Festus Keyamo is Minister of State for Labour and Employment and spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council. He speaks with STEPHEN ANGBULU on the recent exit of the party’s campaign Director of Civil Society Organisations, Naja’atu Mohammed
Recently, one of the directors of the Presidential Campaign Council, Naja’atu Mohammed, exited her role on the council. Was there internal wrangling before her announcement? What were the events leading to her exit?
There was no internal wrangling. She had already been identified as the mole before then. They had told her orally to leave.
Members of our directorate had complained. She has not been an important member of the structure of the party before. She lobbied for that position. She chased Asiwaju all the way to London to lobby for that position. But all along, the council kept an eye on her. They knew she was a mole.
So, if she went to London and saw that there was something wrong with Asiwaju, why did she come back to accept the position and waited four months before backing out?
What she went to London to do was to grovel and lobby. We don’t see people who are worth their salt pursuing Asiwaju all over the globe. Why did she not meet him in Nigeria? Why chase him to London?
Naja’atu accused Tinubu of being inaccessible. She was quoted as having said, “It is easier to see Prophet Mohammed (SAW).” What do you say to this?
Isn’t he holding town hall meetings with Nigerians? These are Nigerians he is meeting. He is accessible. But when you want to meet someone, it has to be arranged.
For this interview, we had an arrangement to meet at this time. I didn’t jump on you, and you didn’t jump on me. We agreed on a time that was convenient for both of us. And we are talking. So, I don’t understand when some people say Asiwaju is not accessible.
On her way out, Naja’atu accused Tinubu of being an emperor, an autocratic leader in terms of controlling the governorship structure of Lagos State.
Let me ask a very sincere question. I want people to be very honest with themselves. Which political leader in Nigeria has not tried to plant a successor?
Whether it was Obasanjo when he was leaving for Yar’Adua or someone else, all the state governors from Sokoto to Cross Rivers, Borno, Kwara, Lagos, and Delta have made conscious attempts to promote a successor. Asiwaju has only promoted a successor. And he has been very lucky to have loyal successors. Others have not been lucky, which is why they turn on him with envy and jealousy.
For others, the people they supported turned around to bite them. In 99 per cent of the states in Nigeria, all their successors have turned against them. Back then, in APGA, Peter Obi planted his successor, Willie Obiano. Obiano turned around and pushed him out of APGA.
The only difference between Asiwaju and all of them is that, by God’s grace, he has been lucky to have extremely loyal successors because he has a Midas touch. Do you know why most of them revolted?
Based on the reports that we have, the demand from their successor was choking. Some of them wanted to control the treasury. But if Asiwaju was that greedy, how is Lagos developing?
Perhaps we should use this as a guide to look at Asiwaju. He must be doing something right.
Though we are only three weeks away from the election, the Muslim-Muslim ticket of your party is still an issue of concern to many Nigerians. What do you think?
I think this is an issue that has been dead and buried. I saw a pastor praying online for Asiwaju this morning. Churches are praying for him. Both Christians and Muslims are praying for him.
We have advanced enough arguments about his wife being a pastor. His children are Christians. If you have a Christian vice president, it does not balance power with the president because the president is the Chief Executive Officer. The vice president is his subordinate. What power can he share with the President? The matter, to us, is dead and buried.
Tinubu recently said the CBN naira policy and fuel scarcity were designed to thwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s electoral victory. Does this not show that the APC is divided against itself since the two issues raised are linked to the APC-led government?
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There are elements within the system that are sympathetic to the opposition. And these may not be APC members. And so when the allegation is made about the people in the Aso Rock Villa, people don’t know that when you win an election and move into the villa, you also meet bureaucrats on the ground there.
There are directors in the villa who are not members of a political party. So everybody in the villa is not an APC member. But the public does not know this.
They are people who normally function like technocrats within the villa. When you move in, you’ll see them there. They are permanent staff, civil servants who ensure continuity.
However, the opposition has been wishing and praying for a crisis to strike us. So once they hear anything like this they say ‘e don happen.’ It’s a lie. It is not indicative of any crisis we’re having.
What most people do not realise is that government policies are developed and implemented by 95 percent of people who are not party members.
What people don’t know is that when you have a government, 95 per cent of the people in that government officials who implement policies are not members of the political parties. They are bureaucrats who we meet on the ground.
And so when you have government policy, all you have is, for example, a minister who is a political appointee and is a member of the party most of the time.
One or two Ministers may not be members of the party. They may just be technocrats. But most times, they are members of the party. And then we have some heads of agencies that may not be members of the party but are political appointees.
Below that stratum of political heads, you now have permanent secretaries, directors, and so many civil servants who are not members of the political party.
When you accuse a system of trying to frustrate a government policy or making sure it does not function, it is not necessarily the political party you are complaining against. It does not indicate that APC is turning against itself. No, it is not.
What is the PCC doing to overcome the elements in the villa that Governor El-Rufai accused of working against Tinubu?
Our job is to call them out so that they know that people are watching them. We are aware of their devices. We are aware of their cunning tricks and ways. We want them to correct their ways.
Will you try to win them over? Is that what you’re saying?
Ours is to summon them to do their job effectively. We’re not winning anybody over. We don’t have to beg anyone. Let them do their job to ensure that the Nigerian people are served.
Do you think that the scarcity of Naira notes would impede campaigns and electoral activities in the APC before February 25?
We’re not concerned about the campaign. We’re concerned about ordinary Nigerians and their access to the funds. It’s not a selfish crusade. It’s a well-intentioned policy. We support the president.
We are only looking at the timeframe for implementation and ordinary Nigerians. I heard Governor El-Rufai say that in one massive local government, you just have one bank that people have to travel miles to reach. In some local governments in this country, there are no banks at all. That’s why we are appealing for more time.
What would you say is the singular obstacle to Asiwaju’s victory?
I see none. The president is behind him. All the APC governors are behind him. All the members of the National Working Committee committee is behind him. All the members of the National Executive Committees are behind him. All of the important structures of the APC are behind him. No, I don’t see any obstacles. ,
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