Bafarawa: We were forced out of APC, no regrets
Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, is a former governor of Sokoto State, in this interview with LEO SOBECHI says running government is not a one-man show, adding that only party supremacy would produce genuine democracy.
Former Governors Going To Senate, It’s Demotion At the point of formation of APC you were deeply involved; what did you see that made you retrace your steps?
Right from the beginning, I have always been in opposition. Since 1979 when political parties like NPN, UPN, NPP, GNPP, PRP came up; even though I come from Sokoto like Shehu Shagari who was in NPN, but I was in GNPP. So, all through, I never enjoyed being in the centre. I was governor under opposition party for eight years. So, I never had anything do with the ruling party, that is the PDP.
But if you ask why I left the APC, I was one of the founding fathers of APC, the constitution of the party was drafted here in my house in Abuja, under my watch as deputy chairman; Segun Osoba was chairman; for the construction of the constitution. Even the national chairman (John Odigie-Oyegun), was a member of our committee. So when we formed the party, we got the party registered and then from nowhere, the five governors from PDP whom we were trying to persuade just left their party to join the APC.
So this was where money came from. Immediately they came, they said they have the money to sponsor the party, so whoever any of the governors come from his state should handover the party leadership of his home state.
Unfortunately for me, I come from Sokoto, (Senator Magatakarda Aliu) Wammako, the sitting governor by then, comes from Sokoto and he wanted to join the APC. So I was asked to handover the leadership and structure of the party to him; the structure we put up from the scratch, from the foundation, from even surveying the land, I was part of it until we finished everything and then I was asked to handover the house to somebody that I brought into politics.
He was my deputy throughout my governorship for seven years until he decamped to PDP. So, for me to hand over the party to him was not right, because we were fighting injustice in PDP, that was why we formed APC. Then why would people from PDP come again join APC? That was why our people said, Oga, there is no way we can remain in APC, because there is no justice. That is the reason we left the party. I did not leave APC, because of any material purpose I just stayed less than one year before the general election. So I didn’t quit for the sake of leaving APC to go to PDP, I was forced out of APC.
Are you saying it is injustice or that APC was founded on injustice or misconception of what the party was coming to do?
Both! There was injustice and a total misconception of what change is all about. If there was justice we would not be treated the way we were treated, I was not the only one that became casualty. We were forced to join PDP, so the injustice in the party could be traced to the same people that joined APC. They are the same people now creating problems in APC. I am not regretting finding myself in PDP, PDP is now in opposition, that is why I am more comfortable now. The PDP is not the ruling party, it is an opposition party. I told you that throughout my career I have been in opposition parties. I am comfortable where I am, no regrets.
Could it be said that the five persons that moved over from PDP were the problem of PDP that APC wanted to change?
Of course you can see that. I don’t need to mention names or the problems, but everybody knows where the problem is coming from. I don’t need to mention names, if there are no problems there is no problem. At least we have seen the outcome of injustice. We have started seeing the outcome of the injustice.
Do you see some disconnect between the fight against corruption and the political framework of APC?
Well, you see; this fighting corruption is something else. When we are fighting corruption in the way this government is fighting corruption, it is something different. Because, since the assumption of this government, none of the APC members was taken to the EFCC, despite thousands of petitions against them we don’t know whether you were in PDP and you joined APC, you are now covered. Just go and check the records, only those people in PDP are being probed for corruption. If campaign money is an offence for the EFCC APC that took states’ money for their campaigns are free. So people start wondering what type of corruption are they fighting? So I pity Mr. President and wonder whether he knows all that is going on, if he does not know he should wake up and fight corruption well, because he has the support to fight corruption. Everybody is supporting him, but let him fight it well. People are perpetuating injustice by the way of fighting corruption; you lose credibility. If he is going to fight corruption, let him fight it for all. I think that is my own advice to him; he should fight corruption very well so that it would touch every corner. Every petition that is in EFCC should be investigated so that people will see that they are serious in fighting corruption.
Observers worry that recycling of same group of persons in leadership hampers progress, what kind of leaders do you think the country will get in future?
Well, it is good as you rightly said that it is just the same cycle of persons that is ruling the country. It is another point for progress and development, so that our people could analyse and critically assess whether it is good for us to allow recycled people to continue or discontinue. As you are aware, the era we are now Nigerians don’t sit down and consider things for a wide expectation of the people. For example, in Nigeria politics we always bring religion, tribes and regions. So these are the backward things that are killing us. If we want this country to move forward, no matter where you are, whether you are Christian or Muslim, whether from the north or south, provided that we know that you are capable to rule this country, we should just decide and look for better people whom we think can move this country forward. By the time we say this is turn of the north, the turn of the south that would never move the country forward. The only thing is for us to sit down and analyse who can do it.
But you know the big mistake we make is that most of the people coming to join politics and look for the highest position in the country, they are not trained for that. They are not professional politicians. Most of these people have got their own professions somewhere and then they come and join politics, just for the sake that they want to be governors, president; that is the only reason they joined politics. So this is part of the reason why things are not moving the way we expect this country to move. There is no consultation, no continuation, no respect for the constitution of the party. What I am trying to do is to draw your attention to all the parties. Even the electorate are not educated to make sure that they elect a party because of its manifesto. So, the work of the leadership of the party is to supervise the president or the governor to go along with the constitution or manifesto of the party, whether it is in education, healthcare services or infrastructure.
What are the crucial things the country has to do to ensure that we get the ideal democracy?
We are learning by mistakes. Now, when we start talking of change, change, change; we have seen where the change has taken us. And people, who do not know the purpose of the change, now see that APC was right; they just wanted to change the government. That is all. They have finished their assignment. If anybody is waiting for them to come up with something else, they have finished the change. Their motive for change was changing the government and they have changed the government, because if they had a vision they would have said these are the things we want to do for a change. But they had only one objective, which was to change the government. So these are the types of problems that we have.
Before you aspire for even councillorship, you must have a plan, a vision of what to do for the people. What do you intend to do for your local government council? If you want to become a governor, what do you have to become of the governor? And you have seen the circulation, a situation where somebody has been a governor after eight years he comes back to take a senatorial seat. You served the whole state and then decide to take one third to go to the National Assembly, where you raise your hand just like a student.
You were once an Excellency, executive governor, then you demoted yourself, from somewhere to nowhere. Somebody who was an executive governor of a state and then you take one third of where you ruled for eight years; representing one third when you are like a father of the entire state, you come back to say you are a senator. Look at that. And the electorate will say let him go. Why are we doing that? When you became a governor for eight years, at least you have become a father of the nation, not even for the state alone, because you contribute your quota to building the nation. That is the essence of becoming a governor, you gain experience and the experience you have gathered you use to advise and help build the nation. Not to go and have a seat, raising a hand to speak, like a student. Somebody who is your junior will not even recognise you.