[The Sun ] National Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alhaji Buba Galadima is furious over happenings in the country. He clearly displayed his emotions in this interview. First, he believes that the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega is a ‘first class’ pretender who is clearly a partisan arbiter.
He is also of the belief the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government at the centre is not fit to run the country, hence the general insecurity in the land. The confidant of Maj-General Muhammad Buhari spoke on other touchy issues. Excerpts…
Your party is still kicking over the recent Kebbi governorship election. Is CPC saying that it will not recognize Dakingari’s victory?
The answer is obvious; abinitio, we had wanted to field a candidate but the election was not supposed to hold on the date it held. Right from the start, PDP had wanted the election to be won by them unopposed and that was exactly what happened. They did that by compromising the leadership of our party, the leadership of ACN and to a certain extent, the leadership of ANPP. They did that so that no party of any significance would field any candidate.
It is a fact that PDP had a very unpopular governor who ordinarily wouldn’t have won any election against any body. That was why they resorted to arm-twisting tactics by disenfranchising the Kebbi electorate. They have succeeded in doing this one but I want to assure you that we will nullify that fortune of PDP. We believe that if there is justice and free judiciary in Nigeria, the case we are going to file is impeccable. There is no way Dakingari’s so-called victory can stand.
But the issue here is that INEC accused your party of acting outside the law, that it wanted to change a candidate when the time for that had passed. Why is CPC passing the buck despite acting contrary to the rule of the game?
No, it was within the law. What the Supreme Court judgment said was that it was going to be a fresh election and fresh election means that you start all over again. Not only that, INEC should be a neutral arbiter, not an interested party on this issue. It should have given everybody a level playing field for every party to actualize its potential. Every party should have been given the opportunity to present a candidate that would either be accepted or rejected by the people of Kebbi. Of course, that should be done in consonance with the Electoral Act. Even if our candidate decided to defect to another party, we had 45 days within which we can present another candidate. In those 45 days, you can see that from the judgment of the Supreme Court on February 24,2012, to the date fixed by INEC for the election on March 21, we were left with only 37 days which was a clear contravention of the Supreme court’s order.
So, INEC ran foul of the law, that is 2010 Electoral Act (amended). It shows how partisan the electoral body was.
The CPC has been giving the impression, since after the 2011 election that it has lost faith in INEC leadership, is this perception correct?
That is not a judgment of CPC, it is the judgment of Nigerians that after all, Jega is not what they assumed or what he portrayed himself to be. Jega is only a stooge of the PDP and he has been very partisan in what interests PDP. If it were not so, we stakeholders are supposed to dictate the direction of electioneering. Jega ought not to fix election for us to hear on the pages of newspaper, we deserved to have sat down with the commission to pick a date for the election. He owes us that duty that before making such an announcement, he should discuss with stakeholders in the polity especially leaders of the parties concerned and get their input.
I was in Ghana recently to study how their parties and electoral body operate. I was told that the electoral body sits with all the political parties to fix dates of elections, design ballot papers and analyse together tenders given out for the printing of ballot papers. The electoral body allows every political party to send an agent to the printing press where the ballot papers are printed. When the printing is over, all the agents take the serial numbers of all the ballot papers meant for all the polling booths and the statistics of such ballot papers.
They do it in such a manner that even if you are the electoral officer, it will be difficult for you to manipulate the system because every party has the serial numbers of the ballot papers and knows the number that is meant for each election at each polling booth, ward and council. On the day of the election, the electoral officer brings the papers and shows them to agents of the political parties for verification. On that day of the election, all security officers on electoral duties are under the chairman of the electoral body, not under the commissioner of police, not under the President who is the commander-in –chief of the country.
It is assumed in Ghana that the President is an interested party on that day, his party is also running in the election and should not, therefore, be allowed to control the electoral processes. I asked Prof Afariga Gang, the chairman of the electoral commission how many times since 2011 had he visited the country’s presidential villa? He told me that they were appointed in 1992, that means he is 20 years old in that office. He said that during that time, government seconded an administrative officer to help them set up an administrative machinery of the electoral body.
In 1994, when they were doing registration of voters, government learnt that they were running out of electoral materials and sent for the chairman to find a way of assisting the commission. He said that when he was going to meet the President, he went with all his assistants and officials of the commission. The President was surprised and said that he just wanted to see the chairman. But the chairman said no, no sir, I as a person, wouldn’t have done anything for you. If you want me, it means you want to see the commission.
The President now told them that he was told they were running short of electoral materials and that the government was ready to assist the commission. The chairman replied and said well, I am sorry, we didn’t know why you called us, we will go and investigate. He told me that till last March when I spoke with him, his commission had not gone back to the presidency again to feed the President back. Now, can you ask Jega how many times he dines with Jonathan or agents of Jonathan? He can’t remember the number of times he visits Aso Rock alone.
Some believe that CPC is making these allegations against Jega because the INEC chairman is not playing the party’s card, what is your reaction to this type of view?
What is our card? No, tell me what you think our card is? Our card is that there should be free, fair, transparent elections. Our card is that everybody should be given a level playing field. If Jega is not doing that, of course he will run foul of our own position. Do you expect us to like him if he is showing partisanship? Do you think we have any other card, tell me if you have facts to that effect or let Jega say so. He should tell the world if we have ever requested him to do anything outside the law for us.
Does it not sound abnormal that other opposition parties are commending Jega in the elections that have taken place so far but your party has continued to sing a different song?
I want to tell you that we are on the same pedestal with Tinubu who is the leader of CAN who said that Maurice Iwu is one million times better than Jega. When Iwu was there, we knew where we stood with him, you either play his ball or you are out. But with Jega who pretends to be honest, who portrays a picture of a neutral person, he hits you in a place where you will never recover.
Beyond the accusation of Jega and INEC being responsible for the electoral woes of CPC, there are claims that the party is the architect of its poor outings because of its predilection for dumping candidates in the middle of campaigns.
What is your take on this?
If people do not understand something, the best thing is to ask questions so that they will be told the correct position on any issue. Why do we dump our candidates? There are several reasons why a party can dump its candidate. It is either the party believes that the candidate does not stand a chance against his opponents or some other considerations. Every party is in the business of politics so as to win an election. Nobody will say we are out there to eat pounded yam, no, we are there to win.
A party wants to be in power because that will afford it the opportunity to realize its dreams for the people. It is not for fun that some of us have been in this opposition game for 34 years, from 1978 till date. Look at me aging. I have certain ideas that I would want to see actualized before I die. I do not wish to remain in the opposition till the end of my life. I want to see my ideas translated into reality.
But that is not the issue. In which case, would you want to say that we dumped candidates for another one? You just talked about Kebbi State; Aliero dumping our party was part of the game. A lot of people had warned us not to trust him, that he is being held hostage by government. Even if he had stayed in CPC and contested the election, we were told ab initio that he would go back to PDP. But he assured us, he swore to us that he would not do so and we believed him. We did not know that he is not a man to trust.
Where is he now despite his assurances that he would remain with us come rain, come sun? We change candidates whose characters we are unsure of. Some of them have committed crimes for which they were convicted and you know that the Electoral Act is clear that no convict can run any election. Sometimes, because we believe that a candidate does not have the necessary qualifications to contest any election, we have no option than to replace him with another person. We are a responsible political party, we are respected because of integrity card. Anybody whose integrity is in question cannot be fielded by this party. We stop such a person at anytime we discover that he has a scar on him.
How true is the speculation that Buhari will not participate in the 2015 election?
I wouldn’t know. Buhari is an individual, I belong to the institution of CPC, I am the National Secretary of the party and I know that we have not discussed anything like that. I want to assure you that Buhari that I know would accede to the yearning of the people. If it is the wish of the people that he should run for presidency, I am sure he would do that. If it is the feeling of the generality of the people that they don’t need him anymore, I don’t think he will attempt to run. I want us to leave that aspect there. When we reach the bridge, we will cross it.
It is believed that you influence him to take most of his political decisions and on this score, some contend that some extreme positions the man had taken on critical issues were engineered by you. What facts have you to counter this allegation?
That is an insult to Buhari’s integrity. Those who hold such views are not fair to the man at all. When Buhari was a platoon commander in Congo in 1962, I was not there. He took decisions that made him a darling of the United Nations troop in that country. When Buhari grew through the ranks in all the branches of the military and became the officer commanding the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, I didn’t even know him. When Buhari became Petroleum Minister, I didn’t know him. When Buhari became Head of State, I am sure he didn’t know me. When Buhari was chairman of PTF, I don’t think he could say he ever saw me.
Today, everybody eulogises him as the best performer including his greatest enemy and adversary, Gen Obasanjo. He wrote glowing tribute to the character, the person and the administrative capacity of Gen Buhari. Buba Galadima was not there to direct him on what to do. Therefore, for those who believe in this age that somebody else can manipulate the psyche of Buhari, I think that amounts to insults.
However, I want to say that if Buhari does take my advice, then it means that I am a super, honest and intelligent adviser who can die and live by him in all circumstances. Look at it this way; we were over 20 that started the Buhari Movement but today, we are only two still with him. Even if it is for that reason, Buhari ought to listen to us because we have proved to be good and honest allies.
What are your fears for 2015?
If I tell you that I am seeing some bright light at the end of the tunnel, I am lying. Of course, the nation is not in good hands. The whole world knows that Nigerian government is ethicized, it is only one ethnic group that is running the country. It is only one ethnic group that is running the security of the country. It is not a good omen. Those who are doing this should go to Ghana and find out what happened to Ila Liman when he ethicized the government of Ghana. He ethnicised the security agencies by appointing all commanders from his tribe and one night, they were not there in the morning.
It is not good for the country, it is not good that only the sons and daughters of Niger Delta alone are being sent for training abroad. They leave the sons and daughters of other ethnic groups in poverty, deprivation because they are not in government. This is why we are having some security challenges. Our leaders must come out and speak the truth. I don’t know what they are afraid of. What can Jonathan do to them? The only thing Jonathan can do is to get them assassinated. Would they not die tomorrow if they don’t die today.
But government has said that it is ready to dialogue and possibly rehabilitate Boko Haram members
Do you believe them ? They told us the other day that Boko Haram has no face but Shettima Ali Monguno told them no, they have a face and that if you need them, we will get some of them to speak with you. One of the high officers of Boko Haram, was billed to meet with them in Kaduna to prepare grounds for dialogue and security operatives arrested the man. In our own tradition, in our own culture, a messenger cannot be touched. Even in the Bible, in the Quran, if you touch a messenger, you are only digging your grave.
How do you place the President’s recent pronouncement that Boko Haram has more political undertone than other reasons being adduced to it?
Do you believe him? What has he said that became a reality? The man does not know what he says. I have learnt not to listen to him and I am happier doing that. Boko haram is more than politics. It is a challenge that this country must face squarely. The economy of this county is in shambles because of what is happening.
Now, Jonathan promised Nigerians during the oil subsidy protests that he was going to cut down on his traveling and that he would reduce cost of running government. Today, has he fulfilled the promises? Where are the palliatives he promised? Across the country, look at the rate of unemployment. If these youths who roam the streets aimlessly join Boko Haram or armed robbery, would you blame them? Government is not planning.
Government must quickly address two things- the high unemployment level and population explosion. If we don’t address population explosion, it will consume all of us. They must address rural urban drift. This is caused by the manipulation of council administration and the funds that go to them. He should invite honest people to look into his face and tell him the truth about the state of affairs.
Will you accept to be his adviser if he offers you an appointment?
No, no, I will not take the appointment but Nigeria is my country and I am in politics to make things better. I can volunteer information that will help the nation. But it is in my interest for him not to succeed so that my party and I can take over.
Apart from the allegation of ethnicising his government, are there other things CPC believes the government is not getting right and are helping to worsen security in Nigeria?
Do you feel secured? Where is the money we invested, over $6billion in electricity? Where is the money invested in roads, where are the roads? Have you not been seeing massive lootings going on? Don’t you think that somebody who has stolen money meant for pensioners that die on the streets of Abuja and under the bridge across the country should be shot? Have you not heard about the oil subsidy, those who stole our money, doesn’t Jonathan know them? Did you not hear that a judge has thrown out the Halliburton bribe case that involved some officials of Jonathan’s government? Some of them are ministers in this administration. Did you not remember that they did the same thing for their friend Ibori before he turned round and confessed that he stole?
Jonathan managing the economy, are you sure of where the next meal will come from. The month is about ending but some government workers are yet to get last month’s salaries.
How true are claims that CPC is planning to go into alliance with other opposition parties?
I want to tell you in a nutshell that the party is preparing to look at the Nigerian nation holistically by trying to recruit and realign with people of like minds so that we take this country out of the woods. There are a lot of agitations on the part of the electorate, on the part of many Nigerians from all shades of opinion that the CPC must receive the necessary leadership to the opposition in Nigeria.
We will come together either in alliance or in fusion so that what happened in Kenya and what just took place in Senegal can happen here. But let me also say that PDP is doing all it could to make sure that this does not happen . They want to scatter us, they have been sponsoring campaign of calumny against our persons, against our leadership etc. The aim is to blackmail people especially those that have burnt their fingers while in government to stop them from supporting us.
When they wanted to take one of our leaders recently, they showed him his dossiers and told him that unless he joins PDP, we will send you to jail.
CPC could not pull through an alliance arrangement with ACN because it refused to make concessions, how sure are you that such grandstanding will not stop the planned marriage?
I don’t think CPC ever gave any impossible conditions to anybody rather it was the other parties that gave us impossible conditions. In all the talks about alliance, no party accepted that Buhari should be the presidential candidate. So, if there is any area of disagreement, it must have to do with other parties not with CPC. I want to tell you that whatever was the situation in 2011, we are trying to put it behind us. There are new variables in the Nigerian politics. Those that have erroneously supported PDP with the belief that PDP will play ball have since seen PDP in its true colour and they are regretting their action.
Many people will not back PDP especially with Jonathan trying to change the rule to seek a seven-year term after 2015. The move will anger the populace and will lead to his total defeat in 2015.
- Flashback: Jan 2011 (Anti-Jonathan Protests in Katsina, Bauchi) (transformationwatch.com)
- 2015: Look for my replacement – Buhari (transformationwatch.com)