Interview

It’s impeachable offence to support govt in power – Kwara IPAC chair

 

In this interview with HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, the chairman
of the Kwara State chapter of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC),
Comrade Mumini AbdulKareem Onagun talks about the challenges and gains
of his historic two-years tenure and plans to make the council more
relevant in the country’s political space among other issues of
disagreement as it set to elect new executives on Monday. Excerpts:

Where are we on the issue of IPAC election in Kwara State?
The election for North Central of which Kwara happened to be one of
the states will hold next Monday December 2nd, 2019. Screening has
been concluded at the national headquarters and the forms that were
collected have been returned. Most of the aspirants who submitted
their papers have been cleared and we are waiting for further
directives. The national headquarters have notified the various states
as par aspirants that have been cleared to contest. My strong appeal
to my colleagues from other political parties is that Kwara is a state
of harmony and we should not do anything that will change the peaceful
atmosphere we are known for.
How many aspirants are contesting  in Kwara State for the election?
Thirteen offices are to be contested and we have two aspirants each
making twenty-six. That will make it very unique. Among the entire
states across the country, not more three have such similarities; some
even have like five candidates or more contesting for the chairmanship
and I pray the election go without any rancour because it is all about
service just for twelve months. This is a call to duty and we should
remember that we will give account to our Creator. After completing my
second tenure, it is only right that I let others come in and
contribute to the development of IPAC and we should give maximum
support to those that will be elected come Monday at INEC
headquarters, Ilorin.
Before now, we had the issue of the contestants complaining bitterly
about the payment of certain amount for offices, how was it resolved?
Initially, the issue actually generated a lot of controversies not
only in Kwara but across the country and eventfully the national
officers reached out to us explaining that it was all geared towards
building a stronger IPAC going forward in line with the new vision and
mission of the national leadership. N30,000 was agreed for
chairmanship while N20,000 was approved for other positions. All the
26 contestants in Kwara paid the necessary fees before the close of
the deadline and have all been cleared to contest the election.
The contest pattern appears to typify the polarisation of Kwara IPAC
among two parallel lines. What is your take going forward?
This question is very important and pertinent and I must confirm that
we have the same situation at the national level. But those who lost
out have to give support to those who emerge. Let there be contest and
see how those who come out victorious want to carry us along.
Sometimes, the problem has to do with external interference and
intervention of highly placed politicians. But I think this time
around, IPAC at the national level is ready to build and bring about
real development to the council down to the state and even local
government very soon. New things are actually coming and I want to
appeal to those who will take up leadership positions to be ready to
carry big load now more than what we have on ground before.
What do you make of the perception and criticism that IPAC is split
along pro and against government and how should IPAC operate to
advance the course of our democracy?
This is another very cogent question and if you look at our code of
conduct through which we operate, we are supposed to be neutral and
what we should do before, during and after election, including the
politicians, are geared towards peace. For instance how do you
campaign, spend money, paste billboards and posters before election,
who are the people with you and what is the basis of your campaign, is
it that of calumny or issue based. And during elections, we are always
warned not to go to the polling unit with logo or symbols of political
parties. Our actions during these three processes matter a lot and
IPAC should never be seen to support any government in power, anybody
doing that risk being impeached. If there is the need, we can offer
advice but we should and must learn to follow the rules. We should
work with INEC because they are part of us and even have one voting
right to determine the winner of our election whenever there is a tie.
We must ensure that IPAC remain neutral, if anything undemocratic is
observe in any state, we should call a meeting where we take joint
decision about good governance. If election is coming and people are
concerned that they are in the dark about the process, we can write to
the relevant quarters to demand for information.
Why did you decide not to re-contest?
During my first tenure, my people tried to examine what I did and
achieved and how they were carried along coupled with the sincerity of
propose and felt I should do the second term which is the limit of the
constitutional requirement of one year each. But even if the
constitution allows me to run infinitively, I will not go for another
term. I believe we should allow others to also have a shot to bring
new innovations and allow our democracy to grow. Probably if I have
not been allowed to have the chance, the qualities I have exhibited
thus far would not have been showcased. As the chairman, I have done
my own bit, let others coming do theirs. I am going to give my maximum
support and advice to the incoming executives if I have any whether I
am called upon or not. We want a new IPAC that will improve on our
democratic tenets.
What are your successes and challenges while your tenure lasted?
In the last two years, we have been able to carry our colleagues along
as much as possible. I remember during the Local Government election
in 2015, information gets to our people through IPAC and the same
thing happened during the 2019 election, in terms of inspecting
sensitive materials at CBN, holding stakeholders meeting, educational
enlightenment and collection of PVCs among  others. When I am invited
and briefed as the chairman, I will pass the message down to my
colleagues who will in turn do the needful and the information
eventually is spread across. I will give kudos to my colleagues for
the tremendous support thus far. On the other side, the handicap
majorly is that of finance and it has been very uneasy in this regards
to properly run our programmes and activities. So far, there has been
no finance from anywhere; our funding has been majorly internal. Any
organisation that wants to succeed must not joke with the issue of
finance and that is why the move by the national IPAC to generate
funds is a welcome development. I want to appeal again to our
colleagues that when meetings are called, we should see it as a way of
developing ourselves and joint efforts to move the council forward.
But by and large, we want to glorify our creator for all that has been
done during our tenure. There has not been any regret because we have
to carry out the assignment to the best of our ability.
Your take on the minimum wage issue?
On the issue of the N30,000  minimum wage and its consequential
adjustment, I want to also appeal to various state governments
including Kwara that whatever can be done to achieve industrial peace
on the issue should be done because it is now legal up to grade level
17. So various labour centres across the country should come to
agreement on its sustainable implementation. There is the need to look
at how pensioners can benefit from this upward review because they
have served the state meritoriously during their best years.
What will be your message as you prepare to exit?
That Kwarans should always remember that this is a state of harmony
and we should never do anything that will tarnish that name. When we
are harmonious, a lot of other goodies will come in which will not be
the case if there is violence. So whatever we can do as organisations
and individuals to advise government whether through writing or
otherwise, we should come forward rather than preach hate or
participate in violence. To Jaw jaw is better than war war.

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