Rufai Hanga is the founding national chairman the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), President Muhammadu Buhari’s former party which later merged to form the All Progressives Congress (APC). But as the second tenure of President Buhari begins on May 29, 2019, Hanga, a former lawmaker and chieftain of the APC, speaks exclusively to Daily Sun, saying there was nothing to suggest that Buhari’s next administration will be better than his previous one.
The first tenure of President Buhari is winding down and he will begin his second tenure on May 29. In what areas do you think the president has done well and what are the issues you would love to see him tackle as this administration enters into its next phase?
There are multifaceted issues and as someone who cares about this country, it will be difficult for me to start pinpointing the most important. The fact is that everything is wrong with Nigeria now. The security situation, especially in the North is worse than it has ever been in the history of this country because now people are being abducted on a daily basis. Before, insecurity was limited to the North East, but now, it has spread to all parts of the country. We have never had it this bad since the inception of Nigeria.
Present and past administrations have spent billions on security, but the killings and abductions seem not to have abated. Recently, Gen. Buratai said the army needs more billions to tackle insecurity. Why do you think the country has not seen the effect of the amount spent in that sector?
The problem is that this administration lacks capacity all round. There has never been a time in the history of this country that we spent the kind of money we have spent on security in this administration, yet there is no significant improvement. It is this lack of capacity that makes this aministration not to embrace change. If you try a method and it does not work, you do not need to try it again. Try another method. You do not apply the same method and keep getting the same results without changing course.
Do you think a new set of security chiefs can get the job done?
It is that lack of capacity that has made President Buhari not to change the security chiefs till date. He should have changed them but he cannot because he lacks the capacity to do it. Even if you are not doing your job properly, the president would never see anything wrong with what you are doing. He will not think that you should be changed for lack of competence. He has never changed anybody but if he had the capacity, he should have known that you change members of your team who do not have competence. It is unfortunate that we were the ones who discovered Buhari and made him to believe in himself that he can be the president. But many of us who were with him from the beginning are disappointed in his performance. He has dashed all our hopes and my worry is that he will go down in history as a non-performer which will be very unfortunate.
You complain that the insecurity in the North has worsened, but in the recently conducted elections we saw the North delivering more votes for the president than it had ever had. Is this not a contradiction?
Who brought the votes? I was in the field and I can tell you for a fact that it was the military, Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that produced the votes and not actual voters.
Are you insinuating that the votes he got from the North are not a true reflection of the current situation?
No, they are not. You want naked facts right? I am saying the truth and I am saying what I know. Let me tell you that there is someone who told me personally that no matter what Buhari does, he will follow him to the last. He believes that Buhari doesn’t have the capacity to govern but he is manipulating him because of his personal ambition.
Who is this person you are referring to and did the individual personally tell you this? What are the president’s advisers doing?
The person I am referring to is Bola Tinubu and he personally told me that he will follow Buhari to the end. We spoke one-on-one and he personally told me this. Unfortunately, Buhari does not know that he is being manipulated. Tinubu is using the APC machinery to manipulate things. There are many things happening that I cannot reveal now but it will definitely be revealed later. He is controlling things through the national leadership of the APC. He is the one that brought in Adams Oshiomhole, so whatever you hear Oshiomhole say is what Tinubu wants him to say. He is the one pulling the strings. Tinubu is now delving into things that do not concern him in the North. You cannot control things in Lagos and also want to control things in Kano. We will not allow it to happen and we will see who will succeed between him and us.
You talked about the president having advisers; but who are those advisers? They are busy making money for themselves. There was never a time in the history of this country that people came from nowhere and made the kind of unbelievable amount of money those around Buhari are currently making. I cannot say this publicly without facts to defend myself. I am an accountant and I have been in the system so I know what I am saying and it is factually correct. We have the records. Those around the president have become billionaires. They do not care about the country. They are not there to help the president realise his vision, they are more concerned about themselves so they will never advise the president on something that would not benefit them. They are not there to help anyone, they are doing for themselves. These are people who could not buy air tickets from Kano to Abuja in the past, but now, they can buy aircraft.
If according to you, Tinubu wants to be president; do you not think he has a right to contest, knowing that the party will zone the 2023 presidency to the South West?
He is doing it because he wants to be president but he will get a shocker because there are many people who surround the president who do not want him. They prefer Osinbajo. Osinbajo and Tinubu are one and the same but they will soon separate them because we are talking about power. We are also waiting to see if the South Easterners are not Nigerians. The South East is one of the major shareholders in Nigeria but throughout Buhari’s tenure they were not represented. I am not speaking for them but I am saying the truth. Now Tinubu wants the House of Representatives speaker to come from the South West and he has anointed his boy, Ahmed Lawan to be Senate President. These are some of the schemes he is making in order to achieve the presidency in 2023. Everybody knows that Tinubu is in control of the party at the national level because all the principal officers of the party are his boys. We are in the same party and I know what is happening. He is controlling the party and now he wants to also control the legislature and I doubt if he will succeed. I seriously doubt if the party can impose candidates on the National Assembly. The legislature is a branch of government and they should maintain their dignity but Oshiomhole is a unionist and not a politician; he is better at shouting and talking. He speaks to the legislators as if they are school children.
Do you think the incoming legislators especially the new ones will have the courage to go against the party’s decision?
Those who did not have the courage before did so because of Buhari. But he is now like a lame duck and he’s not coming back again and it may even be the end of APC this time around. If I were in the leadership, I will tread softly so we can succeed. Up till today, I am still a member of APC but I may not be there for much longer because I do not see the point of being in the party. I am not looking for anything; otherwise I would have left Buhari. I supported him from inception but I am now disappointed. I am angry because the success we hoped this administration will achieve did not happen and may not even happen at all.
If you are given the opportunity to serve in the president’s next tenure, will you take up the offer?
I do not know because I have not been called yet. I know I will not be called because there are people in the presidency who would not want to see my face there. My going there is a threat because I know too much about them so they would not want me there. But if I have audience with the president, I will advise him honestly because I am not a sycophant. The president knows me inside out and knows I will always speak the truth to him.
What is your advice to the president on the economy?
What do you mean? In the early period of his first tenure when the president was being criticised on the lack of economic policies, did he respond like someone that knows what the economy is about? He simply told his critics that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was the head of the economic team. It showed that he didn’t even know what people were talking about. We need a financial expert to head the economic team and not a lawyer.
Lawyers have said it will be extremely difficult for Atiku Abubakar to prove rigging in court, so if the Supreme Court rules against Atiku, there will not be a change of government in the next four years and according to you, Nigerians should not expect any positive change. What then is the way out?
I also believe that Buhari will win in court because our system is broken. A sitting president has never been removed through the courts in Nigeria because he will use the same system he used in winning the election to win in court. I believe that Buhari will continue and that is why my heart bleeds with the way the country is going.
My heart also bleeds because of how history will remember Buhari. He is surrounded by people without capacity yet he is afraid to change them. He is surrounded by people who never believed in him and they cannot fight his cause because they were not part of those that discovered him and brought him to limelight. Those are people who would have shared his vision but he left them and surrounded himself with people that are more concerned with enriching themselves. Even his anti corruption fight is not being done properly because the bigger thieves are the civil servants and not even the politicians. The directors and permanent secretaries in ministries own two thirds of Abuja; it is a fact. We cannot keep quiet anymore because things are degenerating.