In this interview with JOHN ALECHENU, a former Governor of Sokoto State and foundation member of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, explains why he dumped the APC, the anti-corruption fight of the current administration and other national issues
Although you have left the All Progressives Congress, a party you helped to form, can you share with us why you left the party even before it presented its first set of candidates for elections as a political party?
I left the party because of the injustice and the manner it decided to play politics right from the start. Anything that is not built on a foundation of justice cannot last. I was a founding member of the APC; not only a founding member, I was the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. Even the current National Chairman, (Chief John Odigie-Oyegun) was a member of our committee. We were part of those who drafted the APC Constitution, but after the party was successfully registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, from nowhere, we heard that there were five governors of the Peoples Democratic Party moving from their party to join the APC and then, without getting in touch with the stakeholders of the party in the states from where the five governors were coming from, we were told they were coming to join the APC and they were ready to make their own financial contributions for the take off of the party.
Is it right then to say the party did not treat its foundation members well?
I can speak for myself. On my own part, I felt I was not treated fairly and that is why I left the party. Look at what is happening in the party now. Anything built on a foundation of injustice will not last long. I was betrayed. I never imagined that I would join the PDP but I was forced to join the PDP. In my own case, not only because of me but my followers; they asked that I leave because they could not accept the insult and I had no choice but to agree with them.
What can you say about the way the APC has handled governance since assuming power in 2015?
The main objective of the party (APC) was to get rid of the PDP from power but they are not prepared for governance. Taking over power is different from running a government successfully. As a leader, people agreed with you that there was a problem with the PDP and they needed a change and you got the change. Nigerians disagreed with the PDP and agreed with the APC, which said it would bring about change. But what do we have today? The people who were voted in are saying the PDP failed. Yes, that was why Nigerians voted them out; so, there is no use saying the PDP failed. You are now in government. A leader doesn’t complain. A leader must have focus; you must have a vision; you have to execute your policies and programmes. You have signed an agreement with the ordinary people, the voters who voted the PDP out because they expected things to change. Now, you are in power, you don’t need to complain. You don’t need to remind people; they know PDP failed them that was why they were looking for something better. You don’t have to waste time saying PDP did this, PDP did that. Unfortunately, it’s a pity Nigerians don’t remember history; they are yet to fully understand politics because basically, there is no difference between the APC and the PDP because over 80 percent of the members of the APC were members of the PDP. When you remove these people from the APC today, there will virtually be nobody left. If they are claiming that the PDP was a failure, what are they? Were they not part of the PDP government? The key stakeholders of the current APC were members of the PDP. The same stakeholders who killed the PDP are now in APC. When you are in a party and rise to the position of a governor, vice-president on the platform of a political party and then you come out to say the PDP killed this country. People are just being carried away.
Let’s put it in another way. We are approaching another election cycle, would you say the APC has delivered?
Nigerians will decide. Nigerians will be those who can say whether or not this party has delivered because whatever I say now, they will say it is because there is an election coming and I am biased. The people are the judges, let them decide, we pray and look forward to seeing 2019.
What is your take on the anti-corruption fight of the current administration?
That is the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in today when you hear we are fighting corruption. I am among those who are seriously against corruption. I proved this when I was leaving office as the governor of my state. I left over N12 billion in the state treasury untouched and I didn’t leave any liability for my successor. Unfortunately, I believe I am fighting corruption and I stand to fight corruption and I will never cooperate or agree with anybody who is corrupt. General (Muhammadu) Buhari came to fight corruption. He came with the intension to bring change. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the capacity to bring the change to fight corruption. Let’s take the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission for example. They have the mandate to fight corruption. Just go and find out, he (Buhari) met the EFCC, he didn’t create it and I bet you right from the messenger, President Buhari didn’t bring in anybody. It is the same people he met; the same people the PDP appointed; the same people recruited and appointed by the PDP to fight corruption are the same people Buhari is using. Is he serious about the fight against corruption? He should have done exactly what he did with the Nigeria Customs Service. He went and brought Col. Hameed Ali, who is not even a Customs officer but because he trusts and believes that Ali can do it, he appointed him. Look at the fantastic work that he is doing at the Customs. He is getting credit there because he brought in a person who has the capacity and today, we are all seeing the result. This is not the same with the EFCC; that is why people are saying he is not fighting corruption, he is fighting his political opponents. If not because of that, there is no reason he shouldn’t bring in somebody who is capable of handling the EFCC.
Look at what just happened. The Minister of Finance wrote a letter to the acting chairman of the EFCC that the money that he is saying he recovered up till now, she has not seen the money in the national treasury. She wrote a letter to him, this is very shameful. This is a matter that the President should find out and take action. You told the whole world that you collected so, so trillions of naira and the Minister of Finance is saying where is the money? Now, if the Finance Minister is asking “Oga, where is the money?” and there is nothing to show. If you say you are fighting corruption, these are the things you should do very well.
The EFCC levelled some allegations against you over the… (Cuts in)
The matter is before the court. And I believe justice will be done because I am innocent of all the charges against me. I did not commit any crime by campaigning and working for my party during the 2015 elections.
Some northern leaders met in Kaduna and accused the elite of failing their people. Do you subscribe to this view?
This was part of the communiqué read after the meeting. I am part of it. That communiqué covers all of our feelings; it was a collective decision. The outcome of that meeting was a collective decision and every responsible northerner is in support of that communiqué. Therefore, I am in support of that communiqué because we must come together to solve the problems of our region because they affect all of us.
There are speculations that you also want to run for the Presidency come 2019. Are you running for the position of President?
First, it is not a speculation. I am a Nigerian and like I said earlier, I’m more interested in a peaceful atmosphere and the development of this nation. This is more important to me than any personal ambition. Therefore, I am still watching, I am still consulting. My prayer is that let God bring anybody; it can be me or another person who can perform, restore peace and develop this country. My ambition is not a do-or-die affair. I am still consulting like I told you; I have not made up my mind. I am praying for my country that God should bring somebody who will deliver my country from the current challenges we are facing because this is the only country we have and when there is no peace, we cannot be talking about running for any office.
Source: The Punch