Rasaq Muse is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former national vice chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), South West. In this interview, he speaks about the party’s chances in the 2015 presidential election.
How would you describe the journey so far since the merger of your former party, CPC, ACN and ANPP?
The road has not been smooth. It is like having husband and wife who just got married. That is when they are going to know each other better. It is a give and take situation, and where people don’t want to give, you ask. Bringing three parties together to form one is not easy. It involves lots of sacrifices.
Somebody like me I’ve actually not been happy with some developments, but I’ve chosen to stay focused and make sacrifice, because rather than becoming part of the problem, I should be part of the solution. We have gone a long way to deliver APC, and we are genuinely committed that the party delivers Nigeria.
Of course, I am aware of complaints by members of legacy parties of sidelining. I think this is one area the party leadership should look into across the country. My own position has often been that where the defunct CPC was predominant, members of former ACN and ANPP should be co-opted into the system, and where ACN used to be predominant, former members of CPC and ANPP should as well be co-opted vis-à-vis for ANPP too.
As a chieftain of the party, I had succeeded in letting former members of CPC realize the need for them to sacrifice in their respective states where ACN was previously dominant. So, with our determination to sacrifice and readiness to make use of internal mechanism to resolve issues, I’m sure, we are all fine.
Are you not worried that people have started saying there is little or no difference between PDP and APC as a party?
Of course there is obvious difference. And the simple comparison that could be drawn in that light is that the APC has controlled Lagos State since 1999 and the Federal Government is being controlled by PDP. If you do that and evaluate the percentage of differences between the two, you will see a wide margin of success on the part of APC government.
Also, if you look at some of the APC controlled states, even when the governors have spent only one term, we can see the level of development in such states. So, given another four years, we will see complete and genuine transformation. I can tell you that given a span of eight years, APC will completely transform Nigeria.
How do you see your party resolving the skepticism on how it can survive the challenge of selecting its presidential candidate?
We are all aware that there are few contenders for the slot. But for me, I think what the leadership of the party, the supporters and indeed the whole Nigerians should be asking contenders for APC presidential ticket are three salient questions. The first being that among these contenders, how many of them can deliver votes to defeat PDP?
Again, another question to be asked is that among these candidates, who can actually fight corruption? And to do this, you must have no skeleton in your cupboard. You must be a leader that is contented. You must be a leader that is not greedy. Also, you must be a leader that is above board. So, the question is that among the contenders who can fight corruption frontally?
Lastly, who among these contenders is ready to lead by example? This is because one of the greatest challenges we are facing in the country today is the fact that we are lacking leaders who are ready to lead by example. This is not a leader that will ask his followers to sacrifice while he goes around and lives in affluence.
So, whether it is General Buhari, or former Vice President Atiku Abubakar or Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, these are salient criteria people will like to measure them on.
It is believed that the South West will be a battleground for APC and PDP in 2015; how prepared is your party for this challenge?
In 2011, the calculation was that if the merger being worked out by the then ACN and CPC had worked and we were able to merge the strength of APC in North West and South West where there are over 50 percent registered voters, and where both parties have significant influence, General Buhari would have easily cruised to victory. But the merger or alliance did not sail through; that was why people had to vote freely, especially in the South West.
Also, in the North, President Jonathan was able to make some in-road, because some of the governors then supported him on the basis of one term agreement he had with them. But now it is going to be a different ball game. That is why it would have been very wise for PDP to present a presidential candidate from the North.
For me, a winning ticket in the 2015 election is a northern presidential candidate who is supported by southern candidate.
With the impression being created that APC is a Muslim party, how acceptable do you think a northern Muslim presidential candidate would be to the South West voters?
Sometimes I get amused when I see enlightened people raising the same issue you have raised. For me, this is all propaganda. Today, the national chairman of APC is a seasoned Christian. So, if Buhari becomes president today, will he turn Nigeria to an Islamic state even though major stakeholders in his own party are Christians?
Even in military regimes, taken such a decision is very difficult not to talk of civilian administration whereby before a president takes a decision, he will need to resort to both Houses of the National Assembly. That is nothing but mere propaganda!
Somebody like General Buhari for instance has Christian domestic servants. He attends Christian functions. In 2011, his running mate was a well known pastor. If he actually wanted to turn the country to Islamic country, how is he going to do that? This is part of the propaganda PDP is even likely to use in 2015, and I can assure you that it will fail.
Despite calling CPC a northern political party, while I was its national vice chairman, we were able to build over 300, 000 members for the party within the South West geo-political zone. People in the South West vote for candidates basically on principle of performance. Such propaganda, using ethno-religious tactic won’t work against us and neither will it work for PDP in the South West.
There are fears that the APC presidential primary may lead to crisis if some of the aspirants don’t get what they want; what is your position on this?
Like I said earlier, the three factors to look out for should be who can deliver vote that will beat PDP hands down, who has no skeleton and can fight corruption frontally, and who is ready to be a leader that will lead by examples. These are the criteria I believe delegates who might want to participate in the primary will ask themselves and will certainly want to work on. Whosoever emerges will have no reason to complain.
However, some of us will want these aspirants, with the support of leaders in the party, to come together, talk to one another and at the end of the day present one of them that will face the PDP and any other political party in the general election.