Blame PDP ‘Misrule’ Not APC For Hard Times – Sen Girei
Senator Abubakar Girei is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with select journalists in Kaduna, he acknowledged the hard times Nigerians are going through but stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari is not to be blamed. In his opinion, the 16 years ‘misrule’ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is responsible for the present challenges. ISAIAH BENJAMIN was there for LEADERSHIP.
Distinguished Senator, you appear to have been very quiet on the political scene, even when many Politicians are already making moves towards 2019 general election. What is your political ambition towards 2019 election?
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity after such a long time; I know I have been avoiding you, and the reason is because, even though there are a lot of things to talk about, I simply decided to keep away from the press. Even now, it is only you that I have decided to grant an interview; otherwise I have been keeping away from the press. I am surprised that you are beginning with the issue of 2019 election. But as far as I am concerned, 2019 is still very far away, and those talking about 2019 now are either being mischievous or are simply not sensitive to the reality of the situation in this country.
What is the reality of the situation in the country as you just pointed out?
We are talking about a government that is just about 21 months old, a government that has 4-year tenure for a start, with the hope for a second term. And people are already talking about 2019 election. To my mind, we should not be talking about 2019 election for now, we need to concentrate our attention on supporting the present government, so that, they will be able to deliver dividends of democracy to our country and our various States. Be that as it may, I will quickly tell you, that I have no political ambition anymore. I have no intention of contesting for any elective office again, and I have many reasons for that.
What are the reasons?
I will keep the reasons to myself for now, but I will not hesitate to say at anytime that it is because of the way and manner the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has maltreated its members, bastardised internal democracy and corrupted the democratic space in Nigeria. This has schemed out a good number of responsible politicians; it has destroyed, a number of its members aspiring for various offices on its platform. Thus forcing most of us to completely lose interest in political contest. So for now I have no intention of contesting for any political office.
Well, you said, you don’t have intention for now to contest for any political office in 2019, but it was reported recently that you, Senator Girei, has concluded plan to be one of the founding members of the proposed Mega party, ADP. How true is this report?
I have already addressed this issue. I read it just like you read it in the newspapers, and I quickly issued a press statement to that effect, and I disassociated myself completely from that insinuation. I am a member of APC for now, I have no reason whatsoever to leave the party, and I remain APC member as far as I am concerned.
You just blamed PDP for discouraging you from playing active politics, but don’t you regret joining APC, considering the level of poverty and hunger in the land?
(Laughter) I don’t think you people (Journalists) are being realistic. What we are experiencing today, as far as I am concerned, as far as any rational thinking politician in this country is concerned, it was as a result of the misrule and bad governance of PDP in the last 16 years. APC has nothing to do with it, APC simply inherited these challenges. Everything that is happening today was prophesised by the likes of the present Emir of Kano; Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, when he was governor of the Central Bank, Okonjo Iweala, and several Nigerians have already told us as far back as 2013/2014 that unless something drastic happened, Nigeria by 2015, 2016, 2017 is going to be in a very terrible economic situation. And that is exactly what we are experiencing today. The APC government is trying its very best to minimize the resultant effect of the 16 years of misrule by PDP. So we are privilege that at this point in time we have President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC as the ruling political party, otherwise things would have been worst in this country. So what we are experiencing today and complaining about would have been much more unbearable if it were a continuation of PDP/Jonathan administration.
But you were Senator from 1999 to 2003 on the platform of PDP, and you had also aspired severally to govern your State, Adamawa, but somehow you were not fortunate, so to say, and within the 16 years of PDP, you were absolutely a PDP Chieftain. So, don’t you think you were part of the 16 years misrule?
If it is because I was part of PDP that you say I am part of the problem, yes. I cannot run away from that because I had been in PDP all these years. But you also know that in PDP, there are a thousand and one PDP founding fathers like me who have tried their very best to change the situation, but failed to do so. So will you hold me responsible when I have made several attempts to draw the attention of those responsible but they refused to listen, so do you blame me for their failure to correct the situation. Those responsible for the poor state of our economy or the bad governance over the years are very well known to Nigerians and nemesis has already caught up with them. As far back as 2002, I, Abubakar Girei granted an interview drawing the attention of Nigerians on how poor governance was destroying this country, I cautioned them that if care was not taken, President Olusegun Obasanjo was very likely to be the greatest threat to our democracy, I said it in 2002, and It was widely reported. And by 2006/2007 it was very clear, when he tried to remove every other obstacle to make himself a life President in this country. That was the threat that we foresaw as far back as 2002. The 24 of us that were identified as Chuba Okadigbo group in the Senate as far back as in 2002, we were all marked as rebels who should not be allowed to return to the Senate or get any other elective office through out the country. It happened to us, none of us neither came back to the Senate nor got the party’s ticket for any election.
How did other PDP stakeholders react to this development then?
The same way we were treated, that was how other major political stakeholders who tired to correct the anomalies were treated. This include the former Vice President and several other major stakeholders both in government and in the ruling party, you all know what happened. A number of people died mysteriously, including Chuba Okadigbo himself. I was with him in Kano when he was virtually, I can say, virtually killed. This thing happened over many years, and unfortunately, even if the people changed, the situation continues, it is like anybody that comes, will just continue and even do worse than the previous one. As this was happening, the governors became gods in their respective State, and started playing gods. Almost everyone that got an opportunity either as Chairman of local government council or governor, or President, they were virtually birds of the same feather. Now if you as an individual try to call them to order and failed, could you be blamed as being part of the problem? I don’t think that will be fair. And I can assure you that there were many of us who were seriously condemning what was happening, but we were never acknowledged. At a point, we set up a group called G21 under the chairmanship of former Senate President Ken Nnamani with the present Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, as the Vice Chairman and I was the Secretary General. The group’s main objective was to restructure and reform the democratic processes of PDP as a political party. We got quite a number of patriotic people to join us, including the present Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai and others. We wanted to reform the political party, PDP in order to make it more democratic, a more people oriented. At the end of the day, most of us were even threatened to be sacked from the party. You all know this happened. So under this circumstance, how can you blame those that tried to correct the situation, but failed. It is like blaming all Nigerians for being Nigerian citizens while this thing was happening. There are handful of people that are responsible for this, and Nigerians know them.