Honourable Ahmed Ishaq Kana is the Vice-Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption, National Ethics and Value. He represents Keffi/Kokona/Karu Federal Constituency of Nasarawa State on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change. In this interview with KOLAWOLE DANIEL, he speaks on a number of issues, including the merger of opposition parties. Excerpts:
With past failure of opposition merger and alliances, it seems the parties forming the All Progressives Congress (APC) are bound to fail if the crisis that surrounded the APC acronym is anything to go by and what has been the roles of the CPC in giving the APC a upper hand?
The CPC has been there before the APC arrangement. This is the first time in the history of this country that so many parties of this magnitude are coming together to fight the ruling party. What people are saying, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been because of the fear of the success of the merger, because some states in the South-East and South-West are joining forces with the people in the North to wrestle power from the PDP. We do not know what will be the outcome with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but we are not resting on our oars. If the PDP’s comment that it is not afraid of this merger is true, why are they running from pillar to post to thwart this merger? Certainly, they are afraid and their antics will not stop our success.
As a member of the CPC merger committee, how transparent has the discussions and resolutions been?
The discussions have been open and frank. There have been some rumours deliberately orchestrated by our enemies, but we in the merger committee know what we should do and are acting accordingly. The INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega that I know, is not someone that can be played around; he will act right the way he has been doing. The APC has met all the prerequisites of merging but we have to follow the rules and due process and Insha Allahu the APC shall come to stand.
There were reports of disagreements in the merging parties due to sharing of offices. How do you react to this?
All the parties in the merger arrangement have responsibilities; certain individual roles are also necessary for the collective success of the merger. You should know that all parties know what is at stake. There is trust, but you should also know that each party has individual agenda and they would bring this to bear during discussions and the superior argument during discussions would prevail. So, whatever is coming out now is okay and it is not because there is no transparency.
Your state, Nasarawa, is the only CPC state but it has begun to have internal problems. Don’t you think this could make the party lose its membership to the PDP that is working to resolve its own crisis?
I don’t want to keep quiet on this, as I will not be helping the party in the state. I was a protocol officer to the first governor in the state from 1999 to 2007. I resigned and contested for a seat in the state House of Assembly and was there from 2007 to 2011. I worked with the second elected governor of the state. I think I should be in the know about developments in the governance of the state. The problems associated with the past governor in the state led to the collapse of the PDP in the state. I contested in the PDP primaries but the way PDP operates made them manipulate the primaries, so I dropped PDP for CPC, where I won election to represent my federal constituency. But with the current developments in the CPC, some of the stakeholders are not happy with the way things are going.
Most of the activities, issues and politics in the state are being centred on one man; the governor is taking the party as his business. He is taking the state’s activities as his personal property. I am elected by the people and I see more people than the governor himself. I attend to the needs of more people than the governor himself. I attend to problems of the people more than the governor; people that see me every day do not even see the governor. There are complaints from many quarters and the governor does not listen to me or my people that elected me. There is no way that anyone will tell me that he knows the problem more than me that is elected by three local governments in my constituency I am representing. This is the problem the governor is not attending to. The state does not even have a vehicle for the party. All the problems associated with the government are centred on the governor himself. The stakeholders are not even calling upon us to see what is happening in the state.
But you are known to be very close to the governor…
(Cuts in) He does not listen to anybody. Whatever he intends to do, nobody can stop it. There is no way you can run the state like that. There are local governments and other areas of the state, and you cannot claim to know everybody or everything about the state.
People should know that it is not the CPC but the governor that has a problem. People are complaining that they want to dump the party, but we tell them no, the problem is not the party, the party has good intention, but it is the governor that is taking the party as his personal property.
What then is the solution to this crisis?
We hope the governor will listen. Already, the elders of Keffi have filed their grievances as far as the party is concerned. I believe that it is not only Keffi, most other people are also complaining. So, maybe the governor will see reason with what we are saying.
You are making a serious allegation here, what could have led to this division between you and the governor despite your reputed closeness to him?
If I am to believe that he doesn’t have a problem with me because he listens to me, what about my people? They are complaining about the governor. I should listen to them; they elected me. They are complaining bitterly. I am elected to help the governor, but the governor is not helping matters.
What have been the inputs of party and the state elders to resolve this crisis?
He (governor) has never called for any meeting in any way till today. There has never been any time the governor invited the elders for any meeting, if the stakeholders are not being involved in governance, there would be problems.
Are you not wary that the party crisis in Nasarawa will have ripple effect on the CPC, being the only state controlled by the party, especially so as the opposition seems to be growing?
That is what I am saying. We have been trying to ensure that the problem is resolved; we want the people to see that there is no problem with the party but with the governor.
As Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Anti-Corruption, National Ethics and Value, what is your assessment of the anti-corruption efforts of the present government?
They are not working because the agencies saddled with these responsibilities are not effective. They are being used to witch-hunt perceived enemies. Look at the Maina issue, look at the magnitude of the corruption; what do they use the money for anyway? To buy Jeeps, houses and go abroad? Is that what will develop Nigeria? Government knows all this and yet nothing is being done about it.
How then do we tackle this menace?
It is leadership. Once we get the right leadership, corruption will be eradicated. We need somebody that is not corrupt: somebody that will create employment for the teeming jobless youths we have. Why do you think all these killings are taking place? It is poverty. People wake up and do not have anything to do, when you give them N10,000, they will do anything you ask them to do and this is mostly in the North. Look at the budget; it is unfortunate that every year, the budget elapses before it is fully implemented, and it is not because we do not have the money, the money is always being diverted to individuals.