Alhaji Shuaibu Ado Dansudu, national president, Arewa United Forum, has given further insight on why the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, lost to President Muhammadu Buhari and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, a fellow northerner, in states in the North.
Dansudu, who faulted the claim that the North was afraid of restructuring, said the PDP presidential candidate was not sincere about his promise on restructuring.
He also spoke on other issues of national importance. Excerpt:
Contrary to the expectation that President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and former VP Atiku of PDP would run neck and neck in the North, the North voted massively for the president. What would you say swayed the votes in the North in favour of the president?
Integrity, other than any consideration, won the election. Both candidates are from the North, they are both Muslims and they are both Fulani. The northerners know who can deliver and who is better between the two of them. I believe the northerners know what is good for them and they went for it. Talking about integrity, Buhari has won many firsts for this country. He was a minister, he was a governor, he was a Head of State, he was PTF chairman before he was elected a civilian president. Every Nigerian knows who Buhari is and what he personifies. Nobody can accuse him of any corrupt practices. In spite of all the positions he has occupied, he only has one small house in Kaduna and a family house in Daura. There are people who didn’t occupy attractive and lucrative positions as much as has done, yet they have choicest property all over the world. Secondly, Buhari has been able to convince everybody that he is not a northerner, that he is not a Muslim, that he is not Fulani. Rather he has succeeded in convincing everyone that he is a Nigerian and that the interest of the country must supersede any other interest. He is not sentimental in any way. His utmost priority is to deliver the good to the people, to develop the nation and unite the nation. These are the reasons the northerners decided to queue behind him. Those who supported Atiku did so for selfish reasons.
Those who supported Atiku are those who believe in restructuring. Are you saying restructuring is a selfish idea? The South made it clear from inception that they would only support a candidate that promised to restructure and there are insinuations that the fear of restructuring made North to dump him for Buhari. What is your take on this?
Why should the North be afraid of restructuring? I have said it that they voted Atiku because of their selfish interest. The truth is that Atiku can never restructure the country. He was only deceiving Nigerians about restructuring. It’s very strange that some people still believed him. What this points to is that those who queued behind him are not smart at playing politics. Someone who is smart at playing politics won’t take the path they took. People who understand politics knew that Atiku was only selling the dummy of restructuring to them; he was only deceiving them because most of us know that he won’t do it. Atiku knows that he is not capable of restructuring the country even if he had won the election. He lacks the power because he will have to table it before the National Assembly, which of course, going by the opposition against it, is not likely to scale through. So, he just wanted to deceive them. Apart from that, Atiku, being a clever person, could even go ahead to strike a deal with the lawmakers to frustrate the move and create the impression that the lawmakers are responsible for his inability to achieve the idea. The North is not saying we should not restructure the country, no. What we are saying is that Nigeria is not yet ripe for restructuring now. Nigeria will be ready for restructuring when we learn to do our things without sentiments. We will concede to the idea when northerners stop seeing themselves as northerners, but as Nigerians. Nigeria will be ready for restructuring when southerners begin to see themselves as Nigerians and not as Yoruba, Igbo, or Urhobo or as Itshekiri. Nigeria will be ready for restructuring when we let go of our religious sentiments that tend to polarize us. When will attain this level of maturity, nobody will oppose restructuring. But in a country where we still fight one another due to religious and ethnic reasons, restructuring will not do us anything good.
Many believe that the noise about restructuring became more vociferous in the South due to allegation of marginalization against the people of the South. They claim that the president deliberately sidelined them, in terms of appointments, in favour of the North?
Nobody marginalizes anybody. If you flashback to Obasanjo and Jonathan era, key appointments went to the South. The North saw all these things, but we didn’t cry marginalization, but now people are shouting that they are being marginalized. What people do not understand is that Nigeria of today is not the same as Nigeria of yesterday. In Nigeria of yesterday, the North was taken as only one zone. The South-south was seen as a zone, the Southeast was seen as a zone and the Southwest as a zone because in terms of the qualification to man key offices, they believe the North was lagging behind. So, if one northerner was picked, three Southerners would be picked. They believed the North could not meet up with its quota in supplying qualified people for some of the positions. But things have changed now. The North now has more than enough educated and qualified people to fill its own quota and the North has now been recognized, having three zones. Unfortunately, the South does not want to recognize this fact. They are still expecting that when the Southwest, South-south and the Southeast get one appointment each, the entire North should have only one as it was the practice before now. They still don’t want to believe the North also has three zones just as the South. So, if one Yoruba, one Igbo and one South-south person are appointed and three picked from the North, the South will raise eyebrow, accusing the North of marginalization because they don’t want to believe that the North also has three zones. So, for years the North has been marginalized.
The just concluded elections is believed to have further widened the gap in the country, so how best do you think the president can re-unite Nigeria?
The best way the president can re-unite Nigeria is to continue with the way he started. The president has so far been able to show that he is a Nigerian and not a northerner. So far, nobody can accuse him of concentrating development in a particular zone. The level of development we have witnessed under Buhari in every part of the country, including the Southeast and the South-south is far beyond what we saw even under Jonathan. It is important I also say this: uniting the nation is not the duty of only one person, it is the duty of every Nigerian. So, all Nigerians must see themselves as Nigerians and not as Yoruba or Hausa or Igbo. We must all make concerted efforts to do away with all forms of primordial sentiments that will not take us anywhere as a nation. Thirdly, our politicians should stop deceiving us in their quest for power. They must shun their divisive antics and desist from pitching us against ourselves for their selfish political interest.
Some Nigerians are of the opinion that the Southeast should be compensated with Senate Presidency as a way of balancing power sharing formula? What is your take on this?
Nigeria has many people who are qualified for the position of the Senate President. And as I said earlier, we have six geo-political zones. Buhari is from the Northwest, his vice is from the Southwest. There are still four other zones – the Northeast is there, the North-central, South-south and the Southeast. Each of these zones deserves to be considered. The only problem with the Southeast is that they have been misled and they are still being misled to be in opposition. The Southeast is seen to be in opposition considering the number of lawmakers elected on the platform of PDP; we only have a few of them from the APC. This development has really narrowed down the chances of the zone. But be that as it may, there is nothing wrong in compensating them with Senate Presidency. The North is very accommodating and will not like to see their friends or neighbours to go away for any reason. So, they are ready to do anything to make Nigeria stand as one because of their investment in the unity of the nation from inception. It was the resources from the North that sustained Nigeria until crude oil was discovered. Cotton wool, groundnut, animal skin and cocoa from the Southwest, these were what sustained Nigeria for years. And during this period, the northerners did not say, other region should go because they didn’t have resources. It will be erroneous to think that the North is opposed to their demand to go because of oil. We are our brothers’ keepers and we want to answer our name as Nigeria. Look at Southern Sudan, is it better than Sudan, is any of these break-away countries from Soviet Union better than Russia? So, if you see that your brother is about to make a mistake, you must advise him because you love him. But if he doesn’t pay attention to your advice, there is nothing wrong if you use force on him not to make the mistake because you know his mistake will equally affect you. So, this is why the northerners want Nigeria to remain as a nation.
The just concluded governorship election has been declared inconclusive in some states, including Kano, where you hail from. What do you think is responsible for the number of states where elections have been declared inconclusive?
I am both a politician and an activist; so, nothing will stop me from saying the truth. The INEC chairman is a very week person. Have you heard that anybody is being prosecuted despite the widespread electoral offences that were committed during the last elections? The INEC, going by some of its actions, has aided corruption in the country today. INEC law has prescription on how electoral offenders should be dealt with, including those who engaged in vote-buying. Nigerians witnessed how parties influenced the electorate with money during the election and how aspirants spent dollars during primaries but how many of these people have been arrested or prosecuted or punished. If you look at the undertones of elections that have been declared inconclusive, you will discover that they smack of injustice. Why is it that the affected states are those where opposition party clearly won? I am sure Buhari is a man of justice, so I believe he will allow justice to prevail in the affected states. It is only the Southwest that is playing pure politics and I commend the zone for that. Elections in the zone have been relatively peaceful compared to what we have seen in other zones. So, they should do the needful and declare the right candidates as winners to prevent chaos and disorderliness in those states and whoever is not satisfied should proceed to the tribunal. If they try what they did in Ekiti in Kano State there could be problem. So, justice should be done. Injustice is the root cause of all the challenges we are facing in Nigeria. Killings and violence here and there are as a result of injustice. Declaring elections inconclusive is fraudulent because it is a rigging ploy.