A former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, Saliu Mustapha, who has shown interest in the race for the national chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says he is not intimidated by the calibre of other contestants.
Mr Mustapha, a former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the parties that formed APC, stated this during an interactive session with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Saturday.
The ruling APC is expected to get a new National Working Committee (NWC) at its next convention scheduled for June.
Political juggernauts who have shown interest in the race include former governors, including Ali Modu Sherriff, Abdulaziz Yari and Tanko Al-makura.
But the former CPC officio said the contest is a battle of ideas and not titles.
According to him, having held a public office does not guarantee a successful party administration.
He said the party requires people with new ideas, and should avoid recycling old faces if it wants to continue to enjoy the confidence of the electorate.
“I’m not new in politics. I have paid my dues in this terrain. I have always tried to build. Maybe that is why we are not recognised because we have always been in the background.
“But like I said, I was the Deputy National Chairman of CPC. I was number two in the whole hierarchy of the party nationwide. Before then, I was in ANPP, APP. I was in Buhari (campaign) Organisation. Before then, I also sojourned a little bit with Chief Olu Falae. And I think I was the youngest then in that movement,” said Mr Mustapha.
The APC chieftain further stated that he has spent over two decades “learning the ropes”.
“I don’t think there is any new trick one has to learn again, rather than to be just and fair in this game. And that is why in my own politics, it is not a do or die affair,” he stated.
“And that is why you are right to say I’m coming out like a gentleman. Yes, politics should be for gentlemen. We shouldn’t behave like touts or be rough in it. It should be a game of decorum.
“Politics should be the most civil thing. That is why sometimes, you see how beautiful the British Parliament operates. Even in America, you see how questions are being thrown to leaders; they don’t take offence. Because they are there to serve. They don’t arrogate to themselves monopoly of arrogance or knowledge,” he added.
Asked if he is ready to clash with Messrs Yari, Al-makura and Sheriff who have already shown interest in the same office, Mr Mustapha said he is not intimidated.
“On being intimidated because of the calibre of aspirants, before some of them became governors, they were also ordinary citizens like you and I. I don’t think anybody was born with the title of governor or senator. They also contested. It was ambition that took them there. So, it is not out of place to say my own ambition today is to be the National Chairman of APC.
“The most important thing is, it is not a contest of title. It is a contest to offer service and leadership that one thinks he has for the organisation. So, being a former governor or senator should not be a core thing. Even the media too should help in de-emphasising the title of former governor or senator.
“We all have our individual qualities, and sometimes we need to change the narrative, especially when you are operating in a democratic environment whereby you have an opponent in terms of a political party that is also competing with you to win the hearts of the electorate so that they can form the government of the day.”
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