Former Deputy Director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Mohammed Lawal, has berated some retired military generals, who are alleged to have ganged up to frustrate President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid in 2019. Speaking with VINCENT KALU, Lawal, a director in NNPC, said the former generals don’t have the needed clout to defeat Buhari, stressing that the president would retire them from politics in next year’s general elections.
In another interview with Saturday Sun, former Plateau State governor, Fidelis Tapgun, said Obasanjo, IBB, Abdulsalami and other retired generals will determine who wins next year’s election. In essence, he was saying, they have perfected the arrangement to install Atiku.
How influential do you think the ex-generals really are in terms of their capacity to change the outcome of the 2019 general elections?
We know there is a massive gang up by these retired generals against President Muhammadu Buhari, but the good thing is that, these generals and others are not God to determine the president’s destiny. Secondly, the generality of Nigerians; 90 percent of Nigerians who feel that they were denied goodies they were supposed to enjoy during the Abdulsalami days, and the 16 years reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of which Obasanjo and Jonathan were key players, are happy with what Buhari is doing to reposition the country.
These people brought Nigeria on its knees and we cannot continue in the same manner, where less than one percent of the population corners the resources and wealth of this country for their cronies and children. There must be a change in this country and it is gradual. Maybe if Atiku comes, or IBB or Obasanjo comes again, they must toe the line of this change that Buhari has instituted. Their grouse is that it is not longer business as usual for them; they are no more allowed to be sharing money and the resources of this country among themselves.
These retired generals you are talking about don’t have followers or the political clout needed to defeat Buhari. Time has passed when few of them or few people stay in one place and determine who would be the president of the country. It is the masses who are seeing how the president has rescued the country from total collapse under the PDP that will determine who wins the election, not these few who are just protecting their economic interests. Remember, in 1999, Obasanjo failed election in his polling unit, ward, local government, state and region. If he were all that powerful, why didn’t he win in all those places?
In the same vein, where were IBB and Abdulsalami when PDP lost Niger State? Even though these people have money, but in the fullness of time, the money will not help them in the election.
Has the emergence of Atiku as PDP flag bearer, caused any apprehension within the Buhari campaign group?
Like I said in an interview sometimes ago, Atiku has a rotten baggage. Obasanjo’s book says so much about the rotten baggage that Atiku is carrying. We are ready for Atiku. He is very crafty. It’s clear to every body, not only in Nigeria that he was banned based on corruption. He even said it on audio and video, when he asked why he cannot travel to the US. He replied that, they said it was administrative issues. If diplomats say there is administrative issue, it then means there is serious issue. There is no apprehension for us over his emergence as PDP presidential candidate. Our concerns are Nigeria and Nigerians, and not Atiku.
Was Atiku not with Obasanjo, who in PDP grounded the country? Obasanjo detailed the Atiku evils in his book. Nigerians are not ready to go back to those PDP days. We know what we are doing and we are resolute in restoring the glory of Nigeria. He took a lot of money from this country and already he is deploying that money by hook or crook to come back to power; we will watch and make sure he didn’t achieve his dream. It is not easy for Nigerians to forget what Atiku and PDP did to this country – causing so much poverty, economic downturn. When they were told to save for the rainy days, they refused and the result is plunging the country into economic quagmire.
Power is not by hook or crook, God gave it to Buhari and if He wishes that he continues, nobody can do otherwise, but if He says no, Buhari leaves, and Nigeria continues.
If Obasanjo wants us to believe that he has forgiven and forgotten, and that he is serious in Atiku winning the 2019, let him within the shortest time rewrite his book, and tell Nigerians that what he wrote in the previous book was a blatant lie against Atiku, and that he is swallowing his vomit and he should apologise to us. Just a chapter we want him to write and write the second edition and publish it, and then he has my vote for Atiku for the 2019 presidential election.
But people are surprised that it is now that APC remembers that Atiku is corrupt and that when he bankrolled Buhari’s election in 2015, and released his private jet that the president used to crisscross the country, he wasn’t seen to be carrying a rotten baggage?
I stated it again the way I did in my previous interview. Atiku didn’t contribute anything to Buhari’s election in 2015. I challenge him to state the money he gave to the Buhari campaign.
After the convention, when he lost, he ran away from Nigeria and claimed that he was sick, and only came back when we have won the election. If it were a project he believed in, he would have waited. I was a member of the presidential campaign council. Later, he tried to defend himself that he was not carried along. We were even begging him to collapse his campaign structure into that of Buhari, but he didn’t give approval to the directive.
His people are the ones brandishing these lies in the social media that he contributed to fund Buhari’s election. He fought Buhari to the last, and in the morning of the convention when the result was announced, his people were crying and blaming Tinubu. He didn’t believe in the Buhari ticket, and he showed it clearly by leaving the country during the electioneering campaigns. He fought Buhari to the last during the primaries and everybody knows that.
The post primary crises in APC instead of waning, is getting worse everyday; how do they hope to manage it for the party to stabilise before the next election?
The crises in the party started when Oyegun was the chairman, when he allowed the enemies of PMB to cripple and devastate the APC, so that by this time, the party would have long been dead, and to make sure that it doesn’t come back in 2019. Some of these people including Atiku and Saraki have gone.
When Oshiomhole was coming, knowing who he was and what he can do, the hypocrites within the party planned that he should not emerge as chairman of the ruling party. Had it been Oyegun continued, APC would have been dead completely. Right now, it is the PDP members within the APC that are making so much great noise about Oshiomhole killing the party or being corrupt, because he is showing the party the way and he is not running the party the way those people want.
Assuming Oyegun had left about a year and half ago, the party wouldn’t have had any crisis, but Oshiomhole is insisting on ensuring party discipline.
During Oyegun’s time, a governor demolished the house of serving senator, but he didn’t raise his voice; also, the same governor demolished the house of a zonal vice chairman of the party, the chairman then didn’t raise his voice. I served in the committee chaired by Governor Maisari to go and reconcile and resolve the problem in Kaduna State. Kaduna stakeholders and elders complained about the attitude of their governor and Oyegun won’t listen, but if the governor complained against anybody, Oyegun would take action in less than 24 hours. Oyegun created many areas in which the party has crises.
Oshiomhole is a blessing and he would settle the crises before we go for election next year. Within the shortest possible time, calm will return to the party. Those people attacking Oshiomhole have no basis. If there are 100 people attacking Oshiomhole, I’m assuring you, 90 of them are coming from PDP because they know the weaker he is, the better for them to capture power. Most of the attacks are sponsored by the PDP, and we would not succumb.
I salute Adams Oshiomhole, and I am telling him to move on in that direction, and I know change is not easy and it is not going to come easy, but we will get there. The governor having issues are those that just anointed successors in a Magomago election in clear breach of laid down guidelines, insisting on the old, which is not good. The President has appointed the Director General of his campaign, and since then there has not been any activity from the campaign organisation?
Why is the campaign organisation lukewarm compared to the activities of the Atiku campaign organisation that is moving everyday?
That is Atiku for you, a lawbreaker, and that is what you expect in 2019. He is somebody who breaks the laws of this country with impunity INEC has not lifted ban on campaigns.
You know the DG of Atiku campaign, Gbenga Daniel is just recovering from his troubles with his political master, Obasanjo, and that is why he is doing things to be seen or heard. You know the trouble he went through, even his principal, Atiku, you know the trouble they have with Obasanjo. We pray for long life, the Obasanjo, Atiku battle is not yet over; we are going to hear more of it. On the PMB campaign that you said is lukewarm, you see Buhari is in power, even campaigning at underground level, policies and governance will be affected. You should remember that the National Assembly delayed our budget for close to eight months, so we still have a lot of work to do and we want to deliver on governance. When INEC lifts ban, we will go full gear, there is nothing like being lukewarm. When the time comes, the president has every machinery to make the needed impact.
Since the APC claims that Atiku has rotten baggage, why is it that the EFCC has not invited him for questioning to add pep to the corruption fight?
He is a smart Alec. What happens is that if you keep some food items in your house, and you lock the door and close the window; and you are the only one in the house and you later found that some of the food items were missing, it means that there is a rat in the house coming from a particular hole that you couldn’t dictate. A rat is eating that food. That analogy is about Atiku. He may not be eating directly; he has accomplices that are doing it for him. This happened while he was the vice president, and they are regrouping again in PDP and fighting as a group to take power. If EFCC pounces on Atiku or Saraki, the attacks will come from the media that it is because he is a presidential candidate of PDP, or because Saraki opposed PMB.
Like you have said that Atiku used or uses cronies to carry out acts of corruption, can’t the EFCC go after them and from there, he would also go in?
Don’t worry, we are coming to that. If you look at what the president is doing now, the people and even the media are saying that he is being more democratic than even democracy; this is from his experience when he was the military Head of state, and he was accused of dictatorship, etc. He allows things to mature. Look at the Executive Order 6, the court has affirmed that the president was right. The PDP and others are saying it was targeted against them, but it is not so. Corruption is the greatest enemy of this country, and it has to be fought by all means.
As a northerner, what is your own understanding about the feelings in the North on who to support between Atiku and Buhari?
There are masquerades when they are coming, you see people waving to them, but another masquerade when it is passing, people will close their windows and stay indoors, to say bye-bye to it.
In the North I know, no doubt, Atiku has his own followers; there are some followers that hardly can you separate them from him. However, not less than 75 percent of the North will vote for Buhari, including states that the PDP candidate claims to be strong; and states that they have problems. We can remember that few years ago, Boko Haram was ravaging almost the entire North – from the Northeast; the sect was in Kano, in Niger, in Abuja, but it is a different story today because of how Buhari waged a war against them. America, Britain, United Nations and the world in general are applauding this feat by the president. The North I know, can’t forget this, and so will massively vote for Buhari.
Northern leaders were planning meeting with Southern leaders to move against Buhari. Why is it that Northerners are mostly the ones opposed to Buhari’s reelection than the Southerners?
These people you are talking about didn’t support Buhari in 2015; they supported Jonathan and are members of the PDP. We know them, even when they say they supported Buhari, it’s only in the papers. They are birds of the same feathers; they can’t see anything good in Buhari. Only a person with mischief or those I consider as Buhari adversaries will say that the president has not performed creditably well. Look at Balarabe Musa, he has never loved Buhari, he has always been in the opposition, PRP, but he asked people to vote for Buhari.
Like I said earlier, God will do what he wants to do in the country. It is not what the retired generals or some northern elders say that will stand.