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2011: How I met and parted ways with Buhari, Atiku –Bafarawa

There are insinuations in some parts of the north that the choice of Namadi Sambo as Vice President doesn’t represent the views of the majority,…

There are insinuations in some parts of the north that the choice of Namadi Sambo as Vice President doesn’t represent the views of the majority, what do you make of that choice?

First of all, I’m not a member of the PDP that chose Namadi Sambo to be a vice president. But as the Nigerian, Goodluck Jonathan’s choice of Namadi Sambo is in order. Namadi Sambo is a Nigerian and of course, a northerner. And he belongs to the PDP. Therefore, by his own right, he is entitled to be elected or appointed by the president to be his vice. Choosing the vice president is a question of interest and not force. The president has the privilege to appoint whoever he wishes and send the name to the National Assembly for approval.

So, I don’t agree with those who say that Namadi Sambo should not fill the vacuum of the north. He is a northerner; he was governor of a state who was elected by the people, therefore qualified to be anything. I want people of the North to give him the needed support to carry on. He is now representing us and will not achieve his objective of helping to develop this country without getting support from those of us in the north. Therefore, it is our duty to stand up and give him our total support. I say this even though I’m not a member of the ruling party that gave him the post of vice president.

 

But some people say he is weak and they would have preferred stronger characters like Sule Lamido, Muktari Shagari or Danjuma Goje…

I don’t know what you mean by saying he is weak. Is he going there to fight? Is he going for a boxing bout?  When Jonathan was vice president to late Umar Musa Yar’adua, I think he remained loyal to his president. The constitution gives every one of them his constitutional powers. It is not the question of fighting; we are not fighting. If we begin to draw a distinction between weak and strong, then it looks like we are in trouble; that the north and south have a problem. As far as I am concerned, whether we have a southerner or northerner as president, it is our duty to support our leaders. I don’t see any reasons why they say Namadi Sambo is weak, therefore we need somebody who is strong. Are we going for boxing, so that we need extra weight and extra power? and if you are talking of political weight, this is somebody who contested election and wons so what power do you expect from him that is different from what he has already. We are looking for peace in this country.

 

What kind of vice president do you expect of Namadi Sambo?

I expect him to face the challenges ahead of him. He is now representing the north but I don’t want a situation where people will say Namadi, go and fight with your boss for our rights, and then south-south people will say Jonathan, this is our term, you have to bring this and that for us. It is not going to be well for us. What I expect Namadi Sambo to do is to be loyal to the president and abide by the constitution that he was sworn to defend. He should also make sure that he is able to unite the north in a peaceful manner so that we will support the nation together.

 

The emergence of Namadi Sambo created a space where for the first time, a Christian has become governor of Kaduna state. What is your view about some of the issues that have been cropping up?

You see, I don’t understand people’s thinking. My own thinking is that this country belongs to both Muslims and Christians. God brought us to live together and that is what he wants. At the national level, we recently had Yar’adua and Jonathan, which was a Muslim-Christian and now Yar’adua is gone and we have Jonathan/Sambo, another Christian-Muslim ticket. There is no dispute about that. In Kaduna, we had a Muslim-Christian ticket but there came a vacancy in the office of the governor. Therefore, I don’t see any reason we should have problems in Kaduna over Christian-Muslim ticket. There is nothing wrong for a Christian deputy governor to take over. It is in order and let no body bring religious sentiments into this political arrangement.

It is not going to auger well for this country. When election comes in 2011, let the people vote any person of their choice but for now, it is not a matter for anybody to question. We need peace in our country. 


Many Nigerians feel strong about the need to check the excesses of the ruling PDP and because of this, you came together with Buhari, Tinibu and Atiku to form a mega party. But you suddenly fell apart. What is DPP’s position on the need for a merger now?

You see it is unfortunate that in this country, somebody will reach the end of his career then all of a sudden, he comes back and takes a new career. The thing is that we have politicians and we have investors in our midst. Some people come with their eyes on the presidency of this country without knowing why they want to be president, or for some, why they want to be governor or a senator. So, if such persons find out they may not achieve their ambition to be president or governor, they will not mind to shamelessly pack and leave.

My belief in politics is to help democracy and the people so that everybody will live better. But regarding the mega party we are talking about, I found myself mixed with investors. Anyone who fears that he is not going to realize his dream, he will pack his property and go. Before he makes any investment, he makes sure that he is going to get the ticket.

Atiku and Buhari were the first to meet before bringing me into the mega party business. I accepted it hundred percent in the way that they locked the room and told me that they are doing it for the sake of this country because the country is dying. We therefore proposed to cause a change and that is what made me to join them. After the meeting, we agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding amongst three of us. We said we would sign an agreement to the effect that anybody who picks the ticket, even if that person is not any of the three of us, we will support him. That agreement was written and we waited but none of them signed that MoU. If you agree there is a problem in the country, you have to keep your personal ambition away and be a messenger so that you can build the country. Leadership comes from God. If you have a party with a good manifesto, whoever comes to lead implements it. But you have a blueprint and you say if not you, nobody can implement it. How can we move forward?

 

Do you feel betrayed by those allies?

Well, I don’t feel that because we are in a democracy. I’m proud that they have shown their true picture to the people and people are judging every one of us. When I joined this group [National Democratic Forum], I said I was ready to be a messenger provided that we get somebody who is better than all of us to lead this country. But I don’t feel betrayed and I wish them safe journey and goodluck whereever they find themselves.

 

Do you think there will be credible elections if Jonathan decides to contest the  presidency in 2011?

I will allow Jonathan to answer that question. He is the right person to answer it. We will first watch to see whether he will contest or not. We will also wait to see whether, as he promised the nation, he will ensure credible, free and fair elections. He promised the world and we are watching him.

 

What are the immediate things you want him to do, especially with respect to the coming elections?

We don’t want to rush him to take quick decisions on something which is very vital.  But I want him to think as quickly as possible and have an INEC that will be acceptable by all Nigerians. We want him to direct his energies towards conducting free and fair elections. Once he does that, he will leave a good legacy and the world will see him as a leader. Therefore if he appoints an INEC chairman that will conduct a free and fair elections, I think he will leave a legacy. If he can take courage and implement Uwais report, it is another way forward.

But people talked so much about Maurice Iwu, forgetting that there are 36 Iwus, one each in every state. So the problem is not only Iwu of INEC; each state has its own Iwu conducting local government elections where they give hundred per cent victory to the ruling party in the state. And the only way forward in this regard is to remove the state Independent Electoral Commissions [SIECS] from state governments. If we really want to have credible elections, we have to remove the 36 Iwus in the states to give us a level play ground.


Some recent reports suggest that the Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, would be appointed INEC chairman, how do look at that?

It will be a disaster for Honorable Minister of Information and Communications to head INEC because she is a card carrying member of the PDP. Secondly, she is the coordinator of Yar’adua/Jonathan campaign organization; therefore I don’t see her as a qualified person to head INEC. By holding the PDP card alone, she is disqualified for the job.

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