‘Why we want Buhari to con­test 2015 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion’

Idris Ab­dul­lahi Garba, mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Kon­tagora/Wushishi/Mariga Federal Con­stituency of Niger State in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, is the chair­man House pop­u­la­tion com­mit­tee. In this in­ter­view, he says there is noth­ing like Mus­lim/ Mus­lim ticket in

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

There were me­dia re­ports that your party, the APC, has de­cided to give the pres­i­den­tial ticket to Gen­eral Buhari with Tin­ubu as his run­ning mate; that is Mus­lim/ Mus­lim ticket. How do you see this?

I want to say clearly here that there is noth­ing like giv­ing Buhari and Tin­ubu the ticket. We the mem­bers have sat and de­cided that there is no­body that can pro­duce 15 mil­lion votes from the North, ex­cept Gen­eral Buhari. The party has not dis­cussed any­thing like a Mus­lim/Mus­lim ticket.

The party is even think­ing of pick­ing some­one from the South­East like Oby Ezek­we­sili as its vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, be­cause we know she’s com­pe­tent, and she’s good. The is­sue of giv­ing Tin­ubu the ticket is not there, be­cause he is a leader and is not con­test­ing any elec­tion. He’s only guid­ing the APC stake­hold­ers and the people in the party to make sure things are done right in this coun­try.

Gen­eral him­self is con­sid­er­ing whether to con­test or not. Some say we need some­body young, but we’re telling him to come and con­test be­cause we know that he has the coun­try in his heart.

You talked about Ezek­we­sili, has she openly iden­ti­fied with the APC that you’re think­ing of giv­ing her the vice pres­i­den­tial ticket?

She has not openly iden­ti­fied with the party, but we know she’s among the people that want to make Nigeria a great coun­try, so we’re think­ing for us to build this coun­try, we need people like her. We need people that are vi­brant, hon­est and not cor­rupt and have a roadmap for the coun­try.

But she has never played par­ti­san pol­i­tics, how do you in­tend to woo her into the party?

When the party and the people de­cide, they will call her to serve her coun­try. We need people with her in­tegrity.

Some people have ar­gued that Gen­eral Buhari is a good prod­uct that has been dam­aged by other politi­cians; how do you in­tend to sell him again to Nige­ri­ans?

Yes, some people have dam­aged him, but ev­ery­body knows that Buhari is a Mus­lim but has not in any way tried to turn Nigeria into an Is­lamic coun­try. He has worked with Chris­tians and still has Chris­tian friends; people like Bakare, TY Dan­juma and many of them.

This is the pol­i­tics people have de­cided to use against him. But you know that that is not true. Why did he carry Bakare as a VP? Bakare is a strong pas­tor in this coun­try. That is pol­i­tics; that is what they’re try­ing to use now, say­ing Mus­lim/ Mus­lim ticket.

Fani Kay­ode who came out in the pa­pers is a de­stroyer, be­cause we know people are com­ing from PDP to join APC; it’s just a mat­ter of time for them to de­stroy APC. But the elite and Nige­ri­ans know that APC is here to save the coun­try.

Gen­eral Buhari does not seem to have age on his side...

What do you say about Mu­gabe? What do you say about the Queen of Eng­land? Gen­eral is just 70 plus, while Mu­gabe is 90 plus. We have lead­ers of 80 years. He’s still strong and ca­pa­ble of leading this coun­try.

Even within the APC, some are against the planned can­di­da­ture of the Gen­eral, say­ing he had con­tested since 2003, and he should leave it for an­other per­son. Don’t you think that if you field him, the party will lose?

If you re­mem­ber, in 2003, he con­tested and won the elec­tion. He con­tested in 2007 and won the elec­tion. In 2011, ev­ery­body knew that the elec­tions were rigged, and this is what we keep do­ing in this coun­try. So, he’s fight­ing for this coun­try. It’s a mat­ter of time. You need some­body to con­tinue fight­ing, and the rig­ging will stop. People have their opin­ions.

There are spec­u­la­tions that Tam­buwal will join the pres­i­den­tial race in APC. What’s your take on that?

Yes, some­body likes Buhari, Tam­buwal, even though he’s a PDP man, but people say he wants to come to APC, if he comes we’ll wel­come him 100 per­cent.

The APC seems to be bat­tling with so many crises. If you look at the on­go­ing na­tion­wide con­gresses, there are a lot of is­sues raised with some of your col­leagues, leg­is­la­tors, from La­gos and the rest call­ing for can­cel­la­tion of the ex­er­cise. How will the party sur­vive in this kind

of sit­u­a­tion?

It’s all about in­ter­est. For law­mak­ers that are com­ing out to say the con­gresses should be can­celled, con­gresses have never been done in Nigeria. It’s just like PDP; they sit down and write the ex­ec­u­tive in each ward. But our party said ‘go to the grass­roots and elect whom you want.’ Let them go and buy form and con­test.

I went to my vil­lage and left, and the congress was go­ing on right when was talk­ing to you. I’m hav­ing good re­ports, and I don’t show any in­ter­est in any­body. Who­ever emerges as the ward chair­man, women leader, youth leader; all the 22 po­si­tions, I will work with ev­ery­body. I must not put my people there be­cause I’m afraid of pri­maries or some­thing.

So, those people com­plain­ing, I be­lieve they don’t have the grass­roots. I told my for­mer ward chair­men that ‘look, this is ACN, CPC and ANPP com­ing to­gether as APC; ev­ery­body should go and can­vass for his votes, if you win, I’ll come and work with you. Any­body you see com­plain­ing, they want to come and get ticket, and I don’t think it’s right.

Your party has been los­ing some of its heavy­weights like Sheka­rau, Ba­farawa and Marwa, and even at the House of Reps too; are you not wor­ried that this will af­fect your chances in 2015?

We have five gov­er­nors that de­fected from PDP to our party, and you know what five gov­er­nors are in Nigeria to­day. And you’re bring­ing some­body like Marwa who was gover­nor 15-18 years back; he’s look­ing for ap­point­ment.

Sheka­rau left APC be­cause he felt he was threat­ened that some­body was com­ing to over­shadow him. He didn’t want to go with the line of the party. He’s also look­ing for min­is­ter. These are people you see ev­ery­day. All they want is about them­selves, not about the coun­try. They know they can­not han­dle the party the way they used to han­dle it.

The cri­sis you talked about in congress, it’s an open thing. They said come and vote. You must have is­sues, be­cause you may have be­tween five and eight con­tes­tants, but at the end of the day, who­ever is be­ing elected, the people know that he’s elected. That is the in­ter­nal democ­racy we’re talk­ing about, not some­body sit­ting down and writ­ing the ward chair­men he wants and giv­ing them cards.

What are the chances of APC in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions next year?

I will clearly tell you that we’re win­ning 100 per­cent. If you check, we have 16 gov­er­nors; we don’t rig and we’re not go­ing to rig. Even people from the South East will vote for APC this time around. If you go the La­gos, Ek­iti, Oyo and the rest, you’ll see all the gov­er­nors are per­form­ing.

Go to Kano State and see what he has done in less than three years. Zam­fara State gover­nor is per­form­ing; even Wa­makko was per­form­ing be­fore he came to APC. These are the people that have Nige­ri­ans at heart. This time around there’s no go­ing to be rig­ging; they’ll count each vote there.

Idris Ab­dul­lahi Garba

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