2027: We Are Working To Reposition NNPP As Effective Opposition Says Ladipo Johnson

2027: We Are Working To Reposition NNPP As Effective Opposition Says Ladipo Johnson

by Ololade Adebeshin
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2027: We Are Working To Reposition NNPP As Effective Opposition Says Ladipo Johnson


Until recently, he was the National Auditor of the opposition New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), in this interview with OLAOLU OLADIPO, the new National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ladipo Johnson talked about the circumstances that prompted the party to organise its last national convention as well as some plans of the party to become a virile opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Excerpts:


Few days ago, your party held its National Convention, what informed the move? The previous constitution of our party, which has now been amended at the last convention, mandates the party to hold its convention every two years. So, after the elective convention after the presidential election, we have to have this one.


We had the convention because there were some situations that we had to deal with. The National Executive Committee of the party in its wisdom summoned the convention according to the dictates of the constitution of the party and the convention was held on Saturday.


How well attended was the convention? It was properly attended by those who should be there. Delegates from the state chapters of the party were there. Aside from that, all officers of the party who are stipulated in the constitution of the party who should be there were there. I can say emphatically that it was well attended.


What about the other aggrieved members of the party led by Chief Boniface Aniebonam, were they there too? (Cuts in) There is no other group within the party as I speak to you. Unfortunately, I can say that it is unfortunate in the sense that no one had wished for what has happened, Dr. Aniebonam and his co-travellers are expelled from the party. As at this moment, they have been expelled and they are no longer members of our party.


This is a party of constitutionalism, not of sentiments. They are no longer members of the party. Apart from this group that has been expelled, there is no other important group or personality that was missing at the convention. The party was one and we held our convention.


I will have you to note that the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) was represented at the convention. Officials of INEC were in the NEC meeting on Friday and they were also there in full force at the convention grounds.


The convention returned Dr Ajuji Ahmad as the National Chairman, many people would have thought that the post ought to have been filled by a party member from the southern part of the country for balancing. What not so? Well! I can say that the party is well aware and cognisance of the need to ensure balancing in the distribution of party offices in line with the political peculiarities of the country. Geo-politically, in Nigeria we balance political offices.


You will recall that the former National Chairman of the party, Professor Rufai Alkali left the party last year. Since then, we have had situations where the officers that have continued to replace him such as Mallam Abba Kawu Ali and the new one, Ajuji Ahmed are all from the same geo-political zone, which is the North East. Alkali was from Gombe, Abba Kawu Ali is from Borno and Dr. Ajuji Ahmad is from Adamawa.


At the moment, the National Chairmanship of the party is zoned to the North East. Subsequently, I am sure that the leadership of the party and other stakeholders will sit down and consider the need for the chairmanship of the party to rotate to the southern part of the country and other key positions will also be the same in the spirit of the unity of the country.


This is why you have all those returned for one office or the other including myself functioning in acting capacity. We did this because we decided that we do not want to stagger our elections. We all hold positions within the party on acting capacity. All these will be rectified in two years time or shortly before the elective convention.


Does your party constitution allow for members to hold party offices in acting capacity? (Cuts in) Yes! The constitution does. The new constitution is even more explicit on that. The old one did but this amended one is even more explicit on it.


Now that your party has constituted its new management team, what will be your primary engagements as a political party going forward? You will recall that during the convention, the National Leader, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in his address to delegates said the NNPP will become the number one opposition party in the country. What he meant by that is that as a party, we are going to take it upon ourselves to bring about proper, constructive opposition.


We are not going to cast aspersions or to abuse people. We are going to talk about issues that affect the people. We will tour the country and listen to the people. We will then aggregate the views of the people into the new manifesto of the party. We are going to bring all the issues generated into the front burner of national discourse. We are going to make sure that the government is in power to listen to the yearnings of the people. By doing this, we will be broadening the base of our party.


As you know, our party is very strong in the North West, particularly in Kano but we are going to strengthen it and take it across the country. This is our agenda and focus as a party going forward, especially in the next two years. We are repositioning it and we are rebranding it.


Apart from all these, what are the other engagements that you have scheduled to do in the next two years? Immediately I was affirmed as the Publicity Secretary of the party, I constituted a team, so are experts on the field and we started to work toward a programme to help us do exactly all the things that I have stated before.


Now, or should I say that a lot of these things are strategic plans because we want to grow our party, I am not at this stage at liberty to disclose our moves and plans. Apart from the fact that we will be listening to the people and acting responsibly as an opposition party, when we do these, more and more people will see us and they will know what our views are and what we stand for.


In the end, Nigerians will now begin to know us better. This will now guarantee more membership. The other things are strategic and I will not like to discuss them.


How will your party, the NNPP, engage with other opposition parties? Our engagement will be such that we will separate electioneering time from when governance ought to take place. We campaigned hard in the last electioneering time. After the campaigns, I believe that we should all come together not necessarily in the same political party to move the country forward and in doing that, it doesn’t mean that we have to agree with all the things being done by whoever is in power.


If it does well, good, but if not, we can always come forward to say that ‘you could do better in this way or that.’ We will let them know that their actions sometimes are no no when we see that they are taking us in the wrong direction. This kind of relationship will be extended to other political parties.


We should co-exist and when or where we can come together on some issues, we will for the sake of these people that we say that we want to govern. I think in the interest of the people, we should be able to compromise and work together with other parties when it is necessary.


Does that suggest that your party will merge with any other party if the need be? (Cuts in) That suggests that we are open to the advancement of democracy in Nigeria. The bottom line is that we want to render service to the Nigerian people. Now, if the people demand that by their support or otherwise that we should be together with party A or Party B to achieve the aim of rescuing the country, so be it.


If on the contrary they believe that the NNPP is strong enough to go it all alone, so be it. We will move according to the dictate of the people that we want to serve. So, we are open to any eventuality but right now, we are rebuilding with the aim to become stronger than what we are now across the country.


You have some members who have been elected into the National Assembly, how well is your party interfacing with them to make them canvass and champion the agenda and manifesto of the NNPP at the National Assembly? (Cuts in) We are interfacing with them. Many of them were at the recently held National Convention. As you know we have two senators elected on the platform of our party. We have a governor and his deputy who were also at the convention.


The Speaker of the House of Assembly in Kano also led his members to the last convention. Members of the House of Representatives on the banner of our party too came. It was a very tough beginning for us because all our members who won one election or the other were taken to court after the election but we thank God that we have survived and now everyone has gone to work. This is the position of the party at the moment.


Kano is the only state where your party presently controls, recently, Governor Kabir Yusuf commenced the probe of his immediate predecessor in office and current National Chairman of the APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, does the governor have the backing of your party to institute the probe? Our party is with Governor Yusuf as long as he is doing so in the interest of the people of Kano State. When I spoke at the last convention, I said, the governor had been a very good ambassador of the party.


The party mechanism is such that if the party hierarchy feels that any of our elected officials are going the wrong way, then we have a duty to talk to them and say their actions are not in consonance with the party’s constitution and manifesto. At the moment, what Governor Yusuf is doing is that he is working for the people of Kano.


If a person has some issues that need to be looked at, the fact that such an individual is in an opposition party does mean that we should shy away from what we should. It doesn’t in any way amount to witch hunting.

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