One of the 37 Peoples Democratic Party defectors and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, speaks on the forthcoming primaries of the party, among other issues. JOHN AMEH reports.
Is the APC not worried by the various pro-Goodluck Jonathan groups holding rallies in support of the President’s second term ambition?
Well, I don’t think we need to encourage any illegal act. What the APC always stands for is the rule of law and the party is saying that we should play by the rules. I think the PDP should listen to the voice of wisdom and stop doing all sort of things that are illegal; things that violate the electoral law. All the places the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria held rallies, immediately the event is over, APC sweeps away the entire venue. APC is rooted in the grass roots. When a few PDP supporters are hired and shown on the television, etc, the APC is not bothered. We are also planning, we are doing our homework and we are confident that we have the majority of Nigerians on our side.
What are the chances of the APC in 2015?
The APC has huge chances. The party was initially weak but when the five PDP governors and, of course,the 37 House of Representatives members moved to the party in one fell swoop, it made the APC to be on shoulder-to-shoulder level with the PDP. And historically, when an opposition and the ruling parties go should-to-shoulder prior to an election, the opposition will clearly win the impending election. The APC has more support base; youths and elders are with the APC. Nigerians are not happy with the PDP; they want change, they don’t like the PDP. What people keep saying is that a few people have left the APC but the reality of the matter is that even though we keep encouraging the APC to close ranks and resolve every crisis there are more crises in the PDP. For your information, the peace-like situation you are seeing in the PDP is graveyard peace.
A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has just declared his intention to vie for the presidency on the platform of the APC. How do you rate his chances?
He is a member of the APC and has the right to contest. This will tell you that my concern about Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) is genuine. I am not talking about Atiku but Buhari. I would not have raised an eyebrow on Buhari’s ambition but for his promise in 2011. I am concerned about his image, his integrity. This issue is being discussed in many circles and in virtually every household across the country. Unfortunately, nobody has come out to say it in the public. Buhari’s name is synonymous with integrity.
But Buhari is generally seen as a better candidate to win the election for the APC.
I like Buhari and I respect him so much. If you go to Kano today, you will see all my billboards and posters with Buhari’s picture. We grew up from primary to secondary school knowing that Buhari is a symbol of integrity. Everyone knows that Buhari has some kind of messianic image. But, the truth of the matter is that we want this integrity of Buhari to be protected. In 2011, Gen. Buhari came out and announced to the country that he will not contest any future presidential election again. So, why is everybody keeping quiet? Nobody is raising this issue. It is shocking and disheartening for some us who are still young. Some people are complaining behind the scenes. Everybody is worried, disturbed because we wanted his image to be protected. If he had said in 2011 that he is not going to contest in any future presidential election, the issue of supporters of Buhari trying to bring him back to participate in the primaries should not arise. Otherwise, you won’t be able to differentiate between Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan. When the five governors were leaving the PDP, one of their reasons was that Jonathan said he will not contest in 2015, but that he was changing from that now. Buhari said in 2011 that he will not contest again, but now some groups and individuals are promoting his candidacy and are trying to get him to get contest.
My message to our father, Gen. Buhari, whom we all love is that, everyday he wakes up in the morning, he should play that tape of 2011.
To be honest, he has a lot of younger brothers that he can equally support. We have Sam Nda-Isaiah, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola; Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi; Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole; Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; and Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, as potential candidates. We have a lot of younger people he can support. They are competent Nigerians that can take up that responsibility.
What do you say to the concerns raised by some that the oncoming presidential primaries may cause an implosion within the APC?
It baffles me why some people keep repeating the fact that the APC lost some individuals to other political parties. Of course, they were distinguished individuals in their own right but the reality of the matter is that if we want to honestly look at the whole thing, their departure has not affected the APC. Consider the APC as a country fighting a war and two, three, five of its soldiers were taken and shot but it captured five countries, would you say it has the lost war? I don’t think anybody will say that. The APC captured Kano, Sokoto, Rivers, Kwara and Adamawa states even though there is a bit of crisis in Adamawa now. These are states and not individuals. So, why are we investing so much energy talking about individuals that have left the party? The APC has not lost any ground.
Why did you join 36 of your colleagues to defect to the APC from the PDP in December 2012.
We took a decision that we felt was, and is still, in the interest of the country. We were selfless and I think the journey has been good. We feel more at home in the APC. The problems and challenges we left in the PDP are still there even though the new national chairman has tried to close some gaps.
I think the only challenge that we were confronted with and which we are trying to manage is that of proper integration. When we wanted to leave the PDP, the leaders of the opposition party then followed us from house to house, room to room, to court us to join their fold. Occasionally, you see things that might be unpleasant. But to be honest, I want to state very clearly that we shouldn’t be taken for granted. For instance, if you look at the population of our APC delegation from Kano, I don’t think it will pay anybody to take us for granted. Let me tell you, the PDP is very smart; it hasn’t stopped trying to go after the governors and members that left the party and get them back to its fold. That tells you how smart the leaders of the party are. On a daily basis, they are still making overtures to the five governors and members of the House of Representatives that defected to the APC.
It will be very dangerous for anybody in the APC to take us for granted. We hope that they will continue to manage things the way they are and continue to show mutual respect to everybody.
But many House of Representatives members have been defecting to the PDP from the APC.
What I am saying is that for those of us, who were formerly of the PDP, we have peace in the APC. You asked how I feel and I told you that I have peace of mind. I also know that a lot of my colleagues whom we joined the party together are enjoying peace of mind. For someone who left the party for the PDP, I think you should go and ask him the reason for doing that. I am not sure he will tell you that he did that because he was not at peace with himself. I don’t want to be a judge over anyone so, it is better you go and ask such person.
Source: The Punch