From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Senator Abubakar Girie represented Adamawa Central Senatorial District from 1999 to 2003, after which he tried his political luck on the gubernatorial contest of the state under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on many occasions, but lost at the primaries.
He had since dumped the PDP for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
In this interview in his Kaduna home, Senator Girie, a Fulani extraction of Adamawa State, said that with the way and manner large crowd of the masses are following President Muhammadu Buhari on his campaign rallies across the country, the president has already won the forthcoming election because the masses, unlike the elite, are the real voters. Excerpts:
The general election is around the corner. As a politician, how do you see Nigeria surviving the election, considering the fact that the two leading contestants; President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are both northerners?
Thank you, Nigeria has survived many elections, Nigeria will survive this one, and it will survive many subsequent elections. The general election is less than a month as we speak. And I am very hopeful that the election will come and go successfully and peacefully, and it will produce the result that will be acceptable to the majority of Nigerians. This is not to say that there will not be people who will cry foul or who will not be happy with the outcome of the election. There will always be people who will not be happy with the outcome of the election of the nation. Democracy is the will of the people; once the popular will of the people is allowed to stand, we will not have problem whatsoever. And we should not bother if one or two people cry foul because it is normal, it is expected.
You are from Adamawa State, and the PDP presidential candidate is also from Adamawa State, so he is your brother, but what are his chances of winning the election against President Buhari?
It is not fair to ask me this question. I am not in the campaign train of our brother and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, so, I wouldn’t know his chances. But all I can tell you is that I was in Adamawa in the first or two weeks of last month (December) where I did my Christmas and the New Year holidays and so on, and as an APC member and strong supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, I have gone through the nooks and crannies of the state to campaign for President Buhari, and I have a very high hope and confidence that President Buhari will win the 2019 election.
He will win the election through popular votes. In fact, I will go further to tell you that as far as majority of us that are political analysts are concerned, the game is over in Nigeria. President Buhari has already won the election hands down. I want you to write it down, and come back on February 20, exactly three weeks from today (the day of interview with the reporter) and do another interview with me because by that time the result must have been announced. President Buhari will win hands down by 56 per cent or 57 per cent of the total vote cast across the country.
Some Nigerians are saying that the crowd that have followed the president so far are rented crowd. In your opinion, are they rented crowd?
Who will rent crowd for Buhari because you know for sure that Buhari is not a moneybag. You also know for sure that the people following Buhari are not moneybags. The people following Buhari are poor people like me who has no kobo. So, who will rent crowd for Buhari, he is a natural crowd puller. It is something that God has given to him, you can’t take it away from him. We noticed this as far back as 2003 when we joined hands with our colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives and pulled out of PDP and negotiated with the owners of APP then, and later changed the name of the party to ANPP, and Buhari then was the presidential candidate of the ANPP, and he gave us, our own group, Vice President position to my late good friend, Chuba Okadigbo. Our past outing then, we went to Adamawa and Mubi for political campaign, and that was when I noticed that there is a magic behind President Buhari as an individual. I saw an 80-year old man running with his Baban Riga (flowing gown) in order to go and have the view of Buhari. Nobody actually mobilized the crowd, they just heard the news that Buhari was coming to town, and everybody was trooping to the venue. Today, the same thing is happening across the country. You saw the crowd in Kaduna, so, nobody will hire a crowd for Buhari.
Is the same crowd not following Atiku too?
Are you sure it’s the same crowd, the same good number of crowd?
Well, from what we have seen so far.
No, you have not seen the same crowd. You have not seen the same crowd in Kaduna, Jos, Minna, Lokoja for any presidential candidate other than Buhari. You will not see such crowd for any other candidate.
Taking you back a little bit Sir, are you saying that Atiku cannot win his home state of Adamawa?
This question has nothing to do with the reality on ground; the reality on ground is President Muhammadu Buhari, even before he became president, Buhari has endeared himself to the masses of this country when he was the Head of State. Since that time till today, there is no Nigerian that is as clean, as trustworthy with integrity and impeccable character than president Buhari. This is what the masses of this country are looking for, that is what they are looking at. And the three and half years that he is in the saddle has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt, his patriotism, his love for the masses of this country and his nationalistic feelings for the country itself. When we talk of real insecurity, not the one masterminded by politicians, the real insecurity; Boko Haram, I can tell you that we in the Northeast are not sleeping with two eyes closed. Ask anybody in the Northeast, he will tell you that we are now sleeping with our two eyes closed. There is no doubt about that. All what you are hearing now are being masterminded by politicians for selfish reasons. They will not succeed. Secondly, the infrastructural development taking place under Buhari is unprecedented. Have you ever heard of rail line being developed in this country in the last 50 years, have you heard of steady power supply before? Throughout my stay in Yola I did not buy diesel more than N5,000 because there was steady power supply, so what are we looking for? When we are looking for development, we are looking for a peaceful co-existence in this country. The only thing that denied us all these things was looting by the previous leaders. This is what Nigerians have now realised and have, therefore, come to the conclusion that never again should these looters be allowed to come back to loot our treasury. No matter how slow, no matter how old, Buhari is far better than someone who wants to come to loot our treasury and run away. We will not allow that one again, that is what Nigerians are saying, and they will translate it on February16, 2019.
Northern Elders Forum (NEF) where Prof Ango Abdullahi is the spokesman, has pulled their support from President Buhari. Don’t you think this action will have some negative effects on the re-election of Buhari?
(Laughs). I keep on telling you that I don’t want to talk about personality.
No, it is not about personality, but about northern elders?
Yes, northern elders, and as you know, I am the Vice Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), but I am not speaking on behalf of the ACF now. But I am telling you that the election coming on the 16th of February is beyond the control of the elite.
It is now the masses that have taken over. The elite can no longer campaign for the president because he has not given them what they wanted. The masses now own the campaign; they have taken the carpet off the feet of the elite. The masses are now championing the campaign to choose between the bad, the good and the ugly, and they have decided to choose the good; and that is President Buhari. So, no single individual elite that has been in public service and various public establishments that have even contributed up to five per cent to Buhari’s campaign. It is the totality of Nigerians who have seen the president’s integrity and ability to perform that will vote him back to power. Of course, he is not an angel, nobody is saying he is spotless, he has his own shortcomings as a human being. He will address some inadequacies when he is being returned for the second term.
But Nigerians are still worried about insecurity across the country, particularly in the Northeast. Do you think the president deserve a pass mark here?
We are very worried about the level of insecurity all over the country, not only in Northeast, in fact, Northeast is even better now. There are even high tension of insecurity in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Benue, Plateau and parts of Taraba State.
You should know that Rome was not built in a day, and nobody can wipe out insecurity over night. Buhari has done his own beat, and if re-elected, he is going to complete the work to ensure security in the entire country. But in the first place, it is corruption that brought insecurity. It is the wish of this corrupt individual who have been so used to looting our treasury in the past, and because they are out for just three years, and have vowed to come back through violence to continue looting that are now instigating this insecurity all over the place. We know them and we know what they are doing. God will not allow them succeed because the masses of this country have taken over the roles of the elite to return President Buhari to power.
Some Nigerians are saying that President Buhari is too old to lead the country for a second term. Do you agree with them?
(Laughs). Is leadership about age? It is not about age. So far, Buhari has done what the younger ones have not done in the past. What he has done in three years, was not done in 16 years of the PDP government; and the leaders were all younger than him. So, what has his age got to do with his performance? It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt in the last three years that he has performed more than the younger Nigerians who ruled the country for 16 years.