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Nigerians will decide if Atiku or Obi will be PDP’s candidate in 2027 — Bafarawa

Nigerians will decide if Atiku or Obi will be PDP’s candidate in 2027 — Bafarawa %Post Title











Former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, shares his thoughts with CHUKWUDI AKASIKE on the nation’s democracy and economic situation, among other issues

Things appear to be tough in the country and most people can hardly feed well again. Why is it so?

When there’s no commitment from the leaders to care for their followers, things are expected to be difficult. Nowadays, leaders are there for the sake of themselves, and they don’t even think of anybody. The only time they think about anybody is the time of an election. So, when there’s no justice, there’s no peace and when there’s no peace there’s a problem. The leaders of today are always thinking of themselves. There’s no commitment to their country’s development or anybody else. This is why things are difficult.

Some people may say you’re saying so because the political party in power isn’t the political party you belong to. How will you react to this?

I’m Nigerian and I can be in any political party where I think things will be better. So, it’s not a question of being in the opposition. However, if there’s no opposition, there’s no democracy. That’s why Nigerian democracy is dying because there’s no strong opposition as the political parties, ruling parties, and opposition parties are all from the same father and mother. These opposition and ruling parties are not doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s for the opposition parties to check the excesses of the ruling parties.

At the end of the day, most politicians are businessmen; so, they join politics for the sake of business. It’s just a rotational thing. If you look at the All Progressives Congress, 80 per cent of its members are from the Peoples Democratic Party. So, what’s different is just the name, but they are the same people with the same beliefs. It’s not a question of party now; it’s a question of the country. The people are suffering because there’s no umpire in the game.

The political parties are the umpires for running democracy. The political parties in the opposition must ensure the ruling party sits up and does the right thing for the people. Today, if you’re the president, you’ll become the national chairman of the party, and the governor will be the chairman of his party at the state level. That’s not the way things should be because whoever joins a political party is an agent of that party.

This is because each political party has its manifesto. There’s nothing new and the essence is that when they see that the president, who is seen as the leader of the party isn’t doing well, they go back to their manifesto and remind him that he should not forget the content of the party’s manifesto. I say this because the manifesto is the guide for the ruling party to achieve its aim for the people. The Independent National Electoral Commission is not looking at all these. If what INEC is doing is selection, then the election is selection.

Why did you say the election is selection?

If the leadership of INEC says this is what we’re doing today and there’s no going back. Then tomorrow, the same thing it said would be done was not being done. Isn’t that going away from the promise made? When that is the case, everything will become a total mess. INEC must supervise political parties, most especially the ruling party, because they have submitted their constitution and manifesto, which is what they’re going to do for the people. So, INEC must supervise the activities of the political parties and the political parties must supervise their electoral officers.

You once said that President Bola Tinubu should probe former President Muhammadu Buhari if he wanted to succeed. Do you still stand by this statement?

I still want the Buhari administration to be probed because the mess we are in is caused by Buhari. The probe of the immediate past administration is long overdue, and I think President Tinubu should begin to think along that line, otherwise, if he fails to do so, God will hold him responsible for not doing his job.

How can probing the Buhari administration change the economy and current situation for Nigerians who are facing tough times?

At least, we heard that Buhari borrowed billions and trillions of naira. So, the current administration must find out what these funds were used for. Have they used it for the right things or not? These are the things the current administration should find out. Nigerians need to know all these.

But what quick measures can be taken to ameliorate the pain the people are going through as a result of the economic downturn since palliative failed to solve the problem?

President Tinubu just announced the removal of fuel subsidy; it was the Buhari government that removed the fuel subsidy. Therefore, if it was Tinubu who prepared the removal of fuel subsidy, he would’ve used his common sense to find a solution. But he fell into a trap set by the Buhari administration. That’s why he is now hooked. If he’s the one who had the knowledge and vision of removing the subsidy, he would’ve come out with some options to do it. During Abacha’s era, when he had fuel money, he created the Petroleum Trust Fund and Buhari was head of the fund.

So, Buhari knows the benefits of surplus oil money and when Abacha was getting the surplus, he was putting the money in the PTF. At least, Buhari should’ve copied from what a military leader had done. Being a military leader and politician, he should have done something better than everybody. What (Chief Olusegun) Obasanjo did as a President remains the best so far. I still believe that he (Obasanjo) is the best leader from 1999 to date. I’m not talking about the era of Awolowo and Co. Obasanjo’s administration tried its best for Nigerians.

Why do you think it has been difficult for the Federal Government to repair the nation’s refineries and also build new ones because Nigeria is an oil-producing country?

Unfortunately, I’m not in government and I don’t know why because I may be wrong or right.

Surprisingly, the government believes in importing refined oil even when we have the opportunity to build and repair our refineries to produce oil and reduce the cost of oil for Nigerians. Why are they not doing so?

I cannot understand why they (the government) are taking the actions they are taking. It’s only when one is in the system that one can comment on this, and since I’m not in the system, I cannot comment on it. By the time I enter, maybe I’ll find the same problem.

Don’t you think it’s wrong to continue to rely on imported fuel instead of repairing the refineries here and making the prices of petroleum products affordable to the common man?

When Nigerians get better leaders, things will improve. I mean when we’ve committed and patriotic leaders, things will improve; I mean leaders who are thinking about the nation and not themselves, then the country will move forward.

You’re one of those visited by Peter Obi. Many political observers believed the move was to unseat the APC in the 2027 general elections. What will you say about this?

I was not visited by Peter Obi. But this merger that is being talked about will not help matters. It’s still the same people in the PDP and APC. It’s not the political party that’s the problem; we, the politicians, are the problem of our democracy. So, it’s not a question of changing A, B, C, or D. There’s nobody who’s not once a member of the PDP or the APC. They are in the same category. It’s like a football game where they’re passing the ball to their colleagues. While they’re doing that, no umpire blows the whistle; that’s why everything is messed up.

Are you saying the merger of some political parties in the opposition, or the formation of a mega party will not give Nigerians the change they want?

Unless we tell ourselves the truth, be honest with ourselves, and see how we can commit ourselves to moving the country forward together, nothing much can be achieved.

The current administration will clock one year by May 29. How will you rate it objectively and without minding the fact that you’re in the opposition?

I’ll leave this question to the common man. I will leave it to them to judge by themselves.

The current administration has been taking loans just like the one it succeeded. Do you think these loans have been well managed?

I was a governor for eight years and I didn’t borrow any single naira either locally or internationally. So, I don’t believe in borrowing. We’re blessed with everything in this country. We’re supposed to lend and not borrow.

Some political observers have said that every succeeding government in the country has always been worse than the one it took over from. Why is it so?

It Is because of selfish interest. For instance, if President Tinubu is fair and committed to the electorate, he should’ve probed Buhari and found out his good and worse performances so that he could copy what Buhari had done right and correct what had been done wrongly. When you become president and you see that there is a total mess and you are from the same party, and you say, ‘I can’t probe Buhari’s administration’, but if you can’t probe anybody, God will probe you.

Presidents in the past always campaigned that they knew how to solve the country’s problems, but after getting into office, they appear not to know the problem again. What can you say to this?

The problem is that the common man is just killing himself. He knows that these people (politicians) are telling lies and after they do what they want, they abandon them. Next time, they (the people) will take their time and say, ‘To hell with you’. This is where we’re going. This is the time people will sit down and pick people who will show interest in their welfare. Nigerian politics is a small-scale industry. When you don’t have money, you don’t enter it. Some people are very qualified and can put this country in a better position, but if they don’t have money, they can’t get the opportunity to do what is on their mind. That is the problem. They don’t have the money to contest, and the common man is waiting for this set of qualified, but not rich people to give him macaroni and detergent to get their votes.

State governments are now receiving about triple what they used to get as monthly revenue in the past following the removal of fuel subsidy. But most of them haven’t been able to perform to the people’s expectations. What’s your advice for them?

It’s just one year that they’re in office. When we talk about the amount they have been receiving, what’s the market saying now? You should consider that the money is just huge, and it’s quantity, not quality as the money has no strong value. We shouldn’t judge them on what they (state governments) are receiving because of the situation they found themselves in because of the situation created by Buhari.

What’s your take on the call for state police?

Everything has advantages and disadvantages, and so is the creation of state police.

What do you think is the advantage Nigerians can benefit from having state police?

The state police are in a state, and they are familiar with the nooks and crannies of the state. Nigerian police may not be familiar with the places they operate. The fear is that having a state police, the governors may abuse the opportunity because sometimes the governor of a state asks the Commissioner of Police to do something and if the case isn’t critical, the commissioner can’t say no. Or during democracy period, the governor may just ask them to do something against his opponents.

The President recently ordered the suspension of security levy after the criticism that followed the announcement of the levy. How will you describe the decision by the President?

Why did he announce it in the first place? He should’ve thought of it before announcing it.

If the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, comes back to the PDP, who between him and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar should be the flag bearer of the party in 2027

The people, Nigerians will decide who the flag bearer will be. (Sunday PUNCH)

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