The controversy as to who is the official spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), after the exit of its former spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has continued to generate disagreement between the leadership of the party. The Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, in this interview, explains that constitutionally he remains spokesperson of the party, among other issues. Umar Muhammad Puma was there.
Most Nigerians still feel that the APC has not managed its victory well, talking about crisis the party has had since it came to power in May. For instance, the National Assembly crisis, even within APC. How would you react to this?
Well it’s normal, it’s a very big party, you cannot just get it right over night, we are just a party less than a year after getting such kind of big victory, in the process of putting things together you must have aggrieved members, you must have so many issues.
The internal issues we have, we have been able to manage it to some certain extent, there are internal issues but again I can tell you clearly as a party that has people with different ideologies we have been able to understand that we are ready for this change and we are ready to give Nigeria about the best and with the kind of strong leadership we have, you can see the President is a powerful president, a powerful senate President and Speaker, with the team we have, we are ready to give Nigeria whatever promise we have made.
How do you see the outcome of the Bayelsa election and the performance of the party?
I think this was the beginning of the battle, the battle is not yet over. We ran election and we are waiting for INEC to give us a new date by the grace of God, that local government is a very big one and has a lot of votes.
We must have lost in the other 6 local governments as at now but we are still hopeful that if we come together as a party, I can tell you clearly that the only reason why we even lost the local governments we have lost, before today I have made it very clear that there are internal crisis in Bayelsa.
Till today, our governorship candidate after the primaries has not spoken to me, up till today there are so many people aggrieved in the party. But again there are so many who do not have the guts to speak out and that is why we have lost in those areas we have lost.
If we came together as one if we have united ourselves before the election and every member happy, what happened in Bayelsa would not have happened.
We are still hopeful that if we go back, I pray that candidate himself would correct whatever loopholes or mistake he must have done you know to put our party in this situation.
Now that we are expecting a local government that has a huge vote, if we do very well within this very short period to correct our wrongs I believe that we can still get victory.
The President has made about N500 billion available for school children’s feeding and N5, 000 promised to vulnerable Nigerians, do you think the government will be able to sustain this?
I can tell you very clearly that for the President to come out with this kind of budget he has committed himself to Nigerians and he is also trying to keep his promise to Nigerians and he is also trying to see how he can turn around things to make sure the promises come to pass.
He has competent hands you can see he has been travelling from one country to another looking for solutions to our country.
It is not going to be an issue because at the end of the day he has a team, his team can deliver, they are going to look for a means of sourcing these funds that he has promised Nigerians, we going to appeal to Nigerians is to give him the opportunity to see how he is going to achieve whatever he must have said. Let’s just give him a chance and be hopeful that Mr. President keeps to his word.
Are you satisfied with the way the party calmed the situation in Kogi state?
We were not prepared for what happened in Kogi state, as a party we had to take a decision, even if the party takes XYZ as candidate people will still go to court, people will still be aggrieved so we cannot be stagnant as a party.
We had to come up with a decision, whatever decision we have taken we consulted widely we spoke to the people of Kogi state, as a party we have taken a position it is left for the aggrieved to challenge it in the court of law. Whatever the outcome maybe we respect the rule of law.
Whatever the judiciary come out to say, as a party I think we will abide by it.
The past government with all its flaws made progress with the women, but since your party came in sir I don’t see the women going anywhere, is there anything for the women? Also the youth said that this government has not carried them along that they are disappointed. Are you disappointed?
Yes as a person and on my own personal opinion, but I will make it known to you that I believe that the President knows the impact of the Nigerian youths, he knows the impact of the Nigerian women.
We have so many offices still there so I won’t criticise the President for now until we see who are our board members, who will be the board chairmen that would head the parastatals and so forth.
Let’s give the President the benefit of doubt to see how this inhumane position, if at the end of the day we see as Nigerians that the youths are not taken along, the women have not been taken along, then at that point in time everybody knows who I am I am not going to keep quiet despite that I am in the party I’m going to speak out.
The President must have learnt from the reaction over his recent appointments; the ministerial appointments but again I can tell you clearly let’s not be disappointment now.
There are opinions that the party after 6 months in government is supposed to setup a BOT and fill the vacant positions, when is the APC going to fill the positions and the BOT come on board?
I can tell you that we will be doing that anytime from now, discussions are on I think we don’t want to get it very wrong we want to get it very right.
As a party we are consulting to put things in place so that by the time we form this team, we will bring people of capable hands to run the party affairs, we want to bring people that would harmonise the current situation of the party.
At the end of the day we will come up with a fantastic BOT chairman, I don’t know who will emerge at the BOT chairman but who ever will emerge will be competent and put the party together as one. That is the reason why we are taking our time.
We have been having issues on who is the official spokesperson of the party, you sometimes send statements to us and the secretary does, are there issues on who the official spokesperson is?
Our party constitution is very clear, anybody that does not understand the party constitution within the party or anybody that is still thinking who is the acting spokesperson or acting spokesperson.
Today I am the spokesperson of the party, I’m the acting spokesperson of the party I can tell you without fear or favour that when the substantive person in the office of the national chairman or the national secretary or anybody that is not there, the deputy takes over automatically.
This is the principle of the party constitution we have this also existing today in the PDP, you could see that when Muazu was not there Secondus today is acting for the party, so there is no difference, Lai Mohammad Is not there so automatically I’m the acting spokesperson of this party, so I can tell you without fear or favour.
Any other person issuing a statement is doing that maybe on a personal capacity but constitutionally I am the acting spokesperson of the party. It’s not something I need to lobby for, it is something meant to