The vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed in this interview on TrustTV’s Politics Today spoke of his party’s plan to shore up the economy and tackle growing insecurity in the country. Excerpt:
Some people raised two fundamental issues around Peter Obi. One is perhaps his tacit support for the outlawed IPOB and he is also seen as an ethnic kind of person.
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First of all, here, I’m a victim of such lies. If only I wasn’t, then I could somehow begin to say that there is. Now those wild allegations that people were not treated fairly. All they said were killed. Who is the killer? The person who kept quiet for eight years even though the case would have begun? Where are their relatives? Where are their friends? Where are their community and faith leaders? Why did they keep quiet for eight years when he was governor? Why did they keep quiet all the time that he left governorship when the case could have gone to court, until when he declared for presidency? Now tell me who treated whom badly. This is wrong.
I’m certainly referring to ethnic profiling.
Those profiles are nothing but a pure agenda. People went to the extent of saying that I said I don’t want to be a Muslim. I don’t want to be called a Muslim. This is how I can say it; more than wild. It is unfair. It is in every sense unrealistic. Someone who established a university, put my father’s name and the emblem of slate, “allo” Muslim tablet as the logo of faith sponsored the journey of Islamic Development Bank. I have built at least four mosques even though I’m not supposed to say it because of Allah’s blessings, yet for political reasons, the best thing that they could do for someone who has done all these things for the communities is to go and say because they are angry or not happy that I’m being a nationalist this time around, they started attacking me. Let us come back to those allegations and profiling you were talking about. I sharply disagree with you that Peter Obi is in support of IPOB because I wouldn’t be with him today.
The same kind of interview that they did to me when I said that I want to be addressed for the 2023 elections as a Nigerian. There is nothing that people can’t do. Just this morning, I had to do a press conference because of the multiplicity of fake news all around. Remember what I told you. Our only hurdle betrays the only prevention between us and our peace and prosperity is the human heart and this is what the human heart is doing to the human being. It destroys your thinking. It destroys the trust you should have because so long as you’re not living alone, nature says that you must trust the other. You don’t have a choice but choose someone because you’re coexisting. Those allegations are yet unsubstantiated. I will give you another example. They kept quiet for sixteen years after a certain event until when that individual declared for presidency then they scampered and went and look for… I tell you those who kept quiet are accomplices to the crimes.
Some say it’s normal in politics. As soon as you throw your hat in the ring, certainly, everything about you will be interrogated.
It is not normal in the kind of allegations they made. Politics is different, crimes and those allegations are different. I take that correction. For example, they said northerners were treated unfairly by being made to wear ID cards. Before I decided to join Peter Obi’s ticket, within a week, I did all the investigations I could; mobile phones were already carrying cameras then. I asked for, I even offered some compensation. Can I just see one picture of anybody who stood and said this is evidence that while Peter Obi was governor of Anambra State, he made me wear this, none. Millions were supposed to have worn, not one of them cared to take a picture of himself or of another person. Common, wake up! Can I just see a copy of a genuine one? And I offered something of what I want to see, a copy of that ID card they wore. And I should sit down and believe reckless people who just talk anyhow because you’ve come out in politics when I know the kind of politics that we play?
There are certain people who doubt the possibility of the conduct of the 2023 elections, looking at the current security situation in the country. Does it give you some sort of concern?
I have always been concerned about Nigeria with or without elections. I have been so concerned about Nigeria that I got myself into politics. Yes, it does give me concern. From 2003 to 2015, Nigerian politics was practically about just one individual. That individual has ruled Nigeria for eight years and elections are threatened because of his misgovernance, no way. Elections will be held. Nigeria will survive. Remember in April of 2000, there was a call that Muslims should not elect a Christian by a very highly placed individual and all Nigerian leaders were thinking this was not the balance, this was not the language of a leader and that leader went on and on. Elections must be held. He called every election fraudulent until they won. When they won, it wasn’t fraudulent and then we saw the conduct of 2019 elections which I was part of. I was chairman of the research policy arm of the PDP and we saw everything that happened… the voter turnout that they claimed and all that. After making Nigeria about an individual running these eight years and then you come and threaten our lives and future, no! And now that we have come this far, months away from elections, they said that the security is so bad, elections will not be held, now they should do everything that is supposed to be done to hold the election.
If you are able to secure the mandate of Nigerians, what would you do differently to change the narrative?
Everyday, we face these questions. We will fix Nigeria. I can’t tell you this because it is security. We will provide good governance.
But Nigerians will be interested in how you can put XYZ together to stop the killings for instance.
We will implement consumption to production, one. We’ll improve the economy but those all other things regarding our security must not be said out here. We will improve the welfare. We are going to save a lot of money from the waste that we see today. My career in procurement, Peter Obi’s attitude in saving money, using money prudently; this is a strong combination that Nigeria must not lose even if I was not the one speaking here today. Nigerians never had it so good in terms of combination of people. For security, by the grace of God Almighty, Nigeria will be secured.
You’re an academic and you have an institution. What should we do to get the universities back to life?
We are not electing the right leaders. The moment you elect the right leaders, those leaders will extract for you abinitio and ahead of time commitment from ASUU that in a four-year period, they will not go on strike. I will beg President Peter Obi to be part of that drive. And we will also show them; they will work with us to see how all their points are a workable plan to an extent they will be part of that plan.
How do we address our piling debt?
Generate more revenue because in our DNA is the capacity to prevent waste and the capacity wherever we are losing our revenue – oil production, internal revenue, use of technology and then, proliferation of sources of income for Nigeria. So many that I cannot believe what we are wasting. I mean crude oil is not…. His Excellency, Peter Obi said the fertile land in the North is the crude oil of Nigeria. The kind of money that Nigeria will make is rather unbelievable as we sit here and that is what brought me to not just say but expound that His Excellency, Peter Obi, and I are not looking for money in government. We are looking to run a government in money and Nigeria has the money and we know where it is and we will use it. Once we create, trap those revenues, boost the reproductive base, increase every source of income for Nigeria, that automatically answers because we can manage the debt profile better. Those debts should be paid off. Bottom line, what are the totals? You now have more revenue that you can do more capital projects and your recurrent, that automatically answers and simply preventing waste, and as I said that is what he and I are about.
By Shefiu Suleman & Stephen Onda