‘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
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
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.