Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Yusuf A. Dingyadi is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Senior Special Assistant (Special Duties) to the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. In this interview, he speaks on allegation of election manipulation, levelled against the government by leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
2019 elections especially that of the governorship in Sokoto has been won and lost – though your party was accused of the manipulating that election to your advantage, what is your assessment of the poll?
You see, the election has come and gone. Despite the intimidations and intrigues in-between, we are thankful to Almighty Allah who gave the people of Sokoto the ability to cast their vote and stand by it. We saw that as divine intervention because federal forces were used against us in order to intimidate us. Good people of Sokoto stood for ten days, praying and fasting in order to see that PDP won and Tambuwal re-elected to serve for the second term.
The way they employed the federal might in Sokoto has never happened in the history of Nigeria before. It was meant to intimidate the opposition and possibly take over the state. If a sitting governor could be blocked by security men, told not to leave his house just because some people thought they have connections in Abuja, then, you can imagine what others in the state might have passed through.
These people forget that power belong to God alone who has transferred that power again to His obedient, humble and dedicated servant, Tambuwal for the second term. During that election, ten units of Mobile Police were deployed to Sokoto from Lagos and Niger states. About 200 top DSS personnel were in Sokoto. These were not part of the conventional Police in the state.
But, the opposition APC are accusing your party of using the power of security and INEC to steal their mandate…
[Cuts in} You know when you lost election, you bring all the lies, all the mischief and all that to gain sympathy. Majority of APC people in Sokoto are mischief makers. They have nothing doing except propaganda and lies. They are just like mercenaries of lies and mischief. They sit at home, do nothing, only to come out and tell lies against the PDP or the the governor.
I want to tell you that if not because Tambuwal is a humble man, someone who fears God, some of those lies would not have gone without legal consequences. The people prayed and fasted for ten days and God answered their prayers even though these APC people mocked them while praying. So, if they are alleging that we intimidated them, it is their own way of propaganda which will take them to nowhere.
Take them to nowhere even when the APC has already rejected the outcome of the election that brought in your principal for second term?
We won the election with over three thousand votes ahead of APC but they said no, they went to Abuja and complain. Thereafter, INEC came and declared it inconclusive and put a date for the voting again. We agreed. We came out for the election for the second time and we won again with lesser margin to the initial figure. That is not ordinary. That is God at work.
We did not complain when they say they won presidential election, when they say they won senatorial and House of Representatives. INEC gave them two weeks to plan. They went everywhere sourcing for money. They raked in over N2 billion with the highest from Zamfara.
Zamfara alone donated N795 million, Kebbi State donated half of that and others came from other federal agencies. We know how their ‘rented’ security agents were accommodated at NYSC camp at Wamakko and other hotels in Sokoto. They borrowed INEC officials from outside the state. They borrowed Amina Zakari. She came to Sokoto. She monitored election as the commissioner in charge of that zone. She saw what happened. She understood that there was no way INEC could declare the APC as winner.
We know that if APC had been the one that got the margin we got at the first ballot, they would have declared that election conclusive. That happened in Kano, Bauchi, Taraba, Benue and Adamawa. All in PDP controlled places. They thought they could do what they did in Kano in Sokoto forgetting that people of Kano and Sokoto are different. We are confident that when we pray, God hears.
Was their presence of external forces in your state during that election?
Two serving governors came to Sokoto. I can’t tell you their names, but two others from Kebbi and Zamfara states also sent some political thugs. We believe these are our brothers who should help build peace in Sokoto. But they did not do that. They helped APC because they are from APC and they have promised to deliver Sokoto at all cost. But Allah won. The long and short of it is that, no amount of mischief or propaganda can save these liars.
I read Maigari’s (APC’s Sokoto campaign DG) interview in your paper where he said we manipulated the election. How could we have done that with all the federal might deployed to our state? How could we have manipulated the election when they have INEC and security at their beck and call? How could we have manipulated the election when that same person sent a Hilux full of police to come and arrest me as agent of PDP?
I was intimidated by the same person who is talking about manipulation of election. They unleashed EFCC on our political leaders in order to scare them and send them away so they could do what they want. These people knew what they did and it is the repercussion that is following them now. People of the state are much happier than they were before the election. They threatened our traditional rulers, the community leaders, Islamic scholars and even imams of the various mosques in the state. But all failed.
They threatened that if APC wins the election they would suffer. They went to bring political thugs who are fighting bandits in Zamfara to come and fight harmless electorate just because you want to win election. We thank God that President Muhammadu Buhari was not in support of what they are doing. For the first time in my life, I commended Mr. President for not allowing these desperate politicians to soil his name during the inconclusive election. They wanted war in Sokoto. But we did not give them war instead, we prayed and God delivered us.
What will the governor be concentrating on in this second term?
Our next level is not going to be like that of the APC. Our next level will transform people’s life for the better. We will create more jobs, bring investors and improve on general standard of living of people of Sokoto State. We shall provide essential needs like medical facilities. The governor has already impacted on the health sector because we believe that health is wealth.
Education is also given prominence in his budget. We are working with supporting partners to have a sanitised water system in the state. Talking about agriculture, he has done well to the extent that even Mr. President commended him as one of the best five in Nigeria. Tambuwal also understands the need to involve the youths in the affairs of the state and that was why he has brought them closer by way of empowerment. There is also scholarship provision for them. The state government has not failed in making its counterpart funding for the Universal Basic Education available. This was why UNICEF rated Sokoto State as one of the best in terms of girl child education. We have over 300 secondary schools currently undergoing renovation. We have about 685 primary schools marked for supply of teaching aid and quality staff. Lately, he has set up a committee to advise the state government on the master plan to see areas we need to improve on in this second term.
Are you or your party worried about what the outcome of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will be?
No. why should I or our party get worried when we know that it is the people that gave us their mandate? They should just stop propagating lies that the federal powers will be used to collect their so called mandate. Which mandate? They did not believe in the electorate. They believe in federal might. They failed at the poll and they are also going to fail at the tribunal because we are confident that the tribunal will look at all the issues without fear or favour. We are supposed to complain because we won the election at the first ballot but INEC declared that election as inconclusive. They have failed during the first and the second elections and by the grace of God they will fail the third time at the tribunal.
What will be your final words to the people of Sokoto?
I want to use this medium to call on the leadership of the APC in Sokoto State to stop unleashing terror, to stop propagating lies and propaganda. They know they failed. Those people in Abuja also knew that they failed. Why can’t they stop all these lies and start preparing for 2023. They should desist from sending their foot soldiers to be writing nonsense on social media. That is bad because they are downgrading the state and its people.
They should stop portraying the people of Sokoto as if we don’t know anything. We are peace loving people and nobody can take that away from us. So they cannot be creating confusion, manufacturing lies in order to achieve their selfish aim to justify their promise to their Abuja boys. They want Mr. President and their party leaders to know that they are working to justify the money they may have collected. But people of Sokoto have decided to vote PDP and its governorship candidate in this year’s election. Nobody can change that from Abuja. Nobody can influence the tribunal to pass judgement against the good people of Sokoto State.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is not just a man, but he is an institution as a governor because government is an institution. If they don’t respect the institution of government, there is no way we can respect them. I challenge and advise them to respect the institution. And let me quickly say this, we will soon sue some of them for writing against the peace and political conscience in Sokoto State. We are ready for anybody that want to create a problem in our dear state. They have already filed a case in the tribunal, so, they should wait and allow the tribunal decide their case and stop pre-empting the tribunal.
I advise APC to stop their lies and propaganda against Tambuwal. No amount of such lies and propaganda can deter us because there is no how any reasonable person can compare their candidate with that of the PDP. He is no match. Tambuwal is gentle with a lot of experience. Their candidate has not travelled up to 50 kilometres outside the state. He does not even know what is happening in the state. Such a person is who they want as governor so that he can be a baby seater for them. We will not allow a baby seater governor in the state. We can’t accept to have insecurity or political instability in the state. People of Sokoto State will not regret voting Tambuwal as their governor.