On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, unveiled the campaign message direction logo for the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups (NCBSG) tagged “Consolidation 2019.” In this interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, the NCBSG director of media and publicity, Otunba Abiodun Ajiboye, sheds light on the significance of the logo with the inscription: ‘Consolidation 2019.’
The NCBSG held a consultative forum in Abuja and the high point of that event the unveiling of the campaign logo of the Buhari support groups by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. But the logo seems to be different from the one launched recently by the Buhari Campaign Council, which is ‘Next Level’. Don’t you think there is a confusion here?
First of all, let us not confuse ourselves; the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not confused in any way. We are one family. ‘Next Level’ is not a presidential campaign logo. Next Level is a book of a compendium of activities and projects of President Muhammadu Buhari. That must be understood perfectly. ‘Consolidation 2019’ is a campaign platform, a messaging direction. This is the way we want the people to appreciate our incursion into 2019; our movement towards 2019. We do not want to confuse the public. The message should be direct and understood. You probably would have wanted to ask what ‘Consolidation 2019’ stands for.
If you study President Buhari in the last three and half years, you will notice that he is one person who believes that Nigeria must have a society, Nigeria must build a society, Nigeria must become a society of pride and integrity. And if you want to build a society out of a country like Nigeria, you have to ensure that the foundation is proper and well laid. You will agree with me that overtime, the foundation of Nigeria has not been properly laid. That is a fact we all know. The lack of right foundation as a country is the reason why we have no electricity, good roads and infrastructure. It is the reason why we have no infrastructure at all to ride on to ensure a virile society.
What this administration has done is to lay a foundation for the country by encouraging local food production. A country that cannot feed itself cannot go into the future. The implication of not being able to feed yourself is that you import everything you eat, which was the situation with Nigeria about three years ago. If a country cannot feed itself, that country has no hope of development. President Buhari said, ‘Look, don’t go on a fast-track when you have no stamina to run. Come back, get your stamina right and move’. So, he said Nigeria must be able to feed itself, and the consequence of that is that food production has been boosted by 90 per cent. Three years ago, 90 per cent of the food we eat in this country was imported. Today, 90 per cent of the food we eat in Nigeria is being grown in the country. The foundation is laid.
Rather than abandon all the infrastructural facilities and projects embarked on by the previous governments, Buhari saw the sense in continuing with them because doing so affords him the opportunity to lay a proper foundation in the rail and road network. Now, if there is no proper road network, there can never ever be development. And you see that the previous governments had no serious intention to give us good roads.
At that time, the national budget for road infrastructure was N18 billion. The Buhari administration has reversed the trend. The budget of the Ministry of Works for roads has been increased to N360 billion. With that we can maintain roads and build new ones. If we continue like that for eight years, we would create infrastructural platform to build on. So, talk about power, by the end of 2019, Nigeria will have 10,000 Megawatts of electricity. We are now on 7,000 Megawatts. The Mambilla Plateau power project is in top gear. If all these infrastructures come together, we would have built a foundation for Nigeria. That is what this administration would have done in the first four years.
After that has been done, we will now move to consolidating on those projects, on those infrastructures, on those foundations we have laid and we will move to something else that will afford the people to live like proper people. It is after that that one can boldly say a society has evolved. We will now see that even law enforcement will become better. Nigerians will behave better. Education will go right. Road network will be good. There will not be traffic gridlock on the roads, and people will not be wasting hours on the roads.
So, this is why we said ‘Consolidation 2019’ is beginning of the journey to consolidate on the foundation we are laying now. If you check, the logo has trust in it. Buhari is the only president in this country that rides on trust and integrity. I said trust and integrity because with what we earn in this country, if the leader is not a thief Nigeria will go far. Even if we earn more and we have a stealing leadership, we will crash. So, that is why we said, the communication direction of this message is ‘Consolidation 2019’.
But the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is insisting that most of the projects APC is boasting about were initiated by them. What is your reaction to that?
What is wrong with completing what the previous administration started? Shouldn’t government be a continuum? I ask again, what is wrong continuing with what the PDP started if it is a good project? What is the usefulness of a project if it is not complete? Can anyone have a choice to live in an uncompleted building? Listen, Nigerians cannot afford to listen to the PDP. PDP never had good intentions for Nigeria. They have demonstrated it; 16 years of catastrophe. In a normal society, the PDP should not talk at this point in time. It is unfortunate. Forget the PDP and let’s discuss progressive issues.
There are campaign organisations scattered everywhere seeking to promote President Buhari’s re-election. Are you all in agreement?
There are no various campaign organisations. The public is often confused because the internal workings are not very clear to them. There is no official campaign organisation for the president as we speak because the Presidential Campaign Council has not been inaugurated. The minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has been appointed the Director General. Apart from that, nobody else has been appointed, as far as I know. To that extent, there is no official campaign organisation yet. Now, the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups is a political platform of the president. May be I need to throw more light on how it all began. As at 2015, it was a movement. It was clear that Nigerians were tired of the PDP, and as a result, Nigeria has to move forward. They voted massively for Buhari.
The support groups were so instrumental and influential in the struggle to enthrone Buhari. Immediately after the 2015 elections, there was nothing to say thank you to them. A feeling of abandonment was rife. A certain gentleman and astute politician called Senator Abu Ibrahim, who is the chairman, board of trustees of the NCBSG today and a four term Senator from Katsina South, went to the president having understood the impropriety of abandoning the hand that propelled Buhari to power. He said to the president, ‘Sir, these support groups are abandoned. Let us do something about them. And the president consented and told him to find a way of getting the groups under one canopy.
Senator Abu Ibrahim went to town to look for these support groups wherever they were. He set up a small committee and saddled them with the responsibility of getting these support groups together. The committee went around, got the support groups together and organised a meeting for them in Abuja. In that meeting, a name came up called National Committee of Buhari Support Groups (NCBSG). This is the group that will manage all other groups. After a while- that is 2016- the president fell ill and they all lost hope but the NCBSG continued to work. We launched our Lagos chapter in April 2017. We launched Kano chapter and other all over Nigeria. We were working. We kept faith because we believe that God has a plan for President Buhari. Some were expecting him to die and they began to make plans but we kept on working for his re-election. Even though at that time he hadn’t declared but we believed that it is necessary for him to carry on. As a matter of fact, the president told other support groups to go and join Abu Ibrahim’s group, which is NCBSG. Some came to join us while others were reluctant. We have well over 500 support groups now, registered with us.
How have you been able to sustain your operations financially till now given that President Buhari is not the type that would dip his hands in the public coffers to give money to support groups?
It is very simple. Buhari runs a government. The political party has members; well spirited members at that. Nigerians donate. Buhari is not such that will give you money to do anything for him. We fund our activities from supports and donations from well-meaning Nigerians. More importantly, Senators Abu Ibrahim, Senate leader, Ahmed Lawal, and Senator George Akume have all pulled resources together to sustain the group. A lot of sacrifice has gone into this work. People like us sacrificed because nobody is paying us. But we stayed committed because we believe in the course. Sustaining NCBSG till now took sacrifice.
Campaigns are beginning to gather steam but your party is still suffering from the spill over-effect of the primaries. How hopeful are you going into election with some governors moving their supporters to other parties?
Your observation is not right. APC has 23 governors and if three of them are in crisis, are all of them in crisis? Is this number up to ten per cent? Have you seen any human organisation without any problem? Won’t you be worried if we have primaries and all the 23 governors are happy? That means something is wrong somewhere. So, problems are synonymous with human organisations. However, I am not in the position to comment on issues that border on the party. I am concerned about NCBSG and president Buhari’s political interests. NCBSG is created to preserve the political legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari, and that we are doing. The focal point of NCBSG is to ensure that President Buhari gets re-elected.
But there had been accusations that most of his appointments have ethnic consideration. Some people are complaining that they have been impoverished under this government, which explains why the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, told Nigerians at a rally in Sokoto that they choose between poverty and prosperity. Does this not bother you?
In your own judgement, is there hunger in Nigeria now? Now, let me tell you something; I don’t want to talk about Atiku because there is no sense talking about a man who was vice president for eight years and whose principal could not vouch for him. There is nothing to talk about such a man. We are talking about Muhammadu Buhari that has integrity. Can Atiku boast of any modicum of integrity? Nigeria cannot be led by a man that lacks integrity. Take it or leave it, if Atiku comes to rule Nigeria, the country will go down in ruins. We know his antecedents.
Let me go to the main issues. I want to cite an instance. I and some of my people went to Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State and he said he gave appointment to some young people to come and see him. They wrote him that they can’t come now, but that they will come in two weeks’ time because they are on the farm. Nigeria has never done so well in food production. How can anybody say there is hunger in Nigeria? If you say food prices are high; that is understandable but to say there is hunger in Nigeria is misleading. When last did we see so much rice production and circulation in the market? The prices may have a problem because of economic mechanism. If the economic mechanisms are not right, there would be problem with prices. There is no doubt about that.
Anybody who says food production is not domesticated is lying. If we domesticate food production doesn’t that tell you that there is a future? Is the future not more important than now? What is the meaning of this fake news that Buhari is an ethnic person? How? Have you ever seen a man who will go through the rank, up to the rank of a General that can be an ethnic jingoist? That man would have worked every part of Nigeria. Can man who fought in the civil war be an ethnic jingoist?
You see, the opposition will say anything to confuse the gullible. Haven’t you heard that they say the president is one Jibrin from Sudan? How can any reasonable person imagine that? How is it possible for a president to be sick in England? He will die, his body will be replaced in this world that we are? A full fledged country with embassies all around the world? Do you think the United Kingdom government will agree with that kind of conspiracy? It is sickening for anybody to conjecture such madness. It is even better for the imbecile that conjectures the madness than the sane human being that believes this stupidity.
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