Senator Rufai Hanga represented Kano Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly from 2003 to 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He later decamped to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) where he emerged the first national chairman of the party. He speaks with CHINELO OBOGO on the planned merger of the opposition parties and other national issues.
I may still make it to the Senate
It is not the end of me yet; so, anything can happen. I may still go back to the Senate. After all, I am still in politics. I will never be tired of contributing my quota to issues of national development. Tomorrow is still pregnant and we cannot tell what it will bring. But for now, I am the National Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Between Tony Momoh and I
I am currently in court, challenging the legality of their purported convention, which they claimed they held. I am asking the court to decide the legitimacy of the status of the leadership of the CPC.
I recall that INEC wrote to say they should not have held the convention because they did not conduct the congresses of the party. You and I know that congresses produce the delegates to the convention. The rule says you must hold congresses in not less than 20 states of the federation. But this was not the case. So, where did they get the delegates to the convention?
We told them that as far as they did not hold the congresses to produce delegates to the convention, there was no way that the outcome of the convention would be deemed to be legal.
I was the national chairman and I am still the National Chairman of the CPC. They only appointed a caretaker chairman to act on my behalf briefly when I was away then. I came back to find someone on my chair as the national chairman.
I really do not want to cause any havoc for the party. But if I am not wanted as the national chairman, I will be ready to go, but not until a congress is held to elect delegates for a convention. They have refused to hold a congress. What they did was to go out on the streets and recruit people as party delegates. That is what I am challenging in court.
Following what they said was a convention, INEC wrote them that they had not held congresses in 20 states and, therefore, they could not possibly claim to have held a convention.
The Tony Momoh-led exco is not proper because there were no congresses to produce the delegates to elect them. They picked the delegates from the streets to the convention. That is why I am telling you that we remain the authentic leaders of the party. As we speak, my vice national chairman is still in office as well as the national secretary. All other principal officers of the party are in office. So, what does that tell you about who the party recognises?
We are in court, challenging them and as law-abiding citizens, we cannot afford to go on the street and protest or cause any havoc. As a person, I am not going to impose myself on the party but what I want to see done is to ensure that the proper thing is done. I am not desperate for office.
How to achieve merger with other parties
I am strongly in support of our proposed merger with other parties and I want to see it materialise because we want a change in the country.
Between other parties in the merger talks and both factions of CPC
I have tried to tell the ACN, the ANPP and, in fact, APGA, that they may be discussing with the wrong people because it is my sincere desire to see the merger process materialise. But what we want and request to see is the merger exercise to be consistent with the Electoral Act and within the existing legal parameters. So, if the other parties are sincere, they should see that the right thing is done, after all, there are legal procedures to a merger and we can only wait and see if they will comply with them.
I am optimistic about the merger plans
I will tell you what happened in 2011, because I was directly involved as the National Chairman in the alliance discussion with the ACN and others. We (the members of the executive) agreed in principle that we were coming together and we almost sealed it but along the line, some people, who surrounded General Muhammadu Buhari, manipulated him and told him that we were not the ones to be discussing with the ACN leaders and others. They said they would conclude the discussion and bring it to us for our approval.
I really could not understand what they meant. We had already agreed in principle that Buhari would stand as the presidential candidate while Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s group would produce the running mate. They later went behind to say that Buhari would contest and there was nothing to discuss further and if any group wanted to join, they should say so. They became so arrogant as if they had already won the election.
At the end, they went outside what was discussed to appoint someone outside the ACN as Buhari’s running mate. That was how the process collapsed and CPC was not any better for it. Again, these same people are still going round Buhari, trying to manipulate him.
That is why true leaders of the party want to get involved in the merger discussion and make it a reality. Those angling to be part of the discussion are not sincere. So, if we allow them to continue in their deceit, the merger talks will not work because they do not mean well for the arrangement. We have the instrument to the merger and we want to merge and we are determined to see the merger succeed.
So, I am highly optimistic because all the parties to the merger are ready to surrender their certificates to INEC and fuse into one party. The ANPP is willing to surrender its certificate, same as the ACN, the CPC as well as the APGA.
It is just a matter of time and we will all surrender our certificates and come out on one platform and as a new party. The last time the alliance did not work because we were in the eve of an election and also because some people were selfish. But it is not going to be like that again as we are going to collapse into one big party.
Nothing is going to stop me from surrendering the certificate of CPC to INEC in a bid to forge a successful merger. As I speak, the certificate is deposited in a bank and I have written a Will stating that if I die, my children should collect it and hand it over to INEC for the purpose of a merger.
In Nigeria today, we know that the strongest opposition party is the ACN, which is why I told my son that if I die any moment, he should give the certificate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to surrender to INEC for the purpose of forming a merger. The merger is already a reality and nobody can stop it now, not even the PDP.
What surrendering certificates of registration by the merging parties mean
We are going to have a single candidate as soon as we fuse into one party. And what that means is that all the supporters of the three or four political parties will yield their votes and support to a single candidate to emerge from the merger exercise. There will be a strong synergy as all the different candidates that hitherto contested on their individual platform will pool their followers for a single and strong candidate.
The whole North will never vote for the PDP this time around. When the entire South-west, South-east vote for a single candidate, you can only imagine the kind of landslide that will be witnessed. Come 2015, the PDP will become the smallest minority party in Nigeria, you just wait and see. From their claim of being the biggest party in Africa, they will become the smallest party in Nigeria.
With most of the parties being deregistered, PDP will crash from being the biggest to the smallest party in Nigeria.
Why the North is opposed to state creation
On state creation, the argument has been that you just do not create state for the sake of it or on the basis of regions or zones simply because you want to satisfy some people.
There must be standards for creating these states such as population and land mass. Let me give you an instance, while you can traverse the entire South-east and South South in just one day, you cannot traverse one state in the North-west in one day.
Secondly, a state like Akwa Ibom has 31 council areas, yet the entire population of the state is not more than two million people. And if you put the population of the entire South-south zone together, it is not up to that of Kano State. Again, the entire land mass is not up to Kano State. That is just the simple argument and so, you cannot go about creating states on the basis of regions, ethnicity or zones.
You will also agree with me that it is grossly unfair to have one Senator representing just two local governments, while one Senator will represent about 16 local governments in the North. The same also holds for one Senator representing one million people while elsewhere, five million people have one Senator representing them.