Alhaji Sagir Hamidu
Alhaji Sagir Hamidu was an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in the 2019 election in Zamfara State, who was part of the recent reconciliation talks. He speaks from an aggrieved point of view on the ongoing membership registration by his party, power shift and the situation in his home state, among other issues.
You were part of the reconciliation process brokered by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) between factions in Zamfara State, how frank were the talks, and do you think this would stand the test of time?
Alhaji Muhammad Sagir Hamidu: During the 2019 general elections, particularly the state and national assemblies and gubernatorial elections in Zamfara State, there was a regime of impunity arising from the former governor’s decision to name his candidates to all the elective offices in the state. Eight of us came together and decided that we must resist that imposition and impunity which we carried out religiously. We succeeded in truncating that imposition. But whether we are happy with the consequences, that is a different thing. We lost all the positions in Zamfara State to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). By default, we installed a wrong government. Over the years now we have seen gross ineptitude, recklessness, corruption and lies of the PDP government. We felt we should come together to rescue the state having realized our mistakes. We are all ready to make amends to become true democrats, to uphold the tenets of democracy to forgive each other. We have common interests, we have our party and what it stands for. We also felt that there is no need to remain divided as we are approaching the 2023 elections. So, when we are ready to come together, the interim national chairman called for that reconciliation which though belated, but we are happy it happened and the reconciliation took place. After that we went home to reconcile, we went to Kaduna to reconcile and there was another round of reconciliation with the vice president. In all there is this air of willingness for us all to come together and work as true party men and women to reclaim our mandate of the state in 2023.
What did you mean when you said you made a mistake in 2019?
For Yari’s inability to see beyond one candidate out of eight and to stick to his gun that it must either be his candidate or no one, that was his undoing. On our part, we also refused to see a reason or to toe a reconciliatory path and to act as statesmen.
Your party suffered because of your group’s decision to stop Yari at all cost, what about that?
We are not proud of it. We all felt bad about it both ways; one, by implication and by default, we installed a bad government for the people, and for us a party we lost all the offices. We lost all power to implement our party manifesto that will impact on the lives of the people. That is not something to be proud of.
What is your reaction to the ongoing membership registration and revalidation by your party that has been characterized with criticisms and creating more factions in more states?
The concept of registration should not have any element of restrictions. It should be open to anybody. The moment you want people to register, or you noticed that in your previous registration there are discrepancies or you don’t have proper records, nothing should stop you from authenticating your records. You have a timeframe within which you want to register members, make it known, publicise it. When it is done, you close for that moment, subsequently you do it again. You close because we are going for a convention, if you have the required number that you need for your delegates, excos from the wards to the national levels, then you can close and open later. The most important thing is how do you register people and make it authentic. It does not matter which faction one may belong to. Let whoever wants to register do so. But when you restrict registration to 100 members per polling unit, of course you are inviting trouble. It has become restrictive and subject to manipulation. Don’t forget that there are politicians who still believe they must control delegates before they can make it, once that is the mindset, you can be sure that there will be a crisis all the time. That is what is likely to happen with the membership registration.
What measures should the APC take especially with those scheming to control the party?
There is little the party can do because of so many factors. There are some laws that emphasise the use of money, so it takes people of goodwill who are genuinely interested in deepening democracy to fight it out. That is why the drive to have as many members as possible is important. There is a need to moibilise members to make them realise that the survival of the party remains with them and not on the government or any individual. Once you succeed in making people realise that the survival of the party is in their hands, then we will begin to see positive outcomes.
Do you think that President Muhmmadu Buhari was preaching the other day when he was talking from the bottom-up?
Yes. But not many cared to listen to him, because that is not what the majority of politicians want to hear. But that is actually what he means. I strongly believe in that.
The agitation for power shift is mostly from the south west and south east, and the north is quiet on this too. What is your take on this?
Under multi party, as long as democracy is a game of numbers, as long as democracy is about fusion of contending interests, the question of power being agitated for or harassing other people to seek power at all cost or threats does not arise. No laws bar any region or any person from aspiring to be anything. If that is the case, build bridges, reach out, understand your differences and align them with the interest of others that you want to work together with and get what you want. I for one don’t believe in power rotation, I believe in the best and we have the best everywhere. Everybody has an opportunity to participate to throw himself up for the office of the president of Nigeria. I don’t believe that a Hausa man must be president before I realise my potential to become whoever I want to be. I don’t believe that a Yoruba man can truncate my future, even within the practice of federalism that we are, there are so many settings that protect my interest. I think we dwell more on imaginary fears. Afterall, Obasanjo had eight years, nothing changed my life for the worse, my religion did not change, my being Hausa/Fulani did not change. They have the right to ask for it, they also have the right to reach out, they have the right to participate in joining the most popular party which is the APC. you don’t belong, and you say you must get the highest office, I mean, I don’t think it is correct.
How did Matawalle get it wrong in dealing with the situation in the state, especially the most challenging insecurity?
I don’t want to dwell so much on the security situation in the state because of its sensitive nature. The federal government is doing its own best by mobilising more troops both air and land personnel and resources, and they are making tremendous progress there. His own style of negotiation with the bandits is neither here nor there. It is something others have done before which did not work. You say you have negotiated with bandits, they have surrendered so-so amounts of weapons and then the next hour you hear that they have struck somewhere. In actual governance, there is much to be desired. If you go to the state, apart from social media projects that were being executed and commissioned, you will not see anything in terms of projects going on. The government has not done anything. He does not stay in the state to protect the common man, to see how he can mobilise the resources and people to generate income within the state. The state is burdened by debts from the previous governor and the one he too is accumulating at a speed faster than light. And when money is collected, the first thing you hear is they have bought 200 cars, nothing pertaining to the welfare and wellbeing of the people of the state If he wants to do projects, he will be busy renovating public buildings spending huge amounts of money.