In this interview with ABDULRAHMAN OYETUNJI, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), who decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barrister Abdullahi Jalo insisted that, President Muhammadu Buhari’s change will take us to next level.
Your former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed it has been reformed and transformed, what is your reaction to this?
Party is a platform with ideologies and manifesto, it can sue and be sued, nobody queried PDP as a party, but you can query with some people that are in PDP. PDP is a platform and if they bring a good person people must support him. But they cannot circulate failure and expect us to support or believe them.
Don’t you think Atiku Abubakar will bring something new on board if elected?
We are all Nigerians and we know Atiku has served under Obasanjo for eight years. This life is like a lesson plan of a teacher, it is what he has seen in the lesson that he will put forward for the children to learn. Incidentally, Atiku has the mindset of what he has done during when he was the vice president, and people should not expect anything different. That is in US there constitution clearly states that Democrat should rule for some years and Republican should rule for some years too. And that is what we want to practice, we have had the PDP era, we know the manifesto and the team players. We now need a change that will take us to the next level, the change is Muhammadu Buhari and APC. You look at the way and manner he plays his own politics. Atiku was a vice president under Obasanjo, and the their policies then brought about what people are witnessing today. Now people want to change another party, they want to try another set of people.
Do you mean Atiku stand no chance at all?
You see we are talking about merit, when late Yar’adua was the President, though his time was short live. But when you compare him with a draconian government of Murtala Mohammed, Yar’adua did performed very well. We are talking of progressive mind, mind that can make this country to move forward. Atiku is not the best for the country. Because I was in PDP, I know him very well, I know what he can do. We are not challenging the party, we are challenging the candidate. Take it from me, to most people in PDP that we are talking to, they agreed that they have a bad candidate. But they will not say it because they have to obey the party. They said they have a bad product. In politics, once you want to rule you must lead by example, without condemning him, PDP as a party is a platform, but he as a person cannot change is colour, I.e a leopard does
not change its colour. For example in the entire North East, go ask anybody including his household, has Atiku brought a project of 10 billion in Adamawa where he hails from. The answer is No. So experience is a mother of learning, people are saying what they have seen. We are not talking of 6 states in the north east, we have Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba. People should examine themselves, governance is a trust and when you are given the mantle of leadership people should be able to beat their chest and say yes you can perform. Let take Fashola from the west, we all have seen what he has done. He constructed many road and overhead bridges for his people, just like Kwankwaso did in Kano. But in Atiku’s cases there is nothing to show off.
But he didn’t serve as a governor of Adamawa state.
When you see vice president is even higher than the governor. What we are saying is that we cannot point to a project that Atiku has done in Adamawa that is worth of 10 billion naira. If there is, he is alive he can say I have done this.
You said governance is a trust, about four years Nigerians entrusted the leadership of this country to President Muhammadu Buhari, how will you rate the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari so far?
One proverb says, once you are given governance, do not fear anybody, but fear God. In this aspect, you make sure you don’t steal the money the people entrusted in you and you don’t spare those that have stolen, because nobody will
ask you on this earth, but God will ask you. So Muhammadu Buhari, the trust of Nigerians that elected him is to make sure that the wealth of Nigeria that was stolen are recovered and ensured that at least our image change from a failed state, to state where there is hope. And nobody doubt this, those people that are untouchable before now they are now been touched by Buhari.
So many people are returning a lot of money. And Nigeria should not become a rich country in the midst of the poor. People in the country are always becoming poorer, where very few are becoming richer. People should have the heart that this is their country, no matter what, the image of the country is been restored. For example, despite the propaganda that there is hunger and poverty, Nigeria is now among the largest rice producing country in the world.
You are from the North East, how will you access the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari with regards to security.
There is need for people to understand that insurgency is not a conventional war, if Shekau is strong enough and he want to Islamize this country, he should mobilize the people and face the army. Not to kill people and run back into the bush, that to me is an act of cowardice. I was in Gombe my home town, and I can testify that President Muhammadu Buhari has made a lot of efforts. Before many local governments was captured by the insurgent, now is there a single local government captured by Boko Haram? the answer is No.
As for Atiku, why should he allow Adamawa to be among the states faced with insurgency? Why did he not use the wealth that God gave him to provide security for the people? He can’t even do it for his own state, and he his promising to do it if elected. If someone say is going to give you a shirt, look at the one he is wearing first. So if is about security situation, see what happened sometimes around 2014 in a mosque where many people were killed. Things where too bad then, that people were killed like chickens, but since Buhari came in, have the Boko Haram attacked
Kano? The answer is No because they have been contained to Borno State where they attack soft targets. Despite the fact that there is a need for the President to look into the illegally supplying of weapons, there is need to go to the root and address it fundamentally, that I believe the government is making efforts on. But as far as North East is concerned, that is the heart of the Boko Haram insurgent. President Muhammadu Buhari has done a lot to improve the security situation in the North Eastern Region of the Country.
The opposition party, PDP has alleged that the President Muhammadu Buhari anti corruption war is focus on them and APC perceived enemies, what is your reaction to this?
You see I want you to focus on facts, Dariye former Governor of Plateau state is a stalwart in APC, but his serving jail term now. So many are imprisoned by now, let us categorize issues based on merit.
When Olisah Metuh wanted to go and collect that money, I told him that there is a memo to NSA and I want to see, he said his not even sure whether am his deputy or not. So that issue came, I opened up. Even a small boy knows, that the man is a thief and he has stolen public funds. And if I am called upon to give evidence, I will say my part. To those who said the anti corruption war of this administration is one-sided, I was deputy to former National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh why didn’t the EFCC arrest me?, In an attempt to rubbish Buhari, we were given 10 million naira, but I rejected it. Because I know Buhari went to school. I came back to APC on two request. They asked me to come and help Buhari, they had look at many persons, but based on integrity they found out that I can help the President.
With this crisis in your party, what are the chances of the APC in 2019 general elections?
Well have you ever seen two adult that are looking for the same girl to marry together in peace? The answer is No, so is a game of interest. So all that you see that is going on the APC is normal, you cannot avoid it. Is a question of interest, the only thing is, let our interest not supercede that of the country. Am optimistic that it will not affect the chances of the party and its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari.