A week to the presidential election, one of the spokespersons of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Alhaji Buba Galadima, has enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, to ensure that the process leading to the declaration of the election is free,fair and transparent. Galadima, in this interview by Saturday Tribune, cautions that manipulation of the process by the ruling party could put Nigeria on the road to Venezuela. TAIWO AMODU presents an excerpts.
Each time you address the media, you speak with the conviction that Buhari will be defeated in this election. What makes you think he will lose, considering the cult followership he enjoys, particularly in the North?
What cult followership? Has it not been created by some of us? And if we tell you that this is what is going to happen why should you doubt us when we say that the cult followership has already diminished? In 2015, it took Buhari 45 minutes from the airport to reach the Emir’s house in Kano and two hours from the Emir’s house to government house. This year, it took him 23 minutes from the airport to the Emir’s house and five minutes from the Emir’s house to the Government Lodge in Kano. Whenever he was coming, we didn’t give anybody a penny. We wouldn’t even make an announcement because we didn’t have money to make announcement on the Television. We would only tell the party to tell our supporters. People would pay their money to come for the rally. This year, when Buhari was arriving in Kano, they had to rent crowds from Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Jigawa and Bauchi to beef up the number in Kano
You mean what we saw in Kano was a rented crowd?
What you saw wasn’t even the crowd that went to greet Buhari, it was plagiarism! You saw Kwankwaso in one of the videos, arriving at the federal secretariat, during Maolud Nabiy celebration. He was clearly there. They quickly withdrew the photos and this was done by ministers, Alhaji Hadi Sirika and Solomon Dalung. Solomon Dalung had the audacity to post a photograph of Arafat as Buhari’s crowd and when we responded, they quickly withdrew the pictures. So, these are falsehood and the APC, from beginning to the end, has never spoken the truth. They say one thing in the morning and change in the night. Let them show us the yardstick of performance, what is it that they have done in the country. I have it on record that in Kaduna, every local government was given N45m to mobilise for Buhari’s coming and yet the only pictures that they showed the public were the VIP box, where there was a crowd of people. They never showed anybody in the open field of Murtala Square. You saw that Atiku had the entire VIP podium filled with people, the entire space in the stadium also filled with people.
Invariably, what you are saying is that the cult followership doesn’t exist?
No, it doesn’t exist! Have you even seen anywhere Atiku has gone to campaign, anywhere in Northern Nigeria or the whole nation and somebody opens his mouth and say “Sai Buhari” as it was the usual case before? Having seen Buhari perform at the town hall meetings and having seen him perform on the podium, giving flags to his candidates, do you think he has a stable mind or the frame of mind to really lead even a family, let alone his community or house? Can you allow him as head of your family?
I am neither a medical doctor nor a psychologist but members of the APC would tell us that he is fit for the office, against your contention. So, what do you think?
So when he fell in Kaduna and in Uyo, they were all photoshop? Or when he gave the party’s presidential flag to Great Ogboru, that showed you a sound mind that you think you can trust and give the leadership of your family? Or when he went to Yobe calling Mala Buni the Secretary to the Government of the Federation come and take flag! Or when he went to Akwa Ibom and he was giving flag to Udo Udoma, Minister as the governorship candidate of the party! So, you are satisfied? It is ok. Me, I will be disappointed and feel extremely bad if such a person is the president of my country.
Based on its promises, people have always used the yardstick of insecurity, corruption and revamping the economy to judge the Buhari administration. And the APC has always scored itself high.
What do you expect the APC to say? They are clapping for themselves with one hand. That’s what they are doing. Would you, as an ordinary Nigerian voter, say for sure that there is more security in Nigeria than what was obtainable during Jonathan’s time? I quickly want to remind you that Jonathan conducted elections in all the 774 local government areas of the federation in 2015. Today, are you sure that elections can be conducted in Borno, Katsina, the president’s home state; Zamfara, the home of the Defence Minister and in the home of the President’s Man Friday, Kaduna or Borno where the Chief of Army Staff and the National Security Adviser come from? Can you tell me how many local government areas that our soldiers are in charge in Borno? I want to tell you that no election will be held in 21 local government areas in Borno State. All have to be conducted from Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri. So, where is the security? Can you safely pick your car and drive to Kaduna without having some doubts as you drive along the road?
On tlhe economy, they inherited an economy where a bag of rice was selling for N6,500. Today, it is 17,500 and in fact, it went up to N26,000. They inherited an economy where a litre of fuel was selling for N87.00. Today, how much is it selling at? They inherited an economy where dollar was selling at N187/197, today how much is it selling? It went up to N360 to a dollar. So all these things that we are discussing, you mean they are just jokes? They inherited an economy where less than 3 million people were out of job . Today, there are over 13 million people that are out of job.
But the APC leaders insist that it has been difficult to get out of 16 years of the rot wrought by the PDP and that Nigerians should be patient with them. They also stated that it will take time to revamp an economy it inherited in a comatose state from PDP. Is that reason not valid?
So, if they are good managers of the economy, security and other things, they should have kept it at where they met it and make no effort at growing the economy? But they have run it down by their own utterances and their own poor performance. That’s how they ran the country down. Can you in all honesty tell me that there is any developmental project in this country that was initiated by them, executed and inaugurated? One single one, maybe in your village! Let anybody that is reading this interview look around him whether there was such a project where he is and tell me.
You were at the Summit of Nigerian leaders and elders where the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was endorsed. One of the reasons given by the leaders of Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Middle Belt Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum and even the Pan-Niger Delta Forum was Atiku’s promise on restructuring. Are you sure he would redeem that pledge, if he wins?
Well, it is your words against their own. But for sure, I know that even if there is something that makes me glad, it is that, for the first time in the history of this country, the Yoruba, the Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo and the other tribes across the Niger Delta and across the Middle Belt have come together and agreed on an issue, on one single person. It has never happened in this country.
Even if we leave it at that level, they have exhibited a greater sense of responsibility and commitment to the well-being and unity of this country. I want to assure you that if all of these people, some of them in their 90s, will say that Atiku could do this, then it means they have their reason because the word of elders is the word of wisdom.
But the average APC supporter and even the Presidency have consistently dismissed these leaders as paper tigers with no electoral value in their respective geopolitical zones. What is your take on this?
Let us wait and see since they believe that they are paper tigers and they don’t control electorate. I challenge them to conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible election and let us see whether they could win. Why are they trying to help themselves in the coming elections?
How do you mean?
The President refused to sign the Electoral Bill. Why did he put his sister or relative as chairman of the clearing house of votes collation centre? Why did he remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen? I hope you know and I want to remind Nigerians that the harder you work for the interest of Buhari, the more he classifies you as his number one enemy. Do you know Walter Onnoghen? Can you remember that he was one of the justices of the Supreme Court in 2007 together with Justice Oguntade and Justice Aloma Mukhtar, who gave Buhari favourable judgement. So this is the reward for what he had done or was it because Buhari knew that the man is incorruptible and therefore he can’t use him to achieve political ends, and that is why he has removed him? Is that the reward for what he did for Buhari? So when I see people running helter skelter for Buhari I just laugh because they don’t even know the man and what he is capable of doing.
You were with Buhari in Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and it is expected that you know him well. At what point did you give up on him?
A lot of people read history upside down. I didn’t know Buhari during CPC. We met January 2002 and decided to bring a candidate that will checkmate the excesses of General Obasanjo in power. I called that first meeting. That was how Buhari was persuaded to join partisan politics. So my relationship with him goes beyond CPC days. We were together in All Peoples Party (APP) and in All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). We were then together in the CPC and then in the APC. The problem is that some of us put our integrity on line to tell Nigerians that this is what Buhari would do when he becomes president. This is how we established the cult followership that you were talking about and everybody knows that in Nigeria, if there is anyone that has helped Buhari build that cult followership, Buba Galadima will be one of any two persons that you will mention.
So, when his government became a disappointment, when he as a person lost track of where we came from, or lost the reason as to why he is in government, that’s where the problem started. We gave him the benefit of doubt and I said I would wait for up to two years, if he doesn’t perform then I will take my stand and that is what I did as a man of honour and integrity. Everybody in Nigeria now believes that the man is a disappointment.
Did you make efforts to reach out to him, to enable you have a private, frank discussion with him before going public to show your disaffection that he has derailed?
Because of what I needed from him?
Sir, you said you brought him to partisan politics. When, according to you, you saw that he was derailing, what efforts did you make to reach him?
You mean that there was nobody around him to show him what I said? Then he doesn’t need to be a leader if he doesn’t have a feel of what is happening around him. Why don’t you ask the question in another way: Did Buhari, having not seen you for the last five years, ever ask of you? He only sees you in the press and didn’t give a damn! What kind of a person is that? Is that the kind of person that you will support? When you aren’t there, he will not remember that look, “Taiwo has been close to me, he has been useful to me I haven’t seen Taiwo why can’t anybody look for him that I need to see Taiwo.” Why should he come to me, if I am a good man?
You were in APP, ANPP, CPC and now you are with Atiku in PDP?
Is PDP your natural habitat? Do you think you belong there, from what we know of Buba Galadima?
I am not in PDP. I am the national chairman of Reformed APC, rAPC
rAPC doesn’t have a presidential candidate, we know?
That’s why we have an alliance with the PDP and that’s a smart strategy. There are a lot of candidates that are equally good, but they don’t have the structures across the country to defeat Buhari. Therefore, anybody that is supporting any candidate other than that of PDP is just wasting his time and vote, and in another way is supporting Buhari to remain as president. I don’t want him to be President of Nigeria again! I would be ashamed to have him as my president again and that’s why I have to sign a memorandum of understanding with a formidable group that has the structures in place that can make it possible for us to defeat Buhari and I want to say unequivocally that today if there is a free, fair, transparent and credible election, Atiku won’t only defeat Buhari, Buhari will lose his deposit.
You have an alliance with PDP fielding Atiku. You are willing to sacrifice your name and principle on the altar of political expediency. How comfortable are you promoting someone that has been accused of corruption, against a Buhari that people speak in glowing terms about his integrity?
Do you know Buhari as much as a I do? Can Buhari raise his finger and say I am not corrupt, swear by the Qur’an where I am? Can he?
Are you doubting his integrity?
I say, can he? Go and ask him.
Do you have empirical evidence to validate your claim that Buhari lacks integrity?
Anybody that condones corruption around him, what is he? I am just asking you.
Can you substantiate it that people around him are corrupt?
How about those substantiated by the court? Joshua Dariye, Reverend Jolly Nyame, who were jailed for corruption? Were they not APC people? Who tried them, which government? I think you are looking for evidence? So, all these accusations flying around on the people around Buhari, all these things that Adams Oshiomhole have been saying, you people aren’t taking him on. Adams Oshiomhole said whatever is your crime when you join the APC, you become a forgiven saint. Didn’t he say that? Please, when you are talking about integrity, don’t bring Buhari in. Don’t bring his government in. All those around Buhari, tell me one clean person that hasn’t been accused of any corruption. The media are just laundering Buhari’s image, he isn’t the saint that you think he is. Wasn’t his people accused of buying 9-Mobile and Keystone bank, using public money?
But management of the two businesses you mentioned have since denied having anything to do with Buhari and his family
That’s the new management that they put in to deceive you.
Finally, sir. What if Buhari wins this February presidential election?
If that happens, we will continue to fight him, but how did he win in the first place? When he wrote figures and used the military that were doing military exercises? Or when he used the card reader of which he is now using to disenfranchise people, configuring it? If he wins, free, fair transparent and credible election, we will accept defeat. At least, Atiku has said so.
Did he say if he was defeated, he would accept? Or you are basing your question of victory for Buhari on what Ganduje said about bringing five million votes and nobody even questioned Ganduje? Where did he get five million votes? Is he voting for Kano people alone? The Nigerian press can’t ask these questions?
Buhari was asked whether he will accept defeat and he said the issue of defeat doesn’t even arise. Is he a soothsayer? Because unless the votes are cast, counted and announced in the open, no one knows. That is my position. So anything that anybody says about winning an election is just falsehood. Buhari should know that he isn’t in a position to win this election at all. But even if he wins, if it is fair, fine. If it isn’t fair and he declares himself president, what is happening in Venezuela will be a child’s play in Nigeria!