Galadima: Whatever happens to Nigeria, the buck stops at Mr President’s table
Alhaji Buba Galadima was once a confidant of President Muhammadu Buhari. He was former National Financial Secretary of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), foundation member of the defunct APP, ANPP. He was a foundation member of the CPC, as National Secretary and member of Board of Trustees (BoT). In this exclusive interview with SAMSON EZEA and NKECHI-ONYEDIKA UGOEZE, he bares his mind on the state of the nation.
Why has the All Progressives Congress (APC) not been able to constitute its Board of Trustees (BoT), since it came into power?
I can’t say, I am at a loss as you are as to why our ruling party failed to constitute its BoT since it came into office?
Are you satisfied with the way the party is going?
A lot of people have accused the party of so many things, but the government formed by the APC has not given APC the leverage to exert its influence and work according to the rules of the party. That is the way I see it personally. The problem is not about the leadership of the party. A lot of people think so, but I think the leadership of the party is helpless and cannot exert its influence.
What do you think the leadership of the party should do to put the party on the right track?
I expected the party to have more influence on government and the thinking of government because the government was formed on the platform of the party.It was the name and the logo of the party that was used for the election, so the leadership of the party would have summoned the courage to exert itself and give direction to the government because without the party, nobody could have the platform to be where he is today.
Don’t you think that because of the change mantra that brought the government into power, the party is unable to catch up with it?
But that cannot exclude the party. The change mantra is a slogan of the party and this has always been our word. Look at it, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), two things were taken from it, namely Progressives Congress. Both the Progressives and the Change were part of the CPC and the slogan of Change was a CPC slogan, but if we had been there, we would have done things differently because we have worked on what change is all about and the nation would have experienced change from the day the president was sworn in.
Unfortunately, we are still waiting, just like every other Nigerian to see what change can be brought to the country. Up till now PDP is intact and about 99 percent of the offices of 557 agencies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and even the political appointments by our government are PDP members. These people were not known to have participated in bringing this government into office.
But you cannot take PDP away from the APC victory in the poll, considering that five PDP governors moved to the APC to help the party win the election?
I was one of those who brought in the five PDP governors, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the APC. We were the people who engaged them until it got to the time when they asked us whether we were engaging them on behalf of our party or representing ourselves as individuals?
We told them we were engaging them on behalf of our party. That was when the party came in and all the grounds for their coming in had already been prepared. That was why there was no difficulty when they defected to the APC. I have documents to prove this when the need arises.
Are you saying it was a mistake for the APC to have allowed the mass defection of the PDP members ahead of the 2015 elections?
Most of the people in government today are not those who defected to the APC before the elections. Some of them defected two days before they were appointed and some are still card-carrying members of the PDP. They have not renounced their membership of the PDP.
Has Senator Ndoma Egba renounced his membership of the PDP two months before his appointment? Has Udoma Udo Udoma up till now renounced his membership of the PDP? Has the minister from Kaduna renounced her membership of the PDP?
Are you saying that the Buhari government has been hijacked by some people?
Well, I don’t know because the buck stops on the table of President Buhari. I heared some people accusing many innocent people around Buhari of hijacking his government. I am not blind or unaware of that, but Nigerians should know that whatever happens in Nigeria, the buck stops on the table of Mr. President.
I know you were very close to President Buhari before now, at what point did you two part ways?
We didn’t part ways. We are still members of the same part party. Are we not? I told you that I am a member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the National Caucus of the party.
Have you talked to him privately since he became President of the country?
Why should anything be private between me and him? It has always been official and we are colleagues in the same party.
Now that you are not a government official, do you still have access to him?
Our relationship has always been official. I don’t need to be in the government. I have done things on the basis of principles. I don’t need to be rewarded. My reward is in the hands of God.
We felt the PDP was performing very badly and they needed to be removed and we worked from January 2002 to 2015 and we got PDP removed. Nobody in this country can wish my contributions away, because there is no living Nigerian that has contributed to the removal of the PDP from power as I did.
Let me give you an example, God destined that Buhari would be the President of the country and God assisted him to be President. There were some factors that enabled that to happen. One of such was the use of the Card Reader. If I was not the architect of the Card Reader… at least, I helped in forcing INEC to use the Card Reader through several ways and INEC people knew that. If anybody benefitted from the use of the Card Reader, I must have a fair share of the dividend.
What difference did the Card Reader make in the polls when it reportedly has no legal backing?
It was the Card Reader that stopped the PDP from rigging the elections. They would have written the results just like they had been doing before, but they were afraid that the Card Reader will catch them. Aminu Tambuwal is still alive. He was around when I advocated that the use of the Card Reader should be in the Electoral Act. They said it didn’t matter. It was because they said it didn’t matter, that was what cost our party victory in Rivers and Akwa Ibom State. If the Card Reader were to be justifiable in the Electoral Act, APC would have won the two above-mentioned states.
I have only told you about one thing that I did, the nation is yet to hear about the contributions that led to former president Goodluck Jonathan’s acceptance of defeat.
What did you do differently that made Jonathan to accept defeat?
I will expose a letter at the right time, but talk to Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, on what I told him when elections were going on. Ask him how many things I told him would happen on that day and they did happen, and out of fear, Jonathan called Buhari to accept defeat without consulting his party. That is a book I will write in due course.
Why should Jonathan be afraid when he had all the executive power to reject the outcome of the election?
Jonathan had no powers. It was a contrived power that he was wielding and that was why when superior forces spoke to him, which I mentioned to Senator Barigha Amange, Jonathan’s cousin and a close friend of mine. When this government is two years, we can justifiably assess it whether they have performed or not. Nigerians will also know how Buhari became president.
There were allegations that northerners especially members of the PDP abandoned Jonathan at the crucial moment and that was what gave Buhari victory in the poll. Is it true?
No, everybody in Nigeria abandoned Jonathan, because they were not sure where Jonathan would end take us to, and where we are going. The international community also abandoned him. That was the handwriting he saw and hurriedly called Buhari to accept defeat, even though the arrangement was not to accept defeat, but to manipulate the election.
I will tell the world later how the then Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abbah played a key role and that was the reason he was removed by Jonathan and sent on exile. I wish I am close to the authorities today, they should invite him back to the country and give him protection.
APC has been in crisis since they came into power. Why?
The party is not in crisis. It is the National Assembly that is in crisis. But I maintained that the party has not tried to exert its influence. After two years the world will know the position of people like me, whether we can provide an alternative.
How would you react to insinuations out there that this government has no economic agenda from the onset?
I wouldn’t know because I am not a member of government. When we were in the defunct CPC there was continuity programmes. We had a 14-year programme for Nigeria and it wouldn’t have taken the president three hours without appointing ministers and credible ministers that every Nigerian could have hailed.
I cannot speak for the government, I am not part of the government, but I am a foremost member of the political platform that brought in this government. Since I am not an active politician (meaning that I don’t hold any political office) I am not in a position to know.
This government is not communicating with Nigerians and that is where the problem lies. Even if government has good intentions, since they are not communicating with the people, their motives could be misinterpreted and there is a danger if the government does not address that. Lack of proper communication leads to collapse of empires and dethronement of leaders.
Are you saying that those managing government information are incompetent or afraid of the President?
I don’t know, I am not part of government. When you have a friend outside power, be wary of him when he gets power because he could be a changed man. Only those that are close to President Buhari or working for him would know whether they have influence on him or are afraid of him.
Let me tell you something that you would not believe, all the people with whom we have worked before and all the people that we brought into the project are now afraid of talking to some of us.
Is true that Mamman Duara is the head of President Buhari’s cabal?
Throughout our stay with Buhari, I never saw him in any function of our party, so I don’t know him as a party man, but I know him. I heard about him as a relative of Mr President and now that I am not close, I can’t tell you whether Mamman Daura or any other person has an unprecedented influence on the President.
Nigerians should stop accusing innocent people, whether Mamman Daura or Secretary to Government or the Chief of staff of influencing President Buhari.
The bulk stops on the desk of Mr. President. When they say that the King has so many ears, it is because they believe that the king gets information from so many sources. If he has heard this and he has not worked on it, may be it is not true or it suits him.
President Buhari has been criticised for making lopsided appointments. What is your reaction to this?
I read Prof Ben Nwabueze’s, a constitutional lawyer of repute, chairman of patriots interview in the Daily Trust. He said that the problem we are having in the South-south and the South-east is as a result of marginalisation of the two zones. I laughed because I expected a renowned constitutional lawyer and the chairman of patriots to have reasoned differently.
Prof Nwabueze is free and at liberty to go to court to challenge the President if he has marginalised any group in Nigeria.
Nwabueze accepted that Buhari appointed ministers from every state of the federation, except Kogi, which is in northern part of Nigeria.
To me, it is the South-south and the South-east that are marginalising Buhari. I am not speaking for him. I am speaking as a public commentator and observer of current issues in Nigeria. Buhari is the only presidential candidate that loved the Igbos more than they love themselves.
In 2003 Buhari picked an illustrious son of Igbos, Senator Chuba Okadigbo as his running mate. On the day of the election, not only that Igbos did not vote for Buhari, but even Okadigbo himself was stopped by his kinsmen from voting for himself.
In 2007, against all advice, Buhari picked Chief Edwin Ume-ezeoke, another illustrious son of Igbo extraction. Okadigbo was number three citizen of the country, while Ume-ezeoke was number four citizen during the 2nd Republic.In the whole of Ume-ezeoke’s village, Buhari and Ume-ezeoke scored only three votes.
In the sum total of 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 polls, Buhari scored less than 0.001 percent in the South-south and the South-east zones. Today, Buhari has given the entire Nigerian monetary policy and the entire oil industry of Nigeria to people of Igbo extraction. If I don’t like you, I will not take any of your gifts, even if you like, share paradise I will not take.
Igbos refused to vote for Buhari out of their choice, because it is a democracy. If you don’t vote for me, apart from your statutory allocation recognised by the constitution, will you expect anything from me? So who is marginalising who? Are the Igbos marginalising
Buhari or is Buhari marginalising the Igbos?
Mind you, Buhari is the president of the entire country not the North?
No, he is the president of those who worked for him, then the entire country. We have seen that done by Obasanjo, we have seen that done by Yar Adua and we have seen that done by Jonathan. After all, we should commend Buhari, I told you there are 557 parastatals and agencies of government, Buhari has not changed chief executives of more than 30 agencies.
There are still over 500 remaining. And I want to assure you that under Jonathan, 70 percent of these agencies were headed by people from South-south and South-east zones. They are still there.
Why is Buhari government resisting calls for the country’s restructuring?
I participated in three constitutional conferences in Nigeria, not as a backbencher, but as an active member, because we were the ones that shaped the decisions of the conferences. The conferences included, the 1988, 1994 and the recently concluded Jonathan’s Conference.
People came with all these ideas of restructuring, but I am yet to see anybody that propagates restructuring, giving any convincing reason as why he wants Nigeria to be restructured and how Nigeria will be restructured. If there is any such person, I want to challenge him to a national debate so that the whole nation will judge who is right and who is not.
The South-west, I want to assure you that it is only bravado that they do and say restructuring, because people are looking for recognition or people are looking for appointments. When they are forgotten, they think that when they shout restructuring, they would be recognised and given appointments.
In each of the conferences, people from Lagos will never vote for restructuring, people from Oyo will never vote for restructuring. Who stopped them from coming together? Any group that wants to come together and form a region is free to do so. And I want to assure you that the last thing an Ekiti man would want is to be merged with Ondo, let alone old Western Region. So also, no Lagos man will agree to come back to former Western region, not to talk of Edo. Edo people have never supported it, I am telling you that if there is anybody who said he wants that in any of these conferences I attended, let the person raise his hand. They will come and tell us that they wouldn’t want to talk, that when it is voting, they will vote along with us.
An Edo man will not even want to be part of a greater South-south, let alone be brought back to the former Western region. In fact, if there is a division in Nigeria today, I bet you that the Cross River people will join Northern Nigeria. We are one people, we should build a nation. When an individual is frustrated, he calls for Biafra, he calls for restructuring, because he is looking for recognition.
No Ebonyi man will agree to be merged with Anambra or Enugu man for him to become another slave. For somebody like Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, restructuring means that Igbos should have an additional state, not that Igbos should come together to form one entity. For the Igbos, restructuring means there will be additional state for the Southeast, not that all the Igbo states should come together to form one region. That is the thinking and I challenge any man. If Prof. Nwabueze is talking of restructuring to have one region for the Igbos, let him announce and we will conduct a referendum.
For me in Yobe, I will not agree to come back to Borno State. Let me assure you that even on the issue of local government, what they are saying is that they want autonomy for their local government to run their own affairs and not for them to be handed over to state governors who will steal their funds.
Have you seen the 1963 constitution that people bandy around? It never talked about control of natural resources, what it talked of is derivation based on tax on man-made resources. Go and read the 1963 constitution, if there is any professor that will prove me otherwise, let him come with the constitution and we will look at it. Let’s build a nation, all these agitations is because they are talking to people who don’t know the history of Nigeria. If we conduct a referendum to know those who want Biafra, I want to assure you the 90 percent of Igbos will vote against secession.
Why is the APC government using force to quell militancy in Niger Delta and Biafra agitation in Southeast?
In various cultures in Nigeria there are certain groups whose opinion is to lead by mob action, while in other cultures, the opinion is lead by committee of elders. They sit down and take decision for the people and everybody follows. But in certain places, it is the hooligans who will be shouting, then everybody will queue behind them whether it is right or wrong.
Why should we fight for the division of Nigeria? Igbos need Nigeria more than anybody, they need more land to settle, they need markets. In Lake Chad, area where they are having the problem of Boko Haram, you still find the Igbos in every village. Igbos have more developmental projects all over Nigeria more than any tribe, will they carry the structures on their heads back to Biafra? Where will you start? Don’t do long throat and try to take everything, allow other people to swallow small. It is an attempt to take over everything that has been the problem of Nigeria. We should be telling ourselves the truth. Those in power will want everything for themselves and their families, it will soon hook them.
Now APC is in power, let them pray they don’t lose power because when they will be told of what people among them did, some people will commit suicide because they will never believe. Among us in the APC, when we lose power and we are told of what we have done during our rule, some people will commit suicide because they will never believe that under their watch such things happened. So to be forewarned is to before armed.
You sound so pessimistic as if APC would not survive beyond 2019. Why?
Why not? There are some of us who believe in the party, because we have put the best part of our lives to arrive at this point. We will still recover the party or we will build another one.
Is it true that there are moves by core CPC members to form a new party and leave the APC?
No, but if they become adamant and do not see reason, why not? Our duty is to salvage the ordinary man in Nigeria, wherever he is. If our party is not working towards that, we can revolt. It is possible but we still give them the leverage to see whether they can make amends. After two years, it will be too late to repair the ship mid-sea.
Have you noticed that your party is losing popularity across the country?
That is why we are watching and advising the party that they should do self-observation. Let them look at themselves. There were about 139 bye-elections held so far and we lost over 100 of them. That calls for concern, if they don’t know they are hearing it from me now.
Do agree with some people that the anti-corruption fight is becoming a distraction for this government?
I wouldn’t know what the thinking of government is, but I believe the government ought to combine two things, working for the benefit of the people and still doing their sporadic probe.
No single individual should ascribe to himself that he can repair all the damages of over 60 years in Nigeria. It is not possible because we are all human beings. Everybody should play his part. Rome was not built in a day. Set up structures, live by example so that others will follow. But is everybody sharing that belief in government? You have to ask yourself and re-assess yourself every time. If I were a member of this government, I will hire an independent polls agent to find out for me whether we are on course or not.
Why is the government silent on the issue of Fulani herdsmen attack?
There is nothing like Fulani herdsmen, there is nothing like herdsmen. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the Fulani people that my grandparents or my parents told me about are such people that when you ever hurt them, two hundred years, they will come back to take revenge.
From time immemorial, the Fulani people and their host communities live together, sometimes they quarrel but that has never destroyed their relationship. Some Fulani herdsmen sometimes their herds will enter people’s farm and they people will arrest one or two of them and take them to village chief and the Fulani man will be invited and fined, he pays the fine and goes with his animal.
But what you journalists should find out is why it is happening at the time a Fulani man is the President of Nigeria. I think there are three reasons: it is either the president’s opponents want to destroy his image and credibility, and the only way they can do it is to put “Fulani herdsmen” in the front page.
Secondly, either the opponents of the proposed grazing reserve or ranches are at work to frustrate the project. Because these grazing reserves were in place by 1948 by the British and they were gazetted. Now there are a lot of communities sitting on these grazing reserves and they don’t want to be removed from there, so they can do anything to discredit the government. Thirdly, It may be the handwork of hooligans and thieves who want to use that as an alibi to kill the Fulanis and carry their cattle.
Since this issue assumed a worrisome dimension, have you ever seen one man arrested as Fulani and he confessed to be this? There are Fulani miscreants as there are Igbo miscreants, as there are Yoruba miscreants and Kanuri miscreants, who are thieves. The Fulani’s are Nigerians like you and I, they deserve our sympathy. We should be our brothers’ keeper.
Do you support the Economic Stabilisation Bill being proposed by President Buhari?
We have enough laws in Nigeria. We don’t need any emergency law. Why do you have emergency? We should avoid making a mistake of concentrating powers in anybody’s hand in Nigeria. The press should never support this. It is dangerous to concentrate power in the hand of any single individual.
I will advise the National Assembly not to do it. The President has enough laws, the economy of Nigeria has been run since 1960 till date. The other way round is to loan the money to state governors for UBEC programme. This economy will never recover if economic activities do not pick up. Government should build enabling environment, so that individuals and organisatons can thrive.
Look at the high rate of crime, all these people you call Fulani herdsmen are criminals who have no means of livelihood. One of my farm managers was robbed recently. The robbers told him to bear with them, that it was the economic situation that led them into crime and that they have to do that to feed themselves.
Do you support the call for President Buhari to sack his economic team?
Did you read what two former Central Bank governors, Prof Charles Soludo and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said? Is anybody working with their advice? Why don’t you assemble knowledgeable people? Are we lacking them in this country? If the President really has an economic team, this economy would have been working.
If you try some people and they are not getting results, fire them and bring in other people. It is not about whom you like, but who will perform. Government should not be run on the basis of the man I want or the man I like. It is the man that delivers for you to leave a legacy. Didn’t you see Abacha? He had a great mind, it doesn’t matter whether we like him or not, he managed the Nigerian economy when a barrel of crude was selling between $9 and $11 dollars. Because he brought in Professor Sam Aluko and handed the Nigerian economy over to him, he trusted him and religiously followed whatever Aluko said.
Despite all the sanctions, the Nigerian economy was run efficiently. The exchange rate was N84.00 throughout his period. I know people will say that there was no National Assembly during Abacha’s government, but the National Assembly does not take up to one third of the Nigerian budget. If you try some people and they are not functioning, fire them.