politicians cashed in on it to enthrone their own wish.
I got annoyed because there is no way you can use Nigerians in any part of this country for a politically motivated killings. The government has shown weakness, the government has shown lack of capacity, the government has shown weakness in how to move the people together.
There have been Fulani leading cattle for century and we have not heard unabated killings that is unacceptable to the Nigeria people.
So I am calling on Nigerian people as well as the government to show the political will to solve this particular problem or else it would consume them.
What is the state of NCP?
The NCP has grown from a political party that is only known on the streets shouting and talking, to a political party that can be reckoned with.
I am saying this without fear or favour. You remember the history of NCP. NCP is a movement of human rights .Majority of the members are human rights activists. Activism is different from politicking.
When I took over the leadership of this party I promised the members of the party that we will be able to defend the integrity of the party.
That it would survive and we will revive it and we will win election. Out of the three promises I made for the National Conscience Party during my tenure as chairman, I have achieved two.
The two were to make sure that the party survived. And I was in court close to a year and spent about eight million naira on litigation.
During this time many of our members from outside, no contribution came from anybody. But we were able to survive and the party has now become a bride.
Everybody is looking at it now as a force to be reckoned with. We went to every state of the federation. We don’t have nominated people in the executive of the party now we have elected people.
I was able to go to 36 states of the federation and we have instituted elected executive nationwide. People would ask how do I get money to do all these.
I have people and I used the talents God has given to me and do a little bit of property sales and I was able to get support of some people. I sunk a lot of money into NCP at the expense of my family’s comfort.
So all the executive you see in the states for NCP were elected according to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the NCP Constitution.
The second tenure I told members that we need to be in the scheme of politics because we need to win election. And we are going into alliance so that we could be known as a prominent party.
Today we have not less than four presidential aspirants, it has never been so in the history of the party.
People are contesting, people are interested, people are challenging each other that they want to contest under NCP. So it is a good development for me and I am happy that we have reached the pinnacle of the existence of the party.
Your party has gone into alliance with the PDP and 36 other political parties. How will this work out since you said you have more than four presidential aspirants?
The memorandum of understanding that we signed, I pray you see it. The MOU said we are going to work together to produce a joint presidential candidate.
That means each party must have produced a presidential candidate. And for me the target is for the NCP to be able to win an election. It is extremely clear that the NCP does not have fund to carry out some of its activities.
Even the members don’t even pay their membership dues. And you know in Nigeria today, if you don’t have logistic money to carry out campaign it is like you are just barking by the side.
So you need capable hands so we want to select out of our candidates those who have capacity and popularity so that other political parties who have funds would be able to support us and we will also be able to support them.
At the end of it all, it may even be that our candidates will go for election in many states including presidential election.
So that way, we now have a possibility of winning elections. And the question many people would ask is, why PDP? It is not only about PDP, but national interest.
If you go alone for example, PDP want to win election, Labour Party want to dethrone the current government, SDP want to dethrone the current government, so all of us have a common goal.
It is very clear if we go alone we cannot dethrone the current government, so why don’t we come together so that we can be able to achieve a common goal.
They can say whatever they want to say, they are not the ones that would decide next year. People can see that there is a clear cut difference between what they are claiming and the reality. Let me ask you a simple question; is it true that there is an improvement in the power sector in the country? Are the population of unemployed youths increasing or decreasing? Has the price of commodities in the market reduced to the barest minimum? Has the security of lives and properties of Nigerian people guarantee than before,