Zoning not in Nigeria’s Interest -Buba Galadima

National Chairman, Reformed-All Progressives Congress (R-APC), Alhaji Buba Galadima has declared that the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would crumble before the 2023 general elections.

Making the declaration in an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Galadima, a former close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari asserted that zoning should not be an issue in the 2023 presidential election, even as he recalled how he and some others were betrayed by President Buhari.

Why did you decide to form a new political party with the former governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso and some other eminent Nigerians?

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I think politics is all about democracy. Politics is about choices, and if you believe that where you are, there is injustice, and that there is a betrayal and derailment of what all of you agreed to do earlier, then you can find your way elsewhere.  You don’t have to stay where you don’t have a sense of belonging again. Many of us were betrayed in APC, and so we have no choice than to look for other alternative platforms. We have to look for another platform when Buhari is saying that we are no longer relevant in the scheme of things even though some of us stayed with him through thick and thin, through shine and rain for more than 15 years, and we suffered all forms of deprivations for him to get there, but only for him to get there and now betrayed us.

How did the President Buhari betray you?

After helping Buhari to get elected into office, he suddenly changed his attitude towards us. When he got new people surrounding him, he felt we no longer mattered, and he now abandoned us for his new friends. Not only that, Buhari also jettisoned the original ideals we stood for in APC. Buhari has handed over APC to his former enemies. With all these ugly developments going on within APC, do you think we will remain there? Today APC is firmly in the hands of Buhari’s former political foes who have now become his friends. This is why history is very important in life. In effect, what I’m telling you is that politics is dynamic. You can’t remain static if you are politician. Then if you are a principled politician, and now you realised that those principles you have can’t be realized where you are then the best alternative is to find new co-travellers, people who share the same ideals with you, and then work together for the common good of the people.

With your romance with the TNM, have you now abandoned your struggle for the control of APC since you are in court with the party?

We have not even formed a new party yet. We only formed a movement of Nigerians who share common ideals and common stand on issues bedevilling the country. We want to rescue democracy, and we also want to rescue the country. However, for you to actualise your vision, you must have a political platform, and you must contest in an election for your principles to be actualised. Our struggles with APC still continue because we will not just allow some elements who were not there when the party was being formed to hijack the party.

As one of the founding fathers of APC, was there really an agreement that President Muhammadu Buhari would hand over to a new president from the South in 2023?

Yes, there was such a deal. But it was a verbal agreement between Buhari and one politician from the North, who is now a state governor, and one politician from the South-West. They persuaded the politician from the South-west to do everything under the sun to help Buhari become the President. This was before the general election in 2015. It was agreed that if this politician helped Buhari to become President, that Buhari will also help the politician to become President after Buhari must have completed his tenure. For me, agreement is agreement, whether it is verbal or written. Agreements should be agreements, and you know that if they go back on this agreement, God can visit them. My view is that if they renege on that agreement, God can visit them. But that doesn’t mean that I support the agreement. I, however, believe that once you have an agreement with anybody, even if the person is your enemy, you are bound to honour that agreement or else you will see the hand of God later.

What kind of qualities do you expect Nigeria’s next President to possess as we march towards 2023?

We’ve tried ethnic group – that this man must be from my tribe; we’ve also tried religion – that this man must be from my religious persuasion. We’ve also tried section – that this man must be from my area. But all these have not paid off. So what we should be looking at now is, who can do this job? We can no longer continue the trial and error approach. Why don’t we look at the pedigree of people? While in public office, what has that man done to affect the lives of ordinary Nigerians? What has he done to impact on the lives of Nigerians? These are the kind of things we should looking for and not sentiments. Now, Buhari is from my part of the country, but of what benefit has his being there to me or the North? In fact, the North has suffered more under Buhari’s leadership. North has become worse under Buhari. Look at the insecurity in the North, look at the poverty level, and yet the President is from the North.

The issue should be about who can do the job. Any nation that aspires to prosper, people must elect leaders that will lay good foundation for socio-economic development of their countries. They look for leaders with foresight, they look for leaders that can transform their nations, unlike here where we put ethnicity and religion into consideration when we are deciding who should be our leaders, and this has been some of the factors that have been militating against the development and growth of Nigeria as a nation. Buhari is of the same tribe and religion with me, but of what benefit is he to me? Even to the North as whole, the region has suffered more under his leadership, and yet the man is from the North. This is why we should canvass that it should be the man that can do the job that should be there as the President. We should aspire to have as leaders people with strong characters and not people who are elected based on primordial sentiments. We’ve tried religion and we’ve tried tribal factors, and all these have not worked for us.

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I think this time around, we should try to get it right. Look at what is happening in the country today. Fuel scarcity, insecurity, poverty all over the place, hardship everywhere. And look at the way naira is depreciating against the dollar. Nigerians can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. All these are indices of failure. Buhari and APC have failed Nigerians. Nigerians should not have this kind of leadership we have in the country today in 2023, and this is why some of us are  coming together to salvage the country. The last seven years have not been rosy for Nigerians, and millions of Nigerians are disappointed that this is not the kind of change they were promised when Buhari and APC were campaigning to have their votes. But all is still not lost as Nigerians still have another opportunity to redeem the situation in 2023. But if Nigerians still want to remain in slavery, they should vote for either PDP or APC in 2023.

Are you saying that there is no difference between APC and PDP?

There is no hope for Nigerians in both APC and PDP. The two political parties have disappointed Nigerians, and this is why we are coming up with another platform to rescue Nigerians. When PDP was there for 16 years, what did the party achieve for Nigerians? It was a tale of woes, and this was why there was clamour for change. But unfortunately the change that came with the election of Buhari has not improved the fortunes of Nigerians. The last seven years under Buhari’s leadership have not witnessed any transformation. Nigerians still continue to suffer, and this is why people should take advantage of 2023 to vote out bad leadership.

None of the two parties can deliver, and this is why we are providing an alternative through The National Movement (TNM). Both PDP and APC are going to crumble before 2023 because there are lot of injustices within the parties. These injustices will precipitate a lot of crises within the two parties, and the parties will suffer an implosion. Can’t you see how APC has adopted consensus in picking its national officers?  It is undemocratic. Consensus means that there is no competence and that that there is no merit. But this amounts to subverting the will of the people. It is the godfathers that now decide who get elected into positions within the party, and this is very undemocratic. Only foolish Nigerians will vote for PDP and APC in 2023 because both parties have failed us. But since we are in a democratic dispensation, any Nigerian who wishes to vote for either of the two parties can still do so but that will amount to prolonging the suffering of Nigerians.

But how will you react to agitations for a Southern President in 2023 in view of what you are saying now?

What we should be advocating is good governance. Our emphasis should not be on where the President comes from but on who is capable of doing the job. Where the man comes from should not be it, but rather we should be focused on who is capable of doing the job. The issue should not be South or North but rather on who can do the job. We need to change our orientation on this issue because as long as we continue to place emphasis on where the President comes from or his religion, then this country will never develop. We will continue to remain backward because we will never be able to get the best material.

Former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar recently canvassed that zoning should be jettisoned because it is not in Nigeria’s constitution. What’s your take on that?

On that I agree with him. There is nowhere that zoning was enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Zoning will never allow us to have the best materials for public offices. Although zoning can be a private arrangement between parties or politicians, it is not in the national interest. We should not have anything to do with zoning. It will not enable us to have the best for the country.

There have been on-going debates and diverse opinions about an age limit for the next President. Former President Ibrahim Babangida suggested that the next President should be less than 70. Do you agree with him?

That’s his own personal opinion or wish, and you can’t deny him his own view because we are in a democracy. While Babangida is canvassing that position, there are other Nigerians who believe that there should be no age limit over the issue. Anybody can hold any position on any issue but the views of the majority should be sacrosanct on the matter. But I believe that the issue should not be about age. It should be about who can do the job on merit. If we adhere to our constitution, we can go very far. But we’ve not allowed the constitution to work. If we have the right people in government, Nigeria will work. But as we are today, Nigeria is not working because we don’t have the right people in leadership.

What’s the way out of the present insecurity in the country?

If there is good governance, we will not be having these crimes being committed all over the place or it will be minimized. It is because very few people cornered our commonwealth to themselves that forced some people to resort to kidnapping and other vices. Deprivations forced some of these elements, including bandits and kidnappers, into crimes. As the saying goes, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, some of the people that go into crime would probably have not done so if they are gainfully employed or their needs are taken care of. Another source of the growing insecurity is the flow of arms from Libya. After the death of their former leader Moammer Gadaffi, there has been influx of arms from different militia groups in Libya into Nigeria, and these are the arms that Boko Haram recruits, bandits and kidnappers are using to terrorise Nigerians. The Federal Government must look for a way to block the influx of these illegal arms into the country.

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