Abdulkadir Abdulsalam is the National Chairman of the Labour Party of Nigeria. He is of the opinion that it would be wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to visit President Barak Obama of the United States of America and come back home to agitate for the cancellation of the 14-year jail term imposed by the Constitution of Nigeria on those caught engaging in same sex. He canvassed for death penalty for those found guilty of the crime instead of the 14 years prescribed by the Constitution. In this interview with EMMANUEL IRIOGBE, Abdulsalam argues that with what is happening across the country, that it has become clear that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not prepared to govern the country at the time power was placed on their lap.
Nigerians have been saying that President Muhammadu Buhari is slow as far as governance is concerned, do you share this view?
Even if General Buhari is doing his best, his best is not sufficient enough, because I expected him to have performed better than this. For somebody who contested for the presidency three times in the past and still dragging feet in his administration, I expected him and his party from the time they were elected to put so many things in place. Even the problems we are presently facing in the National Assembly would not have cropped up. All the trips he is embarking on are also unnecessary. He has received the Chadian, Niger and other Heads of governments in the sub region as visitors and paying back such visits are unnecessary. Looking at his trip to Germany, what will they give us? We have been invited to the G7 meetings in the past, what have we benefited from them other than loans and treating us like second class citizens of the world.
The Supreme Court in the United States of America (USA) has just passed the same sex law, legalizing a union between people of same sex. Buhari will be embarking on a visit to the US at the invitation of President Barak Obama, now there is this fear that Obama may tie future aids to the country to the approval of gay rights in the country. Do you think sir that Buhari will be able to look America in the face and tell them no?
On the issue you just raised, I am sure that President Buhari knows better than that. He won’t tie Nigeria’s progress to gay rights, because it will definitely not be acceptable to Nigerians. We will not tolerate it, we will not take it, because it is alien to our culture or tradition. Let them practice their gay rights there. I want to believe that President Buhari will not even listen to that kind of nonsense.
As Labour Party that is one way or the other affiliated to the Labour Union, what will you do if President Buhari returns from his visit to Obama and says that the 14 years imprisonment for those that practice same sex in the country should be stepped down?
No, don’t even contemplate it. Buhari cannot impose that on Nigerians, because it has to go to the National Assembly for consideration, the 14 years to me should be converted to death penalty, because 14 years is not sufficient enough, but I expect General Buhari to urgently put things in place so that the country can move forward. We are presently moving at a very slow place.
Do you see progress in the fight against Boko Haram?
The killings are still going on in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. I don’t think this administration has achieved anything significant as far as Boko Haram is concerned. Apart from the achievement he met, there is nothing of significance that he can point to that he has added. To what extent has the coming into the fray of Niger, Chad and Cameroon stopped the entire thing, let us see stoppage. He gave timeline when Boko Haram will be crushed; we have gone beyond the timeline he gave.
President Buhari did give as a campaign promise that unemployed Nigerians will be paid N5000 by his administration.
Interjects, yes he did promised N5000 to unemployed Nigerians, that has not materialised after 4 weeks, he said $1 will be equivalent to N1, that has not materialised. All the promises he made with timeline, not one has materialised nor seen the light of the day. His change is a slow one; it has not translated to practical reality.
Do you think the removal of President Buhari of himself from the crises in the National Assembly is in the best interest of the average Nigerian citizen?
Buhari’s removal of himself from the crises is to the best interest of Nigerians. However, the totality of the matter is that, his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not plan to govern because till this moment, they still see themselves as being in the opposition. Their National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun will issue a letter today, tomorrow, he counters the letter. The question is; is that the change we are expecting from them. APC is not ready to govern this country. They should come to us in the Labour Party for tutelage in opposition and everything with regards to governance. It is also unfortunate that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is criticising Buhari at this point in time after they have destroyed our economy structurally for 16 years, they now recourse to condemn and criticise General Buhari. I think PDP should go back to the drawing board and calculate what they have attained to make this country great for the 16 years they destroyed this country.
What would your party the Labour Party have done differently if they were given the opportunity to be in power?
The moment we know that we are about to take over government, we will have our strategy on the ground; our policy will take care of how we will implement every aspect of it. In the event of when we win, we will begin to invite foreigners to come and join hands with us to begin to implement policies that will govern Nigeria, before that we understand the yearnings, hopes and aspirations of every community in the country because it is easy to do. We have structures, offices in every local government and in every state to relate with community that when we assume power, it becomes easy for us.
Some sections of the media is awash with the news that the Buhari administration has began gradual Northernisation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) through the appointment of Northerners’ to key positions at the expense of other sections of the country. In your opinion, is this true?
No I don’t think so, whether I am from the North or the South doesn’t matter, I am not a tribalist. Let those who can do the job be given the job, pure and simple. It is high time we stopped giving mediocres the job. If it is Southerners 100 percent that can do the job, let them be given the job, same thing if it is the Northerners that can do the job, but it shouldn’t be based on sycophancy.