Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
National Chairman of the Reformed-All Progressives Congress (R-APC), Engr. Buba Galadima, has dismissed recent disclosures that the presidency will remain in the North beyond 2023.
Galadima, an estranged political associate of President Muhammadu Buhari who spoke exclusively with Sunday Sun, said that the president is working to install a president of Southern extraction in the 2023 elections, arguing that it was difficult for the president to muster the needed intelligence to allow the presidency domicile in the North beyond 2023.
Galadima, in his usual manner, exposed why the president and his men kicked-out the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, insisting that the president never won the 2019 presidential election. The Gashua, Yobe-born politician concluded that if the nation continues to parade the kind of leadership it currently has, there will be no hope for the nation. Excerpts:
How do you feel that in spite of your opposition to the president’s ambition in the 2019 general election, he won the presidential election and also won at the tribunal recently?
Well, I have a contrary view as to whether the president had won the election squarely by majority of lawful votes. It is my candid opinion that the president never won this election because he did not allow a level-playing ground for elections to be conducted so that a genuine winner will emerge. He has set the tone. If not because Nigerians are forgetful, there is nothing we didn’t say when the Presidency and the National Assembly then were brick bating on the Electoral Law. As you are aware, that Electoral Law was a masterpiece by the National Assembly addressing all the loopholes and shortfalls within our electoral system starting from Lord Lugard to Jonathan. All of them were corrected, hoping that the president who conducted his 2015 presidential campaign on the premise of reforming our electoral system so that one man, one vote will prevail, he eventually refused to sign the Electoral Act for two years. And from there, I had been personally shouting to the rooftops that the refusal of Mr President to sign the Electoral Act portends danger because as I had then foresighted, it was because he personally and his group wanted to short-change Nigerians. And I never minced words about saying that. If anybody wanted a free and fair election, that person could have signed that Electoral Law which he refused to do. And not only that, after refusing to sign the Electoral Act, it still dawned on them that they had one obstacle because they may conduct the elections, if the judiciary is free, they may likely do what had happened in Kenya to them. So, they saw Justice Walter Onnoghen as the obstacle. And they identified him as an obstacle for one of the two reasons: One, despite intimidation and despite promises of whatever a Nigerian would want to call it, the man refused to give judgement to the then president in 2007 and gave judgement to General Buhari candidate. So, once they identified that that man would be an obstacle even if we rig the election, which they had planned to do ab initio, the man being chief justice is likely to reverse our victory. So, they fingered him and they booted him out because what they had accused Onnoghen of doing, I don’t think many judges, if subjected to that test, would pass, including the executive themselves. So, why do you punish somebody for an offence that you are guilty of? That is the situation. As if that was not enough, they still wanted to overstretch the opposition. On the eve of the election, six hours to the election, they postponed that election for a period of additional two weeks. Because they refused to give anything, they thought that in their opinion, they said so several times that Atiku was rich or is rich; therefore, they would overstretch him. So, having disbursed our meagre resources to all our party branches across the country, six hours to election, they postponed that election.
So, it was intentional?
Of course, it was intentional not because INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) was not prepared because the chairman of INEC had severally been in the media saying that they were 100 per cent prepared to conduct the election. So, you can see that they had ab initio designed that election to be the way it is, therefore, for them, they thought they have brought compliant judges who will do their bidding and with the defective Electoral Law, it is very, very difficult to really overturn this election provided the justices are fearless, they are God-fearing and they think of tomorrow.
Specifically, how do you feel that your party lost at the tribunal?
It is not that my party lost. No! Nigerians lost because it was an opportunity to get rid of a bad government.
Your party is going on appeal. Any hope?
Definitely, in politics, nobody loses hope. And with God, you don’t dispel because God can play miracles. But ordinarily, I don’t think without the justices living by their oath of office, they can ever give us judgement. But if they do, I can assure you that we have an impeccable case even ab initio at the tribunal that wouldn’t had been dismissed the way it was done.
So, you don’t see your appeal as an exercise in futility?
No, not at all! Not at all because God can play miracles! You know that. Who is sure that any of the justices or even Buhari or any of us will see that day?
You used to be a Buharist and many people believe that the role you are playing now is not in tandem with one who used to be Buhari’s associate. What is your take on this?
Why, why? My parents told me something, unless they are wrong, that your best friend is the person who looks at you straight into the eye and tells you the truth and not sycophants. All these people around Buhari, where were they when we were struggling to make Buhari be?
Your difference with the president; is it personal or political because some people believe that you had a personal issue with the president?
What personal, in what form?
I don’t know…
Since you don’t know, it doesn’t exist. It must be political because we are doing politics. But if you have any, then you tell me and I deny or accept.
Don’t you think that having been President Buhari’s associate; you have a moral burden not to be doing what you are doing now to him?
You mean because of Buhari, I will subvert the truth and justice? Now, let me ask you, can you reflect back how I almost singlehandedly brought down the PDP government in Nigeria? So, why didn’t you say that I was unkind to Obasanjo or to Yar’Adua or to Jonathan? Or is it because they are not my associates? That reflects my person that I stand by what is right and what is the truth because I had fought Obasanjo’s government for which I was even tried for treason. I fought Yar’Adua’s government; I fought Jonathan’s government even when they volunteered to give me political appointments. Why is anybody not talking about that? Why is it that everybody thinks that nobody can tell Buhari the truth?
Will you go back to Buhari and the APC if your party loses the appeal?
Ah! Where am I now? I am the national chairman of the R-APC, Reformed APC. We are still in court because we believe that this leadership of the party did not emerge according to the rules and constitution of the party. So, we are only having an alliance with the PDP and I still wish, pray, and believe that Atiku should be the president of Nigeria because he can be a better president.
So, you are still a part of the APC?
Let’s take a look at the 2023 presidency. Shouldn’t the North allow the South to take a shot at it?
I thought Buhari is working for the South, at least some part of the South. That is what every northerner believes.
But recent revelations showed that the North won’t relinquish power because I remember Babachir Lawal saying that there was nothing like…
(Cuts in) Forget about Babachir Lawal. I am not talking about Babachir Lawal. I am talking about Buhari and myself or the North.
Recent disclosures revealed that the North will still want the presidency to remain in the North. What is your view on this?
I really wouldn’t know what you regard as the North. But I believe that majority of northerners believe that Buhari is only working in the interest of some section of the South.
Can you at least tell us which section the president is working for?
You should figure out which section benefits more than any group.
Do you think that is realisable because some people believe that the president is only playing on the intelligence of the Southerners?
Well, I wish he has got that intelligence to do that. I wish so.
But do you think the issue of zoning should still be upheld or thrown open?
I never believed in anything like zoning. The best should always lead Nigeria, the man with the largest heart and the man who will work for the country, rather than for self or for those close to him. It doesn’t matter, for me. If Iyabo Obasanjo wants to contest election and I believe she is the best, I will support her.
How far with Atiku? Not much has been heard from him. And what is your personal relationship with him?
My personal relationship with Atiku does not go beyond his contest, representing our interest.
The country recently witnessed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa and had also received two batches of returnees. How can they be integrated into the Nigerian society?
The issue is not how we integrate them. In the first place, why do they have to leave Nigeria for other countries? If the situation in Nigeria is favourable and good for everybody to actualise his potentials, why should any Nigerian leave his country to go to another country in droves like we are doing? This is one. Two, I saw some people trying to twist our feelings. It is my view that a Nigerian, it doesn’t matter what is his offence, whether in Nigeria or any part of the world, should be subjected to the existing laws of that country. Therefore, if any Nigerian is treated beyond the confines of law in any country, it is a call for our intervention as a country. We must be able to protect any Nigerian wherever he finds himself, whether he is guilty or not guilty, whether he has committed any offence or he has not committed any office, he should be treated according to law and not according to jungle justice. Therefore, what has happened in South Africa is abominable, it is uncalled for and Nigeria should take a drastic action on South Africa. In fact, I could have first thought that Nigeria should have severed diplomatic relations with South Africa even before starting to do some other things like repatriating Nigerians who are at risk in that country. But here we are, we look at issues from a subjective point of view, maybe these people are from another tribe, so everybody thinks it serves them right. No! What is happening is that every Nigerian, wherever he finds himself, is one of us. We must stand for him, we must protect him and we must save him from such a calamity.
What can the government do to prevent such exodus from the country?
To run the country efficiently! For now, they are running the country aground. Have you seen yesterday what they had done with the directive from the Central Bank on withdrawal of funds? I don’t know why some people believe that you have to visit hardship on certain group or section of Nigeria. Is it an offence to be rich? I have no money. I will show you my account. I have N763 in my account.
How did you arrive at that?
It is because I don’t have. I don’t steal.
But you are a businessman?
I am a farmer. It is rainy season now.
And there is so much money in farming?
I don’t think so.
Any hope for us as a nation?
With this kind of leadership that has no foresight, has no plan for our future. Look at it, you people in the press, I think you are compromised beyond redemption. Before the elections, the APC was making lies all over that they have dredged River Niger up to Lokoja and that ships have started arriving at Baro. And they were even showing ships. They said Abuja-Kaduna road has been constructed. Constructed! They said Mambilla Power Plant has been built. They said they had already started tapping oil in Bauchi. Not oil prospecting, they were already drilling oil in Bauchi and I came out and shouted that these people are liars, they are liars, don’t believe them, they had not done anything. They took the president to Baro to go and commission four warehouses, which I said I have on my farm. And beyond that, he didn’t even enter the warehouses to find out that they were not plastered and he left. And there is no bucket of sand removed from River Niger, let alone dredging the Niger to Lokoja where ships can berth. And on the issue of Mambilla, nobody has even visited Mambilla site. The minister was on the air two days ago on BBC and said that even compensation was not paid, let alone the contractors mobilized. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, up till now, three and half years, the minister then refused to fund that project deliberately because it does not affect him. Up till now, not one kilometre of road is motorable from here to Kano. And the only dividend that Fashola had brought to the Mambilla Hydro Power Plant is that he scaled it down from 6,800 megawatts to 3,800 and Buhari doesn’t even know about that. So, what are you really saying? You believe these people? If any APC man tells you that there is only one God, please tell the world that he is lying because the God he is talking about may not be the God that you know and you fear.