Leader of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, R-APC, and estranged ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Buba Galadima has declared that the present insecurity challenges facing the country will continue to fester, and that Nigerians should prepare for the worst. Galadima said the federal government has been overwhelmed by the problem and only divine intervention can save Nigeria. In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, the former national chairman of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, before coalescing to form the ruling APC said indeed, at the formation of the party, there was a zoning arrangement agreed upon by leaders of the ruling party. He also spoke on other national issues.
There has been a controversy of recent in APC, which many Nigerians believe you will have an honest answer to. Was there really an agreement at the point of merger while forming APC for President Buhari to hand over power to the South-West as recently stated by Minister of Works, Raji Fashola?
We have to remove sentiments and emotions from this issue. As far as the constitution of APC is concerned, there is no word zoning in it. There is no zoning in APC constitution but I heard from a reliable source that there was a gentleman’s agreement between some gladiators from the South-west, and the North that if the South-west support them for Buhari to win the election in 2015 that the North will also support the candidate of the South-west in 2023.
This was a gentleman’s agreement. Let me also say this unequivocally that a promise is a promise, and when you make a promise you are under obligation to fulfill that promise. Four people, two from the Southwest, and two from the North reached that agreement. I know about this agreement from a reliable source. Those who sat and agreed upon this agreement were two former governors from the Southwest, one serving governor from the North, and also another political gladiator from the North were those who signed the gentleman’s agreement. It was a solemn agreement.
As far as I’m concerned whether you are a Christian, a Muslim or an animist, your word must be your word even if they are going to kill you. You must always be ready to say the truth no matter the situation. Once you agreed to do something you must fulfill your own part of the obligation. The APC is under obligation to support that agreement.
Were you part of the agreement, or was there any role you played in the agreement?
I was not part of the agreement but those who took part in the agreement that they reached told me. But why is that position changing now? Why? Whether the agreement favours you or not, you must honour the agreement. If APC people are honourable, they must live by their words. If the party leaders are honest and sincere people, they should honour that agreement. The party should give the ticket to the Southwest in 2023. APC presidential candidate must come from the Southwest in 2023 because it was based on that agreement that the Southwest politicians supported Buhari in 2015.
But a former governor of Zamfara state, Alhaji Sani Yarima who has expressed interest in 2023 presidential race recently claimed that there was no agreement like that or on zoning between the North, and the South in APC, what do you say to that?
Yarima is being used by some people, especially those who want to scuttle that gentleman’s agreement .If you secretly ask him, he can even tell you the names of those people who are asking him to run. Yarima is not even in a position to know whether there was such a gentleman’s agreement or not. That you are a former governor doesn’t mean that you know everything. Anybody can be a governor but it is not everybody that can be an honest politician.
Yarima is however free to run. We are in a free democracy but what is paining me is that those who are part of this agreement are now the same set of people that are pushing Yarima to run, if not Yarima is free to run. He is a Nigerian, he is free to run because there is no zoning in APC but those who are part of this agreement are sponsoring him. They are supporting him. It is dishonourable for those who were part of this agreement to ask Yarima to run. For these people to go back on their words amounts to subversion.
What do you think is the implication of this?
It is not good for the country. It is not good for our democracy. It is not morally right. It is dishonesty. If a party to an agreement fulfills its own part of the obligation, and when it is your own turn you want to run away from it, this is unfair. Even if the Southwest would lose the election, the APC has no choice than to pick somebody from there in 2023.
A former CPC Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh claimed he was the Chairman of the Zoning Committee but would not disclose the recommendations of the Committee. What do you make of this?
No. There was no zoning committee in APC. Individuals canvassed, and they came to an agreement on what to do, and this was how the gentleman’s agreement came up. I don’t think there was any zoning committee. There wasn’t. If there is, I should know. I haven’t heard about that until now. What I know is what I’ve told you earlier that four people sat, and agreed among themselves that you support me, and I will also support you. All those that made the agreement are alive but I don’t want to mention names but when time the comes I will do so.
When we arrive the bridge we will know how to cross the river. But the time is not ripe yet. We should not be discussing who would be the President now until the end of 2021. No sane politician will want to start early, and start talking about 2023 now, especially those who want to contest. What you do is to set up your structure underground and work quietly.
But generally speaking, what is you own position on zoning or rotation of the Presidency …
Cuts in… If we say we are in a democracy, then there is no need for ‘arrangee’ democracy. To me zoning is ‘arrangee’ democracy. Whoever wants to become President, let him warm up to other people. Let the best man emerge as the President. Late M.K.O Abiola won in Tofa’s ward in Kano in 1993. That’s a big lesson for our politicians. Abiola won the election as a Nigerian, and not on the basis of where he came from. Zoning will not bring progress to our democracy. It will not allow us to have the best.
Zoning should be discouraged, it is very undemocratic. In any country where they are practicing zoning, they can’t get the best. No Nigerian should be denied the opportunity of running for the office of the President. Zoning will promote ethnic, and tribal politics and all these can’t help us. We want a patriotic Nigerian President that has a large heart, and who can accommodate everybody. I that I’m saying that APC should honour the agreement it has with Southwest, am I from the geo-political zone? No. I’m from the North, and that’s the kind of thing we should be promoting in Nigeria. We should not be promoting anything that is tribal or sectional.
An outspoken northern voice, Prof. Usman Yusuf last weekend said 2023 elections won’t hold if the current insecurity in the country especially in the North is not checked, do you share this view, and why?
Whether there is insecurity or not, Buhari’s government must go in 2023. The tenure of this government ends on May 31st 2023. I’m talking about the constitution of Nigeria, what it says, and you are talking about what one Professor is saying, which one is superior? Of course, it is the Nigerian constitution that is superior.
During Jonathan’s time when elections were held, there were so many polling booths across the country where elections didn’t hold as a result of security challenges but we still accepted the results, so what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. We won’t tolerate any excuse. If somebody is saying this kind of thing deliberately to throw it up for debate or to test the waters, he is free to do so in a democracy but that will be unacceptable to Nigerians. This government can’t remain in office after May 31st, 2023, and I’m saying this clearly, and unequivocally.
But in a situation where the unexpected happens…
Cuts in… I don’t expect anything or anticipate that anything of such would happen. But let 2023 come first, and if they try it let’s see what will happen. But I know that they can’t even try it. If they try it, it will have consequences.
The recent abduction of 344 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina state has been interpreted in diverse ways. Some claim it was a publicity stunt by the government, others say government paid four million dollars for their release, while government said they were released unconditionally, which of these do you believe, and why?
Well, I wouldn’t know how much the federal government paid but definitely money must have exchanged hands, and nobody should take us to be fools. One of the boys was interviewed, and he said that a businessman paid 30 million naira for the small, small ones among them to be released. This was even shown on the television. Even if that was the only money that was paid, it means money has exchanged hands.
Nigerians should not be shocked or surprised by what government is saying that no money was paid. Have they ever spoken the truth? Initially, government spokesman, Garba Shehu said only 10 boys were abducted but how many students did we see when the boys were released? It was the same man that said that the Boko Haram attacked the farmers in Borno state because they didn’t obtain permission from the military, so is he trying to tell us that the military, and the Boko Haram are working together? The abduction of the boys is very unfortunate. But after their abduction, others have also been abducted in Sokoto, and several other places in the North. Abduction has become a daily occurrence in northern part of the country but these are mostly not reported in the media, and I would have accused the media of connivance with those in authority. Countless number of people is being kidnapped everyday from Abuja to Kaduna.
Then what is the way out of the insecurity challenges facing the country?
This government is incapable of resolving the security challenges facing the country .May God in His infinite mercy deliver us and raise up those who would know the right thing to do. This government is behaving lackadaisically on issues relating to security matters in the country, and Nigerians should put their hope in God, and not Buhari’s government. I just returned from a trip to Niger Republic, and if you see the level of security there you will marvel. I drove round the country from 7am to 2am, and everywhere was safe, and as poor as they are, their road network very ok. I went for one of my boys’ marriage there. There was no fear in our heart about security during those ungodly hours we were driving on the road there.
For me, I don’t think there is any way out yet for us over insecurity as long as this government is there, and we have not seen anything yet. Nigerians should prepare for the worst. Insecurity will get worse under this government because they have no idea on how to go about it .It will continue from getting bad to worse. The entire security architecture has collapsed, and they are not doing anything about it. To make matter worse, Buhari has refused to sack the service chiefs because he believes that they are the only ones who can keep him in power.
Buhari is thinking about himself alone, and that’s what they call survival instinct. This he demonstrated during the recent Kankara abduction saga. When he arrived Katsina that afternoon and in the evening when those boys were abducted, Buhari never saw anybody, or spoke to anybody about it, it was the governor of Katsina state, Aminu Masari that later decided to come and brief him about the negotiations that were going on. But if I were him, there was a chopper waiting for him in the house, and he should have taken that chopper to Kankara to symphatise with the people but instead he decided to go, and see his cattle. So to him the cattle are more important than the children of the poor.
APC is accusing Zamfara state governor, Matawalle of breeding bandits to destabilize the Northwest while the governor has fired back accusing the APC government of failure. Who do you think is funding or supporting banditry for political gains?
Zamfara state even before Matawalle took over as governor has always been a theatre of operation for bandits. Nigerians are not fools even if some people think they can fool us. People should remember yesterday. APC likes passing bucks. I don’t know who is funding or supporting banditry since I’m not in the security architecture but what I know is that bandits have been operating in Zamfara state long before Matawalle assumed office. But this APC government has been a total failure not only on security issues but also on other areas touching people’s lives. APC has brought untold hardship on Nigerians. It is a government of failure.
There are on-going machinations by PDP governors against Atiku Abubakar over the party’s 2023 presidential ticket, is the party not working towards self-defeat in 2023 already?
I don’t think it is time yet for us to start talking about 2023 presidency. It is only a fool that will start talking about 2023 today. And for an opposition party like PDP, they can’t do a marathon journey, what they should do is a 100 metre dash, they should just be strategizing for now instead of burning their energy on 2023, and if they can’t do that, that means they’ve lost it .If you are wise, and want to become the President, just go underground, and establish your structures, and come out at the appropriate time. That’s what they call 100-metre dash, but once you take the marathon option you will dissipate your energy, and strength.
A similar scenario is playing out in APC where some governors are trying to scheme Tinubu out of the race. What does this portend for the country, and 2023 polls?
Tinubu is not a newbreed politician. He should know that as a frontrunner that people will try to undermine him but it is his political acumen and ingenuity that will deliver him from them. So what is happening in APC is all part of politics. But Tinubu knows his onions very well, and if he is looking for anything he knows how to get it. Let them continue with their game. Who is even the chief planner? They can even plan anything but God is the master planner. They can’t do what God didn’t sanction. But like I said earlier, it is still a bit early to be talking about 2023.
How would you react to the recent declaration by the Financial Times of London that Nigeria is close to becoming a failed state?
That’s saying the obvious. Nigeria is already a failed state under this government. Nigeria has become a failed state under Buhari’s administration, and that’s the bitter truth. That you can’t travel safely from even Abuja to Kaduna, then what does a failed state mean? Bandits, and insurgents have taken over many parts of the country especially in the North. But the media is not reporting most of the cases, and that’s why some Nigerians don’t know that the situation is very bad. The security situation in the country is very terrible. Lives and properties are no longer safe and secure. It has never been this bad. APC has brought nothing but misery, poverty, and suffering on Nigerians.