“Where did Atiku get his wealth from? Did he just wake up and become a billionaire? Even a simple businessman will tell you that money makes business.”
Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Femi Bamisile is the former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly. He defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) shortly after the immediate past governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, won the June 21, 2014 governorship poll in the state.
As an aspirant, he participated in this year’s APC governorship primary where incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi, won the party’s ticket.
He was recently appointed South-West Coordinator for the Buhari/Osinbajo Continuity Organisation (BOCO). He speaks on 2019 presidential contest.
There is still controversy over President Buhari’s WAEC Certificate result despite the attestation certificate he got from WAEC. What is your take?
To the best of my knowledge, our President, Muhammadu Buhari, obviously as we all know went through all the military ranks to emerge a Major General. At the time he joined the army, things were not as bad as it is now. There are basic rules of engagement in getting into the army. If those basic things are not met it is like thrusting a bull in the eye of the needle.
The standard qualification for getting elected as president is attempted school certificate and if a man has gone as far as Sandhurst College, and done all he has done in the military, I think he is qualified. It is not as if it is wrong to ask questions, he has said it clearly and unequivocally that his certificate is with the military and when the matter came up before the next election, WAEC on its own came out with an attestation that he has a certificate.
Some people are saying WAEC started over 50 years ago and whipping up another sentiment. But the most important question to ask is can we fault the document that has been presented with by WAEC? I don’t think an establishment of that magnitude would only come to support the president just because of his status by issuing a fake certificate. They brought a team of five or more persons to testify and I think all that must have put the matter to rest by now, but we know Nigerians with their brand of politics. All these are just distractions and moving away from the real issues. Before now, it was he didn’t perform but now it is very clear that Buhari has performed above average.
Some Nigerians are arguing that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar as a business guru is a better manager, compared to President Buhari. What do you think?
Don’t let us forget that the two have been tested in government before. That you are a great manager of businesses does not mean you will do better in governance and politics. We were all in this country when Atiku was Vice President for years and he was the brain behind privatisation and we know where that has led us now.
Where did Atiku get his humongous wealth from? Did he just wake up and become a billionaire? Even a simple businessman will tell you that money makes business. But the issue is where did Atiku make his wealth from? That really is what bothers me and many Nigerians. If Atiku had started as a Bill Gates and made himself , I won’t be bothered, but if you come to a place as diverse as Nigeria and boast of having huge wealth now I won’t be bothered because you have always been in the government and his boss, the former President, Obasanjo had issues with him then. If he had been that good, he would have succeeded his boss.
For Buhari, he was former President and has served in several capacities, he started with the military rule but his government was overthrown and he was put in prison and he came out untainted. He has also served in several capacities and has remained untainted. The only reason people are against him is because he is stepping on toes by dealing with looters. But we must ensure that those who have plundered the resources of this country pay for their actions. It is wealth for all and not for a few people.
President Buhari has been accused of being selective in his corruption fight, what do you say to that?
Buhari is really fighting corruption. He is not doing selective prosecution. And I will give you a clear example, the former Abia governor is a big brother and personal friend. As we speak, he has an EFCC case hanging on his neck. He is a major player within the APC government. He has toured the entire nation on behalf of President Buhari, canvassing support for the president’s re-election. Everybody has to come to the table with clean hands. All cases will not come to court at the same time and there are still pending cases.
I wasn’t part of those who asked for plea bargain, but even in law, there are situations where plea bargain is permitted. If peradventure we have an hold on someone like Diezani Alison-Madueke , I think the best this country can do is to take some chunk of the money she had with her through plea bargaining. It is either she is hiding them in some of the Europeans countries or in some country that have no extradition laws.
There are countries in Europe that have no extradition law, and if you have a looter in such places you will find it difficult to get hold of such people. These monies are huge billions of Dollars. Many are dropping dead in the country and there are many unfinished capital projects. We need the money to fix these issues. It is not in all cases that plea bargain is used but in some white collar crimes, they are accepted. So, I don’t believe President Buhari is being selective. The executive which President Buhari heads has done its part; it is left for the judiciary to do its job on the fight against corruption.
PDP standard bearer, Atiku, has promised to reduce the pump price of petrol from its current N145 to N87 and former Governor Fayose has also raised the alarm that government is planning to further increase pump price to N185 next year, what do you make of these positions?
Nobody can be fooled in Nigeria any longer by Fayose. A man who just left the EFCC, he is just playing politics with the alarm on pump prices. Let us leave him to face his case in court.
When Atiku says he would reduce the pump price to N87, he can equally say he would bring Dollars from N350 to N150. I will love for him to be put on the screen for Nigerians and let us ask him how economically viable that saying would be. What actually made the price to be that much is the removal of subsidy and the fact is there are some few cabals who make money through the subsidy; President Buhari has been able to check that. The oil we have is being taken out of the nation for refining we are asking the government to construct refineries and get us away from being baby-sited by the white men. This is the only solution to that challenge.
What are achievements of President Buhari that would make you ask Nigerians to vote for him again in 2019?
Most importantly, security is much better now. The Boko Haram which used to haunt us has been drastically reduced. That is why these people are attacking major generals. I advise that government should stop negotiating with terrorists. Even in other climes in the West that we all follow, they don’t negotiate with terrorists. You deal with this thing once and for all. That is why you have various socio-cultural groups like OPC, Arewa and Niger Delta groups coming up with various demands that are eating deep into our resources. Negotiating with terrorists is wasting our hard earned money. We must stop negotiating with terrorists. As much as we keep saying that the economy is bad, we know it is now becoming stable. The Dollar is about N350 now.
If we continue to price our money on Dollars we will continue to have issues. The President has gone to China to have an exchange with Yuan and that will pay off for our economy very soon. We must also focus on production and stop living only on consumption; this is why I appreciate the Federal Government for supporting agriculture. Ekiti is keying in heavily into this. We must decentralise the centre. We must ensure that there is fiscal restructuring; the states should be the ones that would be autonomous enough to give to the Federal Government. That is why in the U.S things are working better because it is the states that give to the centre. The systems we currently run here make the states governors to be lazy.
We currently have 89 political parties for the forthcoming poll, isn’t this too challenging for INEC and voters?
Even in the United States, there are about 100 political parties. But you and I know that they are just two political parties there, and these are the Republicans and the Democrats. It enables a situation where you can easily move to other platforms if you are dissatisfied with one. In our country, the two major parties are APC and PDP. It is not the number of the parties that matter but how politicians play the game.
What is your take on the view that some cabals are controlling President Buhari?
People say this all the time, but who are the cabals? The man is a Septuagenarian and his wife is in her late 40s. When it comes to governance, I have not read anywhere where his wife has been given any public appointment. We call Muhammadu Buhari Baba because we enjoy his style of governance, his maturity, and the mature way he handles matters. He has been very patient and statesmanlike. He has been very calm on this matter of certificate, until the truth finally came out. You have listened to the way the President speaks, has anyone been speaking for him? Even when he was asked about the issue of his certificate, he cracked a joke about it and stated that it was never really an issue for him as he was sure the truth would come out like it had done with the WAEC attestation. People love to leave issues during electioneering and focus on other sentiments.