The 2019 Presidential election has come and gone. And one of those who contested for the presidency of Nigeria was Dr Yunusa Tanko, the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party which was set up about 2 decades back by late Chief Gani Fawehinmi who died 10 years
Until his selection as Vice-Presidential Candidate to Bashorun Dele Momodu under the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr Tanko was the National Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP). Dr Tanko had his primary school education at the Army Children School, Ikeja, Lagos between 1974 and 1981 and proceeded to Ikeja Grammar School, Lagos where he completed his secondary school education in 1985. Dr Tanko holds a HND in Marketing from Kaduna Polytechnic (now University of Technology, Kaduna) in 1992 and bagged a Post-Graduate Diploma in Co-operative Studies from the same institution in 1994. In 2006, he obtained a second HND degree in Accounting from Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria which followed with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria as well as an MBA from the same institution. In 2010, Tanko, a practising Muslim, was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Leadership and Management from the Universal Christian Academy (UNICA) – a representative of Cambridge Advanced Technology Training in Affiliation with the University of London, United Kingdom. A Chartered Accountant and member, the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), 2008 and the Institute of Cost and Management Accountant (ICMA) 2006, his working experience traverses civil service, politics and civil society. He has served in various capacities as Head of Accounts, National Population Commission, Kaduna, 1993-2000; Head of Revenue, Nigerian Immigration Service, Kano, 2000-2002 and Head of Finance, Team Nigeria Trust Fund Limited, FCT, Abuja, 2002. For 10 years, Dr Tanko was NCP’s Deputy National Chairman to Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN.
In 2007, he was appointed Secretary to the Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN) – the Charles Nwodo led conglomerate of Nigerian political parties that gave General Muhammadu Buhari his first ticket in 2007 before he secured a presidential ticket from the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Since 2009, Dr Tanko has been Secretary of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) of all political parties in Nigeria led by Prof. G Nnaji of BNPP. Since 2003, he has served as the Assistant Secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) whose chairman is Alhaji Balarabe Musa. In 2007, he was running mate to NCP’s presidential candidate Dr Osagie Obayuwana. He is the Assistant Secretary to Dr Usman Bugaje under the Tunji Braithwaite led Nigerians United for Democracy from 2007. With a rich background in social activism, Dr Yunusa Tanko is a Secretariat Member of the Pastor Tunde Bakare led Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and played a very prominent role as Field Marshal of the popular Save Nigeria Group (SNG) protest to the National Assembly in 2010 and Aso Presidential vila. Dr Yunusa Tanko is the recipient of the chieftaincy title – the Nwanne Ike Di Na Mba 1 of all Ndigbos in the diaspora. He was elected on 8th July 2012 as the New National Chairman of NCP in Osun State and re-elected in Akure Ondo State, he was also elected two-term chairman of the Interparty Advisory Council (IPAC) on April 11th, 2013 to 2014. Currently a Student of M.Phil / PhD in management at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
How do you see this whole election process? You are also a key player; a Presidential candidate…
The most interesting to me is actually the Nigerian people. They are all galvanised towards making a selection of some of the best candidates that they can. But unfortunately, the postponement of the elections around 2: 00 am in the middle of the night set us back. When I heard the news, it didn’t come to me as news. You know I have been through this route before. As IPAC Chairman I have been through this before. In 2015, all the people close to me from inside INEC told me that 15 trucks carrying sensitive materials were missing. Yes. And they could not find them including the trucks. We would not say anything then. If not for now that I am sharing it with the public, I couldn’t say anything then, if not it will have led to pandemonium then. But INEC was able to quickly recover after we shared the information with them. That was the reason why that postponement came then from the security adviser who gave the warning then.
The same scenario is happening now where the Attorney-General is suggesting that some State elections should be postponed. It is as if the people in government are more worried than those of us on the other side because the rumour we are hearing is that they prefer to have staggered elections in the area where they are strong so by the time they do elections in the areas where they are not strong, they will use state apparatus to gag the people. That is what some people have described as The Osun theory.
Do you feel Nigeria should still be at this stage, in our political development?
No, not at all. Absolutely no. It is sad where we are. In fact, the truth is that the Nigerian people need to actually move from these particular ways of doing things to a new order. And that is why we tagged our Presidential campaign as a paradigm shift, meaning shifting from the old order to a new order so that we have something new. Unfortunately, it is not happening. And that is the reason why we may have to follow another strategy of working inside the government so that when we have our foot inside in the government we can then start to try and put our people in the right places so that we can take government in no distant future. The system actually is flawed
So your reading of the current INEC Chairman is that he did a good thing by postponing the elections a few days back?
Yes. The stakes are high my brother. The stakes are terribly high. People don’t want to lose elections, so everybody is doing the best they could. But the INEC Chairman needs to be promptly informed about what is going on. He needs to have an intelligence network that is superb. He needs to be told about people who are trying to sabotage him internally and externally because that is what has been established now. There was sabotage. He was told up until the early hours of Saturday; he was told that they would have the elections but unfortunately, he didn’t know that there was another group working internally to sabotage his efforts and the process. From what I read and from what I found out he had plans of having a credible election, but how about the other people around him. They have a different agenda. You can see all the controversies they brought up, how they are trying to ethnicize the whole process. Ibeanu, the head of logistics (INEC) is been stigmatised. Mike Igini is being stigmatised. They should stop all that nonsense. These are credible people.
What has been your experience since you started politics a few years ago?
Abinitio. When Gani Fawehinmi began to tutor us, He tutored us in the fact that we should believe in ourselves and believe in the people to do the right thing without being induced to do things with money. But experience has shown otherwise. The entire system has been monetised. Everything now is about money. When you go and meet people to tell them about politics, they look at you like what do you have to give them. It is worse if you are running for elections, you must be able to part with some money. Everything in politics is money. They will always ask you for money. To paste your posters on the wall is about money. Even to get people to interview you it’s about money. It’s only people like you that support the process, that grants us interviews freely, once in a while, and gives us visibility who else will do it for you? Who else will interview you if you don’t have money? Nobody will look at you if you don’t have money, no matter how credible you are. That has been the experience over the years. To play politics in Nigeria today, you must be able to attract some funding, some big funding. To contest for Presidency in Nigeria you need nothing less than a billion naira, minimum. I am dead serious. You need a billion naira on the minimum to run for the office of the President in Nigeria.
Oh yes. I am in it. But I don’t have that kind of money. I don’t have that kind of funding. A simple example is this. Let’s even assume you have 120,000 agents + because it can even be more than that. Some other polling units will also be further broken down into smaller units. Even if you pay all these agents N1,000 each, calculate that. That is in millions. Meanwhile, if you are not careful your opponent can give them N5,000 each to work against you. Its the game of the highest bidder. Some will even give them N10,000 or N15,000. So where do you stand in all these? So the question you want to ask is this. Where do they get this huge and humongous money? You can see how those in government are spending big, using government structures and the media to popularise their candidates.
If I have a quarter of that kind of money I would have gone far. The truth about our political process is that people use state resources to the disadvantage of others. So, things can’t work in that manner. The only thing that changes all these if we have a leader who is able to do the right thing not doing things hypocritically, not coming with a lot of nepotism, not doing things undeservingly, out coming with a simple agenda of. Let this Nigeria Work. And if that be the case everybody would need to be involved. And when we finish electioneering and politicking, then governance will start
We should have started with elections into state assemblies, the National Assembly, then governorship. If done this way things,
But how come the whole thing was not done that way?
Because the people who are in power think that will be an advantage for them because of the clout of Mr President. Many of them know they can’t win on their own. That is why many of them the candidates struggled to make sure my President raised up their hands during the campaigns. They know that their credibility is not strong enough, they are looking for the “assumed” credibility of Mr President so that they can be in power. I can tell you authoritatively that if they had started the elections with state assemblies the majority of them would not return and many other political parties would have won elections. But unfortunately we are having a presidential election first, that is why the stakes are so high, to a level that people are ready to kill to enable them get to power and they now even pronouncing it, shamefully too. Nobody supports snatching of ballot box, but the issue of killing ballot box snatchers cannot be supported. It is undemocratic, unacceptable, its demonic and condemnable.
How do you see the last 4 years of President Buhari?
There is nothing to assess. You can’t give me anything to assess. They are only living on what has already been established, and they grow on propaganda and lies. The annoying thing about the APC people is that they are hypocritical. You have not performed and you are accusing other people of stealing and corruption. Those who come to you who are the architects of stealing and corruption you will now pamper them and take them in as your own. It is hypocrisy. It is unacceptable. When you keep on telling the Nigerian people that this particular party is the one that destroyed Nigeria for 16 years but meanwhile most of the people who destroyed the country are in your own party. To say the truth, in fact, those other political parties excreted those who have looted our country and given it to them in APC. And they say they are fighting corruption. It’s nonsense. What many people feel is that Mr President is not in charge of this country. Many things will happen and Mr President will say he didn’t know, even swearing with Almighty Allah
If you analyse Mr President’s performance in the last 4 years, what will you call his major shortcomings? Is it age or lack of capacity
The problem he has his organisational in nature. He is not a politician. That is the truth. And he doesn’t know how to play politics. If he was a good politician, he wouldn’t have dumped many of the people who helped him around 11 to 15 years ago to get to where he is now. We were part of them. But then he didn’t notice that some of those who helped him over the years to the top had gone back
He threw them away. He kept gratifying individuals who are unknown to be corrupt. He took them in as his own people. And they are the ones modifying some of his activities. So that particular capacity he lacks. He believes in the mediocrity of some of the people who are around him and he is selective. He only favours the people who come from his area. Those are his think tank. He lacks organisational skills. It took him 6 months to appoint a cabinet. That 6 month was the same time frame that Gen. Murtala Muhammed ruled this country and everybody is happy about it
For 6 months, he couldn’t pick 1 of his Ministers. You can see the difference. He also lacks the political maturity, to be able to take us to that level that he is thinking he wants to take us to. That level is a fluke.