Elder statesman Buba Galadima, is a social critic and former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. Indeed, he was Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the platform which Buhari used to contest the presidency in 2011. CPC later merged with other parties to form All Progressives Congress, APC, the party that won the 2015 general election with Buhari as its presidential candidate. Galadima spoke to Akani Alaka on the state of his country, the 2023 general election, agitations for zoning and his present relationship with President Buhari, insisting that Buhari has no capacity to run a plural society that is modern and technologically driven…that can meet the hopes and aspirations of its citizens. Excerpts:
Q: Do you agree with recent calls by the Northern Elders Forum and other groups that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigerians and should resign as a result of the insecurity and other problems in the country?
A: Such calls will never yield any result. You know the President will never resign. And it is not only the President, no member of this government, even if caught stealing, will ever resign. So, it is just a statement made in futility. But I commend them for having the courage to ask the President to resign because in good political climes, the failure of this government should have led to the resignation of all members, not just one individual.
Q: So, what’s the way out of the growing insecurity in the country now because government seems to be clueless on how to tackle it?
A: We have to live with it for the next one year and a month. There is nothing that this government can do. They have done their best and their best is the worst ever in the history of this country. They cannot go beyond their capacity – they have no thinkers, strategists, and knowledgeable people; therefore, we are bedeviled with this government. The only thing we can do is to make sure that no member of this government or nobody anointed by this party should ever be allowed to win any election. Any of them wining any election means that we are passing a vote of confidence on them on what is happening in this country today.
Q: Some members of the government and the party are already campaigning to be elected President – there is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu. Are you saying Nigerians should reject them?
A: You should know that this is democracy- anybody can aspire. But it is left for us the electorate to judge them by their past performance and now do a referendum- whether while they have been in government for the past seven years, they have lived up to our expectations. So, they can come out. Nobody can stop them. But it is our right to vote for the right people, it is our right to bring about the change that we need. Even if for the sake of changing government, let’s bring another set of people so that they can investigate these ones to know whether they have been right or wrong in their actions while in government.
Q: But why do you think President Buhari, has been unable to effectively tackle insecurity in the country as many Nigerians expected him to do as a retired General when he was elected . He used to be your associate for many years…
A: I started with Buhari in January, 2002 when we brought him out for certain reasons – part of the reasons has been actualized. And that was that we said PDP was bad, therefore, we need a change – new faces and new guards, so that we can now see how they will perform and be able to gauge whether PDP was better or the new people will be better. We got the change in 2015. And there is nobody in Nigeria that fought PDP to its knees from 2002 to 2015 like me. And for that reason, I was arrested, incarcerated, dehumanized for all those years that PDP was in power. And when Buhari came on board, I gave his government two years to see the level of its capacity to deliver for Nigerians. After two years, I came to the inevitable conclusion that they have no capacity, no knowledge to deliver anything for this country. So, I apologized to Nigerians and started criticizing actions and policies of this government. But I was called names, abused, ridiculed. But I stood firm and now, everything I have said about Buhari and his people have come to pass.
Q: But some supporters of the President said he fell out with you because you did not support his bid for the presidential ticket of APC at the 2014 presidential primary of the party?
A: Nobody in this government is a person of integrity, they are not principled people. It is on record that, I, Buba Galadima was not at the APC Convention in 2014. So, how would they have known who I supported? But if I had supported somebody before the convention, it was because I discovered that Buhari has no capacity to run a plural society like Nigeria, a modern government that is technological driven and that can deliver the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians. I did that when I supported Kwankwaso. And I still support Kwankwaso because I can say there is no living human being in Nigeria today- if you look at his record while in public office – that has performed and has uplifted the lives of the common people and has given education priority like Kwankwaso. I still stand by that. And I have not been proven wrong. If I have been proven wrong, maybe you can accuse me of perjury.
Q: You said you are still supporting Kwankwaso who has now declared his intention to contest the presidency under another party, the NNNP. Are you also a member of that party now because you said you were a member of new APC at a time?
A: I can support anybody without renouncing my party. Is there any law or any part of the Constitution of Nigeria that prevents member of a political party from supporting the candidate of another party?
Q: So, are you still a member of APC?
A: I am the National Chairman of N-APC.
Q: N-APC? But we did not see you at the last national convention of the party?
A: If we want to discuss that, it will be another chapter. But what I am telling you is that nothing prevents me, even if I am a card carrying member of any political party from supporting the candidate of another party in the law.
Q: But some Nigerians have called presidential aspirants like Kwankwaso, Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal and co from the North to drop their ambition and support aspirants from the South in the spirit of rotational presidency and power shift after eight years of Buhari. What is your reaction to that?
A: From 1978 to date that I have been in politics, I never supported zoning. I support the best. The person I believe is the best from my assessment is the person I will support – not from which region, tribe or section of the country. And I am supporting Kwankwaso, because – just name any living human being or politician in Nigeria that has done one per cent of what Kwankwaso did when he was in public office.
Q: Some of the aspirants from the South like Governor Nyesom Wike, former governor Peter Obi, Tinubu, are also believed to have performed well in office like Kwankwaso. Some of them like Chris Ngige, Rotimi Amaechi, are also serving as ministers and some people believe that they are doing well..
A: It is ‘they say.’ Anybody can say anything. I am saying what I think is right. They can also say what they say is right. But nobody can tell me while in public office for four years, he did not borrow one penny from any bank in this country, that he built 11,000 classrooms for primary schools, that he built 88 secondary schools, that he sent thousands of students from his state and other states of the country to 14 countries of the world to study on scholarship, that he built 320 -bed hostel blocks in universities outside his state for students to learn, that he establish 26 institutes in Kano for indigenes of that state, that he has given loan ad uplifted those people. And today, Kano is the most peaceful state in the federation because of the foundation laid by Kwankwaso. He moved out all the bad boys from the streets, trained them and provided them with capital. That’s why we have no Boko Haram insurgency in Kano. During his tenure, because of the infrastructure development that was going on, Kano looks like Dubai. People go to Kano as if they are going on pilgrimage to see buildings, bridges, underpasses that Kwankwaso has done. Which of the former governors that you are talking about established school feeding system for all the primary schools, the almajiri schools, the secondary schools and the universities? He established six colleges of education to train and upgrade Kano teachers. He established four polytechnics to take students from the technical secondary schools he established in each of the 44 local governments of Kano. Which of the aspirants can show that? He was minister of defence and there was no report of any banditry or kidnapping in parts of this country when he was in office. As an engineer in Kano civil service, he resigned to contest, first for the House of Representatives where he became deputy speaker. Who among them was a deputy speaker? Then, he contested as governor of Kano State, he won. But after four years, because he didn’t support Sharia and supported a Southern Christian – former President Olusegun Obasanjo- he was voted out. He came back after eight years and won election again. Which of them has done that? Which of them was a senator, a minister for four years? His record has not been broken and when it comes to that time, we will show Nigerians that he is the best for this job and what he has done in Kano, he want to replicate in other parts of Nigeria. Today, he has a university in Abuja where he gave scholarship to four students from every state of the federation – two boys, two girls. Kwankwaso, out of government sponsored 370 postgrads to other countries of the world where they have performed marvelously well and came out in flying colours. As a private individual, he sponsored 70 Ph.D. students, one of who just graduated with a Ph.D. in Water Engineering about two months ago in a university in India. Don’t you think he is the best?
Q: That is for Nigerians to decide. But are you sure his new party have the structure to win election across Nigeria?
A: Are you doing party or the individual?
Q: The individual is important, but the party must have structure to win election before the individual can be elected into office, no matter how good he or she is….
A: We have tried party, zoning, religion, tribe, but where is Nigeria now? Why can’t we try performance? We have tried all these primordial sentiments, did it work for us? Why can’t we try merit based on one’s past performance in public office?
Q: But the argument is that we have people who can also perform in all parts of the country. In the Southeast, for instance, there is agitation for the presidency to be zoned to the region in 2023.…
A: We’ve tried ‘turn by turn’ where did it lead us to?
Q: But the demand for zoning of the presidency to the South East by the Igbo, would you say it is not justifiable in the spirit of justice and fair play?
A: Every Nigerian would want to see food on his table. Every Nigerian will want to feel that he is secured, that he can travel from Abuja to Kaduna, from Abuja to Enugu or Port Harcourt without hindrance or without any incident. So, it doesn’t matter even if the Queen will come and colonise Nigeria again and will give those basic needs, it will be okay for me.
Q: So, you are not really opposed to having somebody from the South as the next President of Nigeria?
A: If somebody from the Southeast has gotten these qualifications I said of Kwankwaso, why not him? I am not supporting Kwankwaso because he is from the North or because he is a Muslim. Buhari is from the North, he is a Muslim like me, like so many other people. Those that are encountering Boko Haram attacks, would they care whether it is a Muslim, a Christian or an infidel that will be in power to protect them? Why are people so myopic about tribalism? People should know that that will not take us anywhere.
Q: People are saying there should be rotation in interest of justice.…
A: There is nobody talking. You members of the press are talking about that. Nobody is talking.
Q: But presidential aspirants like former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim and others from the Southeast have said one of the ways to curb agitations in their region and ensure fairness and justice in Nigeria is to zone the 2023 presidency to the zone….
A: Let Anyim tell us what he has done, I will support him. He was the SGF. Please, let him tell us what he has done. What was his experience? Was he ever a minister, deputy speaker? Did he give scholarship to a Yoruba man, a Tiv man, an Igbo man or Hausa man?
Q: But he was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Senate President
A: Let him tell us what he did as the SGF.
Q: But what people are saying is that the ongoing agitations in the Southeast can be curbed by having somebody from the region as President
A: We don’t care about agitations. What we care about is peace and economic well-being of Nigerians. That’s what we are after. I can debate this with anybody.
Q: What is your reaction to the recent call by elder statesman and Senior Advocate of Nigeria that we should stop preparation for 2023 election, but rather set up an interim government that will be in office for 6 months to draft a Peoples’ Constitution at the end of tenure of President Buhari?
A: If I went to the stream to bath and I remove my cloth and a mad man came to carry it, do I come out of the water to chase the mad man naked or do I stay there until somebody comes with another cloth? Why do some people think that it is always what they think is right that should be done? That other 200 million Nigerians don’t have a say? Let me tell you, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the architect of state creation, he wanted to dismember the North and for that purpose, he allowed Bendel, then known as the Midwest to go so that he can set an example. We followed him. Who is the architect of the unitary system of government? Aguiyi Ironsi. Was Awolowo from the North? Aguiyi Ironsi who was the architect of unitary government, was he from Kanuri or Tiv? Who was the architect of regionalism? The late Sardauna of Sokoto. Sardauna was supporter of regionalism, Awolowo said it is not good, that we will do state creation. They did state creation and then, Ironsi came and say both regionalism and state creation are bad, that we should do unitary system of government. Now, we did all these and we followed you. But at this wee hour, you want to take us back to what Sardauna was preaching in the 60s? Is it what you want that must always happen? We are not going back. I can assure you of that one. Even now, there are people who want to create states, they are asking for new states. Before, they didn’t like interim government because Babangida started it and he is from the North. But now, Afe Babalola is advocating for that. If he has lost his memory, you think I have also lost my memory of how they fought Babangida for doing interim government? Now, he is supporting interim government. Why can’tyou people think twice before you speak? Why should they be tossing us like akara? So, nobody in Nigeria can speak the truth.
Q: Maybe that’s their own truth as they see it
A: Okay, it is their own truth, go and ask them. I am not in support of that.
Q: Do you have any fear about the 2023 general election?
A: Of course, with this insurgency and insecurity, how can it be free and fair? They will use the security to write figures for themselves and that’s why they don’t give a damn and they don’t intend to bring any candidate of substance. That’s why some of us are challenging them.
Q: So, what can Nigerians do?
A: The way out is that all of us should remove primordial sentiments and go for the best who will take us out of the woods – not based on hear say, what he is going to do- but based on past performance while in public office. That’s the way forward – whether the man is Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, Kanuri, Ijaw, Urhobo, Tiv, Nupe or whatsoever.
Q: You’ve declared your support for Kwankwaso. But why are you not in support of someone like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar?
A: No. Atiku is not in consideration here for now.
Q: Why ?
A: Because he has lost out, he has shot himself on the foot
Q: So, you will not consider aspirants on the platform of PDP as the right persons to take over government from APC
A: PDP candidate is who everybody knows. PDP will pick Wike and the APC candidate is anybody but Osinbajo and Tinubu.
Q: So, you’ve already helped them to select their candidates?
A: We know now. You are not in politics, so you don’t know. But we know what they are doing which is why I am advising that Tinubu and Osinbajo should look for alternative platform quickly.
Q: But you said no member of APC should be voted for in 2023. So if Tinubu and Osinbajo leave APC, are you now going to advise Nigerians to consider them?
A: If you vote for them, you are passing a referendum that what they are doing in the country today is good for you.
Q: Your friend, President Buhari will leave office in 2023. Is there any hope of reconciliation between both of you since he has been your friend for many years?
A: We never fought. We only disagree. We are not fighting. But he is no more the person I thought he was and that he has performed woefully in public office. Actually, he shouldn’t have held this position because it has damaged his image. He will never be the same again and he cannot walk freely on the streets of Nigeria after leaving office.
Q: So, that means after May 29, 2023, we can’t see you visiting Buhari in his house in Kaduna or Daura?
A: I can go to his house and tell him that look, ‘I’m right in whatever I say about you.’
Q: But what do you think the President should be doing in the about one year he has to remain in office?
A: There is nothing he can do because he has no capacity to do anything. Let him just be sleeping and receiving his guests in and out of the country since he can’t relinquish power voluntarily./SHARE THIS