Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Isa Saulawa, a former PDP presidential aspirant from Katsina State, says his party’s presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is set to floor President Muhammadu Buhari in Saturday’s presidential election. He also spoke on other issues of interest.
What is your reaction on the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for last Saturday?
The news of the sudden postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections came to us in the PDP as a great shock because we were set to participate fully like many other Nigerians and groups. We regard it as an act of cowardice on the part of the APC. This is because we look at the INEC as an agency that acts on the dictates of the government and it was clear to the government that APC could not have won the election if it had held that day. So, the government had no other choice than to direct the INEC to postpone the elections. We believe that INEC was ready to conduct the elections and we suffered great losses both economically and politically. We had set all the machinery of the PDP in motion for the polls. We had mobilised our officials and deployed them to various polling centres across the country including giving them money, to take care of their feeding during the exercise. But unfortunately, the information came that the elections had been postponed, without genuine reasons. We are still waiting for the APC government to tell us through the INEC, the real reasons they decided to postpone the elections. And, we hope they will not postpone the elections again on Saturday, February 23. If they do it again we are going to declare a revolution.
But the INEC Chairman hinted that they were not able to distribute electoral materials as part of the reasons they decided to shift the elections. You don’t believe that?
Then the question you should ask them is to tell Nigerians what they have been doing for the past one year during which they ought to have done all the calculations on how to take all the necessary actions before the election days. But less than six hours to the elections they said they could no longer conduct the elections. This reason is certainly not acceptable because it does not hold any water. The INEC has indirectly revealed to Nigerians the weaknesses inherent in the APC government. But we are not surprised because right from inception it took the APC government about six months before it could name its cabinet. The government has consistently exhibited varying degrees of weakness and that is why the PDP decided to challenge them at the polls. Apart from Buhari and Tinubu, most of all the others in the APC government are garbage from the PDP. That is why some of us cannot go to APC because what you cannot see in the PDP you can be sure to see it in the APC. The APC is like a dustbin ready to accept all the garbage from the PDP. We expected a better performance from the APC especially given Buhari’s background as a military officer but he has disappointed everybody. Buhari came in and saw everybody crying because of fuel selling then at N87 per litre, he said that he was going to reduce the price but to our surprise he increased it to N145. Apart from the hike in prices of goods generally since the inception of the administration, Buhari’s government also saw to the hike in the cost of performing both Muslim and Christian pilgrimages. He met us buying a bag of rice for N7, 000 but today in Katsina rice sells for N14, 000 and in Abuja it is about N24, 000 and it is even higher depending on which part of the country you live.
Now, on the postponement of the elections, given that INEC is an independent organisation, what gives you the impression that the electoral body takes orders from the president more so as Buhari is reported to have expressed shock too at the postponement?
Who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces? Who is the Chief security officer of the country? The ‘independent’ in INEC does not mean anything. That organisation cannot source funds to operate on its own. Government has to fund it. The INEC Chairman on behalf of the organisation represents Buhari and the APC government. The INEC Chairman could not possibly have taken such a decision, to potstone an election of this magnitude without consulting the president or the presidency. Nobody in Nigeria can take such decision alone without seeking the opinion of the government. We have to face the reality more so as the Buhari we have today is no longer the Buhari we had in those days. The Buhari of today is a political Buhari. He was surprised that the head of the Judiciary was removed, he did not know. A former SGF stole money and Buhari said he did not know about it. So many things have happened which he claimed he did not know anything about them. A snake swallowed N36 million and he said he did not know. So, I am not surprised at Buhari saying he did not know about the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday. Well, now that he knows, what has he done? The postponement is to his advantage and that of the APC because they were not ready for the elections. The PDP is set to win the elections but it is left to the APC to develop new mechanisms for election rigging. The postponement is one of the rigging strategies which the APC government formulated and if they dare rig the elections this time, I swear to you, the APC government will leave the Villa without knowing how they got out.
But the INEC has repeatedly insisted that nobody is capable of rigging the elections due to the technology being deployed in the electoral process. You don’t believe INEC?
But you should know that that is glib talk. How many times has the APC rigged elections in the past? They did it in Ekiti. They did it in Osun and we allowed it but they cannot go free with this one if they dare it again. How many ballot papers, thumb printed in favour of APC, were found in Kano? The police arrested them, the media and the international community know about it. Those are the ones that the police were lucky to have discovered but does anybody know the ones that have gone undetected?
What gives you the confidence that the PDP will win?
Now, let us look at the simple analysis. Buhari is Fulani and Atiku is also Fulani and let us divide the country into three starting with northern Nigeria. Buhari and Atiku are Muslims, so, there is no issue of dispute in religious differences as was the case between Jonathan and Buhari in 2015. We assume that as Muslims, Buhari gets 50 per cent of northern votes and Atiku also gets 50 per cent. Now, let us go to the South -West. Due to Osinbajo factor and given the fact that they actually started the APC in the South West, we are sure 60 percent of the South West votes will go to Buhari. Forty percent of votes from the South West will go to Atiku. Now, let us go to the South East. Buhari should forget the area completely because you cannot send soldiers there for operation Python Dance, simply because the people expressed their fundamental right to self determination. I believe in one united Nigeria but the South East agitation ought to have been handled in a better way and not using soldiers to go and deal with the people. Now, it is election time and you expect those people to give you their votes and clap their hands doing that? That is not possible. The Igbo people will embark on operation python vote against Buhari and that is why 90 percent of the votes there will go to Atiku. This is also considering the Peter Obi factor and Jennifer, Atiku’s wife who is from there and she is going to bear the name of First Lady. You expect them to give Buhari all their votes. Buhari will get 10 percent votes from the South East because there is no doubt that some people from there, stand with Buhari. If you put the figures together, Atiku will get 180 and Buhari will get 120. The margin is 60 percent. This is a simple analysis and we are not talking about religion. If you bring in religion into it, perhaps, only few Christians would want to go with Buhari. And, on the Muslim perspective, the Muslim Shia leader and his wife have been in detention under the APC government, without undergoing proper judicial process. Soldiers killed several Shia members in Zaria. Though they were wrong in blocking the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, but that does not justify the mass murder that followed. So, Buhari has also lost the Shia votes from the Muslim north. So, tell me where he will get the votes to win the presidential election from? Even the APC is divided into factions and some of them will not vote Buhari. Who threw missiles at Buhari in Ogun State? Certainly, APC followers did that at the rally. That is why I said that if they dare rig the elections, we are going to declare a political revolution against them. At the appropriate time, I will tell you what political revolution means.