•Says Obasanjo can’t intimidate the president
Former Deputy Director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Engr. Mohammed Lawal, has accused the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) bloc in the APC of trying to disrupt the government of President Muhammed Buhari.
Lawal, in this interview with VINCENT KALU, warned that the activities of the nPDP amount to treason. He also said that Buhari could never succumb to intimidation from former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The nPDP is threatening to leave APC, what is your view on this?
Nobody knows where the nPDP is going. Are they going back to PDP or going to form a new party few months to the election? Is Governor Tambuwal, one of the advocates going to leave APC that made him
Sokoto State governor to join another party or Obasanjo’s new coalition that doesn’t have a local government councilor?
These people talk in the media to scare the people, but what is happening behind the scene, many people may not know.
They would have gone if they wanted to go. Will Saraki prefer to sit in the Senate as ordinary person or to remain as the president?
Everybody’s vote is important; their votes are important. We cherish them and their contribution to dislodge PDP. The psychological effect of leaving the party enmass was great.
People say that APC neglected their letter, it is not so; it is being treated at the appropriate quarters; they have met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, they are not going anywhere. The few that might leave are not conversant with the politics of this country.
Some of them are grumbling like Obasanjo. What state does Obasanjo have to cause so much disruption within the system? He is not a councilor and so has nothing to loose in terms of power game; he is not in any power position. So, he is treading on the ignorance of many people and they think that he is taking them to the promised land. Politics is about strategy and people have to strategise to know where they are going.
Are you sure that at the end, some of the nPDP members will not regret not moving out?
What these people are trying to do amounts to treason. APC has to put its feet down and do something about some of these people.
APC is the government, and the government is APC. This APC is composed of the nPDP we are talking about, the Congress for Progress Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), The All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and other interest groups, and if as they are trying to do, APC also pulls out, ANPP, and people like Obasanjo who are claiming to be the one behind the crown doing what they are doing, it means that they are causing a revolt and a sabotage on the government, and even disrupt a ruling party, which is the government, so, they are equally disrupting the whole government machinery.
What the nPDP is doing is equal to sabotage and treason. APC is government and if CPC aspect of APC pulls out, if APGA aspect of APC pulls out, if ACN aspect of APC pulls out, what remains? We agreed that APC is the ruling party, and it is the government, so, it amounts to treason. They should be careful in what they are doing.
During former President Goodluck Jonathan, it was the PDP revolting against itself. PDP was not composed of the elements the way we have it now, so you cannot expect the same disruption to government in terms of treason as I’m pointing out now. So, they should put their patriotic cap to know what they are trying to do.
Is their agitation not genuine, they complained of not being carried along, especially in terms of appointments?
Saraki was from PDP, and is the Senate President; Dogara, also PDP, is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. During the PDP era, the opposition never even got a cleaner in the National Assembly.
Abdullahi Adamu is the chairman of the most powerful Senate Committee on Agriculture, and he is from PDP. Ekweremadu is PDP, and he is the deputy senate president, and we tolerate him. What of Danjuma Goje, he is the chairman of Appropriation Committee.
Buhari is not an angel, but he is the most tolerant president ever in this country.
Look at what they have and they are still wailing, what else could be done to them? Nigerians are wise, our eyes are wide open. Saraki is the number three in this country. CPC has the presidency, the ACN, the deputy, and nPDP the senate president, as well as the speaker of the House of Representatives. The nPDP members occupy chairmen of most of the powerful and juicy appointments in the NASS, and they are complaining.
They also complain of not being considered for board appointments for those who are not occupying elective offices and that only CPC, ANPP and ACN are favoured
Go to Kwara State, about 99 percent of appointments given to Kwara State by the federal government get to people loyal to the senate president. The main problem is that this government came to effect a change, it is usually difficult to change what you are used to, especially corruption. If I were in their shoes I would probably behave like that. But they should understand that this gentleman, the president came on the premise that he would fight corruption, and it cannot be business as usual.
Look at what the former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala revealed that N17 billion was given to NASS before they could pass budget of about N150 billion, this money they shared among themselves, and no wonder Ekweremadu was buying houses in London and America, which the EFCC is trying to confiscate, David Mark was there also. That is why these people believe that they should fight to disorganise the president, it’s not about appointments.
Maybe it’s the money, pecks and privileges that they were used to, and they are behind the scene playing the music for them to do what they are doing. As godfathers, they have been enjoying these privileges more than anyone, and they continue to take all the monies of this country. We say no, let us distribute it around, and they are not happy. Look at what we are passing through as a result of the destruction they did to the economy for 16 years. Look at the money being discovered in NNPC that was not remitted. It is the main issue; it is not about not being given appointments. The senate president from PDP, the speaker from PDP and major appointments in the NASS from PDP, and the senate president is the arrowhead of the opposition against the president.
He would visit Dino Melaye in the hospital because he is his man Friday in the Senate, while Senator Nwaoboshi, is in jail in Lagos, and no senator goes there to sympathize with him. But, Melaye, who has been abusing the president, abusing the government, and trying to bring the government down, is the one
Saraki has to pay solidarity visit to in the hospital, why not visit Nwaoboshi?
The gathering against Buhari’s re-election is thickening; there is the Northern Leaders and Stakeholders
Assembly (NLSA), there is also former President Obasanjo, there is former military President Babangida, and Gen T.Y. Danjuma (rtd), who all supported Buhari in 2015, they are against him now. How can Buhari prevail against these forces?
I’m just hearing the Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly (NLSA) for the first time, even though I don’t claim to know everything politically in this country, but if I were privileged to see the list I would have given you a good analysis of who they are and what they can do.
Last time I saw some prominent Northerners was when they held a press conference, and I discovered that most of them were representing, and some of them wrote their name under the Northern Union. The late Oloye Saraki, the father of the senate president, founded this Northern Union. He left with the organisation, and I’m surprised that some people are still claiming to be members of the organisation, and attending meeting under that organisation because they don’t have anywhere to cling or any party to say they belong or any organisation they want to claim they belong, but they are coming under that auspices to fight Buhari.
We have to be pragmatic, Buhari meant well for the country, and if it is the will of God for him to continue, nobody can stop him and he would be there, and continue to do what is good for the country.
If it is God’s will that PDP will come back, and continue with what they did for this country in the 16 years, it was in power, so be it. Let the people decide. If it is PDP with those thieves that wreaked this country and brought it on its knees that is coming to prove that what Buhari is doing is a lie and that they are the right people.
These people who claim to be our messiahs have wreaked this country, and we have to be very careful. If it’s God will that PDP will come back to continue its destruction on this country, so be it. Buhari is not saying that he has to be the president by hook or by crook.
Those people, if they think they can play God let them continue. We are in government and if they want to play it rough, we are ready, and if they want it free and affair, we are ready. Nobody can come and intimidate anybody. We are students of power; students of politics, so anyhow they want to play the game we are ready. If they want to do it rough we are ready, they shouldn’t intimidate anybody.
Obasanjo touched Jonathan, touched Abacha and touched Babangida, but Buhari is different from those people. Buhari is not Jonathan or Yar’ Adua. We know the power game, we are students of power, and if you look at our background and history you cannot just come and intimidate us. Buhari can’t succumb under Obasanjo’s intimidation.
We have seen parallel state executives following the APC congresses across the country; do you think that under divided house the party will be victorious in 2019 election?
I’m not surprised with what happened uring the congresses. Nobody wants to leave this party. It’s just the struggle of the people to be in the right place and in the right position in a ruling party that is prepared to retain power. Everybody wants to remain so that they can continue to enjoy the power; some people believe that if they don’t struggle, they would be left in the cold.
It is for the party leadership to sit and know how to harmonise and iron out the differences. It’s a question of struggle for power, and that is why I told you that it is not easy for the nPDP to leave. This is a manifestation of the coming together of different parties and everybody wants to get involved in the sharing of the cake.
The party leadership should for the sake of peace and harmony carry as much as it could everybody along, and hold eventual peaceful convention.
How do you market Buhari?
It‘s going to be tough, but what is working in our favour is that as far as the gladiators are concerned, is there any of them better than Buhari in terms of integrity, honesty and sincerity of purpose?
He has done so much beyond the imagination of the opposition. Look at the standard gauge railway from Lagos to Ibadan, which is a priority for the Yoruba. You can’t say it’s a wrong decision by the government. The project has been on the drawing board for so many years and the PDP government didn’t have the political will to start it, but now the project is on going.
No matter how bad you hate Buhari or attach a religious bigotry badge on him as Obasanjo and others are trying to do, you cannot deny the fact that he met about ten major roads in this country that can dramatically change the economic fortune of this country that the previous PDP government ignored. We raised Sukuk bond of about $100 billion, and approved $10 billion for each of these roads, and mobilised contractors, these roads are about 50 per cent completed.
You cannot deny some parts of Borno were under the control of Boko Haram before Buhari came, but those areas have been liberated. In the area of security, nobody would say that we have not tried. Nobody will say that the challenges we have in the Northeast, Middle Belt, South-south, Southeast, Southwest and even in the Northwest, are not being attended to.
In the area of agriculture, nobody can say that we have not attended to eating what we grow, and growing what we want to eat. We came out of recession. There are a lot of things we have done.
In the Southeast, the leaders of the region are joining APC not because they want money, but they saw that for 16 years what didn’t happen in the zone is happening. Anybody doubting it should travel from Onitsha to Enugu or drive from Enugu to Port Harcourt. Is it the Second Niger Bridge, visit there and see if something is not happening there, visit the erosion sites in the Southeast and see if something is not going on there. All these are areas of activities of which the Southeast leaders are grateful and they started joining APC.
But because of the new emerging herdsmen problem in the North Central, which is even more pronounced in Buhari’s Northwest region of Zamfara, where the same herdsmen are killing their own brothers and sisters more than in Benue State, people are talking because PDP is brandishing money and other things to change the narrative and the game.
This is my position, if Nigerians want PDP to come back and do what they did in 16 years let them come back, we all will suffer it together, but nobody will intimidate us. If it is roforofo fight, we are ready.