Abdulmumin Jibrin, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the lawmaker who represents Bebeji/Kiru Federal constituency of Kano State at the House of Representatives, speaks with select journalists on the current political situation in the country including the implication of recent defection of some chieftains of the party to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).MUYIWA OYINLOLA was there
Your party has witnessed a number of defections in the last few weeks, do you think it would affect your performance in the forthcoming general elections?
Personally, I think if the APC would be presenting another candidate other than President Muhammadu Buhari, I would have been a bit jittery but there is this consensus within the party and we are just waiting for the timetable just to do the formalities and adopt Buhari as the candidate. With Mr. President as the candidate of the APC, we are not threatened by all the people leaving the party. For so many reasons, we are so lucky that we have Comrade Adams Oshiomole as the chairman of the party. He has been doing extremely well. He has been reaching out to everyone, holding a series of meetings, and persuading people to stay. The chairman and the National Working Committee of the party, the president and all our leaders in the party have been able to keep within the party. During election period, these problems are normal. It is not unique to APC alone, as that was the case in 2011, 2007, and 2015. All the time, when there is a buildup to the general elections you have these kinds of problems. To say that the APC would disintegrate or crumble is absolutely false. As people are going, people are also coming in. But because it is news that people are leaving the ruling party, they make it a big news. A lot of other people from even the opposition are coming in. At the moment, not less than four to five PDP governors are working in a cross-party arrangement, working to support the APC.
There has been a lot of inflow from the South-East. You have people like Orji Uzor Kalu and a lot of prominent people in the South-East that are coming. They also understand that it is an opportunity for the zone to put up a good show for the APC and stand a chance of competing for the presidency after Buhari serves his second term. Thus, I am very confident that the APC isn’t going to confront any challenge.
Are you not jittery that this thing may bounce back as it did for the PDP in 2015?
I am not jittery for some reasons. There are certain things that will help the APC to retain power and ensure that President Buhari wins. He has massive electoral value and his stronghold states are still there like Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Plateau, Kogi, and of course the South-West is a no-go area. This is because they have positioned themselves to take the presidency after 2022 so they don’t want to make any mistake about that. Do you hear any party making any noise in the south-west? Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, and Oyo states are all for Buhari. Edo is already there, in Delta, we are making a significant move and very soon you would hear a lot of people that would decamp into the party. You know we lost Rivers state just by a whisker, we have people like Amaechi and Dakoko and I can assure you that Rivers would also come home. The APC is standing firm and President Buhari is also standing firm.
The President is naturally connected with the masses. Nothing has tampered with that. Buhari is a man of the masses particularly in the North-Central where he has a stronghold. Those who are against Buhari in this country are just a section of the elite. They don’t have any electoral value. The next election would be an election of the section of the elite versus the masses.
On the area of governance, Buhari has done tremendously well. The reality of the matter is that the capacity of Buhari setting up a team, giving power to the central bank, giving power to the Ministry of Finance, setting up an economic crack team to battle the economic recession that would have brought Nigeria to ground zero, is enough for Buhari to contest the next election. That was what gave Obama a second term when he came back in 2012. After the economic crisis of 2008, Obama was able to bring USA back on board. When that happened, it was all he used to get his re-election. People are suffering and it isn’t Buhari’s fault. The previous government didn’t save and this country relies on crude which determines the value of our currency and the foreign reserve of our country. By the time crude went down, there were no savings. When Buhari came, crude oil price went down and he went into the purse of the country and discovered that the government didn’t save. When the price of crude went down, it gave a hard hit on our currency. The foreign reserve went down and it gave rise to inflation. These things affect every aspect of the economy, commodity, infrastructure, banking, everywhere is affected. Buhari has been able to ensure that at the level of the state where we have civil servants, we would continue to give bailout to states to stabilize them. No government has ever done that but because of the economic strategy to ensure that the country stands on its feet, that was done. Today, inflation has gone down. In the last one and a half years, from about 18 percent, inflation has gone down to 12.5 percent. What indices are people using to say that the economy is terrible?
In Q1 2018, we have registered growth of about 1.95 percent and these things would be sustained. We have reduced domestic borrowing to lose all the resources in banks for the sectors to be able to borrow. Look at the massive growth in the agricultural sector. Agricultural export has recorded about 500 percent growth.
Also, on the issue of anti-corruption, which President on an election year, seven months to the election would sit down and not try to lobby the judiciary to ensure that they stepdown on the issue of anti-corruption or the EFCC? The EFCC is still arresting prominent Nigerians everywhere. Two members of our party were jailed. People are asking if Buhari knows what he is doing, he cares about the next generation and not just the election.
On insecurity, today, everybody looks happy and bright because there is security. In Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, and other places, several bombs have exploded. Buhari came, motivated the army, invested heavily in equipment and expertise, and we were able to dissipate Boko Haram.
On the issue of killings, everybody is angry including myself. I would disagree where people are laying blame on Buhari. Buhari is reactionable. When there is crisis, he is deploying the army, the DSS, the police and the rest. But the responsibility of preventing all of that lies in the hands of politicians. It is high time we told ourselves the truth.
I don’t agree with trying to make the President take the fault. When you come to the preventive level of that crisis, it is the fault of politicians. They are the ones instigating these crises. What are we telling ourselves in mosques and churches? It is high time we tell ourselves the truth. These are the things that incite people and create the crisis that we see. Who has more army, DSS or police than the politician?
There is the preventive stage and there is the reactionary stage, the most important stage is the preventive stage and the responsibility of preventing it is not the DSS, police or the army but we the people led by politicians, community leaders, youth leaders, women leaders, we are the ones instigating these crises. When such happens, it is what the politicians want and they take it to the press and rub it on the President’s face because some incompetent people do not want him to win the next election. I can tell you that President Buhari would win the 2019 elections; I do not have any doubt.
Considering the calibre of people leaving the APC for PDP, do you still believe that the people leaving wouldn’t make any difference? Are you also in the school of thought of president of this country that is wishing them well, and your National Chairman, who said they have no political value?
In politics, everybody has value and Oshiomole has never said that they don’t have value. Buhari has never said that they do not have value. In politics, you have electoral value and political value. Electoral value is when you have the votes and political value is someone who has access to the media, one who can network with the people, who mobilizes resources. So, everybody has his value. We have not seen the kind of defection by all the prominent people that are leaving the party that can affect the fortune of APC or that of Buhari because the strategies that we have to make up for whoever we lose or whatever we lose is far more effective. When you talk of electoral value, there is nobody that has the electoral value of Buhari. Tell me one person that can match the electoral value of Buhari among all the people contesting the presidential election.
When it comes to the little thing they can have in terms of political value, the party has its own way. In Kano, we are going to give not less than two million votes to Buhari. Assuming Saraki would go with his 300,000 votes in Kwara which is practically impossible, we have the extra two million votes in Kano. Our strategy in APC now is to work extra hard to ensure that more of our supporters come out to vote.
Would the story still be the same if Buhari should decide not to contest because from all you have said now, Buhari is the pivot? If tomorrow he says he wouldn’t contest, then APC would be jittery.
We are facing reality. Buhari has said that he would contest and we have all adopted him, the governors have all adopted him, the party and youths have also adopted him. By the grace of God, Buhari will rule this country until 2022 and he would leave a good legacy.
There is an aspect that people tend to forget. When we take the aspect of governance out, politically there is the issue of zoning and that of generational shift that would work naturally for Buhari. The issue of zoning is not a joke. If anybody other than Buhari is elected from the north as President, they are going to do eight years. The south-easterners have woken up and it is time for them to have the presidency. This country must be one. They have realized that the fastest way they can get that is through a Buhari second term. They would support Buhari and the APC to be able to compete for power. The south-west believes that naturally, it is going their own way. For now, they are ahead in the race. By the time you give Buhari a second term, power leaves to the southern part of the country, spends eight years in the south and by the time it comes back to the north, the whole generation of leaders have retired. That is why you see the whole tension going on now. Even after eight or 12 years when power comes back to the north, some of them may be in their 60s. Those who are 25 or 30 today would be the ones in the House of Reps, Senate and governors. They have more chances to take a shot at the Presidency than you who is already out of the system. The issue of Buhari’s second term has a monumental implication on the issue of generational shift.
You have talked about the electoral value of the President. Apart from his anti-corruption stance, what other issues are his achievement? Also, don’t you think this particular 2 million votes in Kano is under threat considering the fact that Kwankaso has defected to PDP?
Buhari’s vote in his stronghold are all insulated. They can get some votes but it doesn’t affect Buhari’s votes in anyway. I can assure you that those people cannot tamper with the votes of the President.
Most of the people that defected to the PDP have serious ambition for the Presidency. Do you think that they can collate into a single force to produce one so they can give Buhari a real fight?
Many people have raised that issue. I have dealt with almost all of them personally, just a few I haven’t really dealt with from a close range. 2015 is different from 2019. In 2015, we had a situation of an opposition that has been struggling for 16 years. You have a ruling party that has continually offended people (the masses and the elite) for 16 years. The anger became very chronic then the purpose was one. Everybody’s ambition was secondary and the primary focus was to get the PDP out of government. In this particular instance, it is the ambition that is primary and other issues are secondary. If some of them can achieve their presidential dream in the APC, they wouldn’t have gone to the PDP. Their ambition is a priority and when ambition supersedes all other issues, it is difficult to bring people together. They met Atiku that he should take on the ticket but look at it now, they want to rubbish the man. They promised everybody the presidential ticket. People are only looking at the crisis in the APC but there is also crisis in the PDP.
The PDP will tell you that they have credibility and that they are going to APC to look for a presidential candidate. If you are a smart person in APC, you should not fall for that trap. They are using it to lure those people. Doesn’t that tell you that it is a dead party? A party that cannot produce its own presidential candidate is a dead party. Look at Sule Lamido and Makarfi, so none of them can be president? These are some of the issues and we are waiting for the PDP. We would see how they would get out of this problem because they have promised everybody the presidential ticket. The relationship of PDP and their supporters is by money, now the money is no longer there, how do they want to win election?
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