•What Buhari is not getting right
Alhaji Buba Galadima is a Board of Trustees (BoT) member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. The politician in this interview accuses the presidency of being responsible for the poor state of APC, predicting that many members will dump the party for opposition parties in the near future. He also claimed that the agitation for restructuring is a ploy by politicians from the Southern part of Nigeria to distract the president. He spoke with IHEANACHO NWOSU on a number of other issues including his relationship with former Kano State governor, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso.
There was a recent newspaper report linking you to the presidential ambition of Dr Kwankwaso, as his campaign coordinator. How true is it?
I have not spoken with him on that. But I saw his text message calling my attention to the newspaper report, the page where the story was. He is not in the country at the moment. As a politician, anything is possible in politics. I am highly delighted that in addition to three other aspirants from different political parties who sought my support to give them such services, I am getting another one from a worthy son of Nigeria. But the most important thing is that Kwankwaso is an experienced politician as I see him from a distance. If he is to do what the report said he did , he cannot do it under the carpet, he will do it in the open. I am also sure that if Kwankwaso is making such an appointment he will take the sensibilities of Nigerians into consideration. He is not like other candidates. The sensibilities of Nigerians are that he would look at issues such as religion, ethnicity among others before making such appointment.
However, on a lighter note, I am highly delighted that the newspaper reported it and the public found me worthy for such a rumor.
Being very close to the former governor, is he nursing such ambition?
I know as a fact that Kwankwaso is working very very hard to establish his non political movement, the Kwankwasiya movement of Nigeria in all the nooks and crannies of this country. I also know as a fact that he is making a tremendous, unimaginable progress in this direction. People now line up for audience with him. Some even stay up to three, to four months to have an audience with him. That tells you how popular he is amongst Nigerians. What he is doing is non partisan. He is a member of the APC, I am a member of the APC. Kwankwaso would not be the first person to say publicly even if he wants to contest the presidency. I don’t think, for now, that such plans are on the table. When such is to be on the table, I am sure, he will make the public know his stand.
Definitely, the Kwankwasiya movement is a third force in Nigeria today. There is no organisation, apart from the APC, PDP, that is as formidable and commands large following like the Kwankwasiya movement of Nigeria. We will soon overtake some of the parties including the APC itself in mobilization. Some of us are experts in that area. When we start the nation will know where we stand.
From your explanation, it is strange that you are calling it non-political even when the target is to make the movement overtake APC and other political groups….
It is non political because it is not a registered political party, it is a non- governmental organization, non partisan, non religious, non sectional.
Why are you running away from calling it a political association?
No, it is not. It is a political movement, a non-governmental organisation. We are not yet a political association. However, we will determine the fate of any individual who wants to be Nigeria’s President.
Some have consistently claimed that the undertone of the unending fight between Kwankwaso and his successor has to do with his presidential ambition, that the president’s henchmen are uncomfortable with his ambition. How true is the assumption?
We are not unaware of such claims and issues. We know much more better. We know that a lot of sinister motives in curtailing his political ascendency are being executed. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like Kwankwaso is picked for what he believes in by security agencies so as to checkmate him incase he habours any ambition. But, we are men, we will answer our fathers’ names when the time comes.
From your assertion, are you saying that Kwankwaso now has more following than President Buhari in the North and other parts of Nigeria?
When I went to your village I saw everybody there with red caps (laughs…). I presumed that they are all members of Kwankwasiya movement. It is only people of value, authority in Igbo land that wear red caps. On Buhari , I beg of you to allow me speak only for Kwankwaso. I am only speaking of what I see everyday in the Kwankwasiya movement.
But let’s set the record straight, I am not a member of the Kwankwasiya movement, I am a keen watcher. To prove that I am not a member, I don’t have any red cap on my head.
But you are his close ally?
Can anybody stop me from being another person’s friend? We are in a democracy. That is the mistakes some people make. In politics you try to bring even your enemy close to you. The best strategy is not to distance yourself from your friend and your perceived political enemy. You have to make him your friend and he will become your most important asset. Your friend knows you very well; your strength and weakness.
What is the extent of truth in the rumour that one of the reasons Buhari distanced himself from you in the build up to 2015 general election is your romance with Kwankwaso?
No, Buhari cannot distance himself from me because of my relationship with other people. He is Buhari and I am Buba, we are two different people. He has his style when it comes to associating with people and I have mine. In this world I don’t have an enemy. I am one person that it does not matter the issue before me I will sleep five minutes upon lying on the bed. I do that because I do not hold anything against anybody. I am above 65 years, what is it that is remaining for me to warrant holding grudge against another person . Why should I begrudge you because you romance with my enemy? That is the issue.
Why did you jump boat in 2015? Why did you leave him to work for Kwankwaso?
I didn’t jump boat. He sacked me. He made a statement in the Daily Trust that my supporters and I can go and support anybody, that he didn’t need our votes. So he gave me the licence. However, I still voted for my party, worked for my party. And I am one of those that made it possible for him to be President today. If he engages me and I tell him what I did and what other people did for him to become President he will shed tears.
Was your reason for working for him despite his statement hinged on your belief that he was the right person to fix Nigeria’s problems?
Whether he was the right person or not was not the issue, he was the candidate of my party and I must work for my party. I don’t do double-dealing, I follow my conscience. I belong to a political party, until I renounce it, whatever decision it takes is binding on me.
So far, are you proud of what the government of your party has achieved two years after?
It is not about whether there is any achievement or not. I have my views, I will make them known at the appropriate time. I am a politician, I know when to strike. I don’t play to the gallery. I will strike when it will hurt most. That is why when people are insinuating or carrying false rumour because they thought there are a lot of talks about Buba Galadima in the corridors of power and they feel I must be distanced from government, I laugh. I don’t listen to rumours.
I don’t do anything under the carpet. Whatever I can do in the toilet I can also do it in the full glare of everybody.
Why do you have to postpone your view about goings on in the country when it has do with the masses which you always claim to be speaking for?
It is a matter of strategy and style. What is important is what I want to achieve with my speaking out frankly. If what I want to achieve cannot be done by talking now until May 29, 2019 then let it be. The effectiveness of what I do that is important, not what I do now. At the moment I am doing very well as a farmer. The Buhari government has asked us to go to farm eventhough they have not provided any farm implement or equipment. There is no fertilizer to any farmer. We are on the farm doing his bidding.
But the government has used CBN to grant you and other farmers loan and financial enablement
No, no, there are people from certain parts of the country that can never get loan or assistance from the government. I have been looking for some amount of money, I gave out my C of O, certificate of my farm and office that amounts to over N500m, yet no bank was able to grant me N16m loan . I had to sell my property to get some money. So what government is doing in the area of farming is mere propaganda, I have not seen anything on ground.
I wrote to the Minister of Agriculture that I needed to buy certain farm equipment and agricultural facilities, he is yet to reply my letter four months after. I had a late planting and I am suffering that as the rain has suddenly seized. If this type of treatment is being given to me, how about the man in the village who cannot reach the minister of agriculture or anybody?
Prominent Nigerians including Prof Itse Sagay condemned the reinstatement of former Pension Reform boss, Abdulrasheed Maina and the handling of the case against the suspended SGF, Babachir Lawal. What do you make of these issues and the ongoing war on corruption?
In this your question there are two, three things that need to be addressed. If I speak on corruption, what Buhari henchmen will say is that I am his enemy. They will say that because I was not offered appointment I am speaking in that manner against the government.
The question I keep on asking is, when Buhari was nobody and we were fighting together with him, where were these his so called men? Secondly, if I am talking because I have not been given an appointment, can anybody raise his finger that I ever told him or her that I need appointment from Buhari government? If I am given an appointment, don’t I deserve it looking at my work with him in the last 17 years?
Those who are calling me names, have they worked for the enthronement of this government more than me? Or is there any Nigerian that worked for this government by sacrificing his time, his life, his sweat and his blood more than myself? Don’t you know that God can ask questions? Having said this, I thank God that Professor Itse Sagay who is a Buhari appointee, who is a Buhari man is casting doubt on the ability of the government of Buhari to fight corruption. Professor Sagay is his appointee, if I was the one who said that, I could have been called unprintable names. Wait and see, none of them can attack him, but they want to convince the president that they are his friends and I am the enemy. When we were fighting together to make him viable in the eyes of Nigerians, to make Nigerians to come and key in to support him, where were those people who are now his henchmen? It is not time for us to talk.
On the Maina issue, the problem with this government and unfortunately for Buhari is that they are not communicating. In a modern day Nigeria, government must communicate to its citizens. There is nothing secret, government must tell Nigerians the reasons behind all its actions and convince them. For Maina, from what I have learnt from his counsel, a former Attorney General of Zamfara State and an honest man, Barrister Ahmed Bello Muhammadu, is that the issue is being twisted.
From his explanation, the reinstatement of Maina was near right but government could not communicate the reason for the recall very well to Nigerians. This is why I pity Buhari; whenever he leaves office, what he will hear about the actions of some of his Lieutenants will make him shed tears and he would have no audience who he can explain to.
If you approve of the reinstatement of Maina, do you also endorse the handling of the suspended SFG and NIA DG cases?
It is exactly what I am trying to tell you, government is not communicating. Why should it take the whole life for the government to take a decision, yes or no against the SGF or the NIA DG? This is why there are a lot of suspicions against the government. Few days after they were suspended, somebody came to me and said that all of them are going to be recalled because they cannot be sacked for certain reasons. He beat his chest for me. Now, six months later, it is like the man is being proven right, but I wish he is not proven right. Professor Sagay who is a constitutional lawyer and an apointee of the Buhari administration has also made his views known on this.
Should it be taken that the corruption government says it is fighting is a hoax?
The Civil Society Organisations have stated their case. They have told Nigerians the truth on this. I stand by their views.
Looking at the deluge of complaints about several states owing their workers salaries, people complaining of hardship among others, do you subscribe to views especially from the table of opposition that the APC government has not met the expectations of Nigerians or are the allegations against the administration exaggerated?
If I were a member of this government, I would submit a position paper on how the Nigerian money is being siphoned and stolen by three or four organizations or institutions of government. Government must probe pension schemes across the country; government must probe and stop insurance of public properties; government must reduce or stop consultancy. Government must put its eyes open on recurrent expenditure where 70 to 80 percent of national budget is devoted to. Despite such huge recurrent expenditure, we see everyday in police stations, in courts, in ministries, there aren’t even stationeries to write statements, no diesel to power generators. There was a time in FCT that for nearly one month, there was no light and nobody had money to buy generators. Then you ask, where is the money that is being voted. No public property is being painted or refurbished. With due respect to the president, he trusts the civil servants more than the politicians. When politicians steal N10, N7 will go to the people, when the civil servants steal N10, the entire N10 will go to himself and his family; who is the thief? I’m telling you that from these four things I mentioned, Nigeria can save three trillion naira.
It is strange you are advocating that pension scheme should be probed and stopped
No I didn’t say stop. When you probe the pension scheme, you will know if it’s being paid. The Paris club money was given to governors, yet salaries were not paid let alone pension, where did the money go. Can’t we ask questions, we are in a democracy my friend.
Where does it go?
Are you asking me? Am I a signatory to any pension account or any recurrent expenditure or insurance? They give about N200 billion to N300 billion for insurance, yet there is no record that any insurance paid one naira to government. When you say this, they will tell you the man is Buhari’s enemy, he is criticizing his government. There is an Hausa saying that says, ‘put down your luggage and tie it very well, does not mean you should put it down for us to share.’ I am assisting the government, I am the best friend of Buhari and he knows that. Nobody can say it to his face the way I say it. When you are in power and you do not have anyone that will tell it to your face what is not right, then you are lost.
Recently, the South West APC announced that the presidential ticket of the party is open, that anybody can contest, are you comfortable with the development?
Nobody in this government is thinking. If there is anybody that can think well, that statement should give them sleepless night and they should start parking. Were you surprised when the civil society organisations met and concluded that Buhari was not fighting corruption? Is there any journalist friend of this government? From the international to local media, which one has embraced the government? Nobody is thinking in this government, they are only subservient, saying yes sir because of what they are getting. They are not even thinking of promoting this government to deliver. Some of the ministers are doing sectional development, they consider their constituency as the entire Nigeria . You can’t travel from here to Kano because of bad roads, kidnappers and thieves. Why is nobody thinking? I wish I could get to him. Since I’m not looking for appointment, I will be able to say my mind.
There are fears that some people may leave APC before 2019, do you see that happening?
I envisage that a long time ago. The time to leave the party is not now. Only some of us who handled the formation of the party may remain. Even members of this cabinet will join forces with the opposition against the government.
Why do you think so?
You will see it, I don’t speak frivolously. Anything I talk about politically since 1979 has come to pass. That is why when certain people do certain things and abuse us, I just laugh. They don’t know that power is transient. If they want, they can kill us or detain us, that will not help them.
Is it that APC is not doing the right thing that will make its stalwarts to dump it for opposition parties?
No, APC has not been given the right support by government to do what is right.
In what way has government failed in that direction?
I have finished on that issue. You know what I mean. Several Nigerians and APC members know what I mean. You can extrapolate.
You are a BoT member, are you saying that the others feel the way you feel?
Has BoT met since the party won election? I saw Chief Nkire recently and he spoke glowingly about the party. He said that we met. In the course of talking, he contradicted himself by saying that we met before the election in 2015. He is talking about three and half years ago. I don’t know if his intention was to promote the party or to make me a liar. The BoT was reconstituted after the election. But he said we met in 2014, that is three years ago. And on the basis of that, he went on to say that the party is doing well. We are helping the party to be on its feet, we are not its enemies. Officials of the party know this fact and that is why they don’t react to what we say.
How much of trust do you have in INEC delivering a good election in 2019?
The political veterans have not started speaking, we will make INEC sit up, who are they? They are our servants. When we start talking, INEC will know who is talking. We’ll bastardize what they are doing with the international community. They know they have to listen to us, we’re not begging, it is a duty they must perform.
Do you see any sense in claims in some circles that the suspension of contract with Intel is a proof that Buhari’s henchmen are now going after anyone that criticizes government?
I can’t speak for Intel, Atiku is capable of defending himself and his interest. They go after me, they can afford to turn blind eyes to others but whenever I speak they will engage all charlatans to cast aspersions on my person. They would not talk about the issue I spoke about. They do that because those illiterates don’t understand anything. Illiteracy is not about not going to school only. There are people who went to school, some are even professors but they don’t know anything about the country. It is just like somebody telling me that we must fight against these Hausa / Fulani people. I asked one of them, is there any Hausa man who has been elected the President of Nigeria? He kept quiet. I asked him which Fulani man was elected President of Nigeria apart from Shehu Shagari, 100 percent mother and father? Our problem is that we as Nigerians don’t even know each other, we don’t even know our environment. Anybody that answers Moslem name is Hausa/ Fulani man. You are making us to feel that you are attacking Islam not House/Fulani. For that purpose, the House/Fulani is the most marginalised person. Hausa especially is the most marginalized even when they are the most large hearted, most accommodating people.
The division between the South and North over restructuring has continued , what do you make of it?
All those people talking about restructuring are people that don’t know what they are talking about. They have something deep down in their mind that they cannot say, so they are using the alibi of restructuring to make their point. Let them come out clean. We faced them at three conferences. We floored them in all of them . If you ask them what is the definition of restructuring, they don’t even know. For Falae, restructuring is something different, for Ezeife, it means something different and for Horsefall, it is something different . It is resource ownership for Horsefall , for Ezeife it is additional state for South East and for Falae , all the responsibilities of the federal government must be given to states so that the federal government will collapse and Nigeria will be dismembered. That is what they are saying . We know them very well. There is nothing like restructuring .Let any of them challenge me in a public debate on live TV.
But they have also argued that the current structure is not working. By your own standard, is the country moving in the right direction?
They are the people making it not to work. When they had their time they never complained. When someone else is in the saddle they make life difficult for him . Why didn’t anybody talk about restructuring during Jonathan’s time? He was there for more than five years, why didn’t they do it during Obasanjo’s time?
How about the unrelenting campaign for Sovereign National Conference by Pa Enahoro -led PRONACO and other groups which was meant to provide a platform for the restructuring of the country?
That was during Abacha. When did Enahoro die? He was leading the campaign during Abacha.
PRONACO, which he led did its conference in Lagos when the Obasanjo’s National Reform Conference was taking place…
Show me any newspaper report where he said that Nigeria should dismember if there is no restructuring.
Are you saying the restructuring campaign is targeted at Buhari?
Of course, Buhari himself should know, does he need to be told? Does he need Buba Galadima to tell him that all these issues are because of him and not anybody? They just want to distract him.
But under Jonathan, at the conference you were a delegate, the issue of devolution of powers to states and general restructuring of the country dominated the parley . Why are you saying it is targeted at Buhari?
Why didn’t Jonathan implement the decision when we finished, why did he leave it for Buhari? Why didn’t any of them raise a finger during Jonathan’s time? Why are they asking somebody who didn’t know anything about the report to implement it? It is because the Buhari government is not communicating, that’s why they are having a field day.