Why Tinubu should be president, by Dibal
Former Borno State Deputy Governor Yuguda Shettima Dibal led the committee that supervised the governorship and parliamentary primaries in Lagos State. He spoke with reporters on why Asiwaju Bola Tinubu deserves the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Excerpts:
How did your electoral committee conduct the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in Lagos State?
This was a process which started somewhere, culminating into the primary. Of course, you know that there are processes the aspirants would have under gone before eventually eligible to contest for the main primaries. The arrangement was excellent. Lagos, like Borno, where I come from is always one party, one people. The five man panel, headed by me, the secretary and two other members. The process was excellent and at the end of the day, the governor was declared the winner.
It was alleged that your panel was bought over, which was why the two other contestants were barred from the election.
I am aware that three people purchased the forms from Lagos and they went through the screening process, including the sitting governor . The screening committee has the power as backed by NEC, including the presidential committee, to screen all aspirants and you then go the Appeal Committee if you have any issue with the whole process, after this, you are given a clean bill of health, meaning, you are issued a certificate which is a norm in all the parties,APC inclusive . I know that three aspirants appeared before the screening committee, one was cleared and the two others were not cleared. If one is cleared and the other weren’t, it means that there are issues regarding the aspirants not cleared. There are rules and guidelines, unfortunately, they didn’t meet the guidelines. Midway into the voting during the governorship tussle, somebody flashed me with an online news where it was alleged that the panel was backing certain individuals . Somebody that was not cleared wouldn’t be at the venue. If you are not cleared, you are either present your matter before the Appeal Committee and then to the National Working Committee and if that was not done, you indeed have an issue. It’s even against the law for you to have gone to the voting centre.
The two gentlemen claimed that they were in Abuja, asking questions about their candidature from the screening committee….
May be, they are Nigerians in diaspora. Most probably they don’t know the rules and regulations. In fact, one of them didn’t have voters card. He said he made attempt to register online, there are a lot issues . Some may be insinuating, may be because they don’t know but the aspirants themselves can’t claim ignorance, because they know they have issues. When you met the screening committee, and after a day or two they didn’t call you to come and collect your certificate, then, something is wrong. I thought the ideal thing for one to do was to find out and make clarifications about your candidature. If for whatever reasons you are cleared as aspirant, making you a candidate and it turned out that the matter is dragged before the court, and the court finds irregularities in the whole process and the election is annulled, the screening committee and political party should be blamed. So if you were not cleared, you had no business going to the venue of the exercise. Those going to the voting venue, apart the security, officials, the accredited journalists, election observers, are the delegates. Since the law that would allow you to be statutory delegate hasn’t been signed, not even Mr President or Mr governor can vote now. I am aware that the governor couldn’t even vote. We are strictly adhering to the rules and regulations of the party and law of the land.
With what you have seen so far, can APC, your party, retain power in Lagos next year?
Your question does not worth betting upon. You can say Lagos is a one party state and it’s been consistent. That consistency is what is driving Lagos development, making it the third largest economy in West Africa, courtesy of the Progressives here in the state as led by Asiwaju himself, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I am happy and proud to be associated with a party that has consistently produce the governor of Lagos state. Not different from Borno which has also been consistently been a one party state. The two states have a lot in common in terms of politics.
Talking about Borno State, your governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, was returned unopposed. Is that democracy or dictatorship?
That’s democracy in action for you. A lot of people aspire to be governor. I aspire to be governor in 2019, I contested, in fact, we were about 36 aspirants at that time , the governor emerged winner, as I stepped down and others followed suit. Again, we have known him to be a very sound lecturer, he became the rector of Ramat Polytechnic based in Maiduguri, from there, he was nominated and confirmed as commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. So, we knew his capacity and capabilities. You all can see that he has performed beyond our expectations. Nobody born of a woman would have gone to waste his money to buy form to challenge such a person. It may interest you to note that the forms were purchased for him by clubs and groups,just like Honorable Muktar Betara. I am one, among several people that contributed money for our honorable member representing Biu, Bayo and Shari Federal Constituency. We opened an account for him and within an hour, we got about N185m instead of the N10m we were targeting. This was just to encourage him as we had no other way of saying thank you to him than that little token of appreciation , because we have never had it this good in the constituency.
Betara is supposed to be Chairman of Appropriation Committee in the Lower House at the centre. Are you saying he can’t afford it.
That’s the point I was making that we are appreciating the enormous development he has brought to our constituency. There was a woman who had just N20 and she said she was donating it to the course. Another person contributed N50. Some dropped N2m, N10m. Some wanted to do the contribution within themselves but we said no, it is not how much you contributed that matters, but the spirit behind it. So we allowed everybody, willing and interested to participate in the donation. He is presently waiting for the swearing-in ceremony, just like Governor Zulum because there is nobody from the opposing parties that can match them there.
Are you saying the PDP can not give a run for their money on the day of the election?
But, there isn’t PDP in the Borno. There is no proper structure called PDP in Borno. Up to this time, there is no proper structure called PDP. I am a politician and I have been active since 1999, I can tell you authoritatively that elections in Borno is going to be landslide for APC. Presently there is nobody born of a woman that can face these two gentlemen in question. I think it is the samething with Lagos politics.
The cost of APC nomination form is been criticized, saying the party encourages corruption and it’s an avenue to loot the treasury when aspirants get into office….
Unfortunately, in this case, it’s totally different. Different in the sense that the forms were bought for these gentlemen, they didn’t buy it themselves and the implication of this is that they would be answerable to their people. There is wisdom in raising the nomination forms. I think the idea is to see how popular you are in terms of how many people would be willing to support to purchase the forms for you. The US we all copy, no single person buys forms there, even if you have the the money, fans and supporters would still come out to donate for your campaign.
Why the insecurity is on the rise?
I think we found ourselves suddenly in a very precarious situation. The issues or challenges affecting us has global dimension. The insecurity started from Maiduguri, it went beyond Maiduguri, Borno, North East, Nigeria and even West Africa . Even in the US, there is insecurity. Haven’t you heard of the shooting in Texas where several people were gun down?
The INEC extension of deadline for submission of forms, some have said, was because of APC. The t party appears to be reneging on its gentleman agreement of power rotation. Presently, two Northerners have purchased forms, defeating the essence of that agreement…..
I am a party man. I can’t speak for it since I don’t have the mandate to do so. I am aware that the party has put in a lot of measures to make sure that the convention takes place as scheduled. I read that INEC has extended the deadline by one week. I don’t think that should be an issue. Everybody is being careful so that we won’t repeat the mistakes we had in some of parts of the country. To allow internal democracy requires planning and resources. I also know that alot of parties had approached INEC in the past to see how the date can be extended but insisted no waiver. I guessed INEC must have considered the level of preparation of all the political parties and decided to shift grounds. Regarding the gentleman agreement, I am a Tinubu man through and through. I don’t have apologies for that. It might interest you to note that I am the state coordinator for Borno state. I have been with him since he was a governor. He is a builder. He single handedly the highest in terms human capital development. If we have a reward system, what happened to governor Zulum and Honorable Muktar Batera should have happened to Tinubu. We know his contribution in the merger called APC. If there is reward system to say thank you, it would be to beg him to come and take over the ticket of the party, unopposed. But Ashiwaju that I know is democratic and party man. He would rather go into the contest. That’s how democratic he is. You mentioned names from the North who bought forms, those are names that cannot match Tinubu, even in their bedrooms, he would win them there. All we want is a free and fair elections, that is our concern in the camp of Ashiwaju. There is nobody among all the current seekers of the office of the president that can match Tinubu. That is a fact. He has contributed to the development of democracy than anybody contesting the primaries with him. He fought and stood for democracy. Tell me one that has done as much as Tinubu for democracy, none. There is nobody Tinubu hasn’t assisted in one way or another. Is it Mr president that contested for the presidency many times until the merger happened. It was God Almighty that made it possible for Buhari to be president, but with human contribution of the likes of Tinubu.
There was a time, I went to receive my then deputy governor at the airport, in Lagos. I wasn’t in government then. As a matter of fact, I was into private business. I was at the airport to receive him when Tinubu too emerged, landing from where he was coming from. My deputy governor introduced me to him and thereafter, he said to my deputy governor that when you are done, you hand over to him. Do you know that four years later, the deputy governor actually handed over to us because his governor wasn’t available for the swearing in ceremony.