‘I believe APC will collapse, just a matter of time’  – Sen. Kaita (Interview)

Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita is the senator representing Katsina North, the senatorial district of President Muhammadu Buhari. He was one of the founding members of the All Progressive Congress, APC. In this interview, he explains why he dumped his party for the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP and predicts that the  collapse of APC is eminent and only a matter of time. He also spoke on overbearing power of governors and other national issues. Haruna Salami captured the mood.

Q: Today you formally decamped to PDP from the APC at Senate plenary. Being the senator representing Katsina North, the senatorial district of President Buhari, I’m surprised. What really happened?

A: Well, in politics, there is nothing to be surprising because politics is local. My defection had to do with the crisis of APC and gladly, it’s not only me, but so many people who are part and parcel of the foundation of the APC. We came with the intention of reforming the ills that were done by the PDP, but we have surpassed PDP in those ills as at today. You will agree with me as Nigerians who have been participating in political development of this country what the APC as a party has done. I regretted my action of defection because of only one person (Mr. President), otherwise, the decision I took is for the good of the people I represent, the good of the Senate and the good of my country.

I believe APC will collapse, it’s just a matter of time. I’m not speculating; I have been in this game for almost 20 years now and I know that the same road that PDP took to its sudden death is the same route APC is taking now. So, there is nothing APC can do at this point to salvage itself. It has so many chances of redeeming itself, but all the warning signs they have just deliberately decided to ignore. You know power usually corrupts and that is what is happening in APC. Part of the reasons why APC found itself in this mess is the failure to check its governors in various states.

This is the result. Those who are really concerned about the fate  APC, what will become of it, we are cautioning here and there that anything that did not lead PDP who were lucky to have a lot of resources, who found themselves at the time Nigerians were yearning for democracy could not survive it , what more of us who came when there were little resources and people are even wondering what this democracy is all about if we cannot get food on our table. We enjoyed enormous goodwill from Nigerians, but unfortunately Mr. President has people who are supposed to help him. We have so many challenges as at today … I’m a  very blunt person, my loyalty is to the people first before anybody. I have always operated like this. So, I’m not new to this kind of decision. I decided to fight my governor, only me alone because I will not yield to any power; the seat here does not concern me, what concerns me is the legacy I leave in the state. Alhamdulillahi, I’m satisfied and my people can testify. Whether I come back or I don’t come back, I want to be judged by history that at very critical point I always take the most popular decision not as an individual, but with the people. If we have anything to do in future, it is not to allow governors to hijack the party and secondly we should be accountable to our constituents. Recall that I was among the few people who were championing the cause of direct primaries because that would have really produced the kind of candidates that the populace want, but all the things you see today are mostly sham primaries. I’m afraid to say this has gone beyond APC. In other political parties too, this is the trend. Let’s be very honest here, but as a ruling party, you are supposed to lead by example. If you fail to deliver in your moral calling then you should expect others to follow suit. So, I’m glad I’m under PDP, I was given a ticket free, though I didn’t want a free ticket. I wanted to contest, but there was no opponent. I didn’t leave APC because I could lose election, no. I left because I was trying to run for governor and there was a deliberate plot by the sitting governor to make sure that he sidelined me. Of course, when I went to PDP, it was late then, but I got the Senate ticket. I said to PDP I will never accept any ticket that was given to me on a platter of gold. I wanted to compete, but then all the aspirants decided that I’m a good candidate to run. I’m grateful to them.

Q: Beyond your defection because of your gubernatorial ambition, there is the bigger picture that the defection wave by APC chieftains to other parties is a bigger narrative of what will happen to APC flagbearer going forward. Is that part of the plot?

A: Well, I won’t say no, but let me again insist that all politics is local and in politics the only permanent thing is interest. People who feel sidelined in their parties, especially after so much investment in the party …I was in Congress for Progressive Change, CPC before I joined APC and so many others chieftains, but you can look at one very sad point, if APC cannot protect its leader, the leader that led it in the National Assembly, who is supposed to have influence all over the nation, the party cannot protect him and cannot even provide a level democratic field that he can even compete, then you know something is fundamentally wrong. This kind of development was the trend in every state because the governor will want to use their power to chose who they want even at the detriment or against the wish if the people. That is not party. I think PDP will take advantage of that, no doubt. There will be more defections in the coming weeks on the floor of the Senate, that I can guarantee you. This is mostly not selfish because every politician wants to be given a level playing field, especially if you are doing well. Most of these senators are doing well. I know we have some bad eggs among us, but majority are doing very well. So, why will a governor sit at one corner of his house and say so, so person … I’m sure you have seen a video clip going round where a senator knelt down and was begging one of the governors who I’m sure is far senior and was in political arena before he emerged, yet the governor was telling him no. This is the biggest problem of APC and starts right from the ward level to the national level.

Q: So, the APC lawmakers are protesting against the leadership of the party?

A: Yes, in a way they are registering their protest, but  beyond that, you see politics is local; if your interest is blocked without justification, it is only natural for you to seek an alternative. This is what took us out of the party.