Ahmed Suleiman Nafada is Gombe State commissioner for Information and Orientation. In this interview with CHUWANG DUNG, the former member, House of Representatives speaks on the problem of vote buying, Governor Dankwambo’s chances of clinching the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket, among other issues.
2019 is fast approaching and with recent political developments in the country, the issue of votes buying and the APC winning all the elections and by-elections conducted, do you see PDP retaining power in Gombe in the general polls?
The issue of vote buying is sad and dangerous to our democracy, but that is a sign of failure of the APC administration. The PDP government had reorganised our electoral process by restoring sanity to it. You will agree with me that it was as a result of the sanity that PDP injected in the process of our elections that APC was able to win election at the presidential level and at many levels. Unfortunately, the same APC, out of desperation to hold on to power, is gradually destroying the sanity of the process. But it is left for Nigerians to decide and choose which way to go. On our own part as politicians, it is now our responsibility to mobilise our supporters, especially the youths, and enlighten them on the dangers of engaging in such dirty acts. It is unfortunate and sad that it is the youths we look up to as future leaders that are being engaged to perpetrate such acts.
On the issue of whether or not PDP will retain power in Gombe come 2019, we are not only going to retain power in Gombe, we are going to also produce the next president of the Federal republic of Nigeria. As you are aware, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo has declared his intention to vie for the presidency. I am assuring you that Gombe will produce the next president. You know what happened in 2015, but we survived the Buhari tsunami. With the achievements recorded by the present administration under the leadership of Governor Dankwambo and the failure of the APC administration, we are better positioned to do our campaigns. You can see what is happening in the country. In less than four years, people are running away from the ruling party, including high profile politicians like the senate president, senators, governors, House members, Ambassadors; you can go on and on. This is a clear sign of what will happen in 2019. There is no cause for alarm. PDP is more stronger in Gombe than ever and our structures are solid to win elections at all levels.
I am raising this about Gombe because it is like all energies and resources are being channeled towards Dankwambo’s presidential ambition more than campaign for continuity in the state…?
Like I told you earlier, there is no cause for alarm. Our governor’s ambition is not a distraction. Rather, it is a boost to our chances. We have credible and capable persons aspiring for various positions under the party. So, we don’t have any reason to fear. You will understand what I am saying after our party primaries. Forget about the billboards, posters and loudspeakers you see the APC carrying all over. Politics has gone beyond that; by the time we get to the field, you can do the judgement.
Why are you so confident that Dankwambo will get the PDP presidential slot?
To be fair, I think Dankwambo is the best candidate for PDP. We all know he has been consistent, persistent and has demonstrated what all Nigerians know in terms of governance. Therefore, I see him as the candidate to beat, a leader who can serve the people of Nigeria wholeheartedly. Aside these, the kind of leadership qualities in him revolve around what Nigerians are actually yearning for and they have to do with his sound academic and professional qualifications, rich private sector experience, sterling public sector performance and achievements, proven knowledge of the Nigerian economy and socio-political issues, deep knowledge of Nigeria socio-political and economic landscape, demonstrable and proven relevant experience in the governance of Gombe State. He is a household name among Nigerians who believe he has a sincere passion to serve the country. Dankwambo is a candidate of merit, a model of excellence, a product of equity and a symbol of justice and fairness. So, he is the best candidate PDP can sell to Nigerians to be able to defeat the APC.
What gives you the conviction that he will win, looking at the antecendents of other contenders in the race?
I believe people from the party will prefer a very serious and sellable candidate and I think when the election comes, you will see the result. So, we are not too bothered about other candidates. Our concentration now is on how to reach out and sell our blueprint to PDP delegates across the country. So, there is no problem at all. Like I said, our candidate’s track record will be our selling point. The issue of other candidates, to us, is not an issue. It is not a major issue at all. I think we have gone past that. Our focus is that our boss is contesting for the president of Nigeria, and we believe he will get the party’s ticket and eventually get the votes from all parts of Nigeria.
But we learn that he is being pressurised to step down and support Tambuwal to enable the party wrestle power from the APC in the general election. The calculation is that since Tambuwal is from the same Northwest geo- political zone with Buhari, his candidacy will boost the chances of the party. How do you react to this?
We don’t know where this thing is coming from. May be you will tell me where such meetings were held. For us, we are not aware.
Even the body language is clear on that. Tambuwal was in the state recently and unlike other eminent guests, he was given a befitting reception with branded T-shirts, face caps and banners?
His visit has nothing to do with his or my boss’ presidential ambition. I am not even aware that Tambuwal is also contesting for president. As you know, the governor named some streets in Gombe after some prominent Nigerians, including serving governors and they all visited the state to commission the roads. Governor Dankwambo extended the same gesture to Tambuwal, which was why he came. During his visit, he also took the opportunity to take a look at the newly completed international conference centre, which he laid the foundation while serving as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The caps and T-shirts you saw some people wearing at the airport was produced by the commissioner for Cooperative, Alhaji Manu Swa, the Wambai Waja, and it has got nothing to do with Tambuwal or Dankwambo’s aspiration. Myself and Hon Manu Swa were Tambuwal’s colleagues at the House of Representatives and we were his close friends. As such, he decided to print the T-shirts and banner and also mobilised his supporters to welcome our friend to the state. Tambuwal was in Gombe during my daughter’s wedding and also during Manu Swa’s wedding. So, you can see that the bond of friendship goes beyond that visit. There was nothing wrong in giving a friend a colourful reception.
There is no pressure from any quarters on His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, the Talban Gombe, to step down for any candidate. The only pressure that the Talban was facing before his declaration was for him to openly declare his intention, which he did some few weeks ago.
Are you nursing any political ambition?
Like I told you, I was a member of the 7th Assembly in the House of Representatives. I intend contesting in the next election by God’s grace, but we are making consultations with those that matter, including my boss, his Excellency, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, the Taliban Gombe. For now, we are concentrating on getting the nation’s number one ticket.
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