By Omoniyi Salaudeen
Alhaji Buba Galadima is one of the ardent supporters of the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. In this interview, he dismissed as a concoction of lies the recent survey which rated Peter Obi of the Labour Party as the most popular candidate for the 2023 general elections.
Asked about the position of his party on the issue of restructuring, he said: “It is a selfish agenda by a selfish group of people.” Excerpt:
When your party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) came on board, a lot of people saw it as an emerging Third Force. But in the eyes of most Nigerians now, Peter Obi appears to be the most popular candidate among the presidential contenders. What’s happening to the candidate of your party?
This is democracy; every Nigerian has his own opinion on any issue. Every Nigerian has his preferential choice among the candidates. They have an idea of who will better their lives if voted into power. But if you look at history, who among the candidates do you think is the most qualified academically, experienced with exposure, and record of performance when in public office? The antecedent is the most important thing that will determine what candidates can do. If the people of the Southeast say it is Peter Obi, so be it. That is their opinion. We have no grudge against that. But for us, the candidate to beat is Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. You must have seen him going round the country and the crowd he gathers and the acceptance of the people. It is good for us that we are considered not to be in the race. On the day of the election, you people will know who the dark horse is.
But watching the large crowd Obi has been able to gather in all his rallies, you cannot also take it away from him that is a popular candidate.
(Cuts in) Where did he go? If you can tell me, we will compare Peter Obi’s appearance in Benue, Lagos, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Delta, Kaduna, and Cross River. If in all of these places, Peter Obi was able to gather up to one per cent of the people who came out to welcome Kwankwaso, we will concede the presidency to him. We in the NNPP, we are not doing propaganda, we are doing politics. But you people are blind, you people cannot see. There is no place where Peter Obi has gathered 2,000 people. Kwankwaso gathered two million people. Who is Peter Obi when we are talking about the 2023 election? None of the contenders is a serious challenge to our candidate. What we consider a challenge is the breach of the Electoral Act. If INEC doesn’t do what is right, then they are putting our chances into jeopardy.
If your candidate is that popular, how come that most Nigerians don’t see NNPP as a Third Force, but the Labour Party?
Let me say that it is the opinion of the people that were asked. I read in a recent survey that Peter Obi scored 51 per cent across the six geo-political zones, Bola Tinubu came to a distant second with 25 per cent essentially from the Southwest, and Atiku a distant third with 19 per cent of the votes in the whole federation with his strength being in the Northeast and Northwest. All other candidates put together including Kwankwaso scored three per cent. If you want to lie, lie in a way that people will take you seriously. If you look at the people who conducted the survey, you will know that it is a ghost survey talking to ghost voters. Kwankwaso is the First Force; all others can be grouped as a Third Force. We want all of them to come together to present one candidate against Kwankwaso so that we can beat them. This is our view. They are entitled to their own view and we are also entitled to our own views. We have practically shown people how much we are loved in all the places we have been to in Nigeria. Of all the candidates, Kwankwaso is the most prepared for the job.
Now, to the specifics; what is your party going to do about the issue of restructuring when voted into power?
What is restructuring? It is not an issue. It is a selfish agenda by a selfish group of people. We don’t believe in rhetoric. We believe in what is practical and will add value to the Nigerian state. We don’t believe in issues of ethnic, religious, tribal or sectional agenda. We believe in issues that will add value to the Nigerian people. And we will soon come up with our own way of addressing issues in Nigeria.
The issue of security is an issue that concerned all Nigerians. Recently, the Northern Governors Forum came out to express support for state police. What is the position of your party and your candidate on this matter?
Listen to me; nobody is agitating for state police. Our own manifesto will tell you what we intend to do about the issue of insecurity. But as a person, I will fight against the creation of state police. I will fight against it because it will further divide Nigerians. We have Amotekun in the Southwest; a certain General in Ekiti State was using it to extort money and cow from Fulani people. If you have state police, it means no other tribe will live in that state with such a person as Commandant. You people that are talking about it don’t know what state police can do. We have seen how the native authority police were used against none indigenes of an area and how they were used against the people who were not of the same religion. Once we have state police, I want to assure you, every Nigerian will go back to his compartment. I will fight against the state police and it will not happen in my life.
For seven months now, the university system has been shut down. What is the plan of your candidate for the revitalization of the education sector?
I have already told you, I am not going to let out our manifesto until we launch our blueprint. Our plan will be officially released to Nigerians when we are officially ready to release it.
What is the way out of the present socio-economic quagmire Nigeria has found itself?
Security and the economy are tied together. The insecurity in Nigeria is simply a product of economic deprivation and economic exclusion by the previous governments. Today, I beat my chest; Kano State is the most peaceful state in Nigeria. It is the most peaceful because there was a foundation laid by Kwankwaso. Kwankwaso established 26 institutes to train the youths, adults, and women in various trades. Millions of them who graduated from those institutes were given startup capital and their businesses were monitored. Now, they are not only self-employed, but also employ others. Again, he mopped up all bad boys including drug addicts from the streets, rehabilitated and trained them in various vocations, and gave them startup capital. He also mopped up all the Almajiris from the streets and integrated them into the formal school system. During his time, begging was banned from the streets of Kano. That integration has helped in no small measure in addressing the issues of insecurity and poverty in Kano.
Given a level playing field, are you saying that your candidate will beat all other contenders in this election?
I have said it times without number that given a free, fair, and credible election, nobody can beat Kwankwaso as far as majority votes are concerned. We are working on the other leg which is securing 25 per cent vote cast of Nigerians in 2/3 of the states. For the majority votes, none of them can come to a distant second to Kwankwaso. Of course, we don’t have money, but it doesn’t matter. We know that some individuals are spending millions on traditional rulers and the Emirs to persuade Kwankwaso to step down for their candidates. We also know that some heads of state and other statesmen have also been used to persuade Kwankwaso to step down for certain individuals. If Kwankwaso does not have electoral value, why are they persuading him to step down for certain individuals? It is because they know that he is a candidate to beat in this election.
You are ruling out the possibility of a competitive election. Aren’t you?
I told you that as far as majority votes are concerned, we are confident. I also told you that we are working on the second leg which is 25 per cent spread across the majority of states. What I am saying is that as far as majority votes are concerned, nobody will come to a distant second to Kwankwaso if there is a free, fair, and credible election. But you know that majority votes cannot make him a president. He will still need to secure 25 per cent vote cast in 2/3 states of Nigeria to be president without which there could be a runoff.
So, you are also thinking of the possibility of a runoff.
Every candidate thinks of that possibility except Peter Obi who thinks he can win with the first ballot.