In this interview with CHIMA AZUBUIKE, the Chairman of the Labor Party of Nigeria Chairman’s Forum and the Chairman of the Gombe State LP, Sani Abdulsalam, discusses what sets the party apart from others, the party’s prospects of winning the Gombe governor’s poll and the presidential election and other miscellaneous issues
As chairing a conference of Labor Party presidents in the 36 states, what were the challenges?
We have some challenges, including the lack of resources, and we are not yet in power, unlike the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, who use Nigeria’s money in their campaigns. We tell people that our candidate is credible, and we know that voters don’t see money as an issue; they look to who will save Nigeria.
What is the probability that the Labor Party will win in Gombe state?
My party has more than 75-80 percent chances in Gombe state. This follows the level of mobilization and effort members have invested to have a successful showing in the 2023 elections.
For example, the chapter has campaigned vigorously on why a vote for Peter Obi will not be a wasted vote.
Our people are well aware that Northern politicians have disappointed them, especially the youth since the Sardauna (Ahmadu Bello); the others have campaigned on the same thing about water, roads and education, and we have yet to see that happen, which is why we are convinced that we should try another person. So all these and more reasons are why we have over 75 to 80 percent support, which is the key to winning.
That’s the presidential aspect. Would you say the same about your governor candidate in Gombe State?
It is very easy for Keftin Amuga to win elections in Gombe state as we have 11 LGAs including Billiri, Kaltungo, Balanga and Shongom representing Gombe South Tangale-Waja and the remaining seven in Gombe North and Central. Our candidate is from Tangale-Waja.
Amuga is popular and a good person before we talk about his exploits as a knowledgeable politician. It will interest you to note that his people in Tangale-Waja like his politics because they are spotless, without blemishes. It will also interest you to note that there are three other candidates in the PDP, APC and New Nigeria Peoples Party representing Gombe North, and the Labor candidate will be sharing the votes with them.
So if we win in the four local governments that make up Gombe South, the seven LGAs, we have 100 percent hope that we will get more than 40 percent of the total votes cast in the seven LGAs.
Politically, the candidate with the most votes in four local government areas and the most votes among seven other LGAs wins the election.
How did Amuga emerge as the party’s governorship candidate?
The process was transparent. I sat down to calculate his chances as standard-bearer of the party under my presidency in Gombe. We expect the Tangale-Waja people to reciprocate the support given to them, as this is the first time that Gombe South has been considered the gubernatorial candidate of a viable party. They were always made to represent the vice governor, but the Labor Party has already changed that by making sure they produce the next governor of the state.
The question of structure cannot be ignored when discussing the Labor Party. How do you hope to defeat the incumbent APC and PDP after more than 20 years of shared dominance?
The question of structure should no longer arise because our party is structured in such a way that the father is the structure, the mother is the structure and the children represent our structure.
Our party logo shows that we are people-oriented; we have structures around family and community ties.
Other parties claim to have structures that are just brooms or umbrellas, but because we believe in the structure of the family, workers represent the structure of the Labor Party.
We have district presidents and presidents of local governments, and across the polling stations the party has about three people, and during the elections they will help the party’s course. A man without a wife is not complete, as is a woman without a husband and children.
I can safely tell you that there is no home in Nigeria without the structure of the Labor Party, whether you are in the APC or the PDP. You have the structure of my party in your house. We are all over Gombe and in Nigeria.
What do you tell your supporters, who are constantly reminded that voting for LP is a waste of their votes?
At the PvdA we believe in solving problems with strategies. If some people say you’re wasting your vote, don’t mind them. If you waste your vote, I waste mine, my wife wastes hers and my neighbors waste theirs, then we will win the election. They use the word “wast your vote” because they want to discourage you from casting your vote for your preferred candidate.
What is the difference between the LP and the others? Many argue that politicians are the same with the same interests; is this true?
It’s not true. The LP is different and the rest of the politicians don’t like our candidate Peter Obi because we are different. They also know the difference. As they posit what they intend to do, our party is already coming up with solutions to the problems. They (politicians) have come with the ambition of raising Nigeria’s money, but Peter Obi has come to work for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Can you say the same of your candidate in Gombe State?
Keftin Amuga is capable and ready to serve people day and night. Go see who the man is. In many homes in Tangale-Waja, Amuga has sponsored many people and given hope to many children in Gombe State. He is not tribalistic or sentimental when it comes to religion. People from Tangale-Waja came to me and asked us to give Amuga the ticket, and immediately we went to find out who Amuga is and found that the people were indeed right, even though I didn’t know him.
Unemployment has skyrocketed due to an increasing population and an embargo on employment, what’s the way forward?
The PvdA has taken youth into account from national to state level. We also identified electrical and security issues. Once addressed, industries will emerge, existing ones will perform at their best and the economy will improve. We do not believe that Nigerian youth are lazy. We are going to empower the youth.
Nigeria is richly blessed with ample human and natural resources. I once spoke to a Chinese man in Dubai about the poorest state in Nigeria, and I told him Zamfara. He told me that Zamfara resources can feed Nigeria for 60-70 years and no one will suffer.
Many political observers in the state may disagree with you that Amuga has the political power to oust the incumbent. Do you think otherwise?
That is not an accurate assessment of our candidate, our ward and the local government presidents who have worked tirelessly to increase Amuga’s political clout in Gombe North and Central.
We’ve seen the places where the Inuwa Yahaya government did well and the places we felt it failed and where the Labor Party can improve. Past governors, from Hashidu to the present government, have done some things very well and others not very well. Let me assure the people of Gombe that the Labor Party will do better than the previous governments.
How true is it that the LP is not a serious contender in Gombe’s politics and could sell out in the long run?
It’s impossible, it will never happen. We are very serious and deliberate. I say boldly that we will win the gubernatorial and presidential elections 100 percent. We at the PvdA have ambition.
What strategies do you hope to use?
That’s our secret. We can’t tell people about our strategies other than our underground campaigns now, but I assure you we’ve mapped out ways to engage voters to get their vote.
PvdA posters and billboards are nowhere in the metropolis, why is that?
Gombe is big; there are people who promised to give us posters and notebooks. Soon we will go to both primary and secondary school to give exercise books. We are also working on our banners. Soon you will see our posters and banners all over the state of Gombe.
How will the PvdA fight against vote-buying as it is the new norm?
We will inform the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission about the shady activities of agents of those parties and we expect that they will be arrested. We will end vote buying because it is an injustice to ourselves and the state.
Ekiti and Osun elections came and went and the Labor Party won none. Were you disappointed?
There was no reason to be disappointed because our candidates tried. In elections it’s either you win or you lose.
Also, INEC officials have done their best; it is unfortunate that vote buying played a key role in candidate turnout.
What is your advice to the voters of Gombe?
Don’t allow someone to give you money to win, as it is a sign of things to come. Vote for him because he can perform, not because he has boxes of noodles or soap.
Do not vote because of religion or ethnicity; vote for credibility. I expect our people will vote for Obi and Amuga because they are credible. I assure the people of Gombe and the Nigerians that if they vote for Peter Obi and Keftin Amuga they will not regret it.