Alhaji Ya’u Adamu Danfulani, is a National Coordinator of Buhari Presidential Campaign Committe. In this interview with ABDULLAHI HASSAN, he refuted the rumour that President Buhari is planning to witch-hunt opposition and critics of his administrations or those that challenge his election in court soon after he is sworn in for a second term. He said those who lose elections while in office, failed because of their inability to perform, describing the concluded elections as wind of new change brought about by President Buhari in Nigeria’s democracy. He also set an agenda for newly-elected leaders and host of other issues.
You headed a Buhari Presidential Campaign Committee, what is your assessment of the conduct of the elections generally?
The election was generally not bad and it portrays our maturity in democracy and rate at which Nigerians are concerned about their right to chose leaders for themselves by themselves. Although there were hiccups here and there before the kickstart of the elections especially with the postponement of the polls, but that one is normal in a growing democracy like ours. I think it was not deliberate but circumstantial. Sometimes, it is good to correct mistakes while trying to do the right thing than leaving mistakes for doing the right thing. Once you leave mistake in your plan, it’ll eventually destroy the entire arrangement of the planning . So, what INEC did was right because later, we have seen the good result. Free and fair elections were held. It was an election that was described as free, fair and peaceful by both foreign and domestic observers. Although some losers are planning to challenge the matter in court of law, no problem, it is their constitutional lawful right. Muhammadu Buhari went to court three times to re-claim his mandate which was supported by Nigerians at that time. But the questions to ask here is, can Atiku succeed while his own party and his closed associate are urging him to accept the result in good faith? We are waiting to see his game plan. This is democracy where every one can exercise his right at any point. We have done our own and God has accepted our prayers; we worn elections almost all over the country. I expect my brother to respect people’s advice on the power of destiny.
Your party boasted that it would defeat the opposition party landslide but from the result obtained in the presidential and gubernatorial elections , the victory was not with a wide margin. What went wrong?
No, you got it wrong my friend, are you saying that four million votes are not enough. We would have got more than that vote if our supporters in South- West had turned-up massively for the elections and if the violence that threatened the life of voters was not injected in South- South and South- east. I am sure every Nigerian is a witness to what happened in Porthacourt, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Enugu and Anambra states. These were some areas that violence had deprived APC supporters and sympathizers to come and participate in the elections.
Typical example is Rivers State where since the court of appeal in Abuja passed judgement over APC candidate, the PDP government had shivered and began to find ways that will destroy the success of APC. Have you forgotten that Muhammadu Buhari has trashed Atiku Abubakar in the North- East, his own regional area talk less of North- West and Central where the difference and margin was glaring and convincing. Let me emphasise here that whosoever challenged or competed with Buhari in this material time of politics ended up in shame and wasted his resources and popularity. Muhammadu Buhari is God’s gift to Nigerians and currently the most beloved person by the dominant populations of Nigerian masses. The general election was over and some governors, national and state assembly members are returning to office, while many have failed the elections . But for those who failed, they failed because of their failure to perform. President Buhari has won elections based on performance. You see, gone are the days when you sit down and expect Buhari to come and campaign for you even if you didn’t serve people for good four years in office. So, we are witnessing an era of new democratic transformation brought by President Muhammadu Buhari.
On low turn- out of voters in South-West especially Lagos which is the APC’s second largest supporters’ base, the turnout surprised many Nigerians. What does that indicate; losing popularity or political miscalculation of your party?
Not at all , let me correct the impression that there was low turn- out of voters in lagos or South- West. What we are saying is that if compared with voters that registered and the people that voted during election, you would conclude that people did not come as expected. That could be attributed to a number of factors, one , it could be because of the prevailing circumstances at the time caused by initial postponement of elections or people’s inability to withstand the delay in commencement of voting. Of course, there were complaints in many areas that Card reader machines developed faults and it took time for electoral officers to rectify the problems and so many reasons like that. Look at what happened in Gubernatorial elections; despite all odds, many voters participated massively in South – West and other places although there were only complaints of low turn-out of women yet the result was good for us. There is another notion; most Nigerians to some extent, pay more attention to central government than state and that is why you find that if the candidates come from the opposite region, the election will take a different dimension in terms of full participation. In this case, the two candidates are from the same zone, perhaps not all will be bothered much to participate. If you look very well, North and South-West participated more than South- East.
In the recent governorship elections, there were reports of cancellation of result here and there in some states. What is your comment on this?
Yes, but it is common and normal in general elections like this. Cancellation of elections is usually done on circumstances or on reasons. It could be based on multiple invalid votes that exceed the differences of scores merging between candidates, or absence of card reader, violence, rigging or malpractice or any other related reasons. You see, it is dangerous to have more cancellations of elections in a sensitive election like this but there is no alternative to cancellation if it happened. But what is important is how to manage the consequences or implications of it’s aftermath of the general elections especially on timing the supplementary elections. That is where the anxiety of voters always hinges on. It is imperative for INEC to re- consider the need to schedule supplementary elections within the shortest possible time in the affected areas. These are issues that we’ll propose to INEC on amendment of electoral act which formed part of the rule of the game.
Another issue that dominates the social media is the possibility of Muhammadu Buhari witch- hunting some opposition party members and the critics of his administration when he is inaugurated for a second term; do you agree with that position?
Honestly, I am not aware of this plan and knowing Buhari very well, he will not do that. In fact, if there is any motive for witch-hunting , he would have done that since he took over government in 2019. He came to serve and correct anomalies in Nigerian political system particularly our democracy which was considered as parley for corrupt practices and maladmnistration of justice. In fact, I met Mr. President personally along with my colleagues in Agro- dealers shortly after elections and we discussed vital issues including how he wants to run his government with honesty and sincerity. You see, those that are speculating this are perhaps some mischief makers who want to score points or generate political controversy. Please can you tell me one person that was witch-hunted in Nigeria because he opposed Buhari.
Muhammadu Buhari has returned for a second term in office while new governors have come on board, what agenda can you set for them?
We thank almighty God for the success; President Buhari has already gone far in improving the lives of Nigerians. This is the second phase of Buhari’s administration which will include the first tenure of some new governors. So let me emphasise that as human, we are bound to make mistakes and this is the time to correct the past mistakes. The most important area that deserved more attention is the issue of security particularly the continuous operations of terrorists, prevention of ethno- religious violence, farmer/Fulani headsmen clashes and rampant cases of kidnapping across the country. On this note , there is need for federal and state governments to establish Conflict Consultation and Resolution Commission (CCRC) to handle cases related to communal clashes and interfaith crises. It is a world-wide belief that any crises can be solved through dialogue, mediation and negotiations. The second important aspect is the job creation. Infrastructure remains a major bottleneck to the socio- economic development of Nigeria. Recent report revealed that Nigeria requires USS 2.9 trillion to close gap of its infrastructures over the next 30 years. This clearly means an average annual infrastructure spending of S25 billion dollars by government. I think , we have to call for the need to broaden our revenue base by encouraging private-public sector collaborations. However, government should add more support and increase production in the non- oil sector of the economy by creating a conducive business environment and revive our ailing agro-allied industries as well as power sector. Private sector is the key to any economy and agro- allied sector alone can create jobs to more than 5.5million people annually. Unemployment especially to youth is the basis for criminal activities, therefore the new elected leaders must take this with seriousness. On the fight against corruption, the Federal Government should hasten the inauguration of Anti Corruption tribunal at the federal and states for speedy trial of cases related to corruption.
Other areas that require quick intervention are the completion of dredging of River Niger and River Ports at Lokoja and Baro which will cover the distance of 572km. This project is important as it will enhance inland waterways transportation and will open up the northern part of the country to more commercial activities .
More importantly, the Federal Government should review the privatisation of power generating companies and electricity distribution companies which was carried out by Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations. Since the take off of these companies, the distribution of electricity has not significantly improved. You can see that our industries are still grounded as they cannot effectively function with gas generators; the cost is so high. In fact, that is what is preventing our foreign investors from coming to Nigeria. Power generation is central to industrialisation; that is what keeps developing countries alive.
What are the lessons learnt from the just concluded elections?
We have a lot to learn from 2019 elections. But it is important to state that Buhari has brought so many changes to our nation’s democracy. It is the first time in the history of Nigeria that a common man’s vote became so significant to the change of leadership. In the past, it was a system of few deciding for the majority of the country. In other words, whether you vote or not, the result will be announced even in the areas where they did not vote at all. Buhari brought an end to box stealing, or vote purchasing. Buhari brought an end to imposition of candidates. Even at the worst, if a candidate is imposed at the primary election level, certainly people will reject him at secondary election because people will vote for another party. This is what happened in Bauchi in the just concluded elections where many candidates failed because they were imposed. Muhammadu Buhari also brought changes in the voting pattern whereby only credible candidates are elected and not necessarily on party affiliations. A typical example is how some APC governors and Assembly members failed elections in their states and constituencies. In fact, with the re-introduction of Direct primaries at presidential position, it is a signal that our next elections will be direct through discarding of delegate primaries.
Are you satisfied with the conduct of the election by INEC?
INEC has tried but you see, elections have gone beyond voting process; it also includes the security of the voters. So, security, media and community leaders have also tried in ensuring the success of 2019 election. But I still want to say that there are some mistakes here and there especially the early preparations of the elections . It will be embarrassing for a country like Nigeria to be postponing elections 12 hours to the exercise.