The acting national chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party NNPP, Alhaji Abba Kawu Alli, in this interview with ‘TAOFEEK LAWAL, talks about reports that the presidential cnadiadte of the party, Dr Musa Kwankwaso may return to the All Progressives Party (APC), the scramble for the principal offices in the National Assembly, and other germane issues.
Unlike the Peoples Democratic (PDP and the Labour Party (LP), the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) appears not to be so much concerned with what is going on at the Presidential Election PetitionTribunal. Can one then conclude that you are comfortable with the outcome and manner in the election was handled?
First and foremost, during the election, I was not the national chairman; I was the national vice-chairman (North-East). I started acting in this capacity (as national chairman) when the election was concluded. But in any case, I must say that Nigerians and the media are fully aware of what happened to NNPP during the election. I can say that our own is even worse because not that we kept silent but we made a lot of comments on the outcome of the election. Let me start with the presidential election. As you are aware, we had a serious setback with our logo during the election. In fact, many of our supporters, Nigerians and our well wishers, voters and those willing to vote for our presidential candidate, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, actually found it difficult to identify our logo and we didn’t actually expect that this will happen. Even our presidential candidate said he also found it difficult to even identify the party’s logo. We had this case nationwide, it is all over. There are some places you only find our logo (though not the correct one) but no NNPP written.
Coming to the governorship elections, in my state (Borno), the NNPP logo was not on the ballot paper. No logo, no NNPP, it was just completely blank. How do you expect our supporters to vote for our candidate? Of course there is no way because we don’t have any identity on the ballot paper. It is the reason we are challenging the Borno State governorship election in court. Maybe you didn’t hear much about what we are doing, but we have said a lot. I could remember that even our national publicity secretary (Major Agbo), the former national chairman Prof Rufa’i Ahmed Alkali have said a lot on the presidential election. We have been speaking about the outcome and this we will continue to do in order to prevent what happened in future elections.
Then, what are you doing to challenge the outcome of the presidential election?
As I have said, INEC is aware of what we are saying and I know they (INEC) have taken note of what we have said so far. Though we have not got the positive response we expected from INEC but we believe with our comments and what we have said and still saying, INEC will take note of that.
Are you saying that you are at the Election Tribunal challenging the outcome of the election?
I cannot say that the outcome of the election is okay because I have already told you our challenges. How can you expect me to go for election without a proper logo? Logo means a lot to our party. It is the identity of our party. Without logo during election, you are nowhere and that is exactly what happened to our party. Have you heard our presidential candidate, Senator Kwakwanso, congratulating the president-elect? It means we are in the same space with other political parties because none of our party officials came out officially to congratulate the APC about the outcome of the election.
There are reports that your candidate in the presidential poll, Dr Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, is under intense pressure to return to the All Progressives congress (APC); that the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has opened discussion with him on this?
I believe Kwakwanso has passed the stage where somebody will convince him to rejoin a political party. Though he is a human being and everybody has his choice and rights, he is not that kind of person that you will just say is under pressure. No amount of pressure will make him dump his ideology, principles, politics and ambition. I must tell you that this could be a fake story. Coming to APC, you and I and Nigerians knew how we built the NNPP within a year even in less than a year, to become what it is today. We came up with this party, built our structures, and put everything in place through congresses and conventions and through normal legal procedures that a political party needs to come on board. We had series of sleepless nights to bring NNPP on board. I believe what NNPP has achieved as a political party in Nigeria within the short time has not happened in this country before. All these are made possible through the political experience, commitment and political exposure of Senator Kwakwanso and his allies like Engineer Buba Galadima; the immediate past national chairman, Professor Alkali; the Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Chief Boniface Aniebonam and so many other people.
Within a year, we now have a governor-elect in Kano; we are about taking over Taraba State. Taraba was almost for NNPP, but due to some political activities, INEC announced PDP. I want to assure you that we are still in court challenging the result of the governorship election. It is very clear and there are evidences to prove this. It will also interest you to know that we have a case of local government election in Niger State. We are in court pertaining to two local government councils, Suleja and Gurara. Just last week, INEC confirmed that our candidate won the election in Gurara and even Certificate of Return has already been issued to him. We are expecting any moment from now that of Suleja. To be frank, we have done a lot to put the party in shape with the contributions of Senator Kwankwaso as I have said. With all these, I don’t think and I repeat that Kwankwaso cannot just join a political party when he has put a lot in its own and build it to this stage. Anything can happen in politics you know; there are mergers, alliances or whatever and if the need arises, that is clearly another issue. But based on my experience working with Kwakwanso, he is not just that cheap or simple that he will abandon his ship.
The 10th National Assembly will be inaugurated in June. Which direction will your lawmakers be voting? Are you going to work with other opposition parties to produce the leadership of the 10th Assembly?
You know in the National Assembly, all the positions especially that of the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are occupied by the ruling party. They are mostly in the majority. But I can say that it may not even be the ruling party but any party that has the majority numbers. I know we don’t have the majority.
But don’t you think you can team up with other opposition parties as they now have more members-elect than the ruling APC?
About two weeks ago, a coalition of House of Representatives’ members-elect Youth Caucus paid a courtesy call on me. They came up with the idea of getting the support of our party during the election for the leadership of the House, especially for the young members to have a say in the National Assembly. The caucus cuts across party lines. The chairman of the forum is a PDP member; some of them are APC, others. What I’m saying in essence is that we can cooperate with other parties to form the leadership of the National Assembly to allow democracy to move forward. You cannot just say because you are in the minority, you are not concerned and fold your hands. It doesn’t help the democratic process. I know our members will cooperate with their colleagues and do the needful.
What is next for your party, now that you have a governor-elect, 18 House of Reps members-elect, two senators-elect and some members-elect in some states considering the fact that there will be governorship elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa later in the year?
We are on course to win all the three states. Preparations are in top gear. Just recently, we conducted our governorship primaries by following due electoral process from ward congresses to the screening of aspirants down to the primaries proper. We have already come out with our candidates. We are at the process of uploading the candidates’ names to INEC. The National Secretary and I are already talking with the INEC officials to finalise our uploading. We are fully prepared to face the coming elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa. We are putting all the necessary machineries on ground to face the elections.
Your party had parallel governorship primaries in Kogi State.
We have almost resolved it. You know NNPP is a very peaceful party and a model for other political parties because we lead by example. Whatever will lead to separation, cause trouble are quickly addressed in NNPP.
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