• Warns: Nigeria living on borrowed time
• ‘I went to prison because of activism, and a governor threatened to kill me’
• Dismisses zoning as divisive
• ‘Why Tanko Yakassai at 96, Ali- Gwaska at 88, I at 70 and others are coming together to fight’
By Chioma Gabriel,
Editor Special Features
Alhaji Buba Galadima was National Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), formed in the run-up to the 2011 general elections as a platform for President Muhammadu Buhari. He was an ally of Buhari before they fell apart. Last week, Galadima and others formed what many perceived as the Third Force that would counter things in the current political dispensation. In this interview, he answers questions on the new body and what his group is set to achieve.
You were part of a group that recently formed a Third Force. What are you set to achieve?
I want you members of the Press to differentiate between two things: One of them is the movement we launched recently. It is not the Third Force. It is a movement established to bring patriotic Nigerians together in order to fight for good governance, independence of the judiciary, good Electoral Act and a host of other things. It could have members of government; members of other political parties and even the Press can be members of this national movement. But we are also thinking of floating a Third Force political party and when we do that, we will bring five million people to Abuja for the world to see. So there is a difference between the two.
Are you saying it’s a movement now but you also want to make it a political party in future?
This is a movement and it will continue in future. I am the National Chairman of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, RAPC; Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso is a member of the PDP as we speak, Senator Hamza is a member of the Accord Party, Alkali is a member of the APC, Tanko Yakassai, Muhammadu Ali-Gwaska are party-less but they are coming out of their trenches at the age of 96 and 88 years, to partake in galvanizing Nigerians to fight for good governance; galvanizing good people to populate the political space. So, it is not a platform for party politics but the important thing to note is that all these noble ideas cannot be achieved without a political platform because you can only address these issues when you are in government and you cannot get into government without a political platform. So, eventually, those of us who are politicians will form the so-called Third Force that you are looking for or we may even have formed the Third Force but not rolled out for the public.
Are you still a member of the APC?
I am the Reformed All Progressives Congress, RAPC, National Chairman.
What informed the formation of the national movement? In other words, what is not right about the system that you want to correct?
What is not right is what some people feel in Nigeria of today. If they feel they are secure, so be it. If they feel that the system puts food on their table without stress, so be it. If they believe that they can go to any government hospital and get treatment that they can get in other parts of the world, let it be. If they feel that the dollar should be exchanged at N1, 000, let it be. If they think that they don’t have to take their children to private schools, that government schools are good, so be it, that is democracy but we believe that all the things I enumerated are negative and ought to be addressed.
We have had similar movements from different quarters in the past but they never succeeded. One of them is the National Elders Forum; it was made up of elderly elites but they never made any difference, and nobody listened to them…
You know that those are not political platforms. I thought you were asking me of the Third Force, why we contemplated the Third Force; what is it that is wrong today that we want to rectify? So, it has nothing to do with this national movement. The national movement is only to galvanize people at least to act in making Nigeria better, making our electoral system better, making the government to sit up and live up to its responsibilities, to address security, economy etc.
We have so many political issues though your movement is not a political party. You said you are the National Chairman of Reformed APC, when did you form that and has it been registered?
Doesn’t the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allow free assembly and free speech and formation of bodies? But you cannot run for political office without being registered by INEC. We are not registered with INEC but we can assemble and form bodies and we can have leadership.
Yes, but you cannot achieve anything if you are not registered
It’s not for you to say, it’s for Nigerians to say. This is your opinion. And you may be right or wrong in your opinion.
So, what do you intend to achieve with the RAPC? What is wrong with the APC?
I have already enumerated the things that are wrong. If you are satisfied with what they are doing and the way things are, so be it; that is your opinion, but we are not satisfied. That is why we want to bring an alternative,
APC is addressing itself. After so much dragging up and down, APC has been able to fix a date for their National Convention; what do you think of that?
Well, they fixed a date for their national consensus, not convention. The convention is only to bring them together to announce the names and shout Aye and they walk away and say the Ayes have it. APC is set to do everything by consensus and that is not democracy.
Do you think coming together to just announce the names of the chosen candidates will work?
I am making a prophecy. Have I ever made any prophecy since you began interviewing me that did not come to pass? This one will also happen as I have said but that is going to be the beginning of the end of the APC. I can tell you. APC will collapse under its own weight.
What is your view on power shift to the South?
Which one is power shift to the South? For how long have we been in this democracy? Since 1999 and by 2023, that will be 24 years. That means by 2023, we would have been in a democracy for 24 continuous years. In the 24 years, how many years did the North rule and how many years did the South rule? When Buhari finishes his term, the North would have ruled for nine and a half years out of the 24 years and the South would have ruled for 14 and a half years.
So, are you saying that you are not in support of power shifting to the South?
That is not what I am saying because I don’t believe in primordial things. What I believe is that the best man for the job should be voted for. It doesn’t matter whether he comes from Igbo, Hausa, Nupe, Tiv, Kanuri, Fulani, or Yoruba; we need a man with a large heart that will accommodate all Nigerians; a man with a vision that will take Nigeria to Olympian heights, a man with a pedigree of performance. We will ask those who want to be President, to tell us what they have done while they were in public office. It is no more a trial and error season because we have tried tribe, it didn’t work; we tried section, it didn’t work, so why don’t we try what we know?
Try what we know like?
Like performance. Let the man tell us what he has done while holding public office. That is what the media should be doing, not dividing us like zoning and using primordial sentiments. If Nigeria is good for us all, a dollar is equivalent to one naira, you can walk into the filling station and buy fuel, you can go to the market with N100 and buy what you can eat, what does it matter where the President comes from? After all, Buhari is from Katsina, have you asked the Katsina people whether they are happy with the way he is handling the country? If Ojukwu comes back and gives Katsina people security, wouldn’t you think they will vote for him? What is good for Nigeria now is not trial and error, we must look for somebody who has performed, who has a vision.
The parties are positioning themselves for 2023 elections and they are engulfed in internal crises. APC is dillydallying, PDP is also dillydallying about doing certain things they need to do like congresses before the election and then there’s the problem of signing the Electoral Act by the President. Someone from the Presidency said that the President will sign the Electoral Act in a matter of hours.
What he did not tell you is that he will sign it in a matter of hours but with a proviso which means he will sign the Electoral Act in a matter of hours and give you with one hand and take it away with another hand. He doesn’t want to be accused of refusing to sign, so he will sign but he will take amendments back to the National Assembly so that all the gains that were made would be reversed, so we are not yet out of the woods. He still has some reservations. The PDP and APC are not political parties; they would collapse under their own weight of injustice. Now the President is picking who is going to be the Chairman of the party, who is going to be the deputy and who is going to be the Secretary; is that what the Constitution of the APC says or the Constitution of Nigeria says that one man should give them who will lead the party?
They said consensus candidates and that is what seems to be playing out…
That is why I said they will collapse under their own weight of injustice. So, when we bring a Third Force, don’t you think that people like you will join? Even journalists could join.
There are many strong personalities from the South who are showing interest in contesting the 2023 presidential election…
Let them put on the table what they were able to do while in public office. You can’t sit in your home and think that they will bring Nigerian presidency and give you because you are from the South or you are from the North, you are Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba, you have to work for it. I want to say again that we have tried religion, it did not work, we tried tribe, it didn’t work, we tried section, it didn’t work, why don’t we try competence, vision and foresight?
With the way things are going, some people are saying that they may shift election dates. Do you believe that?
Let them put it on the table; we will deal with the situation when it comes. Let the person come and say it.
You are a member of the APC and even a member of the Board of Trustees of the party…
They have not called me for a meeting of the BoT of the party in the last six years. This is why the party has problems; has the BoT ever met? If INEC was truly independent and free, they would have nullified the certificate of the APC because they work in contravention of their own laws, that is why the country cannot move forward. If they subvert their own laws, how do you expect them to follow the law when dealing with you?
Do you have confidence in the INEC with the way things are going?
Well, we are watching them; they are under pressure from the APC to change their guidelines which terminate congresses and conventions on March 31. Let us see whether they will tamper with that, then we take them on. We will know whether they work for the APC or for Nigeria.
Why is it that whenever there is election coming up, politicians heat up the polity, they throw up all kinds of things. Emir Sanusi said that Nigeria is living on extra time?
I believe him; we are living on borrowed time.
What do you think could happen?
You want me to put my strategies out there on the plate so that the authorities can nip it in the bud before it takes off? Why should I reveal my strategy of getting to where I want to go?
Some people are saying that only a revolution will save this country. Do you subscribe to that?
I am an old man in my 70s, so I no longer have the strength to do certain things. I can only talk.
Since you can talk, what is your advice to the people? What is the way forward?
Let all Nigerians come out for us to throw out these people during the February 18, 2023 election. Our power is in the ballot box and let’s get there to ensure that our votes count, it is not for me to do that. Look, when we met elder statesmen who were there in the First Republic, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai is 96 years old; Baba Muhammadu Ali-Gwasa is 88 years old. Ali-Gwasa was to former President Shehu Shagari what MCK Ajuluchuku was to Awolowo. You heard him speak concrete Victorian English at his age and very sharp. He came out of his trenches to advise Nigerians on what we need to do to salvage our country, on what kind of leaders we need to put forward. So, is it not shameful that people in their 90s will be the people that will lead us in the revolution?
I feel that our generation is not doing well because their generation didn’t train us well. The Bible says teach a child the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
That was why some of those elder statesmen came out to train some of us and I am training you now. It was not my generation that ruined Nigeria. I have never held any political public office. Activism was what took me to prison! If you want to go to prison, just behave as I am behaving, they will give you free accommodation and free food. You don’t need to worry about paying rent or going to market.
Can’t you advise the President, governors and the rest of them on the best way forward?
Was I not with the President when they threw me out? Do you know whether it is because they don’t like my views? Was I not with the President for 15 years? All these people he is recruiting to do his job were my enemies, not opponents but enemies. I know one of them, a governor, when we were going to his state, he came to the powers-that-be and said that he wanted to kill us in that state and the powers-that-be told him: “Look, look, look, we don’t want trouble, just go and disenfranchise them in election. If they come out, you now have a reason to shoot them”, and the man instructed all the chiefs/emirs in his domain not to give us audience, when they do that, he will dethrone them. Today, he is Buhari’s number one friend and I, who was tried for treason because of Buhari, am now out. And you are still advising me to go and talk to Buhari and the governors, who am I? Unless you are just advising that I should go and be locked up.
Do you think your movement, the national movement, will make any difference in the country’s corrupt system?
Evil people only succeed when good people do not stand up to them. One with God is majority. We may be lonely but since we profess justice, God can be on our side and with God on our side, what is it that you think we cannot achieve?
I have seen movements like this where members of the movement betray themselves.
Since the beginning of the world, there have been betrayals. Didn’t Adam betray God? So it is not new. Because of one person, God can save Nigeria and God can destroy Nigeria because of the act of one person.
So are you blaming the electorate?
I didn’t vote for Buhari in 2019, you people chose him and the Supreme Court affirmed him. Those are the laws in existence in the country. I can’t change them alone without the cooperation of people like you and you are running away from the responsibility.
What kind of Nigeria are you envisaging?
I am envisaging a Nigeria flowing with milk and honey for every Nigerian; that is the kind of Nigeria I am looking for.
I’m envisaging that the Third Force will win election and bring about that milk and honey for every Nigerian.
We are not a political party yet and have not claimed that we are a registered party; we are saying we are a movement. I know the difference between a registered party and an unregistered party. You cannot access power without being a registered political party. But I am expecting that if there is a free, fair and transparent election, the candidate of the Third Force in a political party will have majority of the votes and become the President of Nigeria.