Alhaji Buba Galadima is an estranged political associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and in this interview, he argues that some forces may still drag the President into the 2023 presidential race. He spoke to TUNDE THOMAS on this and more.
What’s your assessment of the present state of the nation, especially the insecurity challenge?
I have never seen such a terrible situation like what we are witnessing in Nigeria today under the APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Not even during the colonial era, and the military period have Nigerians passed through this hard times. With Buhari in charge, it is like Nigerians have entered a one-chance bus. What is even surprising is that despite all the hardship, and suffering being inflicted on Nigerians, Buhari is not bothered. He doesn’t feel moved by the cries of hardship and sufferings, which his government has brought upon Nigerians. Now Buhari has travelled outside the country again. He has travelled to Saudi Arabia, and from there, he will go to the United Kingdom. Does that show the trait of a good leader? Buhari keeps on travelling across the globe while Nigerians are wallowing in poverty.
He is not moved by all the hardship, and not only that, he feels so confident that his mandate is secured. If not, he would not have travelled to Saudi Arabia on the eve of the hearing of petition, and appeal against his election by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of PDP. Buhari has already pocketed the judiciary, and he feels that nothing will happen, and that he will be victorious at the court. His government has destroyed the judiciary and this is very troubling for democracy, and our nation.
Talking about insecurity, it is not only limited to physical kidnapping, sponsored assassinations, banditry, armed robbery, and Boko Haram attacks, but now hunger has joined to add more to the woes of Nigerians under his leadership. Millions of Nigerians are hungry, very hungry, and hunger, which, this government has failed to address is now pushing many Nigerians into these crimes like kidnapping, and banditry. But I’m not surprised that Buhari seems not bothered by hardship facing Nigerians because he believes that everybody should be poor. His government is a disaster for Nigeria. But let me tell Nigerians this, and it may be shocking to some people. Nigerians should brace up for more hardship under Buhari. We’ve not seen anything yet.
With hunger everywhere, kidnappers, and armed bandits will become more daring. Bandits, and kidnappers will now get daring and operate in broad daylight in other cities apart from Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Lagos. Nigerians are in trouble under this APC government. The only alternative is for Nigerians to take their fate in their own hands. The rot in the country has become so pervasive that security operatives are also involved in kidnappings. They now connive with kidnappers. This government is a government of deceit, and honestly speaking, Buhari should have been impeached. Buhari should be impeached because his government has committed so many infractions. Not only that he doesn’t keep to promises, he breaks the law at will. Look at how they keep on changing their statements over the implementation of the new minimum wage. Same for the way they’ve treated security personel; they promised to increase the salaries of people working with the various security agencies but have they fulfilled their promises? They promised to dredge River Niger but failed to do so as the project has been abandoned. The government can’t be trusted.
But some Nigerians are saying that the Federal Government deserves commendation over the on-going war against corruption, and even in the area of infrastructural development-
Which corruption are they fighting? We see the ministers all over the place but are they working? They are just eating but not performing. I’m already nearing 70 and I will continue to say nothing but the truth. There is decay ,and rot all over the place, and Nigerians should stand up for their rights. Enough of this oppression. Enough is enough.
Some Nigerians have canvassed restructuring as the way out of series of challenges presently confronting the nation, what’s your view on that?
What is suprising is that many people talking about restructuring don’t even know the meaning. I was at the 1994 confab organized by late General Sani Abacha, and I also took part in the 2014 confab organized by former President Goodluck Jonathan but delegates at both confabs couldn’t define restructuring. For me, what I believe is we should look for ways to build one Nigeria, and be one another’s brother’s keepers.
Some people are even suggesting creation of State Police, but State Police for what? State Police will create more problems. It will result in anarchy because some states will acquire weapons, ammunition, helicopters, and this may be misused, and it will eventually lead to crisis for the nation. I don’t think we are yet mature for State Police because of the abuse that will follow its creation. There will be no need for agitations if we all agree to live together in unity, and submit ourselves to be one Nigeria. Then we should share everything equally, we should shun greed. We should promote equity, and justice. If we can do all these, Nigeria will become a great nation. It is unfortunate that Nigeria is lacking Statesmen today. What we need are leaders that will promote one Nigeria’s ideals not ethnic lords or champions. We need leaders that will make life comfortable for all Nigerians. We don’t want leaders that will keep amassing wealth at the expense of ordinary Nigerians. It is sad that while other nations are making life comfortable for their citizens, it is not so here. Government keeps on imposing various forms of taxes on Nigerians. Nigerians are already over-taxed, and yet government has not stopped. Even the 2020 budget is going to be financed partly through taxation, and that is imposition of another burden on Nigerians. Our leaders keep on referring to Nigeria as giant of Africa, but if I may ask, giant in what sense? What an illusion. Smaller neighbouring Ghana is now gateway to Africa but our leaders are wallowing in self-deception.
What’s your take on the on-going debates on 2023 as some Nigerians are saying that it is a distraction to governance?
A lot of politicians will be disappointed. Only God knows what will happen between now and 2023. Buhari may even be drafted to join the 2023 fray by some of his aides and associates. Buhari may be drafted by those enjoying under his government. Buhari has always been drafted to contest elections, and I won’t be surprised if his supporters draft him into the 2023 race. But clearly, what these politicians jostling and talking about 2023 don’t know is that they are over-exposing themselves. They are exposing their weaknesses, and their opponents or political foes may use it against them. Nobody knows how 2023 will go. It is only God that knows. Anything can happen between now, and 2023.
The recent calls for scrapping of zoning in 2023 by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the former presidential candidate of the defunct NRC, and some other groups in the North have been generating a lot of controversies with politicians from the Southern part of the country claiming that such calls will amount to a breach of the principles of zoning-
Which principle? I also hear some people talking about gentleman agreement, but who is the author of such agreement? If it is between PDP and APC, that’s their business, it is not binding on other political parties. Who is a gentleman in Nigerian politics? What I believe is that if we are doing democracy, let’s be doing democracy in true practice, and if we are doing arrangee politics, then let’s do arrangee politics. But in all honesty, I believe we should let people decide who they want as their leaders, and not any imposition or arrangee politics. It is the constitutional rights of Nigerians to determine who they want as their leaders or who wants to rule them. But if a cabal decides what they want among themselves, they should then come out with their choice, but it is Nigerians that should be allowed to decide. It is unfortunate that many Nigerian politicians often resort to self-help to win elections. They don’t allow Nigerians to decide.
A good example is President Muhammadu Buhari. He resorted to self-help to win elections in 2019. In many parts of the country, there was no election. They were just declaring results claiming that APC and Buhari had won in places where there were no elections. There were no elections in Yobe State, Jigawa State, Kebbi State, Niger and parts of Kano State. Only results were written, and declared. They didn’t allow counting of results. INEC colluded with the APC to rig the elections.
Some are saying that the breakaway R-APC you lead is dead. What has become of the group?
R-APC is still much alive. We are still very active, and that’s why I have continued to give political education to Nigerians. This is why I have remained vocal, and passionate about Nigeria. Since the death of Mallam Aminu Kano there has been no Nigerian politician that has been involved in educating Nigerians politically like me, and Nigerians also know that I’m saying the truth. But sadly, in Nigeria today, money has taken over everything. It is money that talks now.
On our case with APC, R-APC is still in court but if the court’s judgement doesn’t favour us, we may form another party to challenge the ruling APC.
Since return to democracy in 1999, it is the South East geo-political zone that is yet to produce the President and many Nigerians are of the view that it should be the turn of the zone in 2023. What’s your take on that?
I have been following the debates on this issue, but the question I want to ask is this, is it part of the constitution that it should automatically go to the South-east? I can vote for somebody from the South-east as President of Nigeria if such fellow has a large heart for Nigerians, if he is not a tribal President; but if such a fellow says I should vote for him based on where he comes from, I won’t. We should stop promoting tribalism but focus on developmental issues that will serve Nigeria’s interests. Look at the Bush family example in the United States of America. At different times, Bush Senior served as President, his son also served as President, and also another son served as a state governor, but can that happen here? No. If it is in Nigeria that such thing takes place, people will bring tribalism into it. But this kind of politics will not take us anywhere.
Elders statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo recently declared that he is not opposed to Nigeria’s breakup since the North is not allowing the country to work.
I respect Adebanjo for his courage, and forthrightness, but I, however, believe that he should be promoting unity of Nigeria. He should not be talking of anything that will cause division in Nigeria. You will never see me talking against any ethnic group. Adebanjo should be preaching one Nigeria. If North is not allowing Nigeria to work, what stops Oyo ,Ogun Edo, Anambra, and other states from working? What stops Oyo State from becoming thev Dubai of Africa? Is it the North again? Which Northerner stops any state or ties their hands from becoming Dubai or Singapore of Africa? If northerners decide to be docile, that’s their business. Nobody can slow you down from developing if you are serious in developing your place. If the North decides to remain backward, move forward on your own, and focus on your own development.
Some Nigerians recently canvassed the need for us to organize another national conference to chart the way forward for Nigeria.Do you support such calls?
There is no need for another confab. Our leaders know what is good for us, and so what they should do is to do the right thing. What Nigeria needs is leaders with foresight. Another confab will be a waste of time and national resources. They also need to promote accountability in Nigeria. We should hold elected public office holders accountable for their actions while in office, and even after completing their tenures. It is funny that some Nigerians are talking about 2014 confab as being ideal for us. They are asking for its implementation but that confab wasn’t representative. It is not ideal for Nigeria. I was a delegate to that conference, so I know what I’m saying. I was a delegate from Yobe State. Initially former President Goodluck Jonathan removed my name but there was an uproar both within and outside Nigeria over his action, and as a result I was brought back.