Sunday Magazine

Tinubu’ll win 2023 polls and secure victory for APC candidates –Bulama

Waziri Bulama, a former National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a member of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and the Tinubu/Shettima Grassroots Independent Campaign Council (T/ SGICC). In this interview with JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM, the party chieftain speaks on many issues concerning next month’s general elections, the chances of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the entire party and other positions

 

What is your assessment of the presidential campaign so far since it kicked off on September 28 2022?

Well, I assess that so far so good at the level of the institutions of states that are responsible for managing the elections, that is INEC, as well as the security agencies, are putting all the necessary arrangements to ensure that they give confidence to Nigerians and that the environments around the election are free and conducive for them to come and vote and exercise their franchise.

Civil society is up and running, doing close monitoring and ensuring that processes are followed. At the level of the political parties and the contestants, all those bad practices that used to prevail before the election like the burning of party offices, and killing and prosecuting political opponents and adversaries, have been minimized.

Now the attention is more on appealing to others to sensitize and mobilize people to come out and vote. Our party, the APC, is very happy with the progress so far.

The key to consider, assessing the campaign within the political party is Number One: unity within the political party, the resolve of party members participating in the campaign. So, right now our party is united around its candidates, and its campaigns are going on all over the country where our party has a presence.

The campaigns are also carried out based on issues of what we as APC have done as a government in providing security, ensuring the electoral system works, promoting fairness and justice in the country.

So far, I think this campaign is going on smoothly and we are looking forward, we are appealing to more Nigerians and everybody is working towards having free, fair, and credible election in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari has set all the necessary measures to ensure that his parting gift to Nigerians is an environment that is free, transparent, and open for elections. He has no wish of imposing himself or his will or dictating anything or imposing any person or any division on the country.

Are you not worried about the state of your presidential candidate for a few months?

I’m not worried at all. People talk about the health and vigor of our candidate for his focus and concentration but we know Asiwaju is very healthy; we know that Asiwaju has the presence of mind and we know Asiwaju is capable of carrying on this campaign very successfully. We are sure that Nigerians would be sufficiently convinced that he offers the best promise of leadership that would work for this country. You see the few things that Nigerians have noticed in Asiwaju’s behavior when under pressur

especially on stage when addressing the crowd. All of us as politicians and especially all the candidates have exhibited this in one form or the other.

These guys are under intense pressure; these guys have very little sleep; these guys honestly lose focus, so you will find them making some flippant slip and all that. This can happen to anyone who is under intense pressure but this is not a sign of any infirmity or any form of defect or weakness on the part of our candidate.

Among the major contestants, which one do you consider to be a threat to the candidate of APC?

Well, looking at the size and the resolve in the APC and the unity of purpose and the intensity of the campaign that we are carrying out, we don’t see any of the three frontline candidates being of any serious threat to the APC.

We see the PDP among the four major political parties out of the 17 comings a distant second to APC because the PDP is also a party with a national spread; they have governors and party structures.

They have been on the ground and so we see them coming a distant second. So, we don’t see the PDP Candidate forming a major threat to our success in the presidential election.

There was a recent poll that was released just like the previous one and that survey placed Obi the Labour Party candidate ahead of the other three. Are you, as someone who believes in the survey, dismissing that?

Well, you see, sometimes the people who do this polling and the class of people they are interviewing are very important. If, for instance, the polling is limited to online commentators and participants, obviously Peter Obi will have an advantage because many people are users of the internet, especially outside Nigeria supporting him. But when you come to registered voters on the ground spread across this country, I don’t see how Labour Party or Peter Obi will have any advantage over anybody. In fact among the four major parties, APC, PDP, NNPP, and LP, LP is the least in terms of size and spread in this country. The Labour Party does not have even one governor; the LP does not have a Senator or House of Representatives member; LP actually at this moment is growing. So, I don’t see how LP can be said to be real to post a threat in this kind of outing in a serious poll if the poll is around fewer polling units where people live in this country. I don’t think it will show Peter Obi being ahead of any other candidate.

One major threat some persons have noticed in the presidential campaign of APC is that your candidate is campaigning more with the achievements in Lagos, not of the national or Federal Government. What would you say about this because it is not going down well with some people?

 

You know the APC as a party was founded by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari. President Muhammadu Buhari always refers to Asiwaju Tinubu as his friend and political partner. Everything that we achieved in APC was done with the full knowledge of participation and encouragement of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

So, there are many, many, many, uncelebrated and unnoticed achievements of the APC because the APC if I may state here was founded in 2013 basically as a move to form a political party that would address the defects of democracy, that would address the short timing of democratic culture and democracy practices in the country; the culture of the impunity electoral violence, assassination, rigging and complete list of natural resources.

These were the things that the APC came to address. And since we came, we have been able to promote trust in the systems of democracy like the electoral body, the judiciary, and so on. We have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of fairness and justice in the country. These are the biggest achievements in the country. We have reduced political violence and we have also reduced criminality and organized crime in the country.

 

The APC has a huge achievement. It has succeeded in investing so much in infrastructure. Penultimate week, the Second Niger Bridge was commissioned, all our Airports have been reviewed and renewed, major roads have been opened, and rail is working now.

So, all these are achievements of the APC. As a party, both Asiwaju and all our leaders are very proud of the achievements of APC, and under very difficult circumstances we took up power. So, whatever people talk about Asiwaju is an addition and compliment to what the APC has done in Lagos and an added leadership to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

So, in the course of this campaign, you see people messaging in different ways, people who project Asiwaju’s achievements in Lagos do so. Some people who look at the achievements of the leadership of the APC all over the country also project that.

All these are being used to project the campaigns of Asiwaju. There is no conflict and there is no confusion at all. Asiwaju is the leader of this party and he is a promoter of democracy and good governance.

Some northerners are saying that they would not vote for the APC presidential candidate because he has not done anything for the North. As a northerner, would you agree with that fundamentally?

I always see myself as a Nigerian. Secondly, I see myself as a member of the APC. These are the major contests within which I situate all my thoughts. As a party, we in APC, whether northerners or southerners, are united around our party and we are carrying out this campaign under the flag form of our APC.

The APC has performed and contributed positively to the lives of citizens in all parts of this country. We are united as a party to carry this campaign in all zones, regions and states, communities of this whole country.

So, we are not pandering to identity-based politics; we are not seeing ourselves as northerners or southerners; we are seeing ourselves as APC men and women. So, people in APC will canvas heavily to ensure that the APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is voted for throughout this country in all the states of this country –North-East, South-East, and West and all the six zones and 36 states plus Abuja.

 

We hold nothing back, we see him as a Nigerian leader and he will come in to swear an oath of office and also pledge allegiance to protect Nigeria’s state as well as uphold Nigerian institutions.

Nobody will be discriminated against; nobody will be sidelined and no community will be cheated; that is what our party stands for and this is what we have been doing.

All right, you must have seen the action plan and manifestos of the four major political parties’ presidential candidates and you must have read some of them. I would like to ask, which one do you think is more realistic and probably most achievable?

You know, I’ve seen all but you see all these candidates are leaders in their own right and they have also provided leadership at certain levels at some national levels. You know in this country, people know their records, people also have seen their campaign opponent but none of them is anywhere near  what the APC is offering to Nigerians. You see, the APC as a party, is an advocacy for fairness and justice.

We saw what happened between 1999 and between 2015 where democracy efforts, democracy values and democracy principles were undermined. The people in power ensured their perpetuity in office, people were using the apparatus of government to molest and kill and assassinate; they were using the apparatus of government to force candidates and bring them to the National Assembly.

Once you win the ticket of the primaries of a certain party, automatically, you will be announced and you go and occupy the government house. This was the culture that the APC came and fought against, hence we succeeded in creating an environment of fairness and justice, openness and transparency and we are building infrastructure and good governance.

of the other parties is addressing these issues. Some people who have never practised anything moral or ethical will sit down there, and say ‘we are going to unite Nigeria, we are going to turn Nigeria from a consuming nation to a producing nation,’ with mere rhetoric, without substance.

They just look for nice catch phrases and they are talking and they are moving around from one platform to another.

 

No, we are talking about leaders who form a party to address these fundamental issues for fairness and justice and transparency in the country; leaders who provided the concrete infrastructure to change our lives; leaders who invested heavily in human capital development as well as social networks, providing sucour to the poor and so on.

We are building on that; we are talking about a leader who brought breakthrough projects in Lagos, making Lagos one of the big investment destinations in the world, attracting $20 billion refinery; we are talking about leaders, who converted exteriors of the Atlantic Ocean and created a safe residing area for Lagos, a very safe area that has become one of the most expensive places in Nigeria.

These are concrete records and concrete evidence of leadership and capacity. So, we mopped all these into our achievements, promises, vision and undertook them into our manifesto. This is what we are campaigning on.

These other people, their records are unknown but most of all. They’re just making empty promises so somebody will say Nigeria is so divided, how is Nigeria so divided, how are you uniting? To the Labour Party candidate or the NNPP, this NNPP, there are no offices in many states in Nigeria. First and foremost, you see the political party which is a group of Nigeria from all over the country have you ensured that your party is represented in every state?

No.

Have you ensured that you are carrying people from all parts of the country along?

No. So most of these are empty theories and just empty statements and they are not comparable to anything that the APC is offering.

Let me go back to the issue of the North I mentioned earlier. Do you see the North or northerners supporting a Vice Presidential candidate of the North than a presidential candidate of the North?

 

You know the thing is that these are electorate, not party members, the electorate will consider voting a party, not the person mainly, because you see, if you have a party that is well established with wide spread in the country – you have a House of Assembly in all the constituencies, you have candidates of House of Representatives, you have candidates for governorship election and you have candidate for presidential election.

Every APC candidate, for instance, is campaigning for himself, his party as well as his presidential candidate and these candidates live within the communities and among people around them. So, because of this, it is not like the board in the dark.

For instance, if you go to a certain location and the party doesn’t have a candidate or an office of a president, who will be campaigning for the party? Who would be campaigning for the candidacy of the party? So, people will expect that, people will vote for those in APC, who will massively canvas and campaign for the candidate of the APC.

I’m sure of this because of acceptability and wide spread, people will vote for our party. In the North, for instance we have 14 governors out of 19 and these governors are working and delivering at the platform of APC, and these governors know that if in the first election, our party did not win, they know that they themselves will also not win in the second election, which is two weeks away from the first election.

So, why will they take that risk? People from all over the country came and ran for our ticket, 23 of them and we voted for Asiwaju because of his capacity and his vision, and leadership, therefore we are going to vote for Asiwaju massively all over so that we will secure all other tickets.

INEC has decried the destruction of its facilities. What are the implications of all this destruction of facilities to the election?

You know, so far the destruction of INEC facilities is limited to a few places, but it shows that in some of these places where this normally takes place, some outlaws and criminals who want to create some condition of anarchy, could be a good possibility of them losing.

 

Secondly, some angry politicians may be instigating the disruption of the process because they have lost out. These are purely criminal issues and they are happening only in very limited places, and I believe that before the election, the security agencies will get to the root of that unstable constituency and ensure that peace and security prevail to allow Nigerians to carry out their franchise.

You cannot generalize this issue because in the greater part of this country voting will take place.

Mr. President has consistently said that he is going to bequeath free, fair and credible elections to Nigerians. As a party man do you see such statement in favor of APC?

It is never a challenge because the major promise that our President, Muhammadu Buhari made even from day one when he venture into office the year 2015, was to ensure that votes are done fairly and freely and also to ensure that vote count to bring justice to Nigeria, that they have the power to elect whom they want, they have the power to ensure that good governance is delivered and they have the power to remove anybody who doesn’t meet  their standard.

President Buhari was a statesman and he was invited by the political class to lead a movement for electoral reform. His heart cry and the guiding message was to go and register, vote, and protect your votes.

Since that advocacy from 2001 to 2002 till date, he has never stopped in promoting electoral reform, transparency in elections and he has always done all these things in a bit not to promote himself, nor to use power for his sake, he has come genuinely to ensure peace and justice prevails in this country.

Every measure taken to reform and strengthen the electoral process in Nigeria was done with his encouragement and support, the emergence of the electoral act and so forth. When we were approaching the 2019 election I was the Number 2 in the election management structure. He told us two or three things: One: he said that nobody should be allowed to go and bring out government money to fund any campaign.

Two: he warned everybody that INEC is on its own. Three: he is not going to interfere in the judiciary and Four: he also said that anyone caught stealing a ballot box whether is the APC or the PDP, the man should be shot. This was a standing instruction to the military and security in general. This ensured that 2019 was very free and fair, open and transparent.

Coming forward, President Muhammadu Buhari said that he was not going to seek tenure allegation in order to ensure that he was not going to use power for himself. He said he was not going to crown or anoint anybody, he said he was going to allow the due process in the party to bring out a candidate. Aside from the pressure from everywhere, people are saying how the President should show no interest in who will emerge in his party.

 

He persuaded the party men and appealed to all of us to close and come out with one candidate and we did. Today President Muhammadu Buhari is telling Nigerians finally that his interest is not to impose a candidate but to honour you with respect, to ensure that ‘you vote and your votes count.

This should be my legacy.’ So it’s like that undertaking he did from the one he did in 2001 when he entered politics still to this day – 21 years, he has kept it and this is not a threat to our candidates. We have the spread; we have the numbers; we have the record and we have the promise to ensure that we legitimately persuade Nigerians to vote for us, to vote for the APC.

So, this statement by Muhammed Buhari is his final statement. He is a statesman in politics and what he has done is to correct the system for Nigerians to have an enduring democracy. So, we have to look at it in that line. You might also have heard of the statement he made recently that he is going to support and ensure that Nigerians vote for or support the ticket of the APC to ensure that we win the election. I think that seals the issue.

He did not manipulate the system, he did not impose his will, and he allowed the growth and consolidation of the democratic system. Now he has also said he will not be indifferent to his own party candidate and he will support the candidate and follow them throughout the campaign together to persuade Nigeria to vote for our candidate.

 

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