Sunday Magazine

It’s unfair to challenge Tinubu for APC’s presidential ticket –Ibrahim

 

 

Umar Mohammed Ibrahim, an Architect and former Commissioner of Housing in Bauchi State is the Director General of Tinubu Support Group (TSG). In this interview, Ibrahim who was also a Local Government Chairman spoke on different issues as regards to the Presidential ambition of the former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. According to him, Tinubu has the best credentials for the Presidency for 2023 general elections. JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM reports

 

You started the campaign for the Bola Tinubu presidency before told the President he wants to run for the Presidency. How did you receive the news?

Well, I was not surprised actually by the declaration because it was long, long awaited.

 

In fact, it came at a best time for me because we only have a year to go now. We are now in January and February next year is going to be Presidential election and so, I think we have so much to do and less time to handle activities in terms of politicking.

 

His declaration has thrown up some reactions. Some are feeling that he is too old for the office; some are feeling differently. What do you have to say about this?

Like I have always said, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a gifted Nigerian but he is a rare Nigerian. He is a rare Nigerian. Very,very rare.

Someone who has done what he has done, going through his antecedents, he is an already packaged candidate and he has all that it takes to take over mantle of leadership and actually do very, very good in terms of what APC has started.

Off course, there may be rough times, rough in terms of what Nigerians are crying out for but putting that aside APC has done very, very well, even in the security because if we are to reflect back on how Nigeria was doing under the PDP, honestly we still thank God.

 

Whenever you try to fight corruption or you try to set things in the right direction, actually, people fight back and corruption fights back and these insurgencies that are being seen is just reactions of this corruption that the APC government is fighting. Asiwaju had done something similar if we all can look back in terms of how Lagos was years back.

Lagos was one of the unsafe states. If you were caught in a traffic, you will spend five hours  in that traffic but this man came and turned everything around. In fact, it was like magic. Nobody thought he could be able to achieve that within the time he had but he did.

And something people are not actually noticing or observing in Lagos is, when he left Lagos as a governor, every other governor that comes on board continues on that blueprint that he has left. Now, Nigerians surely need that kind of leader.

That is what we need. We need someone that would come and set curves and leave legacies and for people to continue on what he has left. Only him can do that. If you look at the choices he makes in terms of appointment and the leaders he brought up, those are what Nigerians are proud of today.

You have the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. You have some of the Ministers that worked with him and he is the one that exposed them for government; he was the first to know them and even identified them and work with them and the truth is that they have never been a failure for this current government.

When you want to talk about works in Nigeria, you will see what Babatunde Fashola is doing in the Ministry of Works and Housing. How he has been turning the place around. It is excellent.

 

Tinubu is most likely going to contest for the APC Presidential ticket against the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Transportation Minister, Rotimi Ameachi and others. What edge do you think he has above any of these beyond money?

Let me be clear on what you mean by issue of money.

 

Yes, it is believed that his pocket is very deep. Deeper than all of those you have listed?

 

Ok, apart from that one, he is more experienced than them and he made almost all of them politically. He supported them to find themselves, where they are today and it is natural when your leader or someone you look up to comes out for a thing, you step down.

Don’t be surprised tomorrow if you see Governor Yahaya Bello denouncing his Presidential ambition. Don’t be surprised, I am not saying it is so but you will not be surprised. So, it is only natural, we are all human.

They all know what he has done to see them where they are today and he has been solidly behind them. Why won’t they be behind him in his own time of need?

 

Are you by implication suggesting that all the people you mentioned that he made should denounce their ambition and support him?

 

Definitely and surely! That is what I  in that traffic but this man came and turned everything around. In fact, it was like magic.

 

Nobody thought he could be able to achieve that within the time he had but he did. And something people are not actually noticing or observing in Lagos is, when he left Lagos as a governor, every other governor that comes on board continues on that blueprint that he has left. Now, Nigerians surely need that kind of leader. That is what we need.

We need someone that would come and set curves and leave legacies and for people to continue on what he has left. Only him can do that. If you look at the choices he makes in terms of appointment and the leaders he brought up, those are what Nigerians are proud of today.

You have the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. You have some of the Ministers that worked with him and he is the one that exposed them for government; he was the first to know them and even identified them and work with them and the truth is that they have never been a failure for this current government.

When you want to talk about works in Nigeria, you will see what Babatunde Fashola is doing in the Ministry of Works and Housing. How he has been turning the place around. It is excellent.

 

Tinubu is most likely going to contest for the APC Presidential ticket against the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu; Transportation Minister, Rotimi Ameachi and others. What edge do you think he has above any of these beyond money?

 

Let me be clear on what you mean by issue of money.

 

Yes, it is believed that his pocket is very deep. Deeper than all of those you have listed?

Ok, apart from that one, he is more experienced than them and he made almost all of them politically. He supported them to find themselves, where they are today and it is natural when your leader or someone you look up to comes out for a thing, you step down.

Don’t be surprised tomorrow if you see Governor Yahaya Bello denouncing his Presidential ambition. Don’t be surprised, I am not saying it is so but you will not be surprised. So, it is only natural, we are all human.

They all know what he has done to see them where they are today and he has been solidly behind them. Why won’t they be behind him in his own time of need?

 

 

Are you by implication suggesting that all the people you mentioned that he made should denounce their ambition and support him?

 

Definitely and surely! That is what I    mean and that is the ideal thing. They should and in fact, the earlier they do it, the better. See, ambition comes as a necessity but when you have full representation, where nothing is wrong, you don’t need to declare your ambition.

 

You should just stay and watch. So, if we have somebody like Asiwaju contesting, for goodness sake, why will any other APC member come and declare again? Why would they? On what account? Who has suffered the way this man has suffered? Who has built the APC? Who has built the nation?

Tinubu did not just build Lagos, Tinubu did everything for APC to succeed in Kano State. He was the one solidly behind it. Ask Yahaya Bello. He was solidly behind him. He was one of the main pillars that actually helped him to become governor again.

Don’t forget Maiduguri, Kaduna here but it is just that they wouldn’t come out and say it. This man has been behind every APC member contesting or declaring for positions.

And they have all succeeded. Why won’t they come and put their hands together and that is why I am saying the best thing for APC to do now is just to concede that ticket to Asiwaju.

 

There is a school of thought that believes that age is not on his side and also his health is not stable. that school believes that we have passed these roads before and we need not pass them again. What would you say about this?

 

The most important thing is being healthy and Asiwaju is healthy.

 

If you are talking about age, then American President, Joe Biden shouldn’t have contested.

So, I think what Nigerians need now, especially members of APC is experience. What has Yahaya Bello done in Kogi State as young as he is? I believe he is the youngest governor. What has he got to put on the table in Kogi State? We wouldn’t want such a person to rule this country.

Common declaration of Covid-19, he has refused to accept that this disease exists in the world. So, is that the type of leadership that we are aspiring for in this country? We need experienced person.

Age is not something we are considering here and Asiwaju is not all that old for now. Let him set the course. When he left Lagos, who took over? Was he not a younger person?

But now, we need somebody who has experience. I have not seen anyone within the APC with Asiwaju’s resume. There is none. There is none who can stand next to him.

 

Now beyond APC and assuming not conceding that he gets APC Presidential ticket, do you see him defeating an Atiku Abubakar from the North, assuming also not conceding he gets PDP Presidential ticket? Why not?

 

Let me give a little example. Can Atiku deliver North East? The whole 6 states in the North East? Can he? He can hardly. He can barely deliver Adamawa State. This I know and I can say it anywhere. Now, for sure, Asiwaju can deliver South West.

 

That I know. So, what are we talking about? Why do we need to even compare them? I don’t think there is any basis for comparison in the first place. Asiwaju for sure can deliver most of the Northern States.

 

I am sure he will deliver Maiduguri, Borno State. I am one million sure that he would deliver Bauchi, Katsina, Sokoto and so    many other states in the North. And will surely deliver the most populated state in the country, which is Kano. If you go to Kano, it as if Asiwaju is an indigene of Kano State and don’t forget that the Jagaban came from Maiduguri.

Those places are like from is birth states. He was in Bauchi recently in Katagum; come and see the crowd. In fact, nobody knew that he was coming but people are already prepared. Do know why?

Because he has the structure in place. In the whole of the 36 states, including FCT, there is no place that you will go and you will not see Jagaban poster or Jagaban sticker or Jagaban people. No! I have toured more than 20 states now from last year and each state I have met with more than 100 support groups of Tinubu.

 

Don’t you think it would amount to an injustice to other geopolitical zones, not only for South East, for another South West person to      become President in 2023, having occupied that position for eight years; Vice Presidential position eight years and Speaker House of Representatives for years?

No! Is South West not part of Nigeria?

 

I am talking about the spirit of zoning, which gave them the positions they have occupied? What you are saying it should go to South East or South South?

Well, politics and democracy are game of numbers. That is it.

 

There is no injustice or justice in democracy. No, it is a game of number. No matter how good you are or there might be better people around but the question would be are they popular? Do they have the mandate of the people? If a candidate emerges from Imo State, may be and he is popular, why won’t they vote for him and support him? But it is there. Has there been any governor from there, from my own perspective that has demonstrated half of what Asiwaju has done?

 

I have not seen that. Believe me, if a candidate should emerge from my home town or my local government now under APC, I will still support Asiwaju because he would not have half the resume of Asiwaju’s qualification. I am after competence not popularity or not sectionalism. And, by all demonstration, believe you me, if Asiwaju assumes as the President of this country, all these diversities would begin to disappear.

 

He has shown it when he was the governor of Lagos State. In his executive cabinet, I think it was about 50/50. There was a Commissioner from Katsina, about five Igbo as Commissioners. I am not certain about this but I know he had a certain numbers and he had others from all different zones, who were not indigenes of Lagos.

 

You are talking about Tinubu Presidency under a party that has not been able to organize a National Convention and produce NWC members. How do you see this?

 

Well, I not worried at all because  we are still on the right part. We have set up a committee that is being managed by the governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni. There might be a lot of uncertainties but believe me, we will come out better. What we should avoid is not having Convention but for certain, we are having a Convention.

 

If we don’t do Convention, we will not have a national leadership of the party and without National Leadership of the party, there is no party. But we are getting there. We have done ward, local government and states congresses. I participated in the congresses.

 

We have registered the members. We have done the congresses and now, we are preparing for the convention and I can guarantee you that it will take place; then, everything will be formal. I had said that in the past that Nigerians should not worry about that because there is nothing big for a committee to be set up to organize Convention.

 

If by tomorrow, Tinubu, out of pressure or any other reasons comes to support Osinbajo, how would you feel?

 

Well, that would not be new. It had happened before and on several occasions. If he decides at any point in time to support any other candidate, we will join because we believe in him.

 

We believe in his judgment and ideologies. He has never failed us as far as I am concerned. I will surely go by what he wants and we will surely support whoever he brings.

 

The ideology is about him, his concept in turning the country around in terms of economy, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of security architecture and I am so happy that you will not go two or three sentences without having an example to set in Lagos.

 

If you go to Lagos, you will know that all this happening to Nigeria, Lagos had gone through it but see where Lagos is today.

 

Lagos is the most admired state. Lagos is the state that you will say that is virtually independent of Nigeria and we are proud of that. So, we believe Tinubu can make Nigeria like Lagos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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